Ford's Excursion was the largest SUV ever produced, competing with General Motors' Suburban. Excursions equipped with diesel engines were very durable and fuel-efficient trucks, considering their 8,500-lb. gross weight. Ford discontinued production domestically in 2005, in order to focus more production on Super Duty pickup trucks and no one has produced a full-sized SUV with a diesel engine since. These trucks are now highly-sought after by those who appreciate the vast interior space and towing capacity.
The newest Excursions are now six years old, but still routinely fetch prices north of $20,000 on the secondary market and those who own them are reluctant to let them go. MM&FF contributor, Jim McIlvaine is one such owner, having ordered his 2003 Excursion new, opting for the top-of-the-line Limited trim package and the 6.0 Powerstroke diesel. Nine years later, Jim still drives his truck every day and has accumulated nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer.
As his truck approached the 100,000-mile mark for the second time, Jim decided upgrades were in order, hoping to make the truck last for at least another 200,000 miles. A lifetime of driving in Wisconsin winters was beginning to show in the paint, so Jim opted to have the entire exterior of the truck covered with Indigo Blue liner from Rhino Linings. Backed by a lifetime guarantee, Jim is now confident the rugged and stunning finish will last as long as anything else on the vehicle and look just as good at 400,000 miles as it does today.
The suspension was also showing it's age and the factory springs will be replaced and the shocks will be upgraded with Rancho RS9000XL shock absorbers, a Rancho RS5000 steering stabilizer and Hellwig sway bars. This combination will easily allow the Excursion to accommodate 20x10-inch BMF S.O.T.A. wheels in stealth black finish, wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain rubber. Performance upgrades will focus on prolonging engine life and keeping things safe. The list of modifications includes a K&N FIPK cold-air Intake, Magnaflow exhaust and an Evolution CTS tuner, Expandable EGT, Turbo Timer, Dash Pod and adaptor from Edge Perofrmance.
Other upgrades will include an AMP Research retractable power step, dual batteries from OPTIMA and an upgraded sound system. All upgrades are intended to improve performance without compromising drivability, reliability or towing capacity, keeping the Excursion very functional in a wide variety of applications.
Jim regularly contributes to several car magazines, including Popular Hotrodding, GM High-Tech Performance and Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords. He also works as eCare Manager for OPTIMA Batteries, maintaining all of their social media outlets and providing a presence for them as "OptimaJim" on more than 300 different Internet message boards. His work for both takes him all over the country, from open road races in the Nevada desert to Long Hauls to the Gulf Coast on Hot Rod magazine's Power Tour, averaging more than 22,000 miles per year on the Excursion.
Jim's schedule for 2011 includes another Power Tour long haul, as well as several other national events for OPTIMA Batteries, possibly including another trek out into the Nevada desert for the NHRA race at The Strip, the SEMA show and the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational.