The thought of designing an entire custom truck based on a tire tread's pattern sounds offbeat, and coming from a tire company it sounds just like another promotional gimmick. However, when you start with a killer tire design like the Dick Cepek Crusher it doesn't sound so lame. That's because the Crusher off-road radial tire is unlike any other with its unique skulls and bones prominent in the design. The folks at Dick Cepek created it with the intention of marketing a functional tire that would also really turn heads.
Wayne Williams at Exsell Marketing was hired to make a promotional T-shirt featuring the new tire. Well, that shirt was such a hit that Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels' advertising manager, Don Sneddon, decided to create a full-on SEMA-worthy vehicle based on it. To turn this idea into reality, he submitted a proposal to Ford Motor Co. in an effort to obtain a vehicle through the company's Project Vehicle Program. Although the proposal had to contend with hundreds of others, it was rated highly enough that Don's vision fetched him a brand-new '08 Ford F-250 Super Duty for only one dollar.
The big catch to the program is that the vehicle must be customized, displayed at the SEMA Show, and taken to several events with a full marketing plan throughout the 18-month contract period. The vehicle's activity must also be accounted for through the submission of quarterly updates. Complying with these requests was no problem for Dick Cepek since the company already planned to send the vehicle on tour to display the new tire line.
Don received the truck in June of '07, which left only months to complete it for its early-November debut at SEMA. The truck was handed off to Mike Duval at X-Treme Toyz, a man who is no stranger to the SEMA crunch, having faced it nearly every year for the past 20 years. Mike took the truck to Off Road Unlimited's facility, and with the help of his partner, Danny Kempf, got to work installing a Fabtech 10-inch suspension system with a trick front four-link setup and Fabtech's legendary Dirt Logic 4.0 coilovers. Because the '08 kits were still pre-production, Mike installed a set of custom Atlas rear springs to accommodate the massive 38x15.50 Dick Cepek Crusher tires and DC-1 20-inch wheels. A set of Fabtech traction bars controls the rear axlewrap produced with the additional horsepower and torque gains from the Gale Banks Six-Gun package.
Next, the truck was taken to West Coast Customs for the finishing touches, including the intense paintjob with its Alsa Blood Red base color. The skull graphics were directly inspired by the rendering of the truck on the promo T-shirt. Sticking with that theme, the West Coast Customs crew employed as much of it as possible for the interior. This includes the fiberglass skulls on the doors' speaker pods as well as the Plexiglas skull on the suede headliner. Roadwire custom-made a set of leather seat covers with suede inserts that have the tire tread embossed on them.
Like most SEMA projects, this build came down to the wire. Because this is Ford's latest truck platform, there was a lag in the project assembly due to availability of custom products. Even though there was a struggle with timing, a lot of sleepless nights allowed the Super Duty to be completed as planned and become the centerpiece for Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels' SEMA booth. The icing on the cake came when the truck won one of the '08 Ford Motor Co. Product Excellence awards at the show. It's all solid proof of how well this project turned out.