They are the unsung workhorses, the tow vehicles, the jobsite companions; the furniture and trash haulers. We rarely think much about them, instead, lavishing all our time on our favorite toy in the garage. However, when it comes time to take a cross-country trip, attend a race or show, the pickup is there to deliver the goods, like an old friend you can always depend upon.
This is something that Scott Hoag, founder of Mustang Racing Technologies (MRT) knows only too well. A former Ford Motor Company engineer and head of Team Mustang, Hoag spends a good part of the year hauling equipment and cars to various Mustang and Ford shows, races and events to help promote his business and meet with customers, many of which are scattered across the United States and Canada. As a result, he needs the services of a reliable tow vehicle. “I’ve found Ford’s Super Duty series trucks to be excellent tools for the job, delivering a good blend of performance, comfort, reliability and practicality.” His dark green one is a prime example, “that truck has had a hard life, but it keeps on going.”
Scott is also an accomplished show car builder and has won numerous awards for his Mustang and Ford based creations at the prestigious SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center each fall. Cars such as the MRT Surf Chaser convertible, sinister Interceptor and outlandish Cherry 6T6, probably need little introduction for many of our readers, but for the 2008 event, Hoag, after a spate of Mustang creations and a Fusion, decided to try something different.
“The months leading up to the 2008 SEMA show were an interesting time for many of us I think. With the collapse of the banking sector and a lot of people losing their jobs and their houses, America was taking a battering. There was a lot of uncertainty in the air, so I felt perhaps it was time to build a vehicle celebrating what our great country is all about, something that was practical, but about as all-American as you could get.”
Here’s the result. Now traditionally, many of the pickups on display at SEMA feature lift kits that rival some monster trucks and enough chrome to deflect nuclear energy, after all, an over-the-top town deserves some over-the-top trucks, but Hoag elected to take a different approach.
"I’ve always liked to look at things from a practical standpoint. Building a vehicle that’s fun yes, but one that can be used in the real world, yet remains eye catching.” So, as a foundation for his then latest project, what could have been more appropriate than Ford’s recently revamped 2008 Super Duty, in 1-ton F-350 form.
“Initially, building a truck present us with a lot of opportunities, we could build a contractor’s vehicle, something for the horse back rider, sportsman, field engineer, you name it.” Key to the functionality aspect was building a new box that took the concept of practicality to a higher level. It may look stock on the outside, but each of the rear fenders hinges upward to reveal a storage compartment that runs the length of the bed. With his background in engineering, it’s hardly surprising that Hoag took a very OE approach to the project. He and his team (Josh, Mike, Izzy and Kurt) wanted to keep it looking as factory as possible and went to great lengths to ensure the new outer panels fitted correctly and sealed against the shelves when lowered. The doors are also fully lockable for security and when in the down position it’s tough to tell they’re even there. In order to illustrate the versatility of these compartments, when the vehicle is displayed at shows and events, one side houses jobsite equipment and the other sporting goods. “It’s been really well received and we’ve begun tooling the box for production, as a number of people have expressed interest in the design after seeing the truck at shows.”
But the nifty storage compartments are only one element of what is, a rather interesting truck. The MRT rig sits tall, but doesn’t boast a monster lift kit. “We compromised on the ride height, in order to maintain practicality, so you’ll find it’s comparable to a stock F-350. The biggest change was the wheels and tires. The truck rides on American Eagle 14 series 18x10 wheels and big Kumho 325/65R18 tires. They aren’t actually that big, but installing them completely changed the look of the truck, giving it a wider, brawnier appearance.”
As a performance enthusiast, Hoag also couldn’t leave the stock driveline alone. “We installed an Advanced Flow Engineering Mach Force XP stainless steel exhaust, and aFe Stage 2 cold air intake assembly. These Power Stroke 6.4-liter diesel trucks have a lot of potential in the performance department, so we installed a Pureflow Technologies Air Dog Premorator and a SCT custom vehicle tune with live wire diagnostics.” The result? A rig that gets around 22 miles per gallon on the highway, with an approximate increase in 75 horsepower. “We didn’t want to set the engine on kill,” says Hoag, “instead we aimed for a balanced approach, adding a bit more pep while keeping things fairly friendly at the pump–remember we were building this thing when gas was reaching around $4 a gallon for regular at the pumps.”
Inside the truck has received a number of upgrades. There’s a Kicker audio system, custom installed by Full Auto LLC (that includes an outdoor element mounted in the side of the pickup box), a JCI Home Link setup and DVD entertainment system, plus a full complement of Performax performance gauges, Brand Motion overhead console and special MRT logos, including Stars ‘n’ Stripes logos on the seatbacks. The latter is significant, for it was during the course of the project that the American theme really came into being.
