Being the World's Leading Custom Truck Publication, we are often asked to build trucks to make their maiden debuts at the SEMA Show held each year in Las Vegas. This is the Who's Who of truck shows and all things aftermarket parts related -- not to mention the hundreds of thousands of shop owners, the media, and the hundreds of OEM representatives who attend the event to unveil their pet projects.
For 2000, this was no exception. Ford Marketing came to us in June 2000 with a new '01 SuperCrew and asked if we would be interested in building one of the most radical trucks at the show and then use it at upcoming events taking place throughout the next show season. Naturally, we agreed and told them not only would it make its debut at SEMA, but it would be the very first, totally custom SuperCrew, complete with all of the bells and whistles that make a cover truck and feature what it is. Simply put, this project truck had to kick some serious tail.
To say that we have accomplished that feat is a gross understatement. Not only was our Project SuperCrewzer the talk of the SEMA Show, but so far, at several local shows the truck has attended, the crowds gathering around, gazing at this vehicle in all its splendor have made the long weeks and weekends leading up to the SEMA debut well worth it.
To begin with, what was received from Ford was an XLT Lariat 2WD truck, completely loaded with the small 4.6L V-8 with power windows and door locks, featuring a beautiful white-painted exterior. Throw in a gray leather interior, a rather respectable AM/FM/CD changer audio system, and you have all the makings for a winner. However, while the truck in its stock configuration looked respectable, it certainly lacked the much-needed Truckin' punch that has become synonymous with these type of magazine builds.
Now here comes the hard part -- the actual build. Keep in mind that while it seems that everyone's brother, sister, mother, and father is driving down the road in these way-cool Ford SuperCrews, back when we got ours, there were little of these beasts running around, let alone many parts developed for them. And just so no one claims the body is the same as a Super Cab F-150, let us tell you right now, while the sheetmetal is similar, the window posts are different, the front end sheetmetal varies slightly, looking closer to that of the hot rod Lightning truck. So armed with a Christina Biane rendering, we mapped out a plan of attack.
It went something like this. First of all, the truck had to be 'bagged and resting on the rails, otherwise, it just wouldn't be worth doing. Secondly, while we had the truck and were building it, why not let other aftermarket manufacturers use our SuperCrew Crewzer to develop product? The reason being: When the truck finally came out in full production, there would be an abundance of fresh new parts available to turn their SuperCrews into something close to ours -- if that is possible.
So armed with a mighty game plan, we formulated their final ideas on paper and set out to build the world's first full-custom Ford SuperCrew. After placing a quick call to Chassis Tech, the company sent over one of its new, fully adjustable Blow Jax airbag kits, consisting of new fully adjustable 1-1/2-inch-diameter 0.188 wall DOM tubing, hollow wall upper and lower control arms, and double-convoluted 2,600-pound airbags. In the rear is where the suspension stance gets far more exotic, and the best part about the entire procedure stems from the fact both the front and the rear kit are totally bolt-on.
The entire stock leaf spring assembly was discarded in favor of the new Chassis Tech Blow Jax rear four-link kit, consisting of brand-new 0.250-inch-thick front spring hangers that allow for our chrome-plated 1-1/4-inch OD tube trailing arms to connect to the front brackets. Sandwiched between the rear trailing arm mounts is another set of 2,600-pound airbags. Last, but not least, Chassis Tech also sent over the requisite Super C-notch that allows the rearend to ride 7 inches closer to earth. The entire story of Project SuperCrewzer's lowering can be read in "Awesome Adjustability" (Apr. '01).
In addition to the Blow Jax air system installed, we also outfitted the truck with 1/2-inch air lines and four air valves that flow 75 cfm (cubic feet per minute) normally and as much as 150 psi (pounds per square inch). Combined with our bed-mounted V-twin 9-gallon air tank and dual 1.5hp air compressors, flowing 165 psi and 8 cubic feet of air per minute plus dual 100 percent duty-cycle circuit breakers; Project Super Crewzer goes up, down, and side-to-side in a matter of seconds rather than minutes like other air adjustable systems do.
All said and done, the entire truck can be raised and lowered roughly 10 inches over its previous stock height. Rounding out the Chassis Tech suspension is a set of Boyd Coddington Smoothie wheels featuring the new LS-style rounded-edge wheel hoop. The wheels up front measure 20x8 inches and are shod in Dunlop P295/40ZR20 rubber, while significantly larger 20x10-inch Smoothies were dressed in P295/40ZR20 Dunlops. Combined with the Chassis Tech suspension, the wheels and tires are the perfect combination to properly tuck them into the wheelwell when Project SuperCrewzer is laying its massive frame.
If Project SuperCrewzer's suspension stance doesn't immediately grab your attention, quite possibly the brilliant combination of flames and tribal graphics will. When we originally conceived the look in our minds, the Christina Biane rendering blew even our wildest notion of how we wanted Project SuperCrewzer to look. Deciding on the extensive expert paint and bodywork that would be needed based upon Christina's rendering, we immediately placed a call to our good friend and expert painter, Louie Morosan at L&G Enterprises in San Dimas, California.
Louie took one look at our rendering and came up with a plan to get SuperCrewzer done and looking fantastic. Also throw in the fact, during this time there were 10 other SEMA projects sitting in Louie's paint bays, meaning many long hours of tedious sanding to perfect the body to the point where Christina's unique graphics scheme would jump off the sheetmetal.
