The sound of a 365-cubic-inch diesel engine is distinctly rugged, if near deafening. Passersby might expect a tractor, a semi-truck, an earth mover before they realize this sound is Jordan Fredericks, a freshman sociology major, parking his daily driver.
Standing over 8 feet tall, the burnt red 2004 Ford F-350 Super Duty 4×4 prefers an open lot; it will not make it through the passageway at the entrance of the average parking garage.
There’s no question that the full-size pickup truck has solidified its footing as a staple in the North American automobile market; the largest three American manufacturers sell an average of 6,000 units per day. Utility has given way to luxury as more trucks offer advanced computer systems and amenities. Suspension, wheels and tires are tuned for highway driving and fuel economy, not rock crawling or towing capacity.
Climbing up wooded trails and carrying off-road motorcycles to and from their dirt tracks are not jobs achievable by the family sedan. Fredericks used his prior pickup, a smaller, 20-year-old Ford F-150 for more than just commuting to high school.
The bed of that F-150 carried his dirt bike down the highway, to a racing-style track in Rocky Hill. Fredericks says he used to ride dirt bikes as a hobby, even racing once in Claverack, New York, but the hobby became too expensive, and time consuming.
That F-150 served him well, he says, until his necessity for such a vehicle expired. A few years, and a few thousand miles later, Fredericks has graduated from his Honda dirt bike to a Harley Davidson Sportster.
Likewise, he has graduated from the F-150 to a 7,000-pound F-350 Super Duty, modified to his liking, and as mentioned, too tall to fit into parking garages.
“I sold the F-150,” says Fredericks, “because I wanted a little more.”
The F-350 Super Duty has an 8-inch lift kit, riding on tires that shame the tiny highway cruisers that came from the factory. Fredericks took on trails in the woods with his first truck, a YJ Wrangler, but this Super Duty is not abused like the Jeep. This truck is a statement, and a go-anywhere, haul-anything daily driving vehicle.
It did take a lot to get his truck there, Fredericks says. His truck does not quite look or drive like it did when he got his hands on it.
“I bought it and it wasn’t running, I did injectors, oil cooler and an EGR delete to get it going,” says Fredericks. “I did that with my dad.”
Fredericks says his father has always been involved with cars, and works with him on projects of all sorts. The current undertakings, he says, are a 1976 Ford Bronco, and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
Among Ford fans, he says the six-liter Power Stroke engine in his truck gets a bad rap, but reliability is not so much an issue for an enthusiast who likes to get his hands dirty.
“It’s trash if you don’t take care of it,” Fredericks says.
He takes good care of the Super Duty, and says it was a much different truck today than when he originally bought it.
“When I first got it, it had a different bed, and different wheels,” he says. “It’s got 2007 doors, 2016 seats and a different dash.”
All that plus an engine swapped in from a 2006 truck and the bed from a 2016 leads Frederick to call the truck “a bit of a Frankenstein.”
The engine was given a full rebuild before installation, he says, and even bored out to a slightly higher displacement. The exhaust system goes straight from the engine’s turbo, back down the length of the truck, with not so much as a catalytic converter or muffler to inhibit the engine’s performance. The four-inch diameter piping was a custom job; Fredericks says the previous owner is responsible for that modification.
The most drastic change to the truck, however, is the kit that raises the suspension six inches over factory ride height. Congruent with the rest of the repairs and modifications, he installed the lift himself, and says he bought the parts straight off eBay. The task was not too arduous, he says, considering he had helped friends install lift kits on their trucks in the past.
Notwithstanding, it has been a reliable vehicle for Frederick since completing the work, and has over 270,000 miles on the odometer. The only issue he cites since restoring the truck is a coolant leak, which ended up just being a hose that needed tightening. Otherwise, the Super Duty gets him from point A to point B.
The truck is so tall, Fredericks says, it could not even be utilized for towing, easily. He towed a trailer once since he has owned the Super Duty, but he says in order to tow again, he would have to install a drop hitch, a type of trailer securing apparatus that accounts for the truck’s considerable amount of suspension lift.
Another side effect of the suspension lift, says Fredericks, is the inability to access places with low clearance, such as a parking garage.
“I took an EMT course in Danbury, at Danbury Hospital, so the only place to park is in the parking garage,” he says. “The truck wouldn’t go in there at all, so I’d have to borrow my parents’ cars.”
Both parents have been good sports through the process, says Fredericks, considering his father is the one who gave him the car bug anyhow.
“We [have] a garage at the house,” says Fredericks. “If one of our cars needed anything we’d work on it, but I started working on them more with my friends. My dad would come out and help us out, and we’d learn from him.”
The itch to work on cars, he says, has been driving him in the direction of something new. That, and he says, he would like to drive something that gets more than 17 miles per gallon.
“It’s like, you want it, and then you drive it a lot,” says Fredericks, “and you don’t really need it.”
Fredericks says he probably will not replace his truck for a while, but he is a fan of cars and trucks, both big and small, and is strongly considering his next car be a souped-up Subaru.
By August Pelliccio