Dental Work: 2015 Super Duty Front End Swap on an Early Excursion
Dental Work: 2016 Super Duty Front-End Swap on an Early Excursion
Most custom trucks have plans that are laid out from the beginning, following a very specific plan of attack. A particular model gets picked out, a set of parts is ordered, with paint and body being part of the equation. Sometimes the inspiration for a custom build comes from an unlikely source. This ’01 Excursion started life as a boring, no-plans-for-custom family truckster that was performing its exact duty when the unlikely, or unlucky, struck.
Jeff Davy of Devious Customs was driving the Excursion down a stretch of Southern California highway heading toward a family outing, when an unplanned meeting between him and a fellow motorist put a huge dent in his plans for a day of fun with the wife and kiddos. The Excursion was put out of commission temporarily, and as luck would have it, Davy runs a very successful and very creative custom shop in Riverside, California. As he and the Devious Crew were at work creating custom cars and trucks as they normally do, the idea struck him to make the daily driver into one that would turn heads. Why just fix something back to stock when you can trick it out with a new front-end swap?
The idea quickly took shape. He would take the solid lines and subtle toughness of this single-generation SUV and bring it up to date with the addition of a ’11-’16 Ford Super Duty grille, fenders and hood. The daily driver and kid transporter with the strength and underpinnings of an F-250 would be given a new look, becoming the SUV that should’ve been had the model continued up until this day. As the head of a custom shop that does these kinds of projects on a daily basis, Davy was about to cut and create all the adapter-type bracketry himself, but time got away from him. But he was able to easily find one that suited his purpose online.
Readers of Truckin may remember this Excursion from a recent issue when it received the first step of its transformation—a 6-inch Fabtech lift. There are still more plans after this point for more exterior upgrades but that will come later. Follow along as we spend another day at Devious Customs while they take their project-in-progress ’01 Ford Excursion and swap in a ’11-’16 Super Duty grille, front fenders, and hood to give it that extra custom look.
1. When we last left this Excursion, it had just been fitted with a 6-inch lift from Fabtech, 20-inch wheels from SOTA, and 37-inch Grabbers from General Tire making this big grocery-getter significantly bigger. Now it was ready to go through its exterior transformation and be given the ’11-‘16 Super Duty treatment, refreshing its look while still keeping the functionality it was designed for.
2. This is what prompted the all-around teardown and transformation. An accident on the road had sidelined the Excursion with damage to the hood, bumper, and all but smashing the grille. Rather than purchase replacement panels and make this people mover exactly the same as before, Davy decided to go all the way with it and do a major front-end update.
3. We started the teardown by unbolting the hood. The Devious Crew had that removed in no time, and the pile of panels that would be scrapped had started. Take careful note where the hood support strut-mounting points are located on the fenders. They would be addressed in a later step.
4. To attempt a swap like this one, the entire front clip had to be dismantled. With the hood removed, they started on the fenders, removed the grille, and bumper. With the ’11-’16 Super Duty components being swapped in, however, it was not as simple as unbolting the old and installing the new.
5. Continuing with the teardown process, the factory running boards were stripped off with the removal of the eight mounting bolts on either side. Currently, there are no plans for replacing the steps, but something cool could pop up in the future.
6. Because the swap would encompass the front third of the Excursion, the conversion went all the way back to the wiper cowl and to the hinges for the hood. The ’11-’16 edition uses a different set of hinges, and those were ordered in advance of the transformation.
7. One of Devious’s top body men Tim can be seen here modifying the new hood hinges to fit onto the factory inner structure. He had to reshape a bolthole on the mounting bracket of the hinges to make them fit, and had to do so on both hinges. The cuts for a swap like this have to be precise to make the hood sit right and have the gaps look factory. So measure twice, cut once.
8. After all the shaving had taken place, the hood hinges were installed. It’s imperative the hood is set correctly as is the main area that the fenders and grille would have their gaps measured off of. No pressure here!
9. On a swap of this nature, there are a multitude of areas that need to be chopped and shaved to make the new parts fit. To get the new fender to fit, Tim had to cut the upper factory fender-mounting tab on both the driver and passenger side with an air cutoff wheel.
10. A section of the inner stricture had to be shaved off, this time on the core support, to make fitment of the new fenders possible. This area of the inner structure would push the new fender out too far and prevent the fender from aligning around the headlights and sitting properly next to the hood.
