Everyone knows that it's much easier to be a follower than a leader. Knowing this, Steve Austin of Springfield, Missouri, decided to make both himself and his '73 Ford F-350 leaders of fellow off-road enthusiasts by showing them what could be done to their rigs other than just bolting on ordinary aftermarket parts.
Steve began building his example, as he calls it, by first removing the factory tried-and-true 429-cid Ford V-8 and having the block blueprinted, balanced, and bored 0.030 over for some additional ponies. To replace the factory engine's internals, a 292-duration Erson camshaft was added along with TRW aluminum forged pistons and chrome-moly rings, which help create the 9:1 compression ratio. The head work was limited to a mild porting and polishing job. Aiding in the aspiration department, an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold was installed as the foundation for the Holley 750-cfm carburetor. Ignition takes place via MSD Ignition with a T-6 billet distributor. Mated to the custom L&L headers is the monstrous 3-inch dual Flowmaster exhaust system, which expels gases at the side of the truck.
To handle the additional horsepower and torque, a bulletproof NP435 transmission with a Zoom II Kevlar clutch was put in place. Transferring the power to the axles, Steve selected a stout NP205 transfer case mounted in a divorced fashion. The upgraded 1330 driveshafts are tasked with bridging the gap between the transfer case and the axles. The axles consist of a Dana 60 from a '78 Ford F-250 up front and a Chevrolet 14-bolt from a '75 Chevrolet 3/4-ton. Housed in both pumpkins are 4.88 gears, while the rear is equipped with a Detroit Locker, TSM disc brakes, and a Con-Ferr aluminum housing cover.
The stock springs were retained due to their load-carrying capacities, while a 3-inch Performance Accessories body lift was added for increased tire clearance. Superlift shocks were added to each wheelwell to increase the ride quality both on and off road. Twin Skyjacker shocks were chosen to serve as steering stabilizers. To help turn the rolling stock, which consists of a set of 16.5x14.00 Super Swamper Boggers mounted on 16.5x12-inch Weld Super Single wheels, Steve replaced the entire power steering system from a '78 Ford F-250.
Remembering the reason for his buildup, Steve wanted to retain as much of the factory interior and exterior as possible, yet still have it be custom. The stock seats were re-covered with black vinyl and cloth materials along with a new headliner stitched by Larry's Auto Trim of Springfield. To relay vital information inside the cab and to serve as the factory cluster's backup are Auto Meter gauges. A classic Grant steering wheel puts Steve in touch with his fresh ride when he cruises off-road while listening to the remote control-operated JVC sound system. The exterior was repainted General Motors Frost White by Bolivar Auto Body of Bolivar, Missouri, and the stock front and rear bumpers were given a once-over with new chrome.