Dale Amy
July 1, 2007
Here's how the give-away Herculiner '07 F-150 Thundertruck looked when it arrived at Paul's High Performance during a bitter February cold spell. Already looking sharp with its Cervini's body kit and tri-color paint scheme, there was still much mechanical and dress-up work to be done, starting with lowering this beast's center of gravity.

Ok, simple question: Who wouldn't like to win a hot-rodded new F-150? Exactly. Last time out, we began telling you about just such an opportunity to pick up a pickup thanks to the folks at Old World Industries Inc. (OWI) and its various project partners including Ford Racing Performance Parts, Cervini's Auto Designs, Paul's High Performance, T&R Auto Body, Air Ride Technologies, Stainless Steel Brake Corporation, and Bridgestone tires. Oh, and your good friends here at Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine-thank you very much.

In case you're just coming onboard, we'll recap: OWI is the corporate parent to such prominent automotive product lines as Herculiner bed liners, Peak antifreeze, and SplitFire spark plugs. After having so much fun and positive reaction to tricking out and giving away a Mustang GT last year, the OWI powers-that-be decided to do it again in 2007 with this 5.4L regular-cab F-150. In our previous installment, we showed you the fitting of Cervini's aggressive CT-Series body kit and the laying on of a trick black, red, and silver paint scheme, all by the body wizards at T&R Auto Body in Hammond, Indiana.

This time we move a bit further east along Interstate 94 to the Jackson, Michigan, shop of Paul's High Performance, where the bulk of the truck's muscular mechanical transformation will take place. We thought we might as well begin to document these changes from the ground up, so this time we'll have a look at the manly F-truck's responsive and great-riding new chassis bits from the airheads at Air Ride Technologies.

Many of you may think of just airbag springs when you hear Air Ride, but the Jasper, Indiana, firm engineers complete replacement suspension kits for many applications. For instance, the "AirBAR" rear setup that you're about to see going on our subject F-150 completely dispenses with the factory leaf springs and substitutes a four-link axle location, while also having a Panhard bar.

Now don't get us wrong: If all you want to do is sling hay or other weighty commodities into the bed of a pickup, the Flintstone-era leaf springs are a functional and proven way to go. But when unladen, the downside is a compromised ride, a skittish rearend, and a butt-high stance that evokes subconscious imagery of Brokeback Mountain. Take our word for it: A quartet of control arms and a Panhard rod are generations ahead of leaf springs when it comes to taming a stock axle. Team these with adjustable, self-leveling air springs, front and rear, and you have a pickup that looks and rides way cooler, and can probably chase down Mustangs on the twisty bits-especially with its screw blower tucked neatly underhood (ah, but that's a story for another issue.)

So sit back, relax, and enjoy as the Air Ride crew takes over the Paul's High Performance shop to completely transform the stance, ride, and handling of this too-cool F-150 that somebody out there is destined to drive away with.