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Big Plans

December 6th, 2003 was a great day in the life of Levi Felton. It was the day that I met a girl named Jodi who unbeknownst to me at the time would later become my wife and mother to my children. It was also the day that I laid down a mere $850 for the best vehicle I have ever bought. A 1959 Ford F100. Within a couple months it became my daily driver and it has remained that ever since. Until last Saturday...(key ominous music for dramatic feel).

November 11th, 2007 was a not-so-great day in the life of Levi Felton. I worked for seven hours and then left to go to Jacob's basketball game. They lost but it was a really good game. Due to Jodi having a baby shower to attend right up until the game, she showed up in her own vehicle. That worked out quite nicely when upon leaving the parking lot my Ford made the following sounds: running nicely...chugga,chugga,chugga,clank,chugga,clank,chugga,THOOMP...
...silence.

That's right. "Excuse me, waiter. May I have one blown motor with another glass of disappointment? Thank you." For almost four years, the Ford has ran me all over the place. Oh, sure, sometimes it broke down needing a new this or that, but it always was back up and on the road in a limited time. But not this day. This day would mark the end of the Big Bad Ford. Or would it?

Last Thursday, I made a purchase. From a friend's friend, I bought a 1992 Ford E150 Econoline Heavy Duty Cargo Van. The picture here is similar to the one I have, but mine has some damage to the body all along the passenger side when (according to this friend's friend) the previous owner hit a mailbox with it. However, as my friend put it, "Mailbox? More like a Post Office."

The original plan was to take the motor and transmission and possibly the rear end out of the van and put it in my truck. The new plan is to unbolt the van body, roll it off, unbolt the truck body from its frame and set it on the van frame leaving the van's motor and transmission intact.

The challenges: The frame will need to be chopped down about 18 to 20 inches as the van's wheel base is that much longer. The linkage for the steering column, gas pedal, and brake will need to be fabricated. Wiring, wiring, wiring. And, finally, making custom body mounts might prove to be somewhat difficult.

The benefits: It will still look like the Big Bad Ford hasn't changed at first glance or even at second glance. However, much will have changed. It will sport a fuel injected 302 V8 with heavy duty automatic transmission with overdrive. It will have a stronger frame better suited for towing. It will have a wider wheel base with a better suspension package giving it better handling and cornering. It will have power steering, power disk brakes, a working emergency brake, an a/c compressor that I can convert into a self contained on-board air compressor tank, CRUISE CONTROL, and a more powerful engine.

The bottom line is that I'll get to keep the Big Bad Ford looking like it has for the last 48 years, but I will get all the modern advances in technology on board. Previously, I was the only one that could drive it, but with these changes Jodi will be able to handle it with ease. Also, previously, the furthest I'd ever dared to take it was Branson. It was clearly not suited for highway driving and couldn't be trusted that far away from home either. After this project, it will be right at home on the highway. No more granny low gearing ratios.

What do you think? Good modifications VS. keeping it original?

2 comments:

I think the idea sounds awsome. Who cares about keeping it original. It will look original it will just be 100 times better. Its not like you are going to take it to shows you are going to use it. I have ridden in the big bad Ford and I am sad to see it go. I will also be happy to ride in the new big bad Ford that when you are done with will need a NEW name.

wow that sounds like a lof of work...good luck

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