Custom 1999 Ford Expedition - Death Roll
Even Gators Have Nine Lives
Larry and Callie Stevens call their 1999 Ford Expedition "Death Roll," although the inspiration for that isn't obvious. So let us explain: They were towing their just-completed Expedition Harley-Davidson edition last year when a trailer tire blew. Their rig jackknifed and the tow vehicle rolled. The trailer careened across the highway and got stuck in the median before it could menace oncoming traffic. Larry and Callie's F-150 was totaled...but the Expedition was only scratched. Luckily, nobody was hurt. The name, Death Roll, refers to that wreck and the way that a gator rolls after it traps its prey in its choppers. Maybe it should refer to the way it traps the eyeballs of people who happen to be walking by it at a show as well.
Let's start with the audio goodies in the cargo area. Modifications in the cab gobble up the majority of the space in the cargo area, leaving a little room in the back for the amp rack and gator head. Looking through the hatch reveals a 3/4-inch plexiglass wall that is motorized and separates the rear space from the rest of the cab. The purpose of the plexi, aside from looking cool, is to help pump up the SPL inside the vehicle. In front of it are four bright, shiny nitrogen tanks suspended in a billet aluminum rack. They frame a box that hangs in the middle of that arrangement and contains four JBL Power Series PX300.4 amplifiers that power the audio system's mid- and high-frequency speakers. A hand-carved bust of an alligator head drapes atop the box like a dragon protecting its audio horde. Embedded into the rack are the two 2,200-watt JBL BPX2200.1 mono amplifiers that power the system's subwoofers. In front of all that, in the floor, is a battery rack with four Kinetic batteries and associated power accessories. The air tanks, by the way, operate not only the suspension, but also the plexiglass wall, vehicle doors, cover of the amplifier box, fuse panel access, and the roll pan, all of which are motorized.
Moving around to the front of the cab, we see what looks like the aftermath of a gator-wrestling match that went terminally wrong for the reptile. Both of the rear passenger doors were welded in place, the seams filled, and the rear door windows sealed by steel plates. This creates a '50s-style panel truck on the outside and a lizard den inside. The Expedition's once-spacious living space now seats two people on bucket seats in the front row and another one on a bucket centered behind them and squeezed between two enclosures for 15-inch JBL subwoofers. Alligator-hide textures stamped in purple and brown dominate the interior. Specifically, tan Bentley carpet lines the floor, alligator-stamped tan leather inserts contrast with the concord-colored nusuede on the seats, and the purple nusuede also dresses up the headliner. The seats are factory Ford that have been cut and reshaped. Where the windows used to be are acoustic panels bubbled by what looks like a dinosaur-hide pattern.
The purple dash was shaped and painted to fit the Expedition's gator theme and was fabricated with sound quality in mind. Four Focal 5-inch woofers fire straight up from the top of the dash. The steering wheel was replaced by a re-wrapped D4 Navigator version. More radically, the instrument cluster was moved to the center of the dash, where it is underscored by a 13-inch Accele monitor, both of which are surrounded by painted gator scales. The AC system's vents and controls were repositioned to match the dash and are now used to cool amplifiers. Inside the center console is a Rockford Fosgate Platinum 2000 AM/FM/CD head unit, and an Alpine RUX-C701 controller for the PXA-H701 sound processor. A horn-loaded center-channel speaker enables the 5.1 Dolby digital theater surround. Custom kick panels house 6-1/2-inch speakers.
The two remaining doors are hinged suicide-style and motorized. On the inside of those doors, the fiberglass door panels were designed to accommodate the lever arm that activates the doors. Looking outside again, the aggressive snout of a ram-air hood looms over the billet grille set into the Lightning front end. API Clear headlights and a Lightning urethane bumper finish up the front end. Molded Bushwacker flares lend the fenders some drama. API Clear taillights were painted to match the vehicle; one of the lights hides the gas cap. A rollpan replaces the rear bumper.
Under the hood is the factory 5.4L V-8, with the addition of a supercharger taken from a Ford Lightning and a Flowmaster 2-1/2-inch exhaust. A Ford 3.73 PosiTrack spins in the rearend. The result is a pleasing 325hp, 400-ft-lb mill. (Nice.) Of course, the vehicle is lowered - in this case, 6 and 8 inches from stock. And it lays out thanks to Airlift 'bags put in mounting brackets customized to maximize the airbags' ability to lift and lower the truck. Belltech spindles replace the stock ones, and Nitro shocks dampen the ride. Neeper T-Rex 20x9-1/2-inch wheels are mounted with a 4-inch offset and roll inside low-profile Yokohama P275/35ZR20 tires.
A lot of people were involved with the building of Larry and Callie's Expedition. Here's the list: Cali Customs in Midland, Texas, worked on the suspension, engine and drivetrain, bodywork, and audio/video install. Fuller's Auto Upholstery in Wataga, Texas, took care of the interior skins. Larry offers special thanks to Wilson Adcock and Randy Garza for their custom fabrication in the interior, Johnny Maldanado at Jams Airbrush Garage in Midland for painting the graphics, and wife Callie for putting up with the project. Sponsors include JBL, Kinetic, and Focal. Truckin' ran Larry's Expedition in November of 2002, but it looked a tad different. The day after the shoot, he took it into the shop and started all over again. And if Larry decides to overhaul his ride again over the next few years...who knows? You might just see it here.