Diesel enthusiasts come in a variety of backgrounds, cultures, professions and ages. Others like to push performance limits in competitions. Colt Stevenson, a twenty-year-old from Fillmore, Indiana developed an interest in diesels early on thanks to his father Marc.
Stevenson and his dad have always liked ‘70s-era Ford trucks and jumped at the opportunity to build a truck together starting Colt’s freshman year in high school in 2009 when they purchased this 1975 Ford F-250 Ranger from the original owner. The original owner had installed a Super Cobra Jet gasser 428 in 1977, and the truck was enjoyed that way for over 30 years before he sold it. The Stevenson family appreciated the history of the 428 but replaced it with a diesel engine.
Marc and Colt Stevenson’s love for ‘70s Fords is matched by their admiration for the reliability and power capability of the Cummins turbo diesel engine, so they decided to combine the two by installing a 12-valve 5.9L Cummins in the ’75 F-250. Colt gained a lot of knowledge about truck mechanics and appreciation for building your own truck rather than hiring someone else to do it. Of course, the Stevensons were also able to develop a closer bond and relationship while wrenching on the truck together—something that we are sure they would recommend for any parent/child combination to enjoy that type of experience together.
They started the project by removing the engine, doghouse, and chassis from the truck. They removed the front and rear 1975 axles and replaced them with beefier Dana60 and Dana80 axles that came from a 2001 Dodge truck with diesel-friendly gears. The Dana 80 rear axle was easy to replace with the existing leaf springs. However, the Dana 60 in front required some custom fabrication work and modification of the steering system and mounts. Upgrading the axles not only provide additional strength in the driveline, it also gave the truck modern brakes with about 25 years of advancement from ’75 to ’01, which will help Stevenson to whoa the truck down from speed much better. The father and his son also built new cross-members to reinforce the chassis and secure drivetrain, as well as custom motor mountings.
Rancho RS 5000 Shocks were installed on each corner of this truck. They work in conjunction with the original Ford Leaf Springs to dampen the bumps. They also installed airbags in the back to help with the leveling of the ride, especially when towing heavy loads. The truck has polished 16X10 aluminum wheels with Pro Comp Xterrain LT285/75R16 tire to give Stevenson plenty of grip, no matter the surface he is driving on.
The drivetrain was next. A 5.9L 12-valve Cummins, from a Dodge 1992 truck, was installed into the chassis. The engine is almost stock, with the exception of a set 80-hp fuel injectors that improve fuel delivery. A larger air filter was also installed to allow Holset’s turbo to consume as much air as possible. They also integrated a Dodge intercooler in front of the Ford’s core support but had to clearance the back side of the grille to make everything fit back together. The spent gasses are emitted through a 5-inch exhaust system which terminates in a Pypes 8-inch stainless steel stack. But the stack is not used as a “stack” in the traditional way; it was installed as an exhaust tip in the factory location behind the passenger side rear tire.
The Cummins motor is backed up by an NV4500 transmission from a Dodge 2000 using a factory Dodge assembly that has been adapted to fit the Ford linkage. They kept the NP205 transfercase in the truck, using three custom-made drive shafts to connect the T case to the transmission. Colt rows gears using a custom-made shifter that they made together and painted to match their truck.
Paint and Body
Fortunately, the original owner had taken good care of the truck, and it was in good overall condition when the Stevenson’s bought it. They decided to repaint it in new coats with the two-tone factory green color, a modern clearcoat and basecoat to provide durability and shine. Many of the trim pieces were either polished or replaced, bringing them back to showroom conditions. The original front bumpers and rear bumpers have been retained. A Tractor Supply diamond-plate aluminum truck box has also been installed to provide extra storage and to house the Viair tank and compressor used to inflate airbags in the back.
Marc and Colt completed the restoration of the truck once everything was in place. They acquired a 2001 Dodge bench seat and had it reupholstered in brown leather by Arzola’s Upholstery in Greencastle, Indiana, before installing it in the cab. The original steering wheels were replaced by a three-spoke steering with oak rims that went well with leather seat upholstery. New gauges were installed to monitor oil temperature, engine temperature and boost. They were installed in two pods on top of the dashboard and three panels in the dash. Stevenson also added a new Pioneer head unit in the dash to make his ride more enjoyable. They installed speakers in a molded headlining with integrated speakers over the driver and passenger to avoid having to cut original factory doors or panels.
Colt Stevenson’s father and he built a truck that looks great, even though the truck is more than double as old as Colt Stevenson. Colt Stevenson and his father not only had a great time together building the truck, but they also created a daily driver that will be enjoyed for many years. We know he treasures the experience of working with his dad on the build. This young diesel enthusiast is sure to pass this knowledge onto his child one day. We know that there are many distractions in the world today which can divide families. However, we also understand how a diesel truck can bring families together. DW
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