Sled Haulerz Ep. 1: 1979 Ford F-250 Custom Crew
Welcome to our new series showcasing some of the most radical sled haulerz out there!
First up is a very cool 1979 Ford F-250 Crew Cab body with an Ecoboost chassis underneath, built by Mike Reeve. Mike is well-known in the sled community as a long-time filmer and producer of 509 sled films and more in the powersports industry.
Mike Reeve’s 1979 Ford F-250 Custom Crew - Sled Haulerz
Make and model: 1979 Ford F-250 Custom Crew
Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo Ecoboost
Drivetrain: 2013 F-150 Ecoboost drivetrain. 6 speed auto, E-locker rear diff, 3.73:1 ratio
Aftermarket Stuff: AFE intercooler, 5 Star ported manifolds, Banks Cold air intake, 5 Star tune, Ride Rite Air Bags, Bilstein & Fox Shocks
Wheels and Tire: Level 8 Hauler Aluminum Rims & BFG KO2 285/75/17 tires
MS: What is the backstory on the build?
Mike: My late wife Krystle wasn’t a fan of the 1969 resto-mod Camaro I built that we used to cruise around in. For her, it was too loud and got too much attention. She suggested that I restore an old truck instead. So I started looking at mid ‘50s trucks, but I quickly realized they weren’t practical. I really wanted to build a crew cab truck so I could use it as a daily driver.
When I was searching for the perfect candidate for a crew cab, I discovered that Dodge crews in older eras are extremely hard to come by and it’s nearly impossible to get parts (even harder than these Ford crew cabs, which are rare enough). And I didn’t love the square body 3+3 Chevys as much as the dentside Fords from 1973-79.
After some learning when my father and I resto-moded the 1969 Camaro, my goal for this project was to use a written-off, new era platform with this old-style body. That way I could have all the technology and benefits like power, fuel economy, wiring and controls and comfort for a very low price.
Since my plan was to use this as a daily driver and my sled hauler for my gig filming with 509, it had to be reliable, comfortable and capable of travelling all over Western Canada—including some difficult-to-access backcountry riding locations.
Where did you find the truck?
Having decided on the Ford body style, I began watching used car sites for a little over a year until I saw two 1979 Ford crew cabs posted for sale in High Level, AB for around $2000. I couldn’t believe it, because they’re so rare. I bought them sight unseen and travelled through a snowstorm for eight hours with my friend Dave to go pick them up.
The 2013 F-150 was a write-off I got from CoPart Edmonton for $2,800. That all sounds pretty cheap, but I would say I have between $30-35k into it now.
What was the first step in the build?
The first step in the build was to remove the body from the old chassis and get it off to the body shop to be sand blasted, and to have the cab corners, rockers and pillars fixed from the rust.
Then I disassembled the 2013 carefully to keep all the wiring, modules and drivetrain intact.
How long did it take to complete the build, and in what stages did you work on it?
I started the build in spring of 2017 and finished it early last summer. So a little over three years in the making.
It was slow off the start because I was travelling a lot, filming for 509 and the World Jet Boat Championships. The real progress happened in the last 12 months. I had a nice garage of my own to work in, and that’s when it really took shape.
How much was restoration and how much custom built?
The body panels and doors were restored to original 1979 era, and the rest of the trucks is “fairly stock” 2013. The custom part was everything I had to do to bring them together—cab mounts, rad support, bumper mounts, box mounts and custom wiring to adapt the 2013 harness to 1979 type light fixtures.
How did you decide on the paint?
Although this truck is basically all new technology, I wanted it to appear as close to an original ‘79 as possible, and not some SEMA show truck with wild rims, paint, lights and gadgets. So I wanted a paint that fit the era.
My friend Cory had a 1979 Ford in high school which was very close to this blue colour, and it was an original Ford colour. He still has that truck and he’s stoked that I chose a paint that’s similar to his.
I have to thank Kenton and the guys at Big Rig for doing the paint and body work on it. I’m stoked on how it turned out.
What was the most difficult part of the process?
I would say the most time-consuming was adapting the new style HVAC, wipers and dash to fit with the old 1979 firewall. It was a ton of time and metalwork to get that done.
Is there special attention that you paid to any particular part of the build?
I really wanted to spend time trying to keep the look of the truck original. The ‘79 Ford is one of the most iconic trucks ever made, and I wanted to keep it looking as-is. Looking back at Cory’s ’79 in high school, it stuck in my memory as a very cool truck. So when the old boys look at the truck in the sled parking lot or after riding at the gas station, I wanted them to think, Wow, that brings me back, without even knowing it’s all new technology inside.
Some interesting notes of the build are that it has satellite radio, automatic headlights, Bluetooth audio, OEM Ford command start & theft control, E-locker rear diff and integrated brake controller.
One other point worth mentioning is that this 1979 F-250 had a GVW of 7,700lbs and the 2013 I used has the exact same 7,700lb GVW. Pretty cool.
Since the build was finished, how has it been for its intended purpose? Has anything needed to be changed or rebuilt?
It’s surprised me at how reliable it has been since I began driving it last summer. It wasn’t 100% complete, but I started using it and it blew me away at how it all just worked as planned.
Since I started driving it, I have installed LED lights in the bed, a 12v air compressor under the hood, heated seats and XM radio. Just some nice things to have. So far I’ve done a 1000 mile trip with two sleds on the deck and it didn’t skip a beat at all. Just ran and drove like a 2013 would.
If you were to start again, is there anything you would do differently?
Lots of guys have suggested that I should have went with a diesel. And my response is that it is way less expensive to do it this way. Plus, I park this in my garage and I do a lot of short runs around town for my day-to-day production work, and the expense of the diesel didn’t outweigh the added power for me.
I want to put 1,000,000 miles on this truck going sledding for the rest of my life, and I can easily swap out this transmission or motor myself for a fraction of the cost of injectors or a fuel pump on a diesel.
Plus this thing is quiet, and has more than enough juice to move it down the highway. I’ve got a really fast circle track race car for the weekends, and no diesel—no matter the power—is going to replace that!
In terms of the build itself, I could have used the floor and firewall from the 2013 cab and that would have saved me quite a bit of fabricating time. But as of right now, the truck still makes me shake my head at how it went from an idea to being used daily, and just checks all the boxes.
- Tows up to 12,000 lbs √
- Hauls two sleds no problem √
- Starts without complaining at minus 30˚ C √
- Runs and drives like a new truck √
- Looks like a rare, old truck √
Any other points you’d like to share?
The 2013 Chassis is about 6″ longer than the 1979 was. So rather than chopping the frame of the 2013 to fit the body of the 1979, I had my body guy, Trevor, extend the box length from 6.6′ to a little over 7′. No one has ever noticed this, and it’s the perfect length for sledding and dirt biking. For reference, this is an 8′ JetCraft sled deck on it in the pictures. So it’s kind of a custom, medium-length box. Best of both worlds.
Also, I believe there were only around 2,000 of these trucks made in 1979, so there’s not many of them around anymore. Lots of people don’t even know Ford made a crew cab in this era.
Thanks, Mike, for sharing your sled hauler build with us! Any last words?
I’d like to give thanks to all the friends and family who helped build the truck. It really was a ton of hours by too many people to list. But it wouldn’t have ever come together without their help!
If you want to see more about my truck, check out my Velocity Video YouTube channel. I’m going to produce more videos on the truck, using it and customizing it even more over the years.