If you look at these photos of the Ford “Super Bronco” built using the front half of a Ford F-250 Super Duty and the back end of a Ford Excursion, you’d think owner David Stockman’s job was coachbuilding. That’s because this custom beast, which he built almost entirely by himself in a workshop at his house, is far from a homebrew hackjob—it’s a man’s dream brought to reality through meticulous planning, hard work, and craftsmanship.
Stockman lives in the city of Weatherford, just 30 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas. His work has him traveling to and from courthouses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This means he puts lots of miles on his vehicles, and he often has to parallel park downtown. “I drive about 80,000 miles a year,” he told me. “I have to parallel park, and I love to drive a truck. But you know, I’ve got a Super Duty F-250 crew cab, and you can’t find a parking place.”
Logically, one might think that a compact car would be a natural solution, given that such a vehicle would save Stockman a lot of money on fuel, and it would make park downtown a breeze. But no, this is Texas we’re talking about, and that’s not how things work.
Stockman’s solution was to take a diesel engine out of a big, hard-to-park truck, and slap it into a shorter vehicle. The diesel should provide decent fuel economy compared to a gas motor, he reasoned, and the shorter body should be able to squeeze between vehicles downtown. So that’s what the 61 year-old-did, at least initially.
He bought a 1996 Ford Bronco hunting truck, and crammed in a 7.3-liter “IDI” diesel motor (which had a Banks Sidewinder turbo kit on it) out of an old Halliburton Ford F-350 that was sitting out in his pasture. For better fuel economy, he installed tall 2.73 years (which offered the added benefit of turning the granny gear of that five-speed manual into a useable first gear), and converted the Bronco to two-wheel drive, figuring he didn’t need the dead weight and drag from the 4x4 system. “[The motor] ran pretty good in that F-350...when I put it in that Bronco, I mean, it was screaming,” the diesel truck enthusiast told me.
Stockman drove his custom Bronco for a while, averaging around 24 MPG, but scoring as high as 30 on the highway. That got him thinking: “Well shoot, if I can can get this kind of mileage out of an old IDI 7.3, what can I do out of a computerized one?” When the big motor burned a valve, the Texan began planning on how to turn that thought into a reality.
“This idea just started coming into my mind over a period of several months,” Stockman told me over the phone. He decided, after about a year or two dreaming as he stared out of his windshield all day, to buy a non-running 7.3-liter Ford Excursion, and cut it down. The SUV wasn’t running at the time, but by the time he got it purring, he decided it was too nice to chop up. So he instead snagged a 2005 Ford F-250 Super Duty with a non-running 6.0-liter diesel. Though he long preferred 7.3s, he’d heard that the 6.0 could be dead reliable once it was “bulletproofed,” so he yanked the motor and did just that.
He also snagged some four-wheel drive parts with tall-ish gears that could theoretically help with fuel economy, as David’s son Russell writes in his Reddit post:
Another of the build criteria was that the truck had to be 4-wheel drive. Because the donor truck was a 2-wheel drive specimen, Dad bought a 2012 F250 4-wheel drive front axle and electric locker rear end to mount in the truck. They both had 3.31 gears to keep the rpms low at speed in hopes of better fuel economy.
There wasn’t a whole lot left of the truck—just the chassis and cab (with doors). It had no bumpers, no hood, no grille, no lights, no fenders, and no bed. To join ranks with the naked F-250, Stockman bought a 2001 Ford Excursion without its original interior, 5.4-liter gas motor, or automatic transmission.
Though he’d initially thought about shortening it and swapping the F-250's diesel over, Stockman ultimately decided it’d be easier to cut the Excursion, cut the Ford F-250, and weld the back of the former’s frame to the front of the latter’s. “I could have done it... Since I’m going to shorten it anyway—my goal is to get something short enough I can parallel park—I figured it’d be a lot easier to cut it and paste it together than to pull the wiring out, to try to adapt the wiring into that old Excursion body,” he justified.
Another thing he acknowledged was that he could have just bought a Ford Expedition. But he doesn’t think they’re nearly as cool, and they didn’t come with diesels anyway. Plus, he’s always enjoyed driving something different. “I can’t be like everybody else. Had to be a little bit unique,” he told me.
So, incredibly, the vehicle you see in the photo above actually has the front frame and body panels from Ford F-250 (well, the panels come from multiple Super Dutys, but we’ll get to that in a sec), and the rear frame and body panels of an Excursion. Here’s a look at the two frames pushed up against one another, but not yet mated via Stockman’s method of augmenting welds with bolted connections:
Here’s a closer look:
And here’s the truck after Stockman welded the two frame sections together:
Expertly crafted between the Excursion and F-250's body panels is a set of suicide doors that Stockman snagged from the remains of an F-250's cab he found at a salvage yard. The handy diesel fan from Texas told me the inspiration for the doors was actually his daughter’s Mini Cooper Clubman. He told me he likes that car’s setup, and that got him thinking about using similar doors, which are readily available for Super Dutys, and allow for easier access to the rear seats while not adding much length to the vehicle—a benefit, since Stockman would sometimes need to use the truck to carry larger items.
