OFF-ROAD magazine's Ford Explorer Sport Trac sits on the crown of a trend that is ready to explode. Four-door prerunners are going to be the rage over the next couple of years. This trend of high-end suspension-equipped four-door trucks will trickle down to mainstream 4x4s as well. Four-door, dual cab trucks simply have more room for passengers and buddies to go off-roading. The four-door truck, like the desert racing workhorse, offers optimum room for crew members, blazing through the treacherous desert race courses. This theme of practicality, functionality, and reliability is what our Project Sport Trac is all about.That's why we chose to remove the stock leather seats and install Mastercraft's custom handbuilt suspension seats and a five-point harness system inside the cab.
Here's a quick background check on Mastercraft. The company was originally formed in 1970 and has steadily grown with the racing and off-road industry during the past three decades. When Jack Miller of Mastercraft and Alan Taylor of Taylor Van designed the original suspension seat, they wanted to create the finest, most comfortable, and safest seat ever designed for a race car. Not just for off-road use, but for road racing, rockcrawling, and backcountry adventures.
In the mid-'80s, Jack retired. Peri, his daughter, took over and continued to operate Mastercraft for the next 20 years. In 1999, Arc Manufacturing, a local leaderin the aerospace welding and manufacturing industry, purchased Mastercraft Race Products. With Arc Manufacturing's expertise in production and marketing and Mastercraft's 30-year knowledge of the off-road industry, the company was well-positioned for the new millennium. While working with customers,Mastercraft designs and builds products that meet today's stringent safety and comfort standards.
So what's the difference between a Mastercraft seat and the other guys' product? According to Mastercraft, it is the same difference between a Cadillac and a Pinto - its seat is more structurally sound. The frame has a thicker tubing with flat straps that run from front to back, evenly displacing the weight throughout the bottom of the seat instead of just the four corners. It is also designed so that the headrest can be moved forward or backward without changing the structural integrity of the frame.
A Mastercraft suspension seat starts with mild steel tubing (0.065-inch wall HREW 1010). The tubing is mandrel-bent and then MIG-welded to form the seat frame. The suspension liner is made of a nylon-coated mesh. This provides extreme strength and durability. The porous mesh has the ability to breathe as well as to allow moisture to pass through. The covers are made with attention to detail. Mastercraft's fabric sticks to the foam because the company glues it in place then sews the pattern into it, while some other seat manufacturers just have the fabric held in place by the seam. By not using adhesive between the fabric and the foam, the foam and the fabric will rub opposite one another and eventually tear the seam that holds it in place. All of the seams are double-stitched to stop them from fraying. Mastercraft puts foam in the fitted band, making the seat cover fit perfectly.
Off-road racing legend Ivan Stewart believes in the product so much that he has been driving in a Mastercraft seat for more than 25 years. In addition, he has announced the addition of Mastercraft to the Pro Truck Series' sponsor group. "With 27 years of off-road racing experience, Mastercraft has been to the winners' circle with me countless times and has kept me safe and comfortable," comments Stewart on his extensive use of the custom seats.
Along with designing the new PRO36 Seat for Pro Truck drivers, Mastercraft offers attention to the customer's needs, which have kept its name and product in the forefront of the industry, providing custom fittings, seat maintenance, and tune-ups. Going the extra mile, Mastercraft also customizes tool bags and door bags to fit specific locations and mounting requirements for almost any application.
So it was only natural for us to ask Mastercraft to be involved with our Project Sport Trac. The company was more than happy to participate.