Just when we thought that wed seen every type of four-wheel-drive vehicle imaginable, Mike Manetta from Canyon Country, California, pulls up to our offices in a Ford F-650 with a solid-axle swap on 48-inch meats. The 2001 Ford Super Duty F-650 in its stock configuration (which it shares with the F-750) is in fact the newest and biggest Super Duty F-Series built by Ford, a commercial truck that ranks near the top of the line. But Mike, being a bit of an extremist, decided to take it a few steps further by transforming his heavy-duty two-wheel-drive hauler into one of the biggest and baddest 4x4s around. Believe it or not, he drives this beast frequently around his hometown. And yes, hes had plenty of run-ins with the law. However, Mike claims that his rig is street-legal and has actually had to prove it to the cops in their vehicle code book. He says, Ive never been ticketed, but it takes a helluva lot of explaining.
This four-door SuperCab gets its mojo from a 300-horsepower Caterpillar 3126B turbodiesel engine that produces 770 lb-ft of torque. Keep in mind this motor provides enough power to haul 26,000 pounds. All that power threads through a Spicer seven-speed manual tranny into a Rockwell two-speed air-shift transfer case. From there the juice is split via 1610-series driveshafts to a rear Rockwell 2½-ton axle with a Detroit locker and a front 2½-ton Rockwell solid axle conversion with an open diff. Both axles feature 4.88:1 gears.
The F-650 is referred to by the manufacturer as a cab/chassis. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, its merely a cab with a chassis only, designed that way for commercial purposes. That means you can install the equipment necessary for towing large trailers, or you can stick a cargo bed or box on the thing. Mike opted for something a bit different and installed a pickup bed from an F-350 dualie. To do this, he had to make a few modifications. First he took out his trusty cutting torch and lopped 16 feet of chassis from his new $60,000 rig. Then he shortened the wheelbase by roughly five feet. In doing so, he got rid of the stock suspension, swapping it with a custom coilover-shock suspension setup, which he designed, fabricated, and installed.
The front is a four-link design with four Sway Away Roadrunner shocks, each featuring a three-inch body and 18 inches of travel. The rear suspension is a three-link with two of the same shocks. To control the super-meaty 48-inch Goodyear G178 tires on 22.5x14 Alcoa Super single aluminum wheels, a custom hydraulic steering system was installed by Lee Steering in Sun Valley, California. A custom antiroll bar helps control that tall chassis tendency to lean in corners. Stopping power comes from four-piston Dayton calipers on 17-inch rotors, front and rear.
If the trick suspension and mere size of this beast doesnt catch your eye, the unique body style surely will. For instance, take a look at the custom-fit chrome Ford Expedition mirrors. These mirrors are way cooler than the bulky stock ones, which were the sort youd likely see on a school bus. The front billet grille, made by Trenz of Bakersfield, California, also gives this F-650 that clean West Coast look. Other external mods include Lincoln Mark VIII headlights mounted inside F-150 housings, custom window tinting, lots of chrome, and coal-black paint.
The interior is big and roomy and left mainly stock, with the exception of a killer audio/video system including an Eclipse TV, Crossfire amp and speakers, VHS and Sony Playstation 2.
Were sure youve heard the old saying, He who dies with the most toys, wins. In Mikes case, he might not have the most, but he certainly has built one of the biggest that has ever blasted through the sand dunes of Southern California.