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Home Pick up Trucks Custom truck company turns Ford F-150s into the baddest pickups

Custom truck company turns Ford F-150s into the baddest pickups


Giant 500-hp pickup adds Baja style, new suspension and luxury interior touches to modified Ford F-150

Detroit Free Press

There’s a new player in the race to build the biggest, baddest pickup, the Ford F-150 by Mil-Spec, a 500-horsepower monster with 37-inch tires that dwarfs even Ford’s own F-150 Raptor desert racing truck.

From a deep, performance-tuned exhaust to wide-flared fenders developed for Baja racing trucks, the Mil-Spec pickup turns heads like few vehicles on the road. Add a surprisingly smooth, quiet ride and Ford’s factory warranty on the drivetrain and many other parts, and Mil-Spec’s headquarters/assembly shop just north of Detroit should be busy as it reopens after the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Ford F-150 (left) by Mil-Spec looms over a 2020 Ram 1500 pickup. (Photo: Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press)

This is the golden age of pickup customization. As with 1950s street rods, ‘60s muscle cars and ‘90s sport compacts, independent designers and engineers are racing to take automakers’ best vehicles to the next level.

More ground clearance than a Raptor

“At Mil-Spec Automotive, our company designs always center around a deep passion for upgrading some of the world’s most celebrated trucks,” said Mil-Spec Automotive co-founder and CEO Adam Mitchell. The company got its start turning Hummer H1s into luxury SUVs. The modified F-150 is its second vehicle.

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I drove the third F-150 Mil-Spec has built. Half the fun was seeing other drivers’ and pedestrians’ reactions; half the fun was the V8’s 500 pound-feet of torque and the modified Borla exhaust’s. And the other half was realizing the controls, climate control and infotainment are unmodified, easy to use Ford factory-spec. Don’t tell me the math doesn’t work. You haven’t driven Mil-Spec’s F-150.

Priced starting at $85,000, each Mil-Spec truck begins with an F-150 XLT or Lariat 4×4 ordered by a Ford dealer. Customers can browse and order vehicles online.

A Ford F-150 being modified at Mil-Spec’s office. (Photo: Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press)

In addition to a naturally aspirated 5.0L Ford Coyote V8 tuned to run on 93 octane gasoline (91 in areas where the good stuff is hard to get), each pickup gets new:

  • Bumpers
  • Exhaust
  • Grille
  • Fenders
  • LED headlights
  • Upholstery: three colors, Katzkin leather
  • Anodized aluminum badges
  • Tubular side steps
  • 20-inch black alloy wheels

 A new suspension increases ground clearance to 13 inches, 1.5 inches more than a Raptor. 

The smallest touch, but the one owners may appreciate most often, is billet-aluminum dials for audio, climate, transfer case and trailer backup controls. The hefty, precisely milled dials are a frequent reminder this is not just any F-150. Mil-Spec replaces the standard F-150 steering wheel with a Raptor steering wheel with paddle shifters. Customers can order a truck with console or column shifter. Ford’s quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission is unchanged.

Mil-Spec will modify all three cab sizes, but so far they’ve only done the big four-door crew cab. All prices in this report refer to it.

It all began with a Hummer H1

Options can raise the tab to about $98,000. They include a roof rack with 50-inch LED light bar, Fox racing shocks, Baja suspension with up to 11 inches of travel and bed-mounted spare tire carrier.

Mil-Spec is the brainchild of Mitchell and co-founders Chris Van Scyoc and Ian Broekman, three metro Detroit 20-somethings who began the business in 2015 with the crazed idea of turning Hummer H1 SUVs into modern luxury vehicles. The first Mil-Spec Hummer was a star of the 2018 Woodward Dream Cruise, foreshadowing the eagerness with which customers from Detroit to Hong Kong would snap up a total of 62 — so far — for $220,000-$350,000 apiece

They’ve taken orders to deliver 52 modified F-150s this year, and a supercharged model is in the works.

Ford F-150 by Mil-Spec at a glance

Base price: $85,000

Four-wheel drive four-door full-size pickup

Engine: 5.0L V8

Output: 500 hp; 500 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 146 inches

Length: 231.9 inches

Width: 93.4 9 inches (mirrors folded); 96.8 inces (mirrors open)

Height: 79.3 (84.8 w/roof rack)

Maximum track width: 81..1 inches

Curb weight: 5,697 pounds

Towing capacity: 10,900 pounds 

Ground clearance: 13 inches

Break-over angle: 23 inches

Approach angle: 35 inches

Departure angle: 27 inches

0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds

Assembled in Auburn  Hills

Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.

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