Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Is Super-Badass
Ford Truck Enthusiasts goes off-roading in Malibu in Hellwig’s SEMA-winning mega-truck and gets the low-down on how it all came together.
When it comes to saving the world and surviving everything from a fierce battle with Mother Nature to a zombie apocolypse, auto enthusiasts have always risen to the occasion with some badass builds. And now, we’ve spotted what could very well be the toughest build of them all, and, of course, it’s built Ford Tough.
Parked front and center at the entrance to Motor Press Guild’s recent “Droptops and Dirt” event in Malibu, California,, the Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty is effortlessly stealing everyone’s attention. And considering that the crowd here is comprised of seasoned automotive journalists, garnering their attention is an inspiring feat in itself.
So, of course, our interest was piqued and we immediately began scouting the creative mind behind this roving masterpiece.
Turns out his name is Mike E. Hallmark, and he’s Visalia, California-based Hellwig Suspension Products‘ Marketing and International Sales Manager. Fortunately, he was also cool enough to let us take a cruise in the Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty as he rode shotgun and answered all of the questions we had about this monster project build.
Ford Truck Enthusiasts: What is the kit on this beast?
Mike E. Hallmark: It’s a 4.5-inch Stage 5 ICON Vehicle Dynamics with Method Wheels and Falken Tires.
How big are the wheels?
They are 17-inch. They are Method’s true heavy-duty wheel, and we wanted to make sure we had a good heavy duty wheel because even though some wheels are eight lug and rated for a one-ton truck, they’re rated for a gas truck and not a diesel truck. And I didn’t want to have any issues. So, 17-inch wheels with 37-inch tires.
The ride is very smooth. Do the modifications change the towing capacity?
Nothing that we do changes the towing capacity. We help you haul heavier loads while maintaining a level ride height. To change the GVWR of a vehicle, you’d have to look at upgrading the brakes, the rear axle, stuff like that… At Hellwig, we manufacture the swaybars and the complimentary suspension, which would be our air bags, our air springs, and our helper springs.
Regarding all of our load-control products, basically we have a “no saggy bottoms” policy. So, any time you put a lot of weight in the back of the truck and the back end wants to squat below the factory ride height, our products come in and make sure you maintain a factory ride height. So, that helps to distribute the weight more evenly over the front rear axles, giving you more stability, more control. That’s just one of the things we do.
‘This is a one-ton truck and it drives like a Cadillac.’
The other thing that we do that is actually our bread and butter is our sway bars. We do sway control. Specifically on this truck, we have our chromoly heat-treated front sway bar and our Big Wig threeway-adjustable rear sway bar to help manage the four-and-a-half-inch addition in ride height, and then also the extra weight mounted basically on top of the bedrails of the truck. So, you’re looking at roughly 2,500 pounds sitting five feet in the air.
The Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty won an award at SEMA earlier this year, correct?
We did. We won a design award through Ford. This truck was featured in the Ford booth at SEMA. …There’s a lot of SEMA builds that get thrown together that are hack jobs. Everything on this truck had to work when we got to SEMA. This is a one-ton truck and it drives like a Cadillac.
The build took how long?
We built this truck in seven weeks, from picking it up at the plant in Dearborn, Michigan, to delivering it to their booth at SEMA was just about seven weeks to the day.
When we came up with the initial concept, we knew what we wanted to do, like with the side-by-sides; we knew we wanted it to be a hauling vehicle and it was gonna be a showstopper. But we didn’t want anything frivolous on it. So, we looked at who we wanted as our key partners and also we considered what we needed to support the vehicle. So, we had the Daystar cans on it, which are fluid cans. You need to carry water and fuel and stuff like that. If we got stuck off-road somewhere and we needed to change a tire, we have a Hi-Lift Jack.
This is the ultimate adventure recon vehicle, essentially. This is the tow rig that will get you to 90% of where you want to go, and the side-by-side will get you through the tight spots.
The Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty was a situation where it was like, whatever I can think of, I can make happen. I was given the green light. As long as it’s done right, nobody’s gonna tell you no. So, I started thinking, what about this? And what about that? And I’d make a call the next day, and [vendors were like], “Sure, not a problem. We’ll send it right out.” The hardest was getting the side-by-side. Nobody wants to hand over $16,000 side-by-sides.
Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Is Super-Badass continued…
The camo paint job is amazing. What was the original color of the truck?
The whole truck was black, and all the interior trim pieces were a silverish blue, and then anything that you see here that’s painted white or brown, that was a silver metallic. So, we went through and we actually based the camo colors off of the material that’s on the seats. We color-matched the paint to the actual material as close as we could.
It was actually done by Theresa Contreras from LGE*CTS Motorsports. They are the ones that actually built this truck. This is our second partnership with them.
You built the truck for SEMA, but then where does a unique vehicle like this end up? Who gets to be the lucky forever owner?
This is actually kind of my road dog at this point. It’s my marketing tool. This is how I attract people and bring them in so we can talk about stuff. You see this truck going down the road and people go, “Hey, what’s that?” And I go, “That’s so crazy that you would ask me that. Let’s talk about it.” It’s an effective marketing piece.
‘I don’t have a flag on the front of this truck but it’s just about as America as you can get.’
This is fully capable for off-road. …In all honesty, you look at a truck this size and this big, and you think, Oh, this truck is probably gonna handle like garbage. So, I offer to let people drive it on the road, because no matter what, you’re driving highways to get places, like to the off-road trails. So, showing it in this light [off-roading in Malibu], hopefully I’m changing people’s minds and they’re going, Oh, wow, big trucks can handle well. And what makes them handle well? Hellwig sway bars and air springs.
Are there specific advantages to working on a Ford truck?
Well, this was a “dollar vehicle” through Ford. And you can’t beat a buck for a truck. And personally, the Ford Super Duty is the most comfortable truck I’ve driven. Our bread and butter is the tow-and-haul truck market. I’ve driven the brand-new Chevys. We still have a Titan, and I love that vehicle. But driving the Super Duty cross country in its stock form, and now across the country in its modified form, it’s very comfortable to drive, and it has all the amenities.
We have customers in the Middle East, and the Raptor is huge over there as well. But they’re not like us where they have a tow vehicle, and a toy hauler, and they’ve got their sand toy. They have one vehicle, and that’s their “it” vehicle. So, they’ll be driving along and they’ll look to the right and there’s dunes and they just dip off, and they call it “dune-bashing.” They just bash it in, and then they come right back on the road. So, a lot of the product, we’ve actually had to make special for that region because it’s a true dual-purpose car.
Hellwig 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Is Super-Badass continued…