However, along the way, some much-needed body accessories were added, deleted, and improved upon to make SuperCrewzer's body more attractive. Up front, the stock factory flat sheetmetal hood was replaced with a dual-scoop air-intake piece from AeroForm, available exclusively through Autobahn Wholesale in Atlanta. The dual air-intake scoops feed cold, fresh air into the truck's supercharger, definitely adding another element of surprise. The stock front bumper was replaced with a Lightning-esque Wings West bumper, now dressed with a Precision Design & Manufacturing polished billet aluminum lower grille. Another Precision Design polished billet grille rests comfortably in the factory upper grille shell.
The backside of Project SuperCrewzer gets slightly more exotic. Louie had his L&G Enterprises crew shave the rear tailgate handle and install a flip kit from Sir Michaels in Huntington Beach, California. However, rather than smooth the tailgate skin, L&G Enterprises rounded the sheetmetal into what appears to be a rearward bulge. This bulge follows the original dimpled body line more commonly found on the backsides of Flareside F-150s. The other piece of exotic hardware is the truck's roll pan. Because the entire outer skin is fiberglass and the inner bedliner is metal -- crafting on a metal pan would not have worked. However, sitting around the L&G shop eating lunch with the crew and the Truckin' staff, we all sort of put our heads together and came up with a solution.
After taking some quick measurements, we figured a '99 Chevy roll pan could be adapted to properly work on the backside of Project SuperCrewzer. After cutting off the ends of the Chevy pan, we were able to mold the new pan to the truck's backside without too much trouble. L&G Enterprises was even able to salvage the rear tailgate edge molding that helps to finish off the truck's backside. However, by the time you read this, Sir Michaels will already have new roll pans for the SuperCrew trucks.
Originally, our main plan was to shave everything, including all the door handles, however, due to serious time constraints, we elected to leave them intact. However, we did do some other shaving, such as the factory radio antenna and all of the factory Ford badging. With literally one week left until SEMA Show time, the truck was rolled into L&G Enterprises spray booth and covered once again in a PPG Factory White. We had originally told Ford to give us a truck in white, figuring it would be the best basecoat for all of our wacky graphics ideas. However, being the perfectionist Louie is, he elected to re-shoot the truck's primary base color.
Armed with multiple rolls of thin masking tape, the tribal flame design was laid out. On the front end, the truck was covered in House of Kolor Shimrin Sunrise pearl that fades into Sunset Pearl. More paint fades into House of Kolor Tangelo, then to Ultra Orange pearl, and finally into Cherry pearl. Rounding out the colors, Louie had Larry Fator at Quicksilver Air Brushing expertly apply the gray shadowing effect on all of the tribal flames and on the rear, prominently displayed Ford logo, again highlighted with shadows.
After all of the color changes, fades, and airbrush work was complete, the truck's body was covered in PPG Clear to set off all of the colors and bury any of the flame-licked edges. Rub your fingers across the paint and you, too, will know what we mean. To finish off the truck, the bed was capped with a Stockland fiberglass tonneau that helps protect the Wise Industries' Bedrug and our V-twin air tank and valves.
With time running out, some tall orders were in place: Get finished and make the thing look beyond cool. We needed to make only one call for our interior excellence. The Original World-Famous Stitchcraft Custom Interiors in Westminster, California, applied its mastery in roughly two days. We think the end results speak for themselves. Steve "Revo" Reeves not only crafted some serious work into this project, but also expertly matched the exterior tribal flames perfectly in yellow, red, and orange suede material, all sewn into new gray suede seat covers. Not only were the front and rear seats completed in record time, but Revo was also able to re-cover the door panels in more of the red suede material. To say this looks supremely hot does not do it justice.
A killer interior is only as good as the cruising tunes being emitted from within and heard outside. Wanting to accessorize our killer Project SuperCrewzer even further, Kenwood sent over an unreleased KVT-910DVD head unit. It consists of an AM/FM/DVD head unit that makes cruising to and from shows all the more enjoyable with DVD movies; it also doubles as a CD player. The head unit receives its power from a Kenwood KAC-959 amplifier with sounds emitted from a custom-made speaker box that houses both the amplifier in a custom rack and a pair of 10-inch Kenwood subwoofers. In addition, new 6-1/2-inch Kenwood component speakers were installed at each corner to round out the killer system. Taking credit for the complete design, installation, wiring, and custom speaker box enclosure is Competition Soundworks in Stanton, California. Without Competition Soundworks' help, fruition for Project SuperCrewzer would not have been possible.
Under the fiberglass AeroForm hood had to be just as exciting as the rest of the truck, so we turned to a couple of industry heavyweights to further the completion process. Gibson Performance in Corona, California, was called upon for an after-cat exhaust kit as well as replacement headers for the 4.6L V-8. Featuring a light ceramic coating to help protect against heat and corrosion, the top of the motor was capped with a MagnaCharger supercharger. This Ventura, California-based company's product alone adds roughly 40 percent more horsepower to the otherwise stock powerplant. Who knows? With a little more engine massaging, Project SuperCrewzer could be on the verge of a whole new trend, looking good and scorching tire hides while being laid down on its frame.
Needless to say, Project SuperCrewzer made it just in the nick of time to make the opening of the 2000 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Was it the hit of the show? You bet. Throughout the week-long event, only open to industry people, there were crowds of people standing around, four-people deep, touching the paint and attempting to find the edges in the flames. But there weren't any, and Project SuperCrewzer was a supreme hit with the Ford folks whose massive booth space just happened to be right next to the Primedia booth. Coincidence that the truck was prominently displayed on our floor space next to theirs?
We think not. About the only question remaining for next year is: What do we intend to build? You can bet, coming from the World's Leading Custom Truck Publication, it will defy words and amaze everyone, just as Project SuperCrewzer has done.