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Mike Keller: 1976 Ford F-350

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2011 on November 1, 2011
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Photographers: Sean P. Holman

Truck class:F-460
Home remodeler Mike Keller is apparently also a darn good truck remodeler. His incredible, tube-chassis, ’76 Ford F-350 has wicked big-block power, battle-ready axles, and a quartet of meaty 46-inch tires. Guess what? Your votes made him the number one vote-getter in the Truck Class.

Underneath the Ford bodywork is a trick custom tube chassis. It’s easy to spot—just look for anything bright green. The chassis is made from 1¾-inch-diameter tubing and integrates such things as front and rear winch mounts (for the front Warn 8,000-pound and rear 16,500-pound winches). The chassis also has a rear mount for the tire carrier and Howe radiator. The Ford’s factory fenders have been radiused to allow the big 46-inch-diameter Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires (mounted on 16x12 Stazworks double beadlock wheels) to travel without contacting the rig’s body. The truck has a wheelbase of 128 inches, which Keller says is 10 inches longer than stock. He removed the center of each rear longbed fender to create 5-foot-long bedsides. The result of Keller’s design is a rig with great approach and departure angles and a trail-friendly center of gravity for a fullsize rig rolling on 46s.

The Details

  • Owner name/city: Mike Keller/Milwaukie, OR
  • Occupation: Home remodeler
  • Vehicle model: 1976 Ford F-350
  • Estimated value: $60,000
  • Engine/aspiration: Ford 460ci V-8/modified Edelbrock Victor intake, Mass-Flo EFI, custom headers
  • Transmission: C6, TCI reverse valve body, B&M aluminum pan, B&M SuperCoolers
  • Transfer case: Klune-V/NP205
  • Suspension (f/r): Four-link, King 16-in-travel remote-reservoir coilover shocks, King 2.0 bumpstops, Currie Antirock sway bar/four-link, King 16-in-travel remote-reservoir coilover shocks, King 2.0 bumpstops, Currie Antirock sway bar
  • Axles (f/r): High pinion Dana 60, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, ARB Air Locker/Dana 70, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, ARB Air Locker
  • Axle ratio: 5.13:1
  • Wheels: 16x12-in. steel Stazworks beadlock
  • Tires: 46x19.5-16 Mickey Thompson Baja Claw

Mike Keller, Team #03

  • Most looking forward to: “The Frame Twister, because I can’t wait to fly over the logs.”
  • Not looking forward to: “None. Anxious to try them all.”
  • Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Johnny Cash.”
  • Keller says:“Wheeling is my favorite sport in life. I spend the majority of my free time helping to organize events in the Oregon area so that all of my wheeling buddies, and the next generation of wheeling kids, have places to wheel. Often times, for various reasons, our wheeling sites get shut down, so I try to organize private property, etc., for them to have a good time. Hopefully I’m making a difference.”

Nestled in the tidy custom engine compartment is a heavily modified 460ci V-8 that puts out an estimated 550 horsepower and 572 lb-ft of torque. The cylinders have been bored 0.060 inch and fitted with JE pistons. The engine features a slew of Crane products including camshaft, valves, valve springs, and rockers. The Dove heads are ported and polished and the headers are custom. It features a heavily modified Edelbrock Victor Series intake manifold topped with a Mass-Flo electronic fuel injection system to keep the rig running in even the most brutal off-highway scenarios. The rig is cooled via a rear-mounted Howe radiator with dual Flex-A-Lite 16-inch electric fans. Also rear-mounted are a pair of Optima YellowTop batteries and a 22-gallon fuel cell. The big-block sends its power to a heavily reworked C6 transmission that includes new First and Second gear ratios, a TCI reverse valve body, and aftermarket clutch plates. The trans is cooled via a pair of B&M SuperCoolers. A Klune-V/NP205 combination sends the power to the axles.

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