Custom 2017 Ford F250: Black Ops Edition

THE 200 Series Land Cruiser is the benchmark all other 4WDs are compared to.

Vote for the Ford F250 Black Ops tourer to win the 2017 Custom 4x4 of the Year

 

It’s incredibly capable, pulls like a freight train, and is comfortable enough the Queen of England would probably eye one off if she ever had to live out of a car. The V8 twin-turbo diesel makes bulk-torque, and when given the Super Tourer treatment is arguably one of the toughest 4WDs on the market.

So what the hell do you do when it isn’t enough? As Simon stood in his driveway, eyeing off his very own Super Tourer with a calendar full of trips and a fist full of catalogues for off-road caravans, it was a question he had to ask himself. The answer was every red-blooded American’s wet dream: a beast of an F250, pushing out bulk power, with huge tyres and enough off-road goodies to knock the LC200 off its throne.

Custom 2017 Ford F250 Black Ops Edition
The 20 feet of American freedom you’re currently ogling is no standard F250, either. It’s a limited edition Black Ops model, something pieced together by American aftermarket manufacturer Tuscany Motor Co in Elkhart, Indiana, just a few hours’ drive from Detroit. While a stock F250 is nothing to turn your nose up at, the Black Ops edition options up a 6in lift with 20in rims and 37in tyres, twin steering dampers, a black-on-black-on-black colour scheme with customised leather trim inside, a heap of carbon-fibre, dual scoop bonnet, and a train plough of a bullbar up front from Road Armor.

“We bought it when the Aussie dollar was good,” Simon told us. “They have a much better towing ability than a 200. We have a caravan we could tow with our 200, but when you want to overtake some idiot doing 80km/h, the extra power is great.”

Ford F-250 Lariat v GMC Sierra Denali 2500 v RAM Laramie 2500

Despite coming reasonably decked out in stock form, Simon wasn’t planning on doing stock stuff. “We do a lot of touring,” he said. “This year we’re doing Tassie in September to October, then off doing the Kimberley and the whole West Coast the year after. We do a lot of weekends to Moreton and a lot of remote camping.”

Custom 2017 Ford F250 Black Ops Edition chassis
Like most projects, things started to snow-ball pretty quickly. After a phone call to Rebecca and Luke at Outback Customs in Caboolture, a plan was set that’d see the F250 turn into a steroid-infused version of Simon’s own Super Tourer. The centre point is the huge Outback Customs tray set-up, and it’s probably the largest they’ve ever built. Like most of their builds, it starts with a trick heavy duty steel tray with an aggressive departure angle and plenty of storage.

VIDEO: American Pick-up truck comparison

Due to the sheer size of the F250, they were also able to squeeze in a few extra lockable boxes in front of the rear axle in that iconic Outback Customs style. There’s also a ¾ length trundle tray underneath for extra storage, not that it needs it.

Up top is where things get a little wild. There are two Jackoff canopies, both independent of each other so that Simon can run with either box on there, or he can run a completely flat tray for hauling his Polaris RZR. The front canopy is broken into driver and passenger compartments, and on the passenger side is an MSA drop-down fridge slide and a full 12V kit-out. Twin lithium batteries help keep things running, with a whole host of Redarc gear making it work.

Custom 2017 Ford F250 Black Ops Edition dirt
A Redarc battery management system keeps an eye on electrical levels, while a Redarc 1500W invertor and isolator gives Simon full control. A gas-powered hot water system has also been shoehorned into the box, with a 12V pump providing a constant flow to the rear-mounted tap and 60L tank under the tray.

The driver’s side holds a series of roll-out drawers for storing camping goodies and a Weber Q BBQ, while both sides boast extensive sealing for dust- and waterproofing. The rear box has laser-cut panels on either side, so it’s perfect as a dog box or wet storage area and it can easily be hosed out. It’ll also house two full-size spares on the back or a single spare and outboard motor, depending on the adventure. The roof-rack system is also interchangeable, with Simon swapping between a motorised boat loader and a James Baroud roof-top tent when the caravan stays at home.

4x4 buyers’ guide: Custom canopies

With a canopy larger than most apartments and a boat loaded on the roof, the stock suspension was never going to cut it. Outback Customs came to the rescue again, with a trick Ride-Rite air suspension arrangement for the rear. It runs a standalone compressor with a digital gauge inside, allowing Simon to adjust the ride height depending on the weight with a flick of a wrist. It’s backed up with huge King coil-overs up front and King shocks in the rear, both sporting reserve reservoirs for improved performance in corrugations.

“The old Rancho’s were rubbish off-road,” Simon said. “We put the Kings in and it was like sitting in an arm chair.”

Custom 2017 Ford F250 Black Ops canopy
The stock 20in wheels also got binned, in their place now reside a set of 18s to give the Super Tourer a taller sidewall to help smooth out corrugations even more. The huge guards help swallow the tyres, making the 37in MTZs look almost normal.

Despite coming blacked-out and with stout barwork straight from Tuscany Motor Co, Simon added a few touches here and there to the outside of the big rig. The front bar now sports a Baja Designs slim-line LED light bar, while the flanks are wearing Outback Customs rock sliders. The whole truck was wrapped in-house with a matte-black vinyl wrap to match the powdercoated textured black tray.

Simon will admit when the trip calls for hardcore rock-crawling through torn up tracks, he’ll grab the keys to the Super Tourer LC200. However, when remote touring or hauling a small house to the far corners of Australia is the order of the day, it’s hard to go past one of the most capable tow tugs money can buy.

THE SCORPION

NESTLED between the chassis rails of Simon’s F250 is, hands down, one of the most powerful engines you’ll find in any passenger 4x4… ever. The 6.7L Powerstroke diesel is an absolute beast of a donk, putting out 440hp (328kW) and 1166Nm. Simon’s F250 is punching out even more again, with an aggressive tune thanks to the Bully Dog control unit. The exact figures are unknown as it hasn’t been on a dyno, but Simon tells us it’ll light up the rear tyres at 80km/h. Not bad for a truck tipping the scales at five tonnes.

Custom 2017 Ford F250 Black Ops engine
The drain-pipe-sized 4in exhaust has something to do with that, but the real trick is the ‘Scorpion’ turbo set-up. To push the Powerstroke to such lofty numbers, Ford Engineers strapped a huge turbo between the two cylinder heads and essentially flipped the heads around.

Fresh air sucks in from where the exhaust would normally be, and exhaust pumps out through what would usually be the air intake. The design means the engine can run one huge turbo, rather than two smaller turbos or a complicated piping set-up. The results are an ungodly amount of power that sees US-based F250s legally towing weights more than double the usual 3500kg Aussie limit. 

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