A father-son project is probably the best way to share your automotive enthusiasm with your family. And for Kevin Harrell, a project manager at NASA in Hampton, Virginia, it has to be a case of déjà vu. His first vehicle was a 1978 Ford F-150, purchased by his parents in 1979 and given to him as a high school graduation present. Over the years, the truck was rebuilt and customized, becoming a regular at car shows and featured in several magazines. When his son Richard was born, he also became a regular at car shows and early on, the young enthusiast decided he wanted a truck just like dad's. During the latest restoration effort on the '78, young Richard was a great help and his automotive excitement was building. As he neared driving age, it was obvious that it was time to add another vehicle to the Harrell family collection. While hunting parts on the Internet for the '78, Kevin found this '74 F-100 (the same body style as the '78) and although the pictures were not of high quality, he decided to investigate it further. Richard had already saved $3,000 and with matching funds from Kevin, they began bidding on the truck. At $6,000, they met the reserve of $5,900 and won the bid. Soon afterward, they contacted the owner, Larry Moorelock of Kingsport, TN. Father and son loaded the trailer the next day and made the eight-hour trip to Kingsport. Unlike many sight-unseen transactions, this one turned out to be better than expected. Moorelock had taken great care of the truck and showed them receipts for upgrades that totaled more than $20,000! The truck looked so good that Kevin hurried to pay the bill before the owner changed his mind!

When they got the truck home and had a chance to look it over carefully, they found that the paint on the truck was very nice, the interior was spotless, and the undercarriage and engine bay were clean and well maintained. The truck had a 1994 Ford 302 Mustang V-8 underhood, retrofitted with '88 Ford F-150 fuel injection. A set of 17-inch Generation 1 Lightning wheels got it rolling but they didn't stay long. Everything gets personalized in the Harrell household, and the process began by removing the old running boards and ordering a new set of 20-inch Mustang Bullitt wheels from Wheel Replicas. Kevin had spacers machined to accommodate the bolt pattern and backspacing, adding Toyo Proxes 295/30-ZR20 rubber in the rear and 255/35-ZR20 up front. At this point, the way-too-tall truck needed a lower profile, initially accomplished with a set of Chassis Tech 3-inch dropped I-beams up front and dropped shackles and hangars in the rear. It was an improvement but after a couple of months, the pair realized more work was necessary. Luckily, the air suspension parts from Kevin's '78 were compatible. Since a new system was already in the works for Kevin's truck, the old parts were the perfect remedy for Richard's. Air bags were installed up front and rather than pull the bed, Kevin chose Ride Tech's AIRoverLeaf kit, removing two leaf springs and adding a bag on top to restore load capacity and ride height. By minimizing the number of leaves, the springs had more give and the bags compensated for the difference. A Ride Tech compressor was mounted to the framerail and ¼-inch lines feed the 5-gallon reserve tank. Toxic drop shocks were added to all four corners, although it took some experimenting before they found units that would extend far enough to drop the truck fully. Kevin says it is about as low as it will go without major modifications.

Once the suspension was complete, cosmetic changes began last winter that included buffing the paint to a high shine and polishing all the exterior trim pieces. The stock anodized aluminum grille shell and plastic inserts were replaced with an LMC Truck chrome grille shell and billet inserts. Custom paint touches were added to the backside of the bumpers, the underside of the truck, the frame, and the engine room. The interior uses a stock bench seat, recovered in a herringbone pattern with the Ford logo. Instrumentation includes a Super Pro tach on the steering column and the Ride Tech Pro control package located on the lower left portion of the dash. Custom door panels feature power windows and 6.5-inch component sets. Stereo sound fills the cab, thanks to a Custom Autosound head unit that provides vintage looks with modern performance, controlling the 6-CD changer behind the seats. Vintage Air climate control makes road trips a treat for driver and passenger alike.

Underhood, Kevin had definite ideas about the power plant, having learned from his first truck. Equipped with high compression heads and a carburetor, it's a high performance package that is sometimes difficult to live with. With Richard's truck, he decided that mixing and matching would create the ultimate combination of performance and reliability. The motor is a 5.0L block from Jasper engines. He contacted the experts at Horsepower Solutions in Hampton, Virginia who removed the 1988 Ford F-150 fuel injection and installed a new polished Cobra intake, Mustang fuel injection, and cold air intake kit. Were they pleased with the results? Kevin smiles when he says, “this one starts instantly, gets good mileage, and still performs quite well”. The transmission is a four-speed overdrive that feeds a Ford 9-inch rearend. Once the power train was up and running, they redid wiring, rerouted hoses, and fabricated a new radiator cover in order to create a sanitary engine compartment. Lots of chrome and polished aluminum made the engine bay sparkle like the Tuff Stuff chrome alternator, master cylinder, and power brake booster. Future plans include headers and side exiting dual exhaust, ididit steering column, and hopefully a supercharger. Richard is definitely going to have the coolest truck in the school parking lot!

That leaves just one problem. Now with young Richard's truck looking so cool, Dad has to focus on his '78 so that they can show them together. And, of course, the pressure is on Kevin to create something genuinely unique or Richard may be the only one bringing home trophies!