Here's how the give-away Herculiner...
Here's how the give-away Herculiner '07 F-150 Thundertruck looked when it arrived at Paul's High Performance during a bitter February cold spell. Already looking sharp with its Cervini's body kit and tri-color paint scheme, there was still much mechanical and dress-up work to be done, starting with lowering this beast's center of gravity.
Ok, simple question: Who wouldn't like to win a hot-rodded new F-150? Exactly. Last time out, we began telling you about just such an opportunity to pick up a pickup thanks to the folks at Old World Industries Inc. (OWI) and its various project partners including Ford Racing Performance Parts, Cervini's Auto Designs, Paul's High Performance, T&R Auto Body, Air Ride Technologies, Stainless Steel Brake Corporation, and Bridgestone tires. Oh, and your good friends here at Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine-thank you very much.
In case you're just coming onboard, we'll recap: OWI is the corporate parent to such prominent automotive product lines as Herculiner bed liners, Peak antifreeze, and SplitFire spark plugs. After having so much fun and positive reaction to tricking out and giving away a Mustang GT last year, the OWI powers-that-be decided to do it again in 2007 with this 5.4L regular-cab F-150. In our previous installment, we showed you the fitting of Cervini's aggressive CT-Series body kit and the laying on of a trick black, red, and silver paint scheme, all by the body wizards at T&R Auto Body in Hammond, Indiana.
This time we move a bit further east along Interstate 94 to the Jackson, Michigan, shop of Paul's High Performance, where the bulk of the truck's muscular mechanical transformation will take place. We thought we might as well begin to document these changes from the ground up, so this time we'll have a look at the manly F-truck's responsive and great-riding new chassis bits from the airheads at Air Ride Technologies.
Up fronT, Air Ride's solution...
Up fronT, Air Ride's solution is simple and straightforward: the patented compression-and-rebound-adjustable ShockWave v3.0, with double convoluted airspring bellows to maintain load capacity. These are straight bolt-in replacements for the F-150's coilovers.
Out back, the solution is...
Out back, the solution is a little more extensive. In addition to air springs and double-adjustable dampers, the Air Ride's AirBAR kit includes a quartet of control arms plus a Panhard bar, so the stock leaf springs can go in the dumpster. There's also a lower axle bridge that spans the width of the rearend housing (and was too long to fit in our photo. You'll see it later).
Not only does THUNDERTRUCK...
Not only does THUNDERTRUCK get a whole new air-based suspension, front and rear, but it also benefits from Air Ride's LevelPRO self-leveling system, using both air-pressure sensors and ride-height sensors to quickly and comprehensively level its stance. Whereas a normal system would rely strictly on air pressure to determine each corner's ride height, the LevelPRO also considers input from each corner's electromechanical ride height sensor.
Many of you may think of just airbag springs when you hear Air Ride, but the Jasper, Indiana, firm engineers complete replacement suspension kits for many applications. For instance, the "AirBAR" rear setup that you're about to see going on our subject F-150 completely dispenses with the factory leaf springs and substitutes a four-link axle location, while also having a Panhard bar.
Now don't get us wrong: If all you want to do is sling hay or other weighty commodities into the bed of a pickup, the Flintstone-era leaf springs are a functional and proven way to go. But when unladen, the downside is a compromised ride, a skittish rearend, and a butt-high stance that evokes subconscious imagery of Brokeback Mountain. Take our word for it: A quartet of control arms and a Panhard rod are generations ahead of leaf springs when it comes to taming a stock axle. Team these with adjustable, self-leveling air springs, front and rear, and you have a pickup that looks and rides way cooler, and can probably chase down Mustangs on the twisty bits-especially with its screw blower tucked neatly underhood (ah, but that's a story for another issue.)
So sit back, relax, and enjoy as the Air Ride crew takes over the Paul's High Performance shop to completely transform the stance, ride, and handling of this too-cool F-150 that somebody out there is destined to drive away with.