Driven To Success | 2011 Ford F-450 4×4 King Ranch

Article by Bob Carpenter | Published by: Motortrend

Joseph Safina of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a professional race car driver currently running in the Grand Am Rolex series. He went out looking for an all-black ’11 Ford F-450 4x4 King Ranch pickup and couldn’t find one—the local dealer said it would take months to get one. So he bought a green and tan two-tone truck that he found on the Internet and drove it home from Virginia to his shop (Safina Performance) in Florida. […]


Article by Bob Carpenter | Published by: Motortrend

Race car drivers know eight-lug trucks are the way to transport themselves from race to race

Joseph Safina of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a professional race car driver currently running in the Grand Am Rolex series. He went out looking for an all-black ’11 Ford F-450 4×4 King Ranch pickup and couldn’t find one—the local dealer said it would take months to get one. So he bought a green and tan two-tone truck that he found on the Internet and drove it home from Virginia to his shop (Safina Performance) in Florida.

At the shop, Joseph sat down with his partner Angel Diez, and Emerson Johnson, Dave Moore