2001 Ford Excursion: Travis Raville’s Excursion Means Adventure for the Whole Family

    Daddy’s Minivan

    Jake HeadleePhotographer, Writer

    Off-road adventures are often a family affair, though many of the vehicles on the market just aren’t big enough for the whole family, plus their friends and all the mandatory gear. To solve that issue, Travis Raville of Thousand Oaks, California, decided to break away from his GM love and seek out a Ford.

    The Ford Excursion was exactly what Travis wanted. A straight axle up front, third-row seating with plenty of room for gear, and it could be optioned with a reliable turbodiesel powerplant. Previously, he had a seriously built Pontiac GTO. The 1,000hp car was fun, “but it was a one-way car,” Travis explains. “We’d get somewhere and it would break; it would go home on a tow truck.” He needed something bulletproof.

    With Excursions becoming rarer as time goes on, Travis had to search around. He found an ’01 Excursion with a 14-inch lift, 38-inch tires, and a blown transmission. The rest of the rig was acceptable so he bought it, immediately having it towed to John Wood Automotive where they specialize in Ford transmissions. The shop set up the truck with a Towmaster H/D transmission, complete with billet torque converter, cryogenically treated shafts, and a B&M cooler.

    After about two weeks, “Daddy’s Minivan” was taken to Ultimate Truck Performance in Oxnard, California, for engine work. “I let the shop know that I wanted to do everything we can to the 7.3L,” Travis says. “It needed to be drivable and wheelable, but I didn’t want to get into the internals of the engine.” Ultimate Truck Performance threw the book at it. A regulated return fuel system, Farmboys Diesel Performance fuel injectors, Terminator high-pressure oil pump, aFe Magnum FORCE cold-air intake, Garrett GT38R ball bearing Turbo, and an MBRP 4-inch Turbo Back exhaust system—the works.

    Next, Travis turned his attention to the suspension. He was not happy with the height of the truck. Mercenary Offroad happened to be located next door to Ultimate Truck Performance, so he went to see how they could help. Todd Farrand, the owner of Mercenary, and Travis worked together to reimagine the Excursion’s suspension. Travis wanted the truck to be as low as possible with large tires. He wanted to build a rig that would allow him to explore with his wife, their three kids, and any friends they were to bring along.

    Originally, the goal was to put the truck back to stock height and run 40-inch tires, but with Excursions sitting lower than their Super Duty siblings, a minor lift was needed. They decided to run a set of Atlas Spring 3-inch lift leaf springs in the front, bringing the truck just a bit above where a stock Super Duty would sit height-wise. Out back they installed a set of 5-inch Atlas springs to keep the truck level and load ready. King 2.5 10-inch-travel shocks were added to the front, and King 2.5 12-inch-travel shocks were added to the rear.

    The axles were left mostly stock, with the exception of adding 4.88:1 ratio gears from Nitro Gear & Axle. Mercenary Offroad added Dynatrac manual locking hubs, a custom-built track bar and a high-steer system boosted by an AGR Rock Ram hydro-assist steering system. To beef up the rest of the truck, Mercenary installed their “Big Boy” high-clearance front bumper, loaded with Baja Designs S2 LED lights, and a Warn Zeon 12 Platinum winch.

    Out back is a Mercenary high-clearance wraparound rear bumper with tire carrier that carries a fifth 40x13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T tire wrapped around a TrailReady 17-inch beadlock wheel. The bumper even has a hidden hitch behind the license plate.

    Lighting up the trails is easy with a pair of dual curved LED lightbars above the windshield. The bars are mounted via Mercenary Offroad mounting brackets and protected by Rock Socks, also by Mercenary Offroad.

    Travis is like most of us; our projects are never done. He is already working on the next stage of the Excursion build and is starting to look for another Excursion that he and his son can build for when he turns sixteen. In the mean time, however, Daddy’s Minivan packs more than enough punch for both on- and off-road excitement and adventures for the whole family. There might even be enough room for your family, too.

    At a Glance

    General
    Vehicle: ’01 Ford Excursion
    Owner: Travis Raville
    Stomping grounds: Anywhere

    Drivetrain
    Engine: Ford 7.3L Power Stroke turbodiesel
    Transmission: Towmaster H/D from John Wood Automotive
    Transfer case: NV273F
    Low range ratio: 2.72:1
    Crawl ratio: 35.97:1
    Front axle/differential: Dana 50, Nitro Gear & Axle 4.88:1 gears/open
    Rear axle/differential: Sterling 10.5-in, 4.88:1 Nitro Gear & Axle gears/stock limited slip

    Suspension
    Front: 3-in Atlas Springs with King 2.5 10-in-travel shocks
    Rear: 5-in Atlas Springs with King 2.5 10-in-travel shocks
    Steering: Custom high-steer, AGR Rock Ram hydraulic-assist

    Tires/Wheels
    Tires: 40/13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T
    Wheels: 17x9 TrailReady beadlock

    Miscellaneous
    Lighting: Curved LED lightbars, Baja Designs LED bumper lights
    Armor: Mercenary Offroad front and rear bumpers, Warn Zeon 12 Platinum winch, AMP Research PowerSteps
    Cool stuff: Auxiliary transmission temperature gauge and pyrometer