Oct 6, 2019 update to the Ford F-250 project car

Project F-250: We Bought a Truck

We've had our share of tow vehicles over the years, most recently a 2006 Ford E-250 van, which we dubbed the Super Van. And while we turned that van into an amazing machine, one that could tow a car to the track and then provide a home and workshop for the weekend, we knew we'd eventually go back to the drawing board. Buying a larger trailer–and a heavier car–meant that we were towing at the van's limit, and we grew tired of crouching over when camping in the van on longer trips. We also got the van stuck a few times (when we're not racing, we're big fans of off-pavement adventures), meaning we wanted four-wheel-drive, too. 

So we started shopping, poking and prodding the used truck market to figure out what was available and what we could afford. We briefly considered a car payment and a new half-ton truck, too, but after talking to friends towing with them, decided that we'd be more comfortable with an older, heavier-duty pickup. A wishlist started coming together:

  • Four-wheel-drive.
  • Two solid axles, because we're fans of fewer moving parts, and don't mind the bad ride quality in a truck we won't drive every day.
  • A manual transmission, so we wouldn't have to worry about transmission temperatures while towing.
  • A gasoline engine, because we're better at working on them, gas is way cheaper in our area, and the price premium for diesel trucks is ludicrous. 
  • Six seats, but not all of them need to be comfortable (we just wanted to be able to take everybody on the crew to dinner). 
  • A bed long enough to sleep in, meaning at least six feet. 
  • An overall length no longer than our extended-body van, since anything bigger wouldn't fit in our garage. 
  • Power windows, locks, cruise-control and carpet. We're not looking for a Cadillac, but wanted some creature comforts for long hauls.
  • The ability to occasionally tow two cars at once, meaning at least a 10,000-pound towing capacity and a gooseneck ball.
  • A Ford badge, both because of family history and because of the Super Van's 256,000 completely trouble-free miles. 
  • And, last but not least, salvageable paint and a careful previous owner, since it's always cheaper to start with something that doesn't need bodywork or major repairs. 

Wish list in hand, we started cruising Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Flexibility and patience are the keys to getting a good deal, and we casually shopped for about a year before finding our truck. We looked at all shapes, sizes, and conditions along the way, knowing we'd never be able to hit all of our requirements, but hoping to meet as many as possible. Eventually we stumbled across this truck on Facebook Marketplace, drove three hours to look at it despite only seeing three low-res photos, and ended up buying it.

What We Bought

We paid $3300, and bought this 2001 Ford F-250 XLT V10 5-speed 4x4 SuperCab Standard Bed pickup truck with 173,000 miles. Rated towing capacity? 10,700 lbs., and up to 13,700 lbs. if the final drive ratio wasn't as highway-friendly as ours. This truck meets every single one of our criteria except for the gooseneck ball, which we can easily add later. We've never seen a similarly-optioned truck before. It's also got shiny paint (save for the roof and tailgate), a spotless carfax, and a rust-free underside. We pieced together its prior life, too: It was purchased new in Oregon, where the original owner used it to support his adventures outdoors. That original owner sold it to the current seller a year ago, who hitched up his 35-foot travel trailer, hauled his entire life cross-country, bought a house here in Florida, then listed the truck for sale because he was done with it. That makes us the third owner.

The F-250 came with some extras, too: The seller threw in the original wheels with fairly-decent tires, and the truck was already equipped with Air Lift air springs and a toolbox in the bed.

Of course, it came with problems, too: There's tons of tire noise from those mud tires, the transmission has a few worn synchros, the power locks don't work, the roof needs to be repainted, the tailgate is smashed, the trailer wiring is a mess, the driver's seat is ripped, the back window won't close all the way, the headlights are cloudy, the interior is gross, and we didn't get many service records. 

Fortunately, that's nothing we can't fix. We'll turn this truck into the perfect tow vehicle, turning a small budget into an awesome adventure machine.

 

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Comments
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slowbird
slowbird HalfDork
10/6/19 8:45 a.m.

Dang, that seems like a really good deal.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/6/19 8:53 a.m.

No kidding.  That's at least a $6K truck up here in the rust belt. 