Here’s a look at the transformation of those doors:
And here’s a gander at the rear section of the Excursion’s body coming together with the front section of the F-250's. You’ll notice some red fenders and a red hood. Stockman snagged those off a 2008 F-250, since his 2005 cab didn’t come with those parts:
Notice how the hood in that last picture looks a bit odd. That’s because Stockman had to do quite a bit of stitching, as he not only wanted the cool hood scoop, but his goal was to use a grille from a modern F-250. “I went to Walmart and measured people’s trucks,” he told me, finding out that he could make the modern grille fit between his older headlights. Modernity was a big goal of this build, and as you can tell by the final product, he achieved it. The truck looks like it could be brand new.
The issue with getting a new grille onto Stockman’s truck was that the 2008 F-250 hood that he was using had indents in it, as it was originally intended to mate to a 2008-era grille. The modern grille, however, was designed to be completely separate from the hood. This meant there was a gap to fill (see the indent at the front of the 2008 hood in the image below):
To fill this space, Stockman simply cut about a foot off the front of a 1999 Super Duty hood, welded it to the 2008 F-250's hood, bondo’d it to give it the right shape, and boom: He had an extension that worked quite well with his truck’s new nose. Check it out:
Notice that two photos above, the 1999 hood has a small “valley” in the center. Stockman noted that he had to cut and weld some metal to fill this in. You’ll also see that he added two “vents”—you may recognize those from their original location on Super Duty front fenders.
The finished product looks quite nice:
In the rear, Stockman also made quite a few modifications to modernize his old 2005 F-250/2001 Excursion, as his son Russell writes in his Reddit post:
After modernizing the front end, Dad decided the rear of the excursion could use an update as well. He started by replacing the dated excursion taillights with 2017 F150 taillights that he mounted upside down. He also added a King Ranch tailgate insert to the back. This had to be cut and shortened due to the width of the truck and the way that the Excursion rear doors opened. Finally, Dad also added a center taillight that spans the length of the King Ranch tailgate insert and applied “Super Bronco” lettering.
Look at how he adjusted the Excursion body to fit a pair of upside down 2017 F-150 taillights:
Stockman even did his own paintwork inside a barn:
“Over the years, I just practiced... learned how to weld,” he told me about how he got into bodywork, saying trial and error was his go-to method. Painting is something he says he’s been doing for a while, even spraying his kids’ cars when they were in high school.
His method for this Super Bronco job, he told me, involved using two Binks HVLP spray guns. The results look great in the photos.
Also awesome is the shortened center taillight adorned with custom “Super Bronco” text. The light is an adaptation of the King Ranch Super Duty full-width tailgate light:
And of course, David Stockman also did up the Super Bronco’s interior to bring it into the modern era by using parts from a King Ranch and even a Lincoln MKX, with his son Russell writing in the aforementioned Reddit post:
With the outside of the truck completed, the last step was to build a custom interior. To continue with the modern theme, Dad purchased a 2017 dash panel to install. He also built a custom mount for a Samsung tablet in the center. For the seats, Dad found a virtually new King Ranch leather upholstery set on Craigslist and adapted a set of Lincoln MKX seats that were heated and cooled. To tie it all together, Dad also built a wood center console using Aromatic Cedar because he loves the colors.
Behold the new dash, seats, and center console:
Check out Russell’s post to learn more about this two-year build, and how his dad David spent many months cutting and pasting photographs he’d printed off the internet in an effort to get the proportions for his project just right before starting fab work.
As far as David is concerned, he accomplished that. He told me he gets thumbs up all the time, and people stop him regularly to compliment his truck. “It surprised me the variety of people that seem to be astonished by this truck,” he told me in amazement.
Unfortunately, the machine’s fuel economy isn’t quite where Stockman had hoped. “My goal with this one was to try to get better fuel economy than my old one... So far I have not accomplished that,” he admitted, saying that averaging 18 MPG while driving 80,000 miles a year is going to be costly. He says he plans to make a few changes to try to get that figure up.
The Super Bronco build is just wild. The fact that this huge truck, of all things, was the answer to a question about fuel economy and ease of parallel parking just amazes me. As does the fact that someone felt the desire to build this machine instead of just buying a similarly-sized truck.
But the heart wants what it wants, and the resulting diesel-powered Super Bronco looks incredible. And, like Stockman wanted, it’s unique. I, for one, am glad he put two years of his time into making sure this wacky beast came into existence.