What do all really tall trucks have in common? Big freakin' tires. You've got to have huge-by-large rolling stock if you want to build your own monster truck. Having big tires used to mean that your truck was rolling on 40s, and you were really livin' large if you were sitting atop a set of 44s. These days, that's child's play. Forty-fours are now 8 inches too small if you want to really be the man.
The discovery of Michelin's XZL all-terrain special-service tires by off-roaders changed the game and upped the ante for lifted-truck rockstar status. These tires were originally designed for emergency-service and military vehicles that operate in sand, mud, and deep water. By pure coincidence, they work perfectly for a serious off-road machine or monster street vehicle; they are huge and fit on 20-inch rims. At 52 inches in diameter and with a load rating of 14,540 pounds at 110 psi, these radials are the biggest tires you can get for a set of dubs.
Jason McCoy of Big Bear Customs understands the importance of picking the right rolling stock. His shop has turned out a number of outstanding project trucks over the last decade, each one tucking or towering over a set of big wheels. His latest project is this '05 Ford F-350, a ride that thus far has spent more time in his shop than it has on the road. After plunking down $42,000 at the local dealership, Jason went with the Ford because he wanted to build his own monster that was clean enough to get into a magazine. While this one doesn't have an outrageous interior or abundance of body mods, it does have a flashy look and sanitary fabrication work, which is why we chose it for the cover of Sport Truck. It also didn't hurt that unlike some of the other ridiculously large trucks we've seen lately, this one has a front driveshaft and the 4wd actually works.
The backbone of the monster lift is a tubular subframe that bolts to the factory chassis. Jason was adamant about not modifying the strong structure of the Ford and going the extra mile to ensure his suspension work would bolt onto it, and it paid off in spades. Not only is the setup serviceable, but he was also able to remove the parts to have them powdercoated without messing with the stock parts. The subframe is crafted from drawn-over-mandrel 2.250-inch tubing, which was bent and MIG-welded together with abundant crossbracing. The subframe attaches to the chassis at the factory leaf-spring mounts because the springs are no longer present. Jason ditched the springs and replaced them with 24-inch Goodyear air springs and attached the axles to the chassis via front and rear four links with wishbones. The suspension control comes courtesy of King 2.5-inch chrome dampers that were valved specifically for the massive air springs. To keep body roll in check, Jason fabricated adjustable front and rear sway bars that pivot using stainless steel rod ends.
So how does all of this trick suspension fabrication and engineering work out on the road? Well, the 'bags provide 24 inches of solid suspension travel, and along with the massive tires this truck measures 48-inches taller than a stock Super Duty. So on the one hand, we'd assume the truck is big enough to be gangly around corners, but the suspension is soft enough to ride plush. Jason admits that the hydraulic steering system is smooth but a tad too quick-reacting at high speeds. So this truck is trailered to truck shows, but Jason mobs it around his hometown without too much drama.
The rest of the truck is pretty straightforward to maintain a clean appearance while still drawing maximum attention. The interior received color-keyed leather inserts, and the dash bezels were sanded smooth and painted to match the outside of the truck. The lower portions of the door panels were also outfitted with diamond-tread plating, which we assume is there to protect the panels when Jason swings himself up into the cab via the door handles. The diamond-tread pattern is carried over to the exterior of Jason's truck through a mixture of both tribal and traditional flames in the paint. The steady hand of Tony Declet added the airbrushed diamonds and drop shadows to the Marina Auto Collision paintjob.
Fifty-eight thousand dollars and two years later, Jason got his really big truck built and trailered it to the SEMA Show, where we spotted it. After working out the logistics of moving the behemoth to our top-secret photo location, and then moving it again because we got kicked out of our location, we watched in amazement as Jason drove the Ford up an off-camber dirt trail no wider than a Yugo.
Although trailered for most of its life, this Ford really did work and we've got all the respect in the world for it. Jason says he originally was building this truck to go off-roading at the Pismo Beach sand dunes and it just spiraled out of control. We think he'll go to Pismo anyway. No matter what, he accomplished mission number one: get it in the mag!
Jason McCoy / Salinas, California
'05 Ford F-350 Super Duty
6.0L diesel / aFe air intake / MBRP 5-inch exhaust system / Edge computer programmer
BY: West Coast Diesel, Salinas, California
Front & Rear: 20x12 Weld Racing Dune with 4.5 inches of backspacing
Front & Rear: 16.00x20.00 Michelin XZL military tires
Front: Goodyear 1R12-568 24-inch-diameter air springs / King 18-inch-stroke, 2.5-inch-diameter reservoir shocks
Rear: Goodyear 1R12-568 24-inch-diameter air springs / King 18-inch-stroke, 2.5-inch-diameter reservoir shocks
Accessories: Air Ride Technologies valves / Viair 480C compressors / 9-gallon reserve air tanks / steel-braided air lines / remote-controlled airbag system
Chassis: Stock frame with bolt-on 2.25x0.180-inch DOM tubular subframe / custom disconnect sway-bar end links
BY: Big Bear Customs, Salinas, California
BY: Airbrushing by Tony Declet / pinstriping by Frank Signs / paint by Marina Auto Collision, Marina, California
Two-tone leather seating / custom door-panel inserts / painted dash bezels
BY: Howard's Upholstery, Salinas, California
Escondido Chrome, Marina Collision, Green Valley Industrial, CSC of Salinas, Tom Artellan Jr., DC Customs, Mark Aday, West Coast Diesel