It all started in the fall of 1996 when Motor Trend began its annual Truck of the Year testing. The competition was not all that fierce, but the new F-150, with its extreme car-like styling, new engine family and A-arm suspension, was the obvious standout. Once Ford was declared the winner, the truck began a yearlong residency with the magazine for long-term testing; a tradition that continues today.
One year later a funny thing happened: The Motor Trend staff was so enamored with the new Ford that they struck a deal, and the truck became a permanent fixture. It immediately became the go-to for long drives, camping trips, and employee moves. It was the camera car for many a photo and video shoot. There are stories that have become legend around the office involving mishaps while driving the truck. There are bumps and bruises on the Dark Toreador Metallic body that no one will cop to creating. One thing we’ve never heard of, however, is the truck breaking down on them. Like we said, this truck served them well. But we had a strong feeling that could change soon if someone did not jump in and give the tired F-150 some love. The regular service it had become accustomed to had dwindled, the 5.4L engine and A-arm suspension were now far from new, and the cabin now has the distinct smell of melted crayons. It was often left in dark corners of our parking garage for periods of six months or more. When we initially went to check out the truck, we were greeted with a dead battery and a crankcase that was extremely low on oil. This is where Truckin stepped in.
A plan was formulated. It was decided that Motor Trend’s longest-term tester is now officially a Truckin project vehicle. With the help of some great partners like Summit Racing Equipment, we will resurrect the ol’ dog to its former glory—and a whole lot more. For this first installment, we are doing a basic tune-up and fluid change with the help of Summit along with Lucas Oil Products. This will provide a good base for some modifications we have planned in the very near future.
Speaking of bases, we really wanted to see where we stood in the horsepower department. Our first stop was K&N Engineering in Riverside, California, where we strapped the truck to their dyno and amazingly, the truck made 180 hp at the wheels. Since we were at K&N and our factory air intake system was beyond filthy, we jumped ahead of our tune-up by installing their FIPK Performance Intake System. About 20 minutes later we were back on the dyno, and sure enough the K&N kit made all 10 hp of its advertised gain for this particular truck, which was now making 190 at the wheels and closely matching the original output.
We now had some hope for the Ford and soon we were in the Truckin Tech Center to complete the initial tune-up. We ordered up a plethora of products from Lucas Oil, then contacted Summit Racing Equipment for the rest of this installment, which includes Accel coil packs, Motocraft Platinum spark plugs, remanufactured injectors, a Fram transmission filter kit and fuel filter, Loctite RTV Black and dielectric grease, and an oil filter from K&N. Check out the (mostly) painless installation that follows, and check back right here for the next installment of our TotYl Resurrection F-150!
01. After giving Larry a battery charge, some test tires, a few quarts of oil, and a wash after our only SoCal rainstorm this year, we trekked out to K&N to see what the truck had left in the power department. To our surprise, it made 180 hp at the wheels.
02. While at K&N, we installed its FIPK air intake kit #57-2541. We were jumping the gun, but this was in the plans all along.
03. The truck was a tired, dirty mess, but since it had never had any work done besides regular maintenance, everything was right where it was supposed to be.
04. After removal of the throttle body cover, idle air control and crankcase vent hoses, and the air temperature sensor connector, a hose clamp at each end released the air intake tube. Once the mass air sensor connector was removed, the air filter box could be
05. Nut inserts replaced the stock mounting grommets, and then the edge trim was installed on the heat shield before being bolted down with the supplied hardware.
06. The intake tube saddle was bolted to the bracket before the whole assembly was mounted using the protruding stud located on the cylinder head.
07. We then connected the air temperature sensor to the intake tube with the provided grommet, then secured the tube to the throttle body.
08. After the stock plumbing was removed from the mass air sensor, the K&N adapter was installed.
09. The mass air sensor was slid through the heat shield and secured to the intake tube with a silicone connector. The K&N filter was then attached to the adapter. Finally, the sensor connector was reattached.