11. Here is the aftermath of the cut on the inner structure. About 8 inches of the inner structure had to be removed on both the driver and passenger side. The ’11-’16 fenders would now be able to fit over the structure and align with the headlight correctly.
12. Before the various bracketry could be fit to the core support that gives mounting points for the new hood adjustment bumpers, we drilled nutserts in on the driver’s and passenger side of the core support. Nutserts are super handy and easily install just like a rivet to provide our brackets a place to solidly bolt in.
13. With our nutserts firmly in place, we went ahead and installed the brackets that would be holding our new grille in place.
14. One of the only front-end parts that will be reused is the hood latch. It bolts right back into where it was removed, and luckily for this build, was one of the few components Ford did not redesign.
15. The headlights for the ’11-’16 Super Duty are of a different size and shape than what our ’01 Excursion was designed for, which required us to cut out a larger pocket for the new lights.
16. The new fenders required us to cut off the old upper mounting tab. Here, the Devious Crew is drilling new holes for nutserts to be used to mount the upper bracket of the fenders. The door had to be opened, and a sheet of cardboard was used to protect the paint.
17. The lower fender-mounting bracket was now in the wrong spot for the new fender and had to be removed. Here, Tim is screwing some self-tapping screws to mount the fender bracket, which will in turn receive a nutsert to mount the new fender.
18. The fender is now set onto the newly created bracket that will lock it into place. The gap seen here is from the open driver’s door. The lower fender mount will then be tightened and the gaps adjusted before the fender gets locked down for good.
19. The driver’s side fender was mounted up but still loose to be adjusted for proper gap width. Although the project is far from done, seeing it mocked up like this gave a sense of how it’ll look when done. The various brackets are now in place to hold the grille and for the hood adjustment bumpers.
20. With both fenders now installed, Devious turned their attention to the hood and found a new wrinkle. The hood strut mounts had to be relocated, which caused a fair amount of head scratching. They were eventually welded the mounts to the new bracket running along the inner structure.
21. This install may look like a series of haphazard cuts and best guesses, but these modifications are measured and absolutely necessary to properly fit the new pieces against the old body. Here, we shaved the top half of the frame horns to make the fitment of the new grille possible. The geometry changed so much, these cuts had to be made.
22. The modified frame horns will now be able to accept the ’11-‘16 grille support bracket purchased for this build. But in order to fit the support bracket to our ’01 Excursion, the sawzall came out and changes had to be made.
23. After measuring the bracket against its new mounting points, the initial cut was made. When the bracket was fit over the top of the frame horns and tucked under the core support, we discovered another cut had to be made. So goes it in the custom world! The headlights were placed in their new pockets but not installed in order to gap everything.
24. These brackets are designed to tie the headlights, core support, and the grille support bracket together, and also provide a mounting point for the headlights. More holes were drilled and more nutserts installed to mate the three areas and provide stability.
25. Even though we mocked up the headlights position, we found once the brackets from the previous step were installed, the lights stuck out a little too far. So, we had to go back to the cut off and make a few more adjustments to the headlight bucket.
26. With the headlights mounted, the hood and fenders properly gapped, it was time to mount the grille. It slid over the new brackets like the two were made from the factory that way.
27. As they did before with the hood and fenders, the Devious installers had to adjust the bumper a little to get it to sit right. It was then aligned to sit properly with the newly installed sheetmetal. All the previous steps led up to this point, and it’s really easy to get out of alignment at any of the previous cuts or drill points. Absolute precision is vital through the whole process.
28. We were that much closer to a finished product, and all that was left was this big beefy bumper from Tough Country. We were going to fit it, but it was left in its raw state to be coated at a later stage in the build process.
29. The bumper itself came with these equally beefy mounting brackets, which were then bolted to the recently altered frame horns. The grille support bracket can just barely be seen above the brackets. The old tried-and-true method of putting a carefully measured gap tool, this time it was some wood wrapped in tape, holds the measurement without having to keep busting out the ruler.
30. Our behemoth Tough Country bumper was hoisted up into place using a floor jack and was mounted up by the Devious crew. The grille was still left loose and taped down to be held in place until the bumper could be fit properly and the final adjustments between the two made.
31. The headlights, bumper, and door handles were removed, so our nearly there ’01 Excursion could be wrapped. The transformation was entering the final stages. The lift was complete, it got a new set of wheels and tires, and we have just installed the ’11-’16 grille, hood, and fenders. The rest of the exterior will be addressed, and this build will be ready to rock the roads of So Cal like never before. So, stay tuned to see the final form of our SUV that should have been.