A Method of Proportions
REMEMBER HIGH SCHOOL Algebra? Every equation had a variable to solve, and once solved, a person could look at the now-completed equation and comprehend the formula for which one was needing to finish a theorem.
Sounds like complicated stuff, but it’s actually similar to building a vehicle that has never before been attempted. You have to be able to envision what you are building far ahead of the first wrench touching the vehicle. Once the final product is realized, only then can you look back and see what you needed all along.
Such is the case with Derrick Hodson and Hodson Motorsports. Derrick is a man who believes in proportions and is somewhat particular when it comes to the way objects fit together. Being retired from the commercial plumbing industry in Las Vegas didn’t excuse his conscientiousness when it came to the way a truck should be built and be put together.
After years of owning and building Jeeps, Derrick and his son Riley stumbled across a 1957 Crew Cab and decided to play around with it. Since then, large crew cab trucks are all they have obsessed about, which ultimately led them to Big Red. As a way to pay homage to the first truck he owned, Derrick decided to build a truck reminiscent of his younger days in the ‘70s. Back when he was 17 years old, Derrick bought a 1972 F-100 4×4 from his neighbor. It was a retired work truck with some miles on it, but it was a great start to what Derrick called his “chick magnet.” Standing tall on aftermarket tires and chrome wheels, all the truck needed was the popular roll bar with KC lights and with a stock small block and four-speed—and he was ready to take this tall red truck on the town.
Fast forward 40 years, and Derrick came across a solid 1969 F-250 crew cab. He decided to mate a front clip from a F-800 of the same era and then stack it all on a FL70 Freightliner chassis. For all this to work, Derrick’s mind began to consider the size and proportions for the vehicle he envisioned. Trusting Zack Airth from Airth Defined with the task of bringing his vision to reality, he began with the chassis; a Freightliner short wheel base school bus was the donor. With an already tall stance, the chassis was shortened to fit the crew cab and longbed wheelbase. Holding the front end in place was a solid axle and leaf springs, and out back was the Freightliner’s heavy-duty axle with dual wheels. To keep things street-able on this much lighter load, the gears were swapped out for a 3.73 ratio. The chassis was already equipped with a stout 6BT 5.9L 24-valve Cummins backed by a manual Fuller fivespeed transmission, so there was no need for custom adaptation. From there, a simple 100-hp tune from AG Solutions and a custom bent 4-inch exhaust from 6651 Customs in Vegas were performed to make the Cummins a little more efficient.
Up next, Airth Defined tackled the custom fabrication. Surprisingly, mounting the bumpside crew cab to the frame wasn’t a hard task, and the front clip from the F-800 was a great match to the rest of the body. However, to make the proportions in Derrick’s head work, they started from scratch when it came to building the bed. The entire bed was constructed using new metal; only the tailgate and fenders were actual Ford pieces. The tailgate was built by grafting the letters from a stock gate onto the newly built one, and the fenders were actually two sets welded together for a widened look. Each detail seamlessly brought together this massive rig.
Next up on the body was to make the oversized step-side bed flow with the crew cab and larger front end from the F-800. To do that, custom steps were built to bring together the front fenders to the rear fenders in what looked like a factory-built piece. To compliment those steps were a hidden pair of retractable electric steps from AMP research. This made it easy to get into the large truck without compromising the overall look. To finish out the body, small details like the oversized rig mirrors, taillights and especially the custom tube and flat plate bumpers were built to have both form and functionality on this project, and ultimately compliment the factory Ford body lines.
After all the custom fabrication work was done, Derrick enlisted Mitchell Cernas from Limos & Customs in Las Vegas to straighten out the body and apply Big Red with its signature color. Being that Derrick wanted to reinvent his first truck, there was no doubt that the truck would be painted the factory Rangoon Red with a Wimbledon White top. To class up the body, factory pieces like door handles, hood badges and lighting were sourced from CJ Pony parts and LMC. Meanwhile, the stunning original front grille from the F-800 was re-chromed and installed like factory. To finish off the exterior, a set of Alcoa wheels were installed and wrapped in a Bridgestone 11R 22.5 commercial truck tire, guaranteed to give a long-lasting smooth ride on the back roads of Las Vegas.
Building a crew cab like this means every aspect had to be extraordinary and, well, the interior was no exception. Starting with a full set of seats and matching center console from a 2010 King Ranch was just the start. Derrick handed the truck off to Redesign Upholstery in Las Vegas to complete the crew cab’s interior. Custom headliner, door panels, dash pad and carpet were all built to compliment the beautiful King Ranch Chaparral leather. A little more custom fabrication to the dash was required to house the gauges, sound system and HVAC. Displaying the engine’s vitals was a set of Sport- Comp gauges by Auto Meter. A Vintage Air system was used to keep the cab cool, while the Kenwood double DIN touchscreen kept the sounds going on those hot desert days looking for new projects to pick up. Rounding out the interior details was a Forever Sharp wood grain steering wheel, and Derrick even decided to use the automatic shifter knob off the King Ranch as his manual shifter, giving it a real finished look.
Most would agree that if FoMoCo itself would have built this truck for their commercial lineup, that even the company’s designers would not have come up with a better design. Derrick’s attention to detail and commitment to proportions is what makes Big Red and even bigger accomplishment than its size. When asked what his future plans for the truck are, he simply says, “The truck was built as a show hauler, to haul our other crew cabs in the future.” Well, if this is the hauler, I can’t wait to see what future projects they have planned to tow around!
1969 Ford F-250/800
- 2000 Freightliner FL670 chassis
- Chassis shortened 12 inches
- Stock front straight axle on leaf springs
- Stock rear freightliner 6-ton rear axle
- 3.73 gear ratio
ENGINE/ DRIVETRAIN/ PERFORMANCE
- Cummins 6BT 5.9L 24 valve
- Fuller five-speed
- Custom 4-inch exhaust
- AG tune/100 hp
- Alcoa 22.5-inches
- Bridgestone 11R22.5
- OEM Freightliner disc brakes
- F-800 front clip
- F-250 crew cab
- Custom fabricated step-side bed
- Fabricated fender steps
- Widened factory rear fenders
- Rangoon Red
- Wimbledon White
- King Ranch seats/console
CUSTOM INTERIOR BY REDESIGN UPHOLSTERY
- Auto Meter gauges
- Forever Sharp steering wheel
- Ididit steering column