Why Buy the F-650?
Typically, Ford F-650 medium-duty trucks are used for a wide range of commercial jobs-from agriculture to construction. But not too many of these trucks are converted into pickups to be used every day. So what possesses a person to build and use a truck as a daily driver when that truck is built for medium-duty commercial applications?
That was the question on our minds as we left to check out Judd Balls' F-650. After meeting Judd, he told us, "I needed a vehicle that was more reliable and more capable than a 1-ton truck. I first saw the 650s online, but with all the modifications, I was skeptical about the build quality, so I flew down to F650 SuperTruck in Georgia to check them out. I was surprised to find that the axles lined up perfectly, and the truck was really well built. I just had to have one. So I picked the specs that I wanted and had it delivered about eight months later."
Judd uses the truck as his daily transport and has put over 43,000 miles on the odometer in the one year he has owned it. "The main reason I bought the truck was that it came with a 400,000-mile, five-year warranty on the drivetrain," Judd explained. He also said the repair bills were getting too costly on his Excursion and F-350, and he came to realize he was just asking too much from a 1-ton truck. Judd needed a vehicle that could seat at least six adults comfortably and have enough capacity to tow a snowmobile trailer or toy hauler without putting too much stress on the vehicle.
Building the F-650
Judd purchased the truck from F650 SuperTruck (www.f650pickups.com) in Augusta, Georgia. The F650 SuperTruck crew has built similar F-650 trucks and giant SUVs they call XUVs for a long list of celebrities, including many NFL and NBA stars who have trouble fitting inside smaller trucks (such as Shaquille O'Neal, at 7 feet 1 inch tall and 325 pounds). Judd's truck started as an F-650 two-wheel-drive crew cab and chassis and was stretched into six-door form by Alton Company in Pigeon, Michigan. It then returned to Georgia and was converted to four-wheel drive with a kit from Marmon Herrington that comes with a new front axle and transfer case. As a six-door 4x4 cab and chassis, it returned to the F650 SuperTruck shop for paint, interior, wiring, and suspension upgrades. The bed from a F-350 1-ton dualie sits on a two-channel cold rolled and tempered stiffener that reinforces the frame and brings the bed into the correct elevation with the cab.
When it came to engine choices, the performance and longevity of the yellow Cat was one of Judd's priorities. A Caterpillar Acert C7 7.2L straight-six motor is coupled to an Allison RDS 3000 series transmission with in-cab pushbutton controls. The Cat ECU was flashed with a computer program for emergency vehicles, which bumps the horsepower up to 330. For the sake of reliability, Judd opted to leave the motor in stock form, but he has started to make plans to replace the C7 with a C9 Cat that will give the truck around 400 hp.
Judd's truck sees a variety of different terrain both on- and off-road, so 445/65R22.5 Michelin XZL all terrain tires were selected for their versatility. These 250-pound monsters are mounted on 22.5-inch polished hub-centric Alcoa wheels. The same size tires are used on all four corners of the truck, but the rear wheels have a different offset to bring them out to fill the flared rear fenders.
The 12,000-pound gross axle weight rating (GAWR) Marmon Herrington front axle is attached to leaf springs that have been re-arched and sit on 2-inch blocks to give the truck the lift it needs to look proportional. The rear suspension consists of a four-link air-ride system coupled to the stock Spicer axle. Dual Pro Comp shocks are used on the front and singles at the rear. Chris at F650 SuperTruck told us that they will soon be shipping Judd's truck back to Georgia for the front suspension to be converted to a new four-link air-ride system from Kelderman. According to Chris, "These are million-mile trucks, so when owners want something changed or upgraded, instead of purchasing a new truck they simply send it back to us for updates."
A pair of 90-gallon polished stainless steel fuel tanks adorn each side of the vehicle and feature built-in steps. Mounted on the underside of each tank are automatic fold-out steps from AMP Research that make entering the truck a two-step process. The polished look of the fuel tanks continues with chrome rocker panels, chrome door handles, and a chrome front bumper that holds a winch.
In winter months, the F-650 takes long trips chasing the snow on the way to the mountains to go snowmobiling, so Judd wanted plenty of entertainment on board. The truck is furnished with a total of six screens, a Sony Playstation 2, four 12-inch Eclipse subwoofers behind the back seat, and the door speakers were replaced with Eclipse component setups. The rest of the interior is standard Ford gray leather that is very similar to what's used in the 3/4- and 1-ton trucks. The only noticeable differences are the air-ride front seats and the addition of the Allison pushbutton transmission controls.
Living The F-650 Life
The demand for these enormous pickups is growing rapidly, and F650 SuperTruck is planning to expand its manufacturing and open a new facility in Idaho that will be run by Judd. Although this truck has several hundred thousand miles left in its life, it will likely be replaced by a new F-650 built by Judd and his crew in the new facility.
This F-650 is very unique, but was built with a definite practical purpose of being the ultimate tow vehicle for both summer and winter toys with enough space to seat up to eight adults.