Nearly a century ago, William Randolph Hearst set about building his ultimate getaway estate near San Simeon, California. Set among thousands of acres of mountainous terrain, Hearst's La Cuesta Encantada ("The Enchanted Hill") contained 56 bedrooms, 19 sitting rooms, an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a theater, and the world's largest private zoo. In constructing The Enchanted Hill, builders incorporated art treasures and architectural components purchased from Egypt and Europe. Five-hundred-year-old ceiling panels are juxtaposed with 20th-century masonry and plumbing. "The Ranch," as Hearst referred to it, was largely self-contained, beginning with a gravity-fed water system that tapped the H2O supply from a nearby mountain. Getting to and from Hearst Castle was no easy task back in the day. Honored guests arrived in Hearst's private DC-3 aircraft or rode the rails from Los Angeles in Hearst's own train car.
"Hearst Castle... in Baja." That's how we've heard Steve Games' south-of-the-border getaway described. It's called The Bay of Dreams or "Baha de los Sueos." While you won't find 500-year-old ceilings imported from European castles, you will find lavish accommodations, multiple guest rooms, and plenty of food and entertainment. There's another parallel to be drawn: Getting there and back in Baja is just as tough (probably tougher) than going to and fro in rural California during the Roaring '20s. Hearst relied on a rail car and a DC-3. Steve Games relies on a Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4. The latest-generation F-150 is a stout offering and furthers the F-150's reputation as being "built Ford tough." This truck, however, needed to be taken a few steps further: Baja tough. To transform Ford tough into Baja tough, Games had only one pair of initials in mind: JD.
If JD sounds familiar, it's because we've showcased Jesse Nelson's and Dave Dinsmore's work before. "Leap of Faith," in our Oct. '04 issue, chronicled JD customer Chad McGarity's long-travel, fully caged Toyota T100 4x4. "Two for the Go" (Aug. '06) was an in-depth look at Noah Ostanik's JD-built Class 8 F-150 and Dave's personal Ranger prerunner. Both trucks exhibited primo performance and top-drawer fabrication quality, albeit with the Spartan interiors common among race trucks and many hardcore prerunners. By contrast, this F-150 SuperCrew tops off the performance with a generous dose of luxury, bringing a civilized, plush interior into an uncivilized, harsh, off-road world.
Starting with an ultraclean '05 stocker acquired from Tag Motorsports in Escondido, California, JD began by stripping the OEM interior and taking the needed measurements for the 'cage construction. The SuperCrew's suspension upgrades were already-available items: JD's long-travel F-150 4x4 kit up front and a spring-under Deaver leaf pack in the rear bolted to a trussed Currie Ford 9-inch rearend. King dampers control the wheel travel at each corner. Rolling stock is a proven combo of Walker Evans wheels wrapped with 37-inch BFG All-Terrain tires. This wheel-and-tire combo cycles beneath Glassworks Unlimited fenders and bedsides.
Although the three-valve Triton 5.4 V8 is a good motor, more power was deemed necessary to dispense with the Baja silt and rocks that this truck would repeatedly encounter. The Tag Motorsports crew took care of the power needs by installing a Whipple supercharger on one end and a Flowmaster muffler on the other. The power add-ons let the 5.4 make about 450 ponies and 400 lb-ft of torque.
With the suspension and motor mods taken care of, JD structurally tied one end of the truck to the other with several hundred feet of triangulated chrome-moly tubing that ties into the frame at multiple points. Finally, everything that could be covered in black leather was. Have you ever seen a leather-wrapped ARB Fridge Freezer before? Neither had we.
While Hearst's Enchanted Hill is now a tourist attraction, The Bay of Dreams is in full operation, ready to thrill and entertain Steve's fortunate friends and guests. If Hearst were still around, he'd no doubt be intrigued to pay The Bay of Dreams a visit and compare notes. Given the chance to do some swapping with Games, we think Hearst would opt to keep his castle, since 500-year-old artifacts and one-of-a-kind works of art are pretty scarce nowadays. We also think Hearst would happily trade his transportation. Flying low over terra firma while ensconced in leather beats a drafty old DC-3 any day of the week.