'04 Ford F-150 Wins Truck Interior Of The Year
The '04 Ford F-150 truck captured another major honor, Truck Interior of the Year, at the Auto Interiors Show in Detroit. More than 5,400 automotive industry executives selected the Ford F-150 to win the award based on its overall interior design, functionality ,and vehicle innovation. Other finalists in the truck competition included the BMW X3, Chevrolet SSR, Dodge Durango Limited, and the Nissan Armada. The Auto Interiors Show held at Cobo Conference Center is the largest industry event in the world dedicated exclusively to car and truck interiors.

Ford '05 Super Duty
For '05, the Ford Super Duty sees a host of functionality, capability, and convenience improvements. First off, it gets increased tow ratings across the board, with a maximum tow rating of 17,000 pounds, as well as an increased payload capacity as much as 5,800 pounds in the F-350 dualie; on average, payload improves 500 to 1,000 pounds for F-250 and F-350 pickups. The TowCommand System, a combination of standard and optional features that makes towing easier, including an industry-first factory-installed trailer brake controller, is available.The new SDs get a power increase. The 6.8L three-valve Triton V-10 is rated at 355 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, and the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel increases to 570 lb-ft of torque. In addition, a new front suspension is said to improve steering, ride, handling, and maneuverability in 4X4 pickups and all F-450 and F-550 cabs. It also gets a boost in braking, with larger rotors and larger, stiffer calipers. Even the parking brake is larger and stronger.Additionally, it gets a stronger frame and design changes that cap off the new capabilities with a bolder, tougher look up front as well as 18- and 20-inch wheels and interior refinements.

TrailBlazer SS
This Buick Rainier with a Chevrolet TrailBlazer front end grafted onto it is actually the upcoming TrailBlazer SS in training. The TrailBlazer SS will arrive in 2005, possibly as an '06 model. The new AWD TrailBlazer SS will be powered by a small-block V-8, with chassis and brake engineering courtesy of GM's Performance Division. The new front-end styling is said to allow greater engine cooling. As soon as we get one, we'll test that theory out.

Ghostbuster Tech
NewScientist.com reports that Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), based in Anderson, Indiana, will be one of the first companies to market another type of wireless weapon. The $9,000 Close Quarters Shock Rifle projects an ionized gas, or plasma, toward the target, producing a conducting channel to deliver a debilitating shock. It will also interfere with electronic ignition systems and stop vehicles.

"We will be able to fire a stream of electricity like water out of a hose at one or many targets in a single sweep," claims XADS President Peter Bitar. They didn't say how many vehicles the device can stop, however.

The Challenge
As with last year, we're giving you six months to build your interpretation of the coolest '98-or-older sport truck. This time, however, we've increased the budget to $6,000, not including the purchase price of your rig. After you build it and send us the photos and receipts, we'll determine the winners with a panel of sponsor judges. We'll judge your creation in terms of overall appearance as 60 percent of the score, quality of interior as 20 percent, and engine detail the remaining 20 percent. If we have a tie, the overall appearance will be the deciding factor.

The Rewards
Here's what you get if you build the most outrageous truck within our rules and win the Grand Prize. In addition to having your achievement captured in a full feature in Sport Truck magazine's print and online editions as well as on JC Whitney's Web site, JC Whitney will award a $1,000 JC Whitney gift certificate. For the Low-Buck builder who wins our First Prize, we'll feature your truck as described above and JC Whitney will award you a $500 JC Whitney gift certificate. We also have a Second Prize consisting of the same feature exposure as the Grand and First Prize winners as well as a $250 JC Whitney gift certificate.

How To Enter
What we need for you to do is mail us a copy of the registration of the truck you're planning to build and "before" and "after" photos of the truck (3/4 front, 3/4 rear, engine, interior) along with copies of all the receipts for build parts, paint, and contracted labor. You don't have to have the completed truck to register, either. You can enter with just the "before" photos and docs and fill in the blanks later. We highly recommend, however, that if you split your registration, you include the "before" images and docs with your final entry.

At any rate, the Sport Truck/JC Whitney Low-Buck Challenge starts at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time (PT) on 7/1/04 and closes for entries at 5:00 p.m. PT on 12/30/04, with mailed entries postmarked by 12/30/04 and received as designated by 1/6/05. For a downloadable entry from, go to www.jcwhitney.com or www.sporttruck.com.

World's Quickest Power Stroke
The folks at Diesel Innovations in Houston, Texas, blasted the quarter-mile in 11.74 at 115 mph in their 5,900-pound (with driver) Ford turbodiesel Power Stroke. The run came last May at the World Ford Challenge. The diesel is powered by a stock engine with a bigger turbo, Borla exhaust, computer chip, and nitrous. Currently, they're running a stock suspension, but are planning to put a four-link under it. Once that's in, they're looking for 11.30s. Congrats to the crew: (from left) Tommy Collums, David Lott, AKA Power Stroke Racer, wife Amanda, Chris Muncy, and Doug Wilson. For more information, go to www.dieselinnovations.com.

Johnny Lightning Performance Records Amazing 9-Second Pass
Johnny Lightning rocked the fans at the NMRA Ford Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway earlier this summer with a mind-blowing 9.88 at 133 mph e.t. That's a very quick lightning indeed.