Superb Super Duty
Tow Truck to Show Truck
Tommy "TC" Coleman, President of Mini Madness (famous for Tampa's Annual Slamfest) for the past six years, recently rolled out his impressive '00 Ford F-350 Super Duty Diesel. The Super Duty is TC's fourth custom vehicle, and he always chooses something with plenty of room, generally with four-wheel-drive. But the path to customizing wasn't always easy. His first Pro Street S-10 was a disaster when the mechanic who was supposed to do the work left with the money before the job was done. TC found the truck some months later and, older and wiser, incorporated the salvageable parts into his next vehicle -- an '87 Jeep CJ with a Corvette motor and 35-inch Super Swampers.
Somewhere along the way he also acquired a '70 Blazer with a '93 Chevrolet phantom dualie body that has since become a keeper. It is well on its way to becoming the most radically customized vehicle in TC's collection. It has a roadster top, a Pro Street silhouette, a Denali front clip, and more. In the meantime, his former work truck, the Super Duty Diesel used to haul heavy loads as part of his business, has been retired from its work role. Groomed as a tow vehicle for the phantom dualie, the big F-350 has become a hot custom in its own right.
Like most folks, TC began the process with a set of custom wheels but soon upped the ante with body mods that included shaving the third brake light from the cab, eliminating the stock dualie lights from the roof, and dispensing with the emblems on the body. The style lines were removed from the tailgate and a Sir Michaels roll pan replaced the original. The trick headlights are from APC -- one of the first sets produced by the company. Brian Horowitz of APC also came through with the Diamond Eye clear corners, Dagger grille with billet insert, clear taillights, and white-face gauges. Replacing the original set of 16-inch Neeper Titans are a set of custom-machined 22-inch rims created by Frank Carralero of Reds Hydraulics in Miami. The rugged-looking 10-bolt rims wrapped in low-profile Pirellis create that sought-after one-of-a-kind look to the truck.
Craftsmanship credits for body and paint are shared among a group of talented artists, beginning with Jimmy Web from Outlaw Customs for the body work, Robbie Taylor from Kolor Krazy Graphics, who created the graphics on the tailgate and hood, and Daniel Smith from D. Smith Designs, who accomplished the artwork on the nitrogen tanks in the bed. Dave, from Street Heat Customs, handled the plastic painting around the door handles, taillights, and interior, as well as the body paint on the roof after the lights were shaved. Dave did a perfect match for the Bright Amber Ford paint, color-sanding and buffing for a show-truck finish.
The distinctive profile of the big Ford comes from the new air suspension. Since the truck was designed to haul a trailer, and new power additions were planned, nothing but a strong four-link could pull the load and control axle wrap. At the time, no one made suspension options for the Ford, so TC, assisted by Mini Madness club member Kevin Schrock, removed the stock rear leaf springs and then created the custom-built four-link rear suspension. It uses 1-3/4-inch tubular-steel links that are mandrel-bent to fit. A pair of 3,800-pound Firestone airbags allows the truck to shed some serious altitude, while still retaining its work-truck hauling capability. Front suspension uses an Air Ride Technologies kit with 3,700-pound airbags that TC says were easy to install and work great. He chose nitrogen to activate the suspension with a pair of bed-mounted bottles that hold 235 cubic-feet each. At 2,500 psi, they raise the big truck quickly and are good for about 30 cycles.
After the adjustable altitude was complete, the stereo was next. Frank and Nate from Street Heat Customs in Clearwater, Florida, did the work, which included building the sub box behind the rear seats and adding speakers to the doors and kick panels. The original plan was a stealth approach, keeping everything fairly low-profile. That worked until TC decided he had to have the new Sony PlayStation 2. With nowhere else to go, it went into the dash in front of the passenger and more or less blew the cover, but TC says it was worth it. The head unit on the truck is an IVA800 Alpine flip-face with CD with an Alpine Parametric EQ mounted just below. A pair of Rockford Fosgate 750IX four-channel amps under the rear seat power the front stage which is composed of a pair of Diamond Audio 5.25-inch M5 Series mids and 1-inch tweets mounted in the doors and two more in the Q-Form kick panels. Separated M5 components provide rear fill with the 6-1/2-inch mids in the lower portion of the rear panels along with high-mounted tweets. The Rockford Fosgate BD Power 1000 energizes the two Kicker Solo-Baric 15-inch subs mounted in a custom enclosure behind the rear seats.
With much of the show part of the truck attended to, performance was the next priority. The big Ford Power Stroke diesel was upgraded with a K&N intake, a Superchips power chip, and custom-painted accessories by Street Heat. The stock exhaust system uses Gibson tips exiting in front of the rear wheels on the passenger side. Twin Stinger batteries and Expert Series cables ensure positive connections for both engine and stereo.
The final step in TC's customizing process included a road trip from his home in Brandon, Florida, to Baltimore to see his good friend, Terry Molin. Molin works for Classic Soft Trim in Washington, D.C., and handled the revamp of the Ford interior. TC provided the unusual insert material, UltraSuede, in African Leopard animal print, which adds to the interior's unique personality. Staff members Frankie and Mike added the Webasto sunroof while the interior was being renovated. Finishing touches inside came from Billet and Acrylic Fantasies in Vero Beach, Florida. The company supplied all the custom accents for the Ford interior to include the air-conditioning controls and seat levers, plus many specially made pieces for under the hood.
While it may never be finished, for the moment, the Ford is complete. It's also ready for its dual role as show truck and tow truck, once TC's next project vehicle is ready for our cameras.