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The Sad Saga Of The Ford Bigfoot Cruiser, The Forgotten '80s Monster Truck Tribute

In the 1980s, Bigfoot was big news. This was especially true if you were a fan of Ford trucks, as Bob Chandler's monster machine was perhaps the highest profile pickup in the world for that long stretch of years when Bigfoot dominated the show-n-crush circuit of a sport that the two of them helped foist into the global spotlight.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser with Bigfoot Monster Truck

It was only natural for Ford to want to ride the Bigfoot wave as far as it would go. While F-Series truck sales didn't exactly need a boost (as they were on the cusp of their perennial most popular vehicle in North America status), it couldn't hurt to let some of that monster truck shine rub off on an officially-licensed Bigfoot product available in showrooms across the country.

  Ford Bigfoot Cruiser Front View

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

From that logic was born the Bigfoot Cruiser, an ode to the toughest truck on the planet that you could park in your own driveway. Built with the best of intentions, the Cruiser's short production run had more than a few rocky patches, making it one of the rarest and least-known special edition classic trucks on today's market.

All The Beef

The Bigfoot Cruiser options package was offered in 1987, and was put together by Scherer Truck Equipment on behalf of Ford. Not only could it be ordered on the F-150 and F-250 full-size trucks, but it was also available on the compact Ford Ranger, an unusual choice in an era where there was little crossover between entry-level pickups and their larger brethren.

Nitto tires on lifted Ford truck

While today big-tired trucks being delivered by dealerships is standard practice, at the time it was an unusual move for an OEM to tag in an aftermarket builder so directly.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser front 3/4

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

What stood out most about the Bigfoot Cruiser package were the graphics. The 'Bigfoot Cruiser' name was called out prominently at the center of each door, and each truck's dark blue paint was accented by blue-and-gold decals that ran the entire length of the vehicle.

Ford Ranger Bigfoot Cruiser

Still, could it really be a Bigfoot without the tires and lift to match? Ford made sure that the F-150 and F-250 versions of the truck offered several extra inches of suspension lift compared to a stock four-wheel drive pickup, along with 33-inch tires. The Ranger Bigfoot Cruiser didn't see the same rubber, but it did benefit from 15-inch aluminum rims.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser KC Lights

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

All three Bigfoot Cruiser packages added further tributes to their namesake in the form of a Westin double roll bar, KC off-road lighting, and upgraded Monroe shocks. A power up-and-down rear window was also installed. F-250 models added a Warn Enforcer front bumper with integrated winch, while both the F-150 and F-250 received a tonneau cover.

Recalling The Beast

Ford never tried to claim that the Bigfoot Cruiser was a legitimate monster truck, but rather a tribute package aimed at fans of Chandler's weekend warrior. It's perhaps for this reason that initial sales were modest, with dedicated 4x4 enthusiasts instead seeking out more aggressive off-road rig and leaving the Cruiser to the Bigfoot faithful.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser decal

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

It wasn't long, however, before a more troubling factor began to eat into the package's popularity. A recall on the trucks precipitated the removal of the 33-inch tires on the F-150 and F-250 pickups, as clearance problems with the oversized tires saw them rubbing against brake lines and fenders up front (in addition to a loose lug nut issue on the aftermarket wheels).

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser rear view

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

Many of the dealerships even went so far as to uninstall the winch, the lift kit, and the KC lights during the recall process, following NHTSA complaints that no crash testing had been done with the extra equipment in place (and concern from Ford about possible lawsuits in the event of an accident). Ford also bought back some of the Cruisers that had been delivered on the East Coast, stripped them down completely, and sold them at auction.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser rolldown window

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

This has created an unusual situation for Bigfoot Cruiser collectors today, where a number of genuine trucks are riding on more modest rubber and have been separated from most of the gear that made them special. These vehicles go up on sale against examples that managed to escape the dealer recall and still maintain their original feature set.

The Rarest Of Ford Truck Special Editions?

It's not known exactly how many Bigfoot Cruisers were actually sold. Ford's recall notice at the time referred to 360 full-size trucks and an additional 200 Rangers featuring the modifications, while some collectors peg the actual number of vehicles purchased by customers was a mere 300. Ford also claimed that 660 Bigfoot Cruisers were modified prior to being sold as part of the recall program, further muddying the waters in terms of what equipment it actually offered.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser Engine

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

A second Bigfoot Cruiser, painted teal with a fuchsia decal splash and a 'Bigfoot' logo plastered on the rear fender, was also produced by Ford and Scherer in 1994. It was a much less aggressive celebration of the Bigfoot phenomenon, and far fewer were produced.

1994 Ford Bigfoot Cruiser

Still, whether the number is 300, 560, or just under 1,200, it's a small slice of the millions of F-Series and Ranger trucks that left the factory during that same time period. Ford was one of the few companies to experiment with more extreme lifts and trail-ready suspension packages in the 1980s (with Dodge celebrating its Baja success through the even more rare, also-recalled Rod Hall Signature Edition trucks at roughly the same time), which makes the Bigfoot Cruiser a unique slice of American history.

Ford Bigfoot Cruiser interior

Photo courtesy Vanguard Motor Sales

Now, if only they'd given the 7.5L V8 under the hood of the F-250 a nitro option…

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