If you've ever lived in or been to Texas, you know that what they say about everything there being just a little bit bigger is true. Whether it's the size of their raindrops or their 100 percent Angus-beef steaks, that's just the way it is in the Lone Star state. This adage is especially true when it comes to a Texan's truck. For them, the stock height, stock wheels, and stock tires just aren't recognized as road worthy unless they're Texas-sized. Enter Steven Rodriguez's '02 Ford Excursion 4X4.
A resident of Victoria, Texas, Steven is no stranger to building show-quality vehicles on a daily basis. As the owner of Mobile Innovations, a custom fabrication and design shop that caters to some of Texas' best show vehicles, he relies upon his truck to showcase some of his talent and skills. Having purchased his rig brand-new and adding an estimated $40,000 to it, we get the feeling that he does indeed attract a crowd wherever he goes.
Getting the truck to drive on the massive 44x14x16.5 Super Swamper STSs mounted on 16.5x16-inch Weld Racing rims was no easy feat. In order to achieve the necessary front fender clearance and still retain some level of passenger and driver comfort, the front factory leaf springs were replaced with custom-arched 12-inch Whiplash Suspension units mated to 3-inch Fabtech Motorsports shackles. Due to the increased weight of the tires and additional stress placed on the frame by the extreme lift, Steven's best friend and industrial welder, Curtis Talkington, created a custom-fabricated 4130 chrome-moly sub frame. Custom 4130 chrome-moly shock hoops were also fabricated to accommodate the two custom-valved 2-1/2-inch Fox Racing reservoir shocks that allow for 16 inches of travel at each front wheel. The rear suspension also benefited from the 12-inch Whiplash Suspension leaf springs; however, that's as far as the off-the-shelf parts went. The remainder of the rear suspension components were custom-fabricated from either chunks of solid billet aluminum or 4130 chrome-moly tubing, including the custom lift blocks, shackles, and double shock brackets. The rear suspension was treated to four custom-valved 2-1/2-inch Fox Racing reservoir shocks that allow for 18 inches of travel. For even more strength and long-term durability, all hardware is rated to Grade 8 capacities, with the rear U-bolts having been upgraded from the stock 5/8-inch diameter to custom 3/4-inch diameter.
Typically with vehicles of this magnitude, the steering components are obliterated within a few thousand miles given the additional stresses placed upon them from the increased tire weight and the altered geometry of the components. By combining key steering components from Fabtech Motorsports along with dual Skyjacker steering stabilizer shocks that are opposed at each side, Steven claims that turning the rig with the new system in place is easier than it was when it was stock.
While more than satisfied with the performance of the massive Ford 6.8L Triton V-10, Steven felt that an NOS system would kick things up just enough. The 5-pound nitrous bottle was installed inside the truck's cabin. The factory 4.56 spider gears were retained and have been covered by chromed covers at the front and rear axles. Custom Driveshafts Unlimited shafts were balanced, blueprinted, and mated to the stock transfer case and automatic transmission. To compensate for the increase in tire size, the stock automatic transmission had two Superlift TrueSpeed speed sensors installed and wired in series to regain the stock speedometer calibration.
With his dream truck at the proper height, Steven turned his focus to the overall aesthetics of his soon-to-be showstopper. Wanting something totally unique, he called upon Ty Trahan of Trahan's Rods and Choppers in Victoria, Texas, to begin the grueling four-month paint transformation. First on the chopping block were the emblems, body molding, and any other trim items that would interfere with the painting process. Once the items were removed, the Trahan's team applied two primer coats and three layers of custom-blended PPG Candy Green Pearl paint. A few gallons later, Ty Trahan began drawing the flame details on each side of the truck by hand, which would take two weeks to complete. When finished, both sides of the truck were virtually identical in the design and ready for the application of the GM Silver and custom PPG Blue paint. Once dry, the flames were outlined by hand with PPG Orange paint. The finishing touch to the paint scheme was the six coats of clear that were applied to every painted surface. Wishing to lend some continuity to the rig, key suspension components were color-matched to the PPG Candy Green Pearl, while others were just repainted black.
The exterior restyling was completed with the addition of a Trenz polished billet grille insert, custom-lengthened Kodiak Sidewinder steps, and limo tinted windows. In order to comply with the state of Texas motor vehicle laws, the operational headlights were relocated into the front color-matched bumper at their required height.
The audio/video system built by Mobile Innovation's Steven Sommer is akin to the Houston Astrodome's system. Built to compete in numerous IASCA competitions, the system took more than three months and roughly 275 hours to fabricate, install, and complete. Each of the eight 15-inch JL Audio W3 subwoofers are powered by their own 500.1 JL Audio mono amplifiers, and are installed in a color-matched fiberglass speaker enclosure. Two 300.1 JL Audio amplifiers provide power to the JL Audio mid bass speakers, while a single 300.4 JL Audio amplifier provides power to the two sets of three-way speakers mounted in the factory locations. Distribution of current to the amplifiers is achieved largely in part to the dual 225-amp Stinger alternators and five parallel wired Stinger batteries. Controlling this much power requires an Alpine CVA-1005 head unit with matching DVD player and driver-side visor-mounted Rockford Fosgate Symmetry equalizer. Given the height of the rig and the competition requirements, a 6-1/2-inch Audiovox monitor was installed into the driver-side rear window so that Steven could view his system's control settings while standing outside of the vehicle. A 7-inch Alpine monitor was mounted in the center of the rear console and has a VCR player and Sony PlayStation 2 system attached. All fuse blocks, speaker wires, and other cables used were from Stinger.
After eight long and hard months of building, the end result proves to be a testament to the determination, craftsmanship, and sense of style that Steven and all of those who worked on the project have. When Steven is not busy detailing the Green Giant, it can be found either on the truck show circuits or just cruising down the highway. Just keep in mind, though, that it is always important to yield the right of way to larger vehicles, especially if they're big, green, and from Texas.