For several years, David Shulman of Sanford, Florida, has heard two specific questions so often that he probably curls his toes inside his shoes every time someone asks, "When is the truck going to be done?" or "So, Dave, is the truck done yet?" Don't feel bad if you were one of the anxious people asking one of those questions because we were, too. Finally, though, David can look people straight in the eye and say, "Yes, the truck is done."
The questions started just after Dave introduced a not-quite-completed version of the truck at SEMA two years ago. Pictures began surfacing on various Internet message boards, and even though it was incomplete, people were already citing the truck as one of the sickest F-150s that had ever been built. From there, the buzz began to swirl within the truck enthusiast circles.
What some people may not realize is that this is the third incarnation of David's '98 Ford. Featured in our Jan. '02, the second version was body-dropped, blue, and laid out on a set of 20s. The idea to redo the truck emerged after an incident on the way to a show in spring, 2001. Various concepts had been floating through David's head for some time, however, while he was towing the truck home, the decision was made: The truck would be reborn.
When David got back into town, he took the truck to the only custom shop that he lets cut up his trucks, Rhodes Auto Works, which is also in Sanford. Anthony and the crew removed the 'bag setup and replaced it with a full hydraulic system. The hydraulics were used because they provided enough lift to clear the Dunlop-shod 22-inch Boyd Coddington Turbine wheels that were bolted on up front. However, later on during the buildup, it was determined that 'bags could produce the same amount of lift.
RAW removed the hydraulics and installed Full Effect control arms and Slam Specialties 'bags up front. The nose was notched for steering rods, and then the entire frame was boxed in for reinforcement. In the rear, a custom RAW triangulated four-link, a RAW super notch, and Slam Specialties 'bags were installed to allow the truck to hit rock bottom. The 'bags were plumbed with 1/2-inch line and fed via a 9-gallon tank, which was mounted beneath the bed.
A Ford 9-inch rearend was built by Advanced Driveline in Orlando and covered with a Molten Image Design Screamin' Demon axle cover. Once the rearend was installed and the length was measured, a shortened driveshaft was fabricated by Jim Martin's Machine Shop in Plymouth, Florida.
A trend emerged - unfortunately, it wasn't a good trend. With every modification made, there was a new obstacle to overcome. From that point on, David began calling his truck Catch-22, appropriate as the modifications seemed problematic and it rolled on 22s.
Once the suspension and driveline were completed, RAW needed to make a few body mods in order to get the truck to completely lay out with 22s. The bedsides were sectioned and raised an additional 5 inches, which allowed the oversized wheels to get sucked up in the tubs, and then the bed floor was falsed to allow the suspension to travel up and down below it.
For some time, several custom shops have been one step ahead of Ford in terms of styling. Last year, Ford began changing over to the angular front end on its F-150 line, but RAW switched the front end on David's truck to the angular front clip from an '03 Expedition as one of its first mods. To continue the restyling of the truck, the bedrails were shaved, then a set of Street Scene mirrors and Trenz upper and lower grille inserts were added.
There are many unique features on David's truck; for example, the tailgate and doors. When you walk around the truck, you're always looking inside it, which is no coincidence. The driver-side door hinges were switched to a suicide door configuration, and the tailgate was hinged to swing open. A roll pan was welded to the tailgate, and a 50-inch Hi Tech LED was added. Although it was a huge challenge to get the tailgate to swing open, David says it's probably his favorite part on the truck.
Once the exterior body mods were finished, the truck was taken to Audio Concepts in West Palm Beach. Eric custom-built fiberglass door panels, a center console, kick panels, a box that holds six 12-inch Audiobahn subs, and a motorized amp rack containing more than 5,000 watts of Audiobahn power. Peppered throughout the cab are four 6.5-inch, four 4-inch, and four 1-inch Audiobahn ARC series speakers. The contoured console houses a PlayStation 2, which, along with the Pioneer DVD player, is displayed on the 7-inch in-dash Pioneer screen.
Xhibit Upholstery cut down the factory seats and covered them with tan leather, suede, and real alligator, a nod to David's Florida roots. Nu Image Diamond white gauges were installed in the dash, and Trenz billet pedals, sill plates, and a rearview mirror were added along with Billet & Acrylic Fantasies dash kit, shifter, vents, A/C panel, and knobs. A Colorado Customs billet steering wheel was also added to the mix.
To complete the truck, Dave handed the empty canvas over to master painter Todd Fisher in Deland, Florida. Todd laid down a base of House of Kolor's Cinnamon Pearl and then went to work on the graphics. A mix of sweeping lines, skulls, and alligator skin was hand-drawn without the use of stencils. This impressive mix of different designs flows throughout the truck, accepting the body lines, and continues to the rear of the truck, where it ends in a symmetrical design. The inside of the tailgate holds one of the largest designs, a skull intertwined with tribalesque lines.
Although David isn't a welder or a painter, he's proud to say that he had a hand in the entire process of building his truck, from stripping it down and grinding welds to 'glassing the interior and wet-sanding. David isn't the kind of guy to sit back and let someone else have all the fun.
The project holds more man-hours than we'll ever know, but without the help of his fiance Reza, his family, Anthony at RAW, his sponsors, and his boys in Acrophobia, one of the baddest Fords to hit the scene would've never made it. Thank god it did.
The motorized amp rack, seen here in its upmost position, holds more than 5,000 watts of p
The spare 20-inch Boyd Coddington wheel sits nicely in the smoothed out bed.
Some say that the skulls on the truck are laughing at the haters.