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Old Truck Investments: Enjoy What You Have, Breathe New Life Into Your Pride And Joy

The new truck market is a mess. Even if you have the cash to buy a brand-new workhorse outright, chances are the dealership won’t have the exact model you want. Semiconductor chip and other OE component shortages are still stifling the new car segment. So instead of “settling” on a new truck, why not invest in your tried and true steed? Over the past two years, tens of thousands of truck owners have turned to the aftermarket to restore, upgrade and/or modify their current rides to their liking. Be it interior refurbishing, an engine rebuild, a full-on powertrain conversion or a modern suspension system for improved ride quality, nothing is off the table when a determined gearhead sets his or her mind to accomplishing something. The following examples should inspire anyone to pull the trigger on performing a few upgrades (be they needed or wanted) on their pride and joy rather than buying new.

’71 F-100: Fresh Wheels, Modern Tread And Well-Preserved Patina

1971 Ford F-100 Patina Coyote Swap on Nitto NT555 G2 tires

Once destined for the scrapyard, this ’71 Ford F-100 was resurrected and made road-worthy again by LinCo Diesel Performance—all while preserving the Patina’d look car enthusiasts have grown to love. The classic bumpside’s original sheet metal was wet-sanded to remove surface rust and then treated to Sweet Patina’s Patina Sauce compound, which inhibits rust. Traction and ride comfort comes in the form of Nitto NT555 G2 summer ultra high performance tread, the rear tires measuring 295/35ZR20 and the fronts measuring 255/45ZR18. 20x11-inch (rear) and 18x8-inch (front) D-Town Smoothie wheels from Detroit Steel Wheels help sell the old Ford’s trapped-in-time look.

5.0L Coyote Inside

5.0L Coyote V8 Gasoline Engine

No, it’s not an LS swap. A 126,000-mile donor 5.0L Coyote V-8 was pulled from an F-150 and set under the hood, which obviously helped keep the build all-Ford. The 395hp modular V-8 sits on Outcast Autoworks’ adjustable motor mounts, which made the Coyote work perfectly with the Crown Vic IFS that’s positioned beneath it. It’s also tethered to the Ford 10-speed auto, too (the 10R80), the powertrain having been fine-tuned by STL Mustangs. You might’ve also noticed the polished side-exit exhaust in the previous photo. It ties in with a 2.5-inch stainless steel dual exhaust system and long tube headers robbed off of a Gen 1 Coyote.

4-Link, Coil Over Conversion And Toughened Up 9-Inch

Ford 9-inch Four Link Coil Over Suspension

There are no leaf springs back here, but you will find the F-100’s original 9-inch rear-end. A bolt-on four-link suspension from Fat Fender Garage (with LinCo Diesel Performance-built axle brackets), along with adjustable coil overs from RideTech keep the ride plush and the rear NT555 G2s digging. The 9-inch is graced with a Speedway Motors 3.73 ring and pinion, along with 31-spline axle shafts from Quick Performance. A 4-way disc brake conversion from Summit Racing improves stopping power. This suspension, axle and tire combination would have no problem helping the 4,500-pound truck creep into the 12’s in the quarter-mile.

A Blend Of Old And New

CS Series Kicker Speaker

Continuing on in the cab, the ’71 received a host of modern era creature comforts. A Vintage Air A/C system keeps the cab comfortable on those muggy cruise nights while four CS series Kicker speakers and a Retro Sound head unit modernize the truck’s sound system. For powertrain monitoring and functionality, a factory-appearing gauge cluster from Dakota Digital was added, along with a one-off leather-wrapped dash pad. Even if you’re on a budget, you can pick and choose your upgrades in a build like this. After all, the 50-year-old bench seat (which was in immaculate condition) was retained in this F-100.

’01 Dodge Ram 2500: Rebuilt And Modified 24-Valve Cummins

2001 Cummins 24-Valve Turbo Diesel

When Michael Asher decided to revamp his ’01 Dodge, he cut zero corners. At the same time, the build stretched out over the course of a few years—until everything was perfect. Starting with a fresh rebuild of the ISB 24-valve Cummins at Haisley Machine, he sourced an ’02 (Mexico) block, went with 0.020 over coated and fly-cut pistons, reused the factory forged-steel rods, installed a 188/220 cam and upsized to 14mm ARP main and head studs. The head was fitted with all new exhaust valves and seats, 90-lb valve springs and was ported to match his Steed Speed exhaust manifold. A 63mm BorgWarner S300 hangs from the manifold while 7x10 SAC style injectors and a 165-gph AirDog II-4G lift pump system handle the engine’s fueling.

Refinished, Katzkin Leather Seats

Dodge Ram 2500 Katzkin Leather Seat

If any generation of trucks is in need of an interior overhaul, it’s usually the ’94-’02 Dodge Rams. Cracked dashes and torn seats run rampant with hard use in these trucks and while Michael’s wasn’t trashed by any stretch of the imagination it was definitely time to restore a few things. The seat upholstery shown here came from Katzkin Leather, with the embroidery of the late-model RAM logo being performed locally. The graphite gray color was chosen to match the agate color door panels, which weren’t in terrible shape but were in the early stages of their fabric breaking down. Sourcing that job out locally to Ronnie Price Upholstery & Top Shop, matching fabric from Katzkin Leather was used while blue stitching (to match the truck’s repainted exterior) was employed.

Steering & Suspension Upgrades

Second Gen Cummins Steering Suspension

Addressing both the second-gen’s front steering and suspension, Michael installed a Red-Head steering box, a Synergy steering box stabilizer, a BD Diesel track bar and Suspension Maxx tie-rod end links. Bilstein 5100 series shocks were also installed all the way around. The truck was leveled off thanks to a pair of Rough Country 2.5-inch coil spring spacers and the front suspension also benefits from 0-to-1-inch Stock Short tubular upper and lower control arms sourced from Top Gun Customz.

Super Duty-Influenced Ford High Boy

Super Duty Lariat Leather Interior

As if repowering a Ford High-Boy with a 7.3L Power Stroke wasn’t enough of an undertaking, Steve Burris also decided to bring some Super Duty parts inside the cab. These Lariat power leather seats were taken from a ’99.5 Super Duty. Also notice the dash…it’s out of an XL trim Super Duty, along with the firewall. Last but not least, that shifter is connected to another first-generation Super Duty piece: a ZF-6 six-speed transmission. Scoring deals on parts like this online or at the salvage yard is common, and keeps costs low.

Waking Up A Dinosaur

7.3L Power Stroke Diesel T4 Turbo System

Literally breathing new life into his ’01 7.3L Power Stroke, Branden Smith installed a full T4 turbo mounting system from Irate Diesel Performance, complete with an S467.7 BorgWarner and cherry red powder coating to set it all off. Converting to this style turbo system opens up airflow tremendously for the 7.3L—along with opening up the door to running virtually any T4 BorgWarner or Garrett turbocharger on the market. In Branden’s case, when combined with a set of 250cc, 100-percent over nozzle hybrid injectors, an Adrenaline high-pressure oil pump and Gearhead Sales tuning the 21-year old Super Duty went from roughly 300rwhp to more than 500rwhp.

  • Although used diesel truck prices went haywire for a while, some of the market seems to be returning to Earth. You can find out what we mean right here.
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