“It was originally going to be more subtle,” relates Scott, “but as we progressed I started feeling that we needed to make a statement and it ended up creating a vehicle that was ‘Made in America, by Americans, for Americans.’ As a result only one exterior paint scheme would do. It was actually quite difficult to do. Everything you see is painted; there are no decals or wraps used. The hardest part was getting the paint scheme to flow from the front of the truck to the back, especially lining up the stripes on the doors to the front of the pickup box. Izzy performed much of the work; using Sherwin Williams paints and 3M protector. Complementing the patriotic finish, are dark painted Ford Custom step bars, a custom finished grille and a soft tonneau cover for the bed–simple touches, but ones that really add to the flavor of this rig. The icing on the cake is a custom window tint and rear graphic, courtesy of Restyler’s Choice and applied by Muzzy Enterprises.
Scott and his crew completed the truck in just 10 weeks “But we probably had about 20 weeks worth of work put into it,” he laughs. Still, the rig was finished just in the nick of time for SEMA 2008 and was put on display close to the main outdoor entrance to the show. And while there were plenty of big, flashy trucks on display; the MRT Super Duty was the only one that garnered a Design award at the show. “That was a really great feeling,” says, Hoag. “There were a lot of nice trucks at the event and the fact that ours won an award, was a great feeling–that we’d done something that people appreciated. It was a very proud moment.”
Since gaining accolades, the truck, like many of MRT’s past show vehicles continues to earn its keep. “It’s done well as a promo vehicle and is proving there’s a market for a cool towing truck that can get the job done.” And even though it was conceived to illustrate to the public that MRT can build others like it for discerning customers, the big truck rates very high on the functionality list. “It’s actually proved really useful around here and we do use it for towing trailers to shows. When you’re going down the road to a big event like the Mid-America Ford and Shelby Meet, it drives smooth. The power delivery and fuel economy are good enough that you can barely detect there’s a 28 foot trailer behind you, that is of course, until you pull into a Wendy’s parking lot for food!”
Special thanks to Scott Hoag for his help with article and assisting with the photo location as well as his MRT show vehicle crew, Josh, Izzy, Mike and Kurt.
MRT 2008 F-350 SUPER DUTY
MRT Heritage Paint Scheme applied by Izzy
Innovative bed storage system
Ford Custom accessories step bars
Ford Custom accessories soft bed cover
Custom chrome grille finished by MRT
Tinted window glass by Muzzy Enterprises
Rear window graphic by Restyler’s Choice
Ford Navigation system
Ford Mobile office system
MRT Interior trim accents
Custom gauge pod by Full Auto LLC
Performax performance gauges by ISSPRO
BrandMotion overhead console
Kicker Audio system
Kicker Marine audio system (mounted in bed and underneath truck)
Custom audio installation by Full Auto LLC
Air Dog Fuel Premorator by Pureflow Technologies Inc.
Advance Flow Engineering stainless steel Mach Force XP exhaust
Advance Flow Engineering Stage 2 cold air intake assembly
Superchips Custom Tuning, unique vehicle tune, vehicle diagnostics and Livewire
Wheels and Tires
American Eagle 140 Series 18x10-inch wheels
LT325/65/R18 Kumho Performance all-terrain tires
Big, bold and brawny, MRT’s award winning Super Duty is about as All-American as they come.
Nifty in bed, side storage adds a ton of extra utility and includes a stereo hook up, courtesy of Kicker Audio.
2008 and up Super Duty models feature this neat pull out handle and step, integrated with the tailgate for easy access.
Massive Kumho tires and dark painted wheels lend a somewhat menacing stance to this rig.
Patriotic paint scheme was actually a fairly late edition, but was felt appropriate in line of the economic and political situation at the time this truck was being built. It was all done by hand, no decals or wraps.
As we went to press, MRT was in the process of fully tooling the unique box design for production, meaning that shortly, you’ll be able to install one on your very own Super Duty.
Tool boxes can be mounted to the door of the side box.
Like every MRT show vehicle built, the Super Duty features some tweaking in the engine department, notably an upgraded exhaust system, cold air induction and custom tune. As a result the big overhead valve, 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel V-8 makes over 400 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque, yet is able to achieve 22 miles per gallon.
Interior features a custom installed Kicker Audio system and MRT signature touches, including special embroidery on the headrests.