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
10/6/19 8:57 a.m.

yea those window switches and door locks tend to be crap, everyone i have know with these trucks had bad window switches and power locks.

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
10/6/19 8:59 a.m.

You can buy a set headlights on Amazon for less than $100. 

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
10/6/19 9:00 a.m.

V10 with a stick? Dang!

Cactus
Cactus Reader
10/6/19 9:24 a.m.

I just spent almost double that on an older (96) F-350 quad cab dually that is rated to tow slightly less. Mine's a diesel though, and here in Ohio the price delta for the sticky stuff is pretty slim. Gas is up right now and diesel is not, so while it's more, it's still cheaper than 93.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
10/6/19 10:29 a.m.
Cactus said:

I just spent almost double that on an older (96) F-350 quad cab dually that is rated to tow slightly less. Mine's a diesel though, and here in Ohio the price delta for the sticky stuff is pretty slim. Gas is up right now and diesel is not, so while it's more, it's still cheaper than 93.

Not for nothin’ but that OBS one-ton of yours is probably the best truck ever made!

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
10/6/19 10:47 a.m.

Nice!

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
10/6/19 12:01 p.m.

along for the ride.  A 250/2500 something is in my future I can feel it. smiley

Mike
Mike SuperDork
10/6/19 12:37 p.m.

That's a seriously nice looking truck.

b13990
b13990 Reader
10/6/19 12:44 p.m.
Javelin said:

V10 with a stick? Dang!

You'll roll back into people on hills and never even notice.

car39
car39 HalfDork
10/6/19 1:46 p.m.

Bring your gas credit card.  I had an 05 F250 V8 crew cab 4X4.  Hook it to a 24 foot enclosed box with a Miata and stuff in it, 9 mpg.  Ironically, leave the box behind, get 9 mpg.  Tried everything, tune, cold air got it to 12 mpg once unloaeded by driving like a senior citizen leaving an early bird restaurant.  Nice truck, comfortable, towed great, knew the location of every gas pump from Connecticut to Pennsylvania.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
10/6/19 2:29 p.m.

Regarding that tailgate, I'm pretty sure it's the same part as the ones on the F-150s of that era (PN96 chassis), so they should be cheap and easy to find.

Agreed that $3300 is a freaking steal for that truck. You could probably drive it a few hundred miles north and double your money tomorrow.

purplepeopleeater
purplepeopleeater Reader
10/6/19 2:30 p.m.

I called my '93 F250 Teddy Roosevelt because that was one rough riding son of a gun. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/6/19 3:26 p.m.

Thanks for the support, everybody. 
 

I won't spoil future updates too much, but here's one interesting thing so far: I've averaged 12.5 mpg overall, getting about 9 while towing and about 14.5 empty. These trucks really aren't as bad as everybody says they are. 

secretariata
secretariata SuperDork
10/6/19 3:49 p.m.
Tom_Spangler said:

Regarding that tailgate, I'm pretty sure it's the same part as the ones on the F-150s of that era (PN96 chassis), so they should be cheap and easy to find.

Ha! Cheap & easy to find. Good one there...I doubt there exist more than a dozen that aren't in worse shape in the entire country. :)

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
10/6/19 3:49 p.m.

Is the slide-out cup holder with the Dasani bottle in it worn out?  In other words, will it hold the bottle in a curve?  Mine won’t.  And Bill Hewitt on the Powerstroke Help YouTube channel said “...I’ve never seen a Superduty that the cup holder wasn’t worn out in..”.  I haven’t ever seen anywhere to get one.

trivial I know.  But sometimes it makes me much less happy when my drink won’t stay put.

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
10/6/19 4:04 p.m.

Check the brake lines.  Rust never sleeps.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
10/6/19 4:54 p.m.

Great job on not buying a 6.0

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/6/19 4:59 p.m.

In reply to secretariata :

I found one a few days after purchasing

secretariata
secretariata SuperDork
10/6/19 5:33 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

You must be one lucky man... :)

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler PowerDork
10/6/19 5:39 p.m.
secretariata said:
Tom_Spangler said:

Regarding that tailgate, I'm pretty sure it's the same part as the ones on the F-150s of that era (PN96 chassis), so they should be cheap and easy to find.

