A roundup of Chicago's biggest, baddest pick-em-ups
So the big brands aren’t introducing any all-new trucks at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show? Not to worry. The show-sponsoring Chicago Automobile Trade Association knows just where to find plenty of cool trucks to scratch that perennial Midwestern itch. We’ve got highlights.
2018 Ford F-550 Skeeter Brush Truck 6×6 Firewalker
Considering that our coverage of Mercedes’ crazy flying G-Class 6×6 nearly broke the internet, we were keenly interested in learning all about this similar offering from Ford. More accurately, it’s from Ford via Skeeter Brush Trucks, of Hillsboro, Texas, which specializes in off-road emergency vehicles for first responders and rapid intervention units. One of its newest offerings is this 6×6 Firewalker package, which is available with a choice of three different bed configurations (this flatbed variant is supplied by Bedrock).
But the more interesting parts are all underneath the bed. A 6.8-liter SOHC V-10 routes its 288 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque aft through the conventional F-550 transfer case. From there it goes forward to the standard hub-locking front axle and aft to another gearbox, which splits power evenly between the intermediate and rear axles. These are both standard Ford rear axles, and here they’re supported by F-550 front coil springs. The rear axle occupies the standard 169-inch wheelbase position. The intermediate one helps boost the GVW rating to Skeeter re-certified rating of 18,000 pounds (8,165 kg) (its tow rating is 18,500 pounds (8,391 kg)). That’s roughly equivalent to the rating of a Class 3 chassis, which when equipped similarly for fire duty can cost near double the $250,000 USD asking price for the 6×6 Firewalker, according to Skeeter representatives. Just don’t expect even our Jonny Lieberman to get air in this one—it weighs a lot more and its tires are only rated for 65 mph (105 km/h).
GMC Sierra 2500HD All Terrain X All Mountain Concept
This factory concept was introduced in Vail, Colorado last November to highlight the brand’s new relationship with Vail Resorts and perhaps to prove that Nissan does not hold exclusive rights to slapping track treads on Chicago concept vehicles. The main feature is a full set of customized tracks from Mattracks that provides additional ground clearance and increased flotation when traversing dirt, mud, and deep powder. Essentially, they allow this heavy-duty truck to get around the mountain the way a snow grooming machine does. Not surprisingly the truck also features a wide variety of official GMC accessories, including a Sierra-branded sport bar, 3-inch off-road step bars, a soft roll-up tonneau cover by Advantage, front and rear premium floor liners, a Thule hitch-mounted ski and bike carrier, and a bed extender by Lund.
2018 Ford Shelby Baja Raptor F-150
Tuscany Motor Company of Elkhart, Indiana holds naming rights to Shelby conversions of Ford trucks, and is a regular participant in the Chicago Auto Show. This year it showed off a new Raptor-based entry to suit those for whom the standard Raptor is just too tame. This one adds a cold-air intake, a lower-restriction exhaust, a higher performing aluminum intercooler and tunes the whole thing to produce 525 hp and 610 lb-ft (up from 450 and 510). Other upgrades include custom logos and lettering, 18-inch Shelby Raptor wheels, a suspension lift, a functional dual-intake ram-air hood, custom bumpers, lighting, and a Shelby Baja bed-chase spare tire rack. In all this conversion adds $49,295 USD, bringing the total to $117,460 USD.
2018 Ford Shelby F-150
The mainstream Shelby F-150 just gets upgrades that account for the base 5.0-liter V-8’s newfound dual-injection (port and direct) system and 10-speed automatic. The supercharger is also revised slightly, bringing output to 755 hp (up from 750 in 2017 and 700 in 2016). Other revisions for 2018 include new 20-inch wheels (up from 18s), new interior leather, and billet pedals. As shown, this conversion added $46,470 USD to an already spiffy base truck, bringing the grand total to $107,965 USD. In other Shelby/Tuscany news, the parent company of Fox Shocks—which owns BDS Suspensions—recently purchased an 80 percent share of Tuscany. Speaking of BDS, it had a truck of its own on the show floor…
2017 Ford F-250 Project SD126 by BDS Suspension
If something about this Super Duty seems a little off, that’s because when beginning the build of this nimble off-roader, BDS Suspension started out with a regular cab F-250 XLT, then shortened the wheelbase to 126 inches to accommodate a short-box. Said box was then flared to accommodate the massive BFGoodrich Baja TA KR 42 x 14.5 x 20-inch tires on Stazworks Cheyenne 8 11.0 x 20 inch wheels. BDS suspension upgrades include a front four-link and rear trailing arm conversion with Fox 2.5 DSC coil-overs and 3.0-inch external bypass shocks affording 14 inches of wheel travel. Fox 2.0 IFP bump stops soften the hardest landings. The axles are F-450 Dana 60/M300 10-lug monsters running 4.30:1 gearing. Custom Rogue Racing bumpers, Rigid Industries lighting, and AMP Research PowerSteps round out the package, which made its official debut last fall at the SEMA show.
2018 Chevrolet Retrorado
This brawny short-cab/short-box Chevy truck is a bit of a mystery, as there was no information provided and no company representatives were standing by. All we know for sure is that it features quite a lot of BDS Suspension hardware, including a big lift kit, new BDS control arms in front, Recoil traction bars in the back, and Fox shocks. We also dig the retro graphics package that no doubt inspired the “Retrorado” nomenclature.
Toyota Tundra Monster Truck
The biggest truck making its 2018 Chicago Auto Show debut has been shown at numerous other venues, having made its debut at the 2014 running of the Daytona 500. It has also appeared at the SEMA show and elsewhere in the years since. Riding on massive 66 x 43 x 25-inch tires mounted to custom SWR wheels, it towers over every other vehicle on the show floor and weighs 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg). The truck’s 500-hp 5.7-liter TRD-Supercharged engine therefore gives it roughly the weight-to-power ratio of a standard heavy-duty dually diesel truck. The high-rise four-link suspension is purely custom with King shocks, 20-ton Clark planetary axles, and fully hydraulic front and rear steering. The truck was built to highlight Toyota’s sponsorship of the Hiring Our Heroes initiative, which assists in placing recent military veterans in civilian service. The ResumeEngine.org site helps convert a military record into a civilian resume. That’s reason enough to keep introducing the truck to new audiences.