Project Texcellent: Farm Truck to Showstopper
Many car and truck enthusiasts will tell you their taste in vehicles was shaped early on by what their parents drove them around town in. The same is true for Lee Sanchez, from Seguin, Texas, who has been building his 1994 Ford F-350 Power Stroke for nearly three years. He was sold on owning an old body style (OBS) 7.3L Power Stroke from the day his dad brought one home years ago. “I will never forget the day that he pulled up in the driveway with that truck. The look, the sound of that 7.3; I was sold on diesel trucks from that moment on.” Lee explained. But as life goes, Lee’s father sold the truck some time later to upgrade to a newer Power Stroke, and Lee vowed he would own one someday.
Years later, Lee would find himself immersed in building a Toyota Tundra show truck of his own. But when his father stumbled upon an old truck that was being stored away in a barn by a distant relative, he knew he had to tell Lee about it. Although the truck needed plenty of love, it only had 150,000 miles on it, which is what most 7.3L owners would call “barely broken in." Once Lee found out about this truck, he immediately decided to sell the Tundra. “I put a for sale sign on it the next week & was a proud owner of a beat up old diesel farm truck with only a vision of how I wanted it.” said Lee. The fever had just begun.
Lee got to work rather quickly, starting with the body work. He had the truck painted Chevrolet Black by John Cisneros of Seguin, Texas, bringing the shine back to the faded old Ford. Suspension was the next step, and Lee knew he had to go big. The crew cab long bed was the longest wheelbase pickup truck Ford offered in the ‘90s, and making it look show-worthy meant lifting it high enough to balance out the immense length. Lee installed a Skyjacker 6-inch suspension lift with Soft Ride leaf springs all around, and paired with a set of Fox Racing 2.0 performance series shocks with remote reservoirs. In addition to gaining the extra height and clearance, the ride was greatly improved by replacing the factory leaf springs and shocks with the new stuff—a crucial step to making an old Ford diesel truck ride comfortably down the Texas back roads.
Now came time for some new shoes to fill the wheel wells. Lee had always wanted a show truck look, combined with classic body lines. Achieving that stance meant going tall and wide. Installing a set of Bora 2-inch hub-centric wheel spacers pushed the wheel mounting surface out, allowing Lee to run a wider tire without rubbing the frame and sway bar. The choice in wheels was carefully thought out as well. Lee landed on a set of 22x14 Gear Forged F70BM1 wheels, in gloss black with milled edges. The contemporary 8-spoke design adds a modern touch to the OBS Ford, without taking away from the classic lines of the iconic ‘90s crew cab truck.
Just like any show truck, the wheels are only as good as what they’re wrapped in. Lee ran Nitto Trail Grapplers on his Tundra build before starting the 7.3L Power Stroke project, and knew he would run the same tires on the new build. The 38x13.50x22 Trail Grapplers give the OBS an aggressive look, complementing the wheels and True Spike lug nuts, while still providing a comfortable ride for cruising around town.
But simply bolting on suspension, wheels and tires doesn’t make it a show truck. It’s all in the finer details that add up to the difference between a nice looking rig and something that really stops people in their tracks. Lee replaced the factory grille with a Royalty Core RC1 grille, as well as the factory differential covers with Mag Hytec flat-back covers. All powder coating was done by TC Kustomz in Adkins, Texas, and the bed is sprayed with Line-X for a clean and functional finish. Under the rear bumper, Lee installed a Gen-Y 12-inch 16,000 lbs drop hitch to keep tow functionality, with the additional serrated hitch step, stabilizer kit, and tri-ball mount. Right in front of the hitch are the somewhat hidden Hornblasters Conductor’s Special 540 train horn kit.
Of course, no diesel truck build is complete without a few performance goodies. While the OBS 7.3L Power Stroke wasn’t the fastest diesel motor produced, it has the potential to make decent power with minimal upgrades over the factory components. Lee went with some of the basics that many 7.3L owners start with. He installed a Banks Power Monster Exhaust system to free up some horsepower normally constricted by the factory flat downpipe, catalytic converter and muffler. Paired with a Diesel Site Wicked Wheel 2 turbo wheel and aFe Power cold air intake system, Lee’s 25 year-old 7.3L doesn’t feel so dated.
There’s a reason Lee’s F-350 is nicknamed “Project Texcellent”, and that’s likely because it may never be “finished.” As truck enthusiasts, our builds are rarely ever in the same state for long. Whether it’s tinkering with small adjustments here and there or completely overhauling them, there is no limit to what a truck owner will do when a vision pops into their head. But for now, Lee is enjoying his showstopping OBS by cruising around town and turning heads at the local and regional truck shows. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this beautiful build.