Ha! Cheap & easy to find. Good one there...I doubt there exist more than a dozen that aren't in worse shape in the entire country. :)

Are you counting the brand-new ones that forum sponsor Rockauto sells for $92?  Granted, it's just a shell, but swap over the mechanical bits from the smashed one, paint it, and Bob's your uncle.

Ransom
Ransom UltimaDork
10/6/19 6:17 p.m.
Tom Suddard said:

I won't spoil future updates too much, but here's one interesting thing so far: I've averaged 12.5 mpg overall, getting about 9 while towing and about 14.5 empty. These trucks really aren't as bad as everybody says they are. 

I am *staggered* at how much better that is than the 460 and auto. My best, anomalous, had to make sure I hadn't done the math wrong tank was 13.8 mpg, averaging 9.2. It's mostly around town, but even freeway time, unladen, only doing ~70 tends to net around 11. And mine's at least trivially lighter, being a '97 2WD (old body style).

Antihero
Antihero SuperDork
10/6/19 6:26 p.m.

I almost bought basically the same truck for $3k

 

Are you sure it wasn't in north Idaho for a bit? Because....that looks exactly like it

Nate90LX
Nate90LX Reader
10/6/19 6:54 p.m.

I love the V10 stick shift Super Duty! I've been casually looking for one like this for a few years. I look forward to seeing what you do with it. 

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
10/7/19 6:50 a.m.

That is more like a 10k truck up here with winter coming. 

wae
wae SuperDork
10/7/19 6:58 a.m.
car39 said:

Bring your gas credit card.  I had an 05 F250 V8 crew cab 4X4.  Hook it to a 24 foot enclosed box with a Miata and stuff in it, 9 mpg.  Ironically, leave the box behind, get 9 mpg.  Tried everything, tune, cold air got it to 12 mpg once unloaeded by driving like a senior citizen leaving an early bird restaurant.  Nice truck, comfortable, towed great, knew the location of every gas pump from Connecticut to Pennsylvania.

I've got an Excursion with the V10 and was getting about 9-10 in around-town driving.  I've bumped that up to about 11 by actually driving it a little bit harder, pulling away from stops at around 2000-2500 RPMs.  I've also found that if I run it at about 75 on the interstate, I'll get closer to 14-15mpg, but at 65 I'm down around 12-13.  Apparently, these things are most efficient around that 2000-2500 range.

Oh, and awesome truck.  That would be a good chunk more money around here.

PMRacing
PMRacing SuperDork
10/7/19 9:14 a.m.

I was able to disassemble and clean all the non working window, lock, and mirror switches on my old F250. Cost was just time!  But it was pretty easy.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/7/19 10:37 a.m.

...we grew tired of crouching over when camping in the van...

I'm curious to see how this criticism about the van will be dealt with with a short-bed truck.  Camping in an enclosed trailer?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/7/19 10:40 a.m.

In reply to Ian F :

2002maniac
2002maniac Dork
10/7/19 11:01 a.m.

Not while hauling a gooseneck!

RJStanford
RJStanford New Reader
10/7/19 4:24 p.m.

In reply to yupididit :

Or wet sand and UV clear for less than $20

RJStanford
RJStanford New Reader
10/7/19 4:26 p.m.

I had one of the first '99s with the V10 - auto, though, after having lived with a '93 Diesel F350 stick as my daily for six years.  The SD got ~9.7mpg in town (dually, crew, 4x4) but it towed like a beast - first time I hooked up a trailer (~8-10K) I was mildly disappointed, then when it didn't shift I realized that I'd accidentally put the transmission into 2nd instead of Drive.  Sold it 9 months later when I realized I didn't need that much truck, but still, good times.

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
10/7/19 5:16 p.m.

Is the van being sold then?

captdownshift
captdownshift UltimaDork
10/7/19 5:53 p.m.

How much cutting would it take to stuff a Ford V10 and manual box into a Miata.

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
10/7/19 8:09 p.m.
captdownshift said:

How much cutting would it take to stuff a Ford V10 and manual box into a Miata.

i would assume about the same if not more than the Hellcat powered miata. since the v10 is mod motor 5.4 with 2 more cylinders 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/7/19 8:12 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

It is. Tom@grassrootsmotorsports.com if you're interested 

grover
grover HalfDork
10/7/19 10:36 p.m.

I see a sleeper in the future for this thing. I’m pretty sure there is one on the vero Craigslist, can’t remember what body it’s for but I can look again if needed. 

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Dork
10/7/19 11:12 p.m.

*stares approvingly in Texan*

 

Nice

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/8/19 10:25 a.m.

In reply to grover :

I think I've already messaged that guy, great minds think alike!

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/12/19 6:20 a.m.

Sneak peak of what's coming next... this followed me home last night. 

 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
10/12/19 6:27 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

shakedown run to petit?

tooms351
tooms351 Reader
10/12/19 7:05 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

I've been looking for a dually and slide in also, how much weight do you think that srw setup will tow.....safely?

..

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/12/19 7:19 a.m.

In reply to tooms351 :

If I did my math correctly, I should be able to tow 6-7k lbs. with this setup. One benefit of a gas truck: No heavy Diesel engine to eat up excess GVWR. 

tooms351
tooms351 Reader
10/12/19 8:07 a.m.

Wow, I was limiting my search to duallys, thinking I needed the extra capacity for towing an open trailer. Gas or diesel doesn't  matter, but 250 or 350 srw opens up many more possibilities on the CL!

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/12/19 8:22 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

If you add a trailer you might need some heavy springs or counter balance with some tractor style front bumper weights. 

Paul_VR6
Paul_VR6 Dork
10/12/19 8:34 a.m.
grover
grover HalfDork
10/12/19 9:44 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:

Sneak peak of what's coming next... this followed me home last night. 

 

DUDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.  You are living well.  

grover
grover HalfDork
10/12/19 9:46 a.m.
John Welsh said:

In reply to Tom Suddard :

If you add a trailer you might need some heavy springs or counter balance with some tractor style front bumper weights. 

That setup with a cooler and fishing rods and popular in parks in the northeast.  

 

Fun fact: In Montauk lighthouse state park you can't park an rv in their parking lot overnight, but you can park a truck with a slide in.  

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
10/12/19 10:28 a.m.

In reply to tooms351 :

Yeah, my truck has a GVWR of 8800 lbs. and a GCWR of 16,500 lbs. It weighs about 6200 lbs. empty with no tailgate and me in it. This slide-in supposedly weighs 1900 lbs. wet, which means I'll have just barely enough weight left to carry the tongue weight of a single-car trailer. Going to be cutting it close but the math should work. And I've got air springs! 

tooms351
tooms351 Reader
10/12/19 11:58 a.m.

I had a 99 lance 1010 and that tubby had to weigh 4000lbs, no problem for a dually. I don't mind downsizing the camper but it's got to have a shower! 

 

Wayslow
Wayslow HalfDork
10/12/19 4:25 p.m.

We have a 2006 version of your truck but with an auto transmission. Towing a gooseneck 3 horse trailer, with living quarters, up Mt Washington I managed to get the mileage down to 0.7 MPG.  Overall the gas mileage has been about on par with our old 4.6l F150 when it come to hauling. It’s just so much more effortless. 

 I wish my truck was anywhere near as rust free as yours. I’m actively searching for a box for mine since it slowly returning to the earth from whence it came.

rdcyclist
rdcyclist Reader
2/26/20 9:32 a.m.

This subject is very timely for me. I'm looking for a 250/2500 RWD single/extended cab with cruise and the three power things (windows, locks and mirrors) in the six to nine large price range. Something less than 150k on the clock would be nice. Out here in California, about 90% of the trucks are Crew Cab 4x4's. The RWD non-CC trucks are usually work trucks with no power options and they've been beat to death.

I'll just have to be patient, which is not my strong suit...

Wayslow said:

[edit] I managed to get the mileage down to 0.7 MPG.  [/edit].

Wow, 0.7mpg is pretty horrible...laugh

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