Ford was looking for a truck to show off its ability to tow a trailer, get great fuel mileage, and use on the show circuit— so we ...

When Ford began campaigning the 2011 Ford F-150, the truck community was a buzz about the new twin-turbo EcoBoost engine, which Ford claimed had the performance of a V-8 with the fuel mileage of a V-6. Much like a mythical creature, we all wondered, “Could the two really coexist?” Ford’s latest engine answered our questions and is an engineering marvel. Simply put, it’s the new benchmark in manufacturers thinking outside the box. Ford knew they had a hit on their hands, but they wanted to get the aftermarket world as excited about the EcoBoost as they were. To handle this huge task, they reached out to John Wargo, owner of The Custom Shop in Flanagan, Illinois. John was commissioned to build a show-winning EcoBoost F-150. Typically, this would be an easy task for a shop that’s built more than 148 magazine feature cars and trucks, but the team only had four weeks to transform the Ford. Welcome to Ecology 101—the custom truck version.

Starting with the suspension, The Custom Shop removed the brand-new hardware and installed a Belltech front coilover suspension and rear flip kit, also from Belltech. The 5/7 drop features rear Belltech shocks and Firestone helper ’bags with a wireless air control system for easy load leveling when towing. Before bolting on the new wheels, the crew at The Custom Shop added huge 14.5-inch Performance Friction big brakes with six-piston calipers. Up next, 22-inch COR Cipher three-piece wheels were wrapped in Continental Cross Contact UHP tires, sized 265/35R22 and bolted on the F-150. Taking things to the next level, John ordered the COR wheels with polished hoops, brushed centers, and black inner hoops. The high-end wheels add a luxury feel to the requisite performance appeal.

Speaking of performance, how do 404 rwhp and 446 lb-ft of torque sound? Despite the EcoBoost’s small 213ci displacement, the twin-turbo V-6 pumped out impressive figures thanks to a custom dyno tune and Triple Dog GT programmer from Bully Dog. Giving the new engine even more power, a Bully Dog cold-air intake system and Corsa high-flow exhaust were installed. Amsoil synthetic fluids keep the engine protected at a modest 13 psi of boost, while SPAL electric fans keep the engine nice and cool. A painted engine beauty cover provides some color under the hood, and The Custom Shop team could switch their focus on the body.

Using DuPont Hot Hues paint, John filled his Sata spray gun with Blazin Copper and Molten Copper, which are faded into the top of the truck, while Black Pearl was applied to the lower half. John also airbrushed the white dividing graphics and pinstriped the truck throughout. Up front, a Suncoast Creations fiberglass dual-cowl hood adds to the performance theme, as do the upper and lower Race Mesh custom grilles in black chrome gothic finish. Out back, an ARE tonneau cover features a Brunton solar panel that charges the Odyssey batteries at outdoor truck shows. John used his years of experience to add some truly unique touches to the F-150, such as the SPAL door handle kit that incorporates the factory key code, and using black pearl to smoke the head and taillights.

Inside the FX2, two-toned Katzkin leather seat covers wrap the factory seats and several plastic dash pieces were smoothed and painted. A Sony navigation unit is housed in a custom carbon-fiber pod on top of the dash and that head unit controls a total of four Sony amps. Tunes are heard through 6¾-inch Sony components in the front doors, with the tweeters mounted in the upper door vents. Sony 10-inch slim subwoofers provide the bass from under the rear seat in a carbon-fiber enclosure, and besides the massage from the subs, rear seat occupants also enjoy 7-inch monitors in the front headrests. At truck shows, lifting the ARE tonneau cover reveals a 48-inch Sony Bravia HDTV and Odyssey batteries in a fiberglass enclosure. A Sony Blu-Ray player provides full 1080p entertainment. Scosche wiring ensures every signal received the best input possible.

In just four weeks time, John and his Custom Shop crew built an F-150 that Ford liked so much, they placed it in their booth at SEMA. That’s quite an accomplishment, but what we like even better is the 1,850-mile drive home where the EcoBoost returned 25 mpg doing 80 mph. With the new F-150 and its twin-turbo V-6, Ford is providing a truck with good looks, plenty of power, and impressive mileage—now that’s taking the world of custom trucks to school and teaching them a thing or two.