Performance Road Test: Hulst Customs Ford F-350
Bolder Moves: Hulst Customs' Cobra-inspired one-ton F-350
The rural backwoods of Merlin, Oregon, 10 miles north of Grants Pass, is about as far from the epicenter of truck design as one can get. That hasn't stopped Paul Hulst, Andy Peterman, or Jason Hulst from establishing one the country's premier hot-rod shops there. For 30 years, Hulst Customs has built some of the sweetest street trucks ever conceived.
When it comes to the shop's creations, "it's all about a clean look--less is more," says Jason Hulst. "We want to show the form of what we're working on, rather than mask the design. The shape and contour are incorporated into the overall design. Every detail we add has to make sense and flow. From the front fascia, the wheels and tires, and elements like the vents, it's all about the details."
Hulst believes the next big thing in the automotive aftermarket will be diesels. "We identified the turbodiesel diesel dualie movement a year ago at SEMA," notes Jason. "It's not as hip on the West Coast as it is in the South, but we can apply our expertise in hot rods in a unique way to these serious trucks." The guys used this knowledge on a Ford F-350 dualie, building "Striker" in time for the most recent SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As Jason sketched out the design, he was drawn to Ford's performance heritage, especially the iconic Cobra. "We chose black--it's sinister and sets off the proportions just right with the short bed. We then integrated the Cobra elements, including the hood and front fascia. The original Cobra has an open face with the cooling fans, a nerf bar, and jack bracket. But we didn't want to knock it off directly, and as a result came up with the push-bar tow hook that, combined with the grille set three inches back, gives the truck a strong presence." Dominating the truck's look are the massive American Force 24-inch 10-lug wheels.
To upgrade the Striker's 6.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel, Hulst Customs turned to Banks and its Big Hoss Bundle, which is said to add 138 horsepower and 231 pound-feet of torque. The bundle includes Banks' Techni-Cooler intercooler assembly and the PowerPDA Vehicle Command Center. The Ford also has a pair of fully functional side pipes, built by Andy Peterman from 4.5-inch stainless-steel tubing.
Paul Hulst built the fiberglass side vents in the rear dualie fenders. He shaped the bedrail top caps from steel while the tailgate top cap was smoothed and painted. Rear bumpers were tucked, smoothed, and painted as well. Paul also applied the Glasurit black with contrasting Wimbledon White racing stripes. Rounding out the exterior modifications is a new hemispherically designed fifth-wheel hitch supplied by Curt Manufacturing. The result is a menacing look from any angle.
The interior was retrimmed with leather supplied by Katzkin. It's glove-soft black with textured Everglade inserts and has contrasting red stitching details and seat belts. In the back, Peterman installed chrome roll hoops that look as if they were lifted right out of an Audi TT.
For the updated audio/video system, Hulst Customs turned to longtime collaborator Eddie Blay. It's dominated by two elements, the first of which is a full-length custom center console built from foam, fabricated in fiberglass, and trimmed in leather, which houses three 10-inch Sony Xplod subwoofers. The second element is the set of four Sony Xplod amplifiers Peterman mounted overhead with an aluminum trim ring. The entire system, which also includes a pair of Sony headrest monitors and Nav-U GPS system, is controlled by an XAV-A1 AM/FM/CD/DVD receiver. Dynamat sound material was applied liberally to keep out all extraneous sounds.
This truck serves as a showcase for the creatives at Hulst Customs, but the great thing for us is that you can order any of the individual pieces you see here, or you could even order the complete truck, and they'll deliver it to your door.
|Hulst Customs Ford F-350|
|Ground clearance, in||8.8|
|Curb weight, lb||6200 (est)|