Although I love muscle cars, I also like trucks. And there have been a few muscle trucks, I am thinking of the 1999 – 2004 Ford Lightning, since it is the most recent. It had supercharged 5.4 V8. Sounds like a good place to start. But I was thinking, what other options are there? One that came to mind was the Ford Expedition. After all, it is the same basic trunk underneath as the Lightning. This is where the first of my project truck ideas comes from.
Rather than swap the engine in from the Lightning (although that is an option also) I was thinking, why not just turbocharge the engine in the Expedition? The Expedition gives us more interior space (at the expense of weight) than the Lightning. So it is a plus for those like me who have a family. It also has automatic four wheel drive on the 4×4 versions. This is not all wheel drive, what it does is automatically engage four wheel drive as needed based on wheel spin. Sounds like a good idea to me, on something we will be cranking up the horsepower on.
Like I had written about in my post Turbocharging an engine, it is pretty easy to get big horsepower numbers out of a Ford modular engine with a turbo. If you are willing to live on the ragged edge of possibly causing engine damage, or upgrade to forged internals, you can get close to 600 horsepower out of one of them.
Even given the weight of an Expedition (around 5,500 pounds) that would make for some impressive acceleration, especially with little wheel spin with the auto four wheel drive. I am assuming here that the four wheel drive would hold up to the strain.
The other drawback to the Expedition (especially in four wheel drive) is the height. While it doesn’t matter much in a straight line, it does have drawbacks in corners. There are options to lower them, and the second generation ones (2003 +) already have a lower ride height that should help with the handling.
My second project truck idea is a bit different. I have always like the Dodge Ramcharger (and Plymouth Trailduster) full size SUV’s. I also like the Cummins diesels in the 3/4 and 1 ton Dodge trucks (I am sure you can see where this is going). However, the 6 cylinder Cummins in the pickups is too heavy for a half ton truck (or SUV) to handle, at least if you want the ball joints and other front end parts to last.
Cummins made a 4 cylinder version of the same engine though. And by using donor parts from a pickup (since the front end is pretty much the same) it would be a pretty easy swap. Why not just put the pickup suspension under it and put in the 6 cylinder? Mainly because with that short of a wheelbase, it would be a very rough ride with the 3/4 or 1 ton springs under the truck. Plus, I like to do things at least a little different.
I think it is a good idea, a full size SUV that can get 20+ MPG. Sure, you could look at swapping the same engine into a newer SUV, but I like the look of the older ones, plus the older ones are lighter, which would help performance.