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by Jon Mikelonis

Introduction
Do you recognize this statement? "You'll never get out of it, what you put into it." To a car hobbyist, those words refer to one thing and one thing only... contemplating the sale of a project car. However, there is one way around the negative reality of that statement that can only be reached by investing the earnings of a project car sale into the purchase of somebody else's project car. Get it? You see, back in October, FordMuscle auctioned off Project MX for a slim $1750. While we figure we had near $3000 invested in the car in parts and labor, there was a way to break even and offer you guys some fresh subject matter. Find a new Ford project car that was worth $3000 and pick it up for $1750.

OK, if you are confused, forget it. The point is, FordMuscle now has a
killer 1978 F-250 4x4 to learn and write about for at least the next two
years. It's solid, runs, and we got it for just $2000.

 
Former Fire Department Truck
Markings, stickers, and witness marks support the fact that Project
Redneck once belonged to the Daily City Fire Department (DCFD). Situated immediately south of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast, the F250 served during the department during the 80's. By tracking down the Daily
City garage referenced on this dash sticker, we talked with a mechanic who remembered the truck. The real-world version of "Harlan" from the TV show CHiPs informed us that the truck served as "Beach Rescue" for the DCFD.
   

What Do We Have to Work With?
Ford trucks still felt like trucks in 1978 and nothing says truck more
than the cold rigid feeling one gets when they hop in to the cab.
Insulation, broad molded plastic pieces, and most the amenities of a Crown
Victoria have turned today's F-series trucks into something less than
rugged, at least on the interior. In '78 Ford still had a good amount of
painted sheetmetal for the driver to admire from both outside AND inside
the truck.

Our 1978 F250 Custom 4x4 falls neatly into the 1973-1979 F-series
"dentside" category. This genre is referred to as "dentside" because in
1973 Ford reversed the long horizontal body line from convex to concave.
For that reason, the 1967-1972 model Ford F-series are commonly called
"bumpside" trucks. An entire website, www.fordification.com, has been
created exclusively for the 67-72 models. Those trucks deserve it because the bumpsides share classic looks and the raw Ford toughness you expect from F-series.

In our search for the right truck we discovered that the 67-72 F-100's
carried a bit more resale value due to their position within the musclecar
era. Considering our $2000 budget, most workable 4x4 bumpsides were out of our league. Dentsides on the other hand, were more plentiful as 4x4's and less expensive. While one look underneath any 4x4 Ford truck conveys toughness, smog gear in 1978 robbed F-series of the muscle it deserved. Fortunately, that fact is what probably keeps the prices of late 70's models down and affordable for lowbrow enthusiasts like you and me. Find a 70's era truck that is rust-free with decent running gear and you've got a solid foundation to build a real piece of Ford Muscle, inexpensively. Here's a quick look and what we now have to work with:


Shortly after the truck was delivered from it's previous owner in
Sacramento, we put Project RedNeck through the paces in a 3/4" inch snow
drift. We tested its' load capability by hauling a 3 foot tall Christmas
tree back home from Wal-Mart.
 
While the body and paint look great in these shots, the truck is wearing original paint that was rubbed out at one time. There's also quite a few dents. No rust however.
     

The fact that Project RedNeck was built in California (San Jose) and
purchased near Sacramento explained the dry and rust-free condition.
 
Yes, you got, that's the infamous destroked Ford 400...a 351 Modified.
Nothing to get too excited about but the motor compartment was very clean and original.
     

The interior wasn't perfect but it was intact. Our F250 came with a
"New-Process" 4-speed manual and 4x4 running gear.
 
These are new to us but that's a Dana 44 front drive axle. Somewhere along the line a 4-inch lift was made with new leaf springs up front and blocks in the rear.
     

You can see from this shot that the undercarriage is real clean. The rear
axle is a Dana 60 with a 3.54:1 ratio.
 
Drill holes and a witness mark 4-inches in diameter positioned
dead-center on the roof told us that a siren must have been installed
there at one time.

Simplifying the Beast
After confirming that the F250 ran well in it's "as-is" condition, I
evaluated everything from a need basis. Residing in Nevada and because the truck was a 78 meant that smog gear was not required. While not exempt, pre-1982 vehicles must only meet a "sniffer" test in Nevada, not a visual. Time for some fun. Let's get started.


Due to the lift and to make the whole job a lot easier, I removed the
hood. Don't ask me how I managed to do it by myself. This is a task best
done with two people.
 
Pulling off the stock air cleaner revealed excessive vacuum hoses and the horrific EGR mechanism.
     

Pulling of an EGR plate off is as satisfying as replacing stock manifolds
with headers, only easier.
 
I'll admit, I don't even know what this thing does. I think it's called a
smog pump. Doesn't matter because Waste Management Services picked it up last Tuesday.
     

Here's a new perspective that may not be new to veteran off-roaders, but it was new to me. This was the first time I had to climb in to clean up the cylinder head mating surfaces in preparation for a new intake.

 
Other than the air cleaner which I later decided to reuse, this is the
pile of waste I pulled from the motor compartment.
     

At the same time, I beautified the wiring harness in a number of places.
 
Outside of the motor compartment I found some useless alarm wiring stashed up under the dash. It's best to remove this stuff so you can cleanly install necessary items like gauges without a headache.
     

Because of its use as a Fire Department's utility truck, I found numerous wires that had been cut and lead to nowhere. Those were removed immediately.
 
Here's a shot showing everything removed and ready for upgrades.


(Initial Upgrades)

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In This Article:
Using the proceeds of the sale of Project MX, FordMuscle brings on a new vehicle for 2007. We're proud to introduce our 1978 F250 Custom 4x4. Project Redneck will pay tribute to those who choose not to assimilate into dominant car culture by modifying this brawler with hands-on pride, a short pocketbook, and no concern for what the public thinks.


Our search for Project Redneck began with the sale of Project MX. A
FordMuscle reader scored a great deal in an Ebay auction for the Montego.
It sold for $1750. About $750 less than we thought it was worth. Mickey's Transportation picked it up mid-November for a piggy back ride to Toledo, Ohio.
 

Once the money was in hand, the search was on for a 4x4 under $2000. This ex-firestation F250 was just one of many we had our eyes on. Although is was listed at $3300 on craigslist, nobody was buying it. FordMuscle took a shot in the dark and offered the owner $2000. While we are not intimate with these trucks, we believe we got a good deal for a 74,000 mile, rust-free, and city-maintained Ford brute.
 


While smog tests are required for 1968 and up vehicles in the state of
Nevada, smog gear is not for models older than 1982. With that said we
stripped out all emissions equipment along with excessive wiring that lead to nowhere.

 

The final result of our first month of ownership resulted in a much
cleaner motor compartment, easier to tune powerplant, and quick top-end
upgrades.

 

 

ACCEL 300+ Perma-Crimp
Spark Plug Crimps
Cut-to-fit plug wires like the Mallory 8mm ProSidewinders used on page 2 of this article require you to do the stripping and crimping. This results a tighter looking set of plug wires that are much easier to manage. To do the job right you'll need a set of professional-grade wire crimps like the ACCEL 300+ Perma-Crimp Tool. Take a look at caption 13 on page 2 of this article to see how clean the crimps come out using this tool.

Constructed with a heavy duty hardened steel frame and molded non-slip hand grips. The adjustable ratchet mechanism produces consistent factory style crimps. The ACCEL 300+ Perma-Crimp Tool is the only crimping tool supplied with three removable stripping/crimping die type jaws: one for 7-9mm spark plug wires, one for primary wire terminals, and one for pre-insulated terminals. Where to buy?

 

Mr. Amp 3G One-Wire Alternator from Performance Distributors

If you’ve been paying attention to our project car articles since FordMuscle got started back in the late 90’s, you know that one of the first upgrades we make to our older rides comes in the form of the 3G alternator. 3G alternators like this one are internally regulated. The one-wire setup and 130 amp output is why we put one on our '78 F250. See page 2 of this article for more.

Mr. Amp 1MR-130-F comes with a 6 gauge lead wire and thermal circuit breaker. Hook it right up to the positive side of a starter solenoid and you’re ready to roll. The lead wire can be sized for your application. Where to buy?

 


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