Few people would ever consider an 8,000-pound vehicle to be the perfect candidate for a daily driver. At nearly 19 feet long, the Ford Excursion is the biggest and heaviest SUV on the road today, not to mention its less-than-desirable reputation for fuel economy. But if you're a family man in the business of building custom trucks and selling aftermarket truck accessories, what better platform to showcase your talents?
Such is the story of Joseph Verdone of Truck Creations in Scottsdale, Arizona. As the owner/operator of a popular truck accessory and customizing business, Verdone is always looking for a rolling platform to showcase his company's talents. And when Ford selected him to build a custom Excursion for the 2000 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, he couldn't say no.
The first order of business was getting the behemoth down to a more streetable level. In fact, this Excursion is one of the first such SUVs outfitted with DJM Suspension's new lowering kit. Up front, the kit uses dropped I-beams; out back, a new spring hanger and shackle replace the stock parts. This setup, combined with Edelbrock IAS shocks, gives the Excursion a modest 3-inch drop. The rear spring hanger and shackle setup offers multiple positions for precise leveling of the Excursion's rear. By using the original spring's front and rear, the kit also offers a stock-like ride with improved handling by lowering the center of gravity.
With the truck riding lower, new rolling stock was the next order of business. Only a handful of wheel manufacturers offer wheels with a high enough load rating to carry the weight of a fully loaded Excursion, so a set of 20x9.5-inch KMC Tank wheels were selected for the job. The KMCs are wrapped with Toyo 305/50-R20s. This combo fills the huge wheelwells of the Excursion nicely.
Getting more bang for the buck from the truck's 7.3L PowerStroke diesel was next on the agenda and was a very effective and noticeable modification. Simple upgrades were at the top of the power list: an AIRAID intake system and a B&B 4-inch stainless exhaust system, using an upgraded down pipe from the turbo. However, the biggest power gain and mileage increase came from the installation of an ATS propane injection system that improves the combustion efficiency of the diesel. Complementing the propane system is a three-stage PROM chip for the computer. The entire upgrade package helps propel the Excursion down the quarter-mile in 14.92 seconds at 96 mph.
Joseph realized that giving the behemoth a street-smart exterior attitude would require much more than lowering the wheels and tires. Body-wise, the Excursion was treated to a Street Scene Speed Grille and a Reflexxion Pretender smooth bumper, also fitted with a speed grille. One of the first Reflexxion steel cowl-induction hoods for Excursion applications was fitted on the Ford before it was shipped to First Class Auto Body of Scottsdale for a flame job. Larry Vela of First Class did the honors of laying out the gold, red, purple, and orange flames and spraying them in DuPont ChromaFlair paint.
On the inside, the word subtle is not one of the adjectives associated with this truck. The Excursion has plenty of natural lighting, courtesy of two electric ASC moonroofs mounted fore and aft. Clarion components were chosen for the audio and video system in the truck, which includes a total of five TVs, a VCR, and a DVD unit.
Up front, a Clarion head unit in the dash features a flip-up color monitor, while an ASC flip-down overhead TV is mounted just forward of the rear seat. Two more ASC color monitors are mounted in the headrests of the front seats, while a Clarion TV and VCR setup is mounted in the back of the stock center console. Twin Clarion APX 400 amps are mounted in a custom enclosure in the rear cargo area, while the thump in the system is provided by twin 10-inch subwoofers mounted in the swing-out rear cargo doors. To keep his son, Joseph Jr. entertained over the long haul, Verdone added a Sony PlayStation to the mix as well. The entire system is wired together with Scosche components.
The finishing touches on the Excursion include the addition of leather bomber jacket seating surfaces from Katzkin. The two-tone leather seat covers are extremely soft and complement the rest of the truck's tan interior. Another finishing touch was the addition of ASC wireless headsets and a Clifford alarm system, complete with remote start.
Verdone's rolling business card is not just another pretty truck that sits in front of his shop. The Excursion sees daily driver duty and has made a few runs to the California Coast loaded with relatives. He also claims it gets 22 mpg on the road, thanks to the propane injection, and surprises a few local hot rodders with stoplight-to-stoplight blasts. The Excursion is also rolling proof that living large is not such a bad thing.