"We have a hands-on approach at FST," declared shop foreman Torrey Porter. "If we go out in the dirt and get stuck, or if we break down, of course it sucks. We try to learn from our mistakes and come up with innovative solutions to the solve problems we encounter. Our hands-on approach is the way we keep our edge."
As we poked and prodded the corners and aisles at Fabrication Suspension Technology's Phoenix shop, metallic proof of Porter's words greeted our every move. A dozen off-road trucks, in various configurations and wheelbases, awaited the next step of their respective buildups. FST not only builds off-road trucks for every purpose from racing to 'crawling, but also builds many of the parts used during the fabrication process. FST's machinery quiver is deep and includes a mill, lathe, bandsaw, water jet cutter, plasma cutter, and flame cutter, in addition to the usual suspects such as welders, a tubing bender, and a tube notcher. Need to bend some metal plate for a gusset or bracket? FST has not only the press brake to make the bend, but also the metalworking expertise to make it properly.
Somewhere in the performance continuum, between FST's Chevy Avalanche Trophy Truck in one corner of the shop and the Toyota prerunner receiving custom A-arms and coilover shocks in another, is the fast Ford seen flying across these pages. The seven-lug F-150 was built for Peoria, Arizona's John Rhodes. The president of a software development company had the prerunner built "for the love of racing," after having purchased the truck brand-new in 2000.
The truck's snow-white steel and fiberglass body panels conceal metallic artwork that transforms the Ford from a utilitarian beast of burden into a beastly off-road weapon capable of carrying five people through the Arizona desert at extralegal speeds, clutched in the comfort of Renegade Racing seats and Simpson harnesses.
As we watched and rode in the Ford during heavy-throttled assaults, we could tell that the FST crew has indeed learned much in the desert over the years. Torrey and company may still get stuck once in a while, but rest assured they'll return to conquer the trail with updated equipment bristling with FST innovations. In the age of information and computer-filled lives, FST proves that the classic hands-on approach will never go out of style.
Inside FSTWhile we were at the shop, we used our trusty belt-buckle camera to snag a few spy photos when Torrey and crew were looking elsewhere. Here's some of the trickery we saw.
Transform Your TruckIf you have about 60-large and an F-150, FST has a kit with your name on it. Kits include all suspension components, shocks, and installation. The front suspension cradle bolts into place and provides mounting locations for the chrome-moly upper and lower control arms. Just like the Ford flying across these pages, a completed truck will have 20 inches of front travel and 37 inches in the rear.
|Owner/hometown ||John Rhodes/Peoria, Arizona |
|Year/make/model ||'00 Ford F-150 7700 |
|Engine/transmission ||5.4L Triton V-8 with Airaid intake; stock |
automatic transmission with 3,000-rpm stall;
Hughes torque convertor; cryogenically treated
|Ring-and-pinion ||5.13: 1 |
|Suspension ||Custom FST steering and upper and lower |
chrome-moly control arms; custom FST three-link
with boxed wishbone and lower trailing arms;
all four corners damped by Bilstein 9100-series
coilover and bypass shocks and Bilstein
|Wheels/tires ||17x9-inch seven-lug Mickey Thompson |
Challengers with 5-inch backspacing/BFGoodrich
Project Baja T/A radials