Those of you who have been around here for some time might remember my Toyota FJ Cruiser. I built that rig as the ultimate photography vehicle, and it served me well for several years. There was virtually nowhere it couldn’t go and with the roof top tent mounted overhead, it made it easy to set up camp and get a good night’s sleep. However, circumstances change and people (me) sometimes start to value comfort over absolute capability. For that reason, it was a given that my next adventure rig would be a pickup truck with more room and more luxuries.
Initially, we looked at a new Toyota Tacoma but determined that they are too small and underpowered for our needs, and didn’t have the necessary amenities. Being a Toyota guy, that left the Tundra. Cavernous, with almost all of the amenities but…abysmal fuel economy and it’s still pretty old architecture as the 2019 Tundra is essentially a 2007 Tundra wearing lipstick and eye shadow. Well shit, now what? Toyota is out, Nissan and Ram reliability leaves a whole lot to be desired and I’ve never really liked the look of Chevy trucks. And then I was issued a 2018 Ford F-150 at work. I’ve always preferred Ford’s design ethos over other American brands, and it had amenities to spare, and it drove fantastic, and the fuel economy was pretty good for a motor with THAT MUCH POWER, and there’s so. much. room. in the cab. Wait, what just happened? Am I a Ford guy??? Well, yes, apparently I am. So I went on the hunt…
I put out feelers and looked at a few used 2018 F-150’s but the prices were too high. I knew I’d be investing (I use that term liberally) in a slew of upgrades and couldn’t justify spending upwards of $45k on a truck and another $15k+ on upgrades, plus a camper (more on that later). I’d just about given up when I saw a white 2015 F-150 Lariat sitting on a car lot in town. I stopped and spoke to the sales guy about the truck, and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’d wanted silver or gray, and this was white, but it was sooooo clean and in such good condition that I pulled the trigger the next day. And just like that, the Edge family had a new member: Betty White, our new adventure rig. Yeah, I name all my vehicles. It’s just a thing I do.
Betty checked all the boxes - remote start, heated/cooled leather seats, killer sound system, tons of room, a locking rear differential, respectable fuel mileage, the awesome 3.5L EcoBoost motor that seems to have power and torque for days and enough interior room for a family of three with too many outdoor hobbies plus a pug. But, I suffer from a disease that causes me and my checking account significant grief. I don’t know that it has a name, but it’s a sickness that requires me to immediately and extensively modify any vehicle I purchase for improved off-road capability and outdoor adventures.
The modifications would include suspension, tires, wheels, lighting, armor, a camper…the list goes on. Now, I plan on holding onto Betty for several years. I had the FJ for eleven years, and I’m not one who flips vehicles often, and I suspect Betty and my family will become very close over the next 5-7 years. So, at least I can somewhat justify the expenses by dividing the cost of the truck and upgrades by the sum of all the incredible adventures on which Betty will take us. Right? RIGHT?!
I’ll dive into the actual modifications in future posts and will write them around various facets of the build, i.e. a single post on suspension, another on wheels/tires, etc. It should be easier to digest that way. It’ll definitely be easier for me to write the posts as I won’t have to spend several hours writing one crazy long post about all of the upgrades and can delve a little more into the how’s and why’s that went into every modification. Being a complete gearhead nerd, rest assured that there were often times hours and hours of research that went into each agonizing decision. Hopefully, someone will benefit from my geekdom.
One last thing: That camper on the back of Betty? That’s Clark. As in Clark Griswold, the original road trip buffoon extraordinaire. Betty and Clark, on and off the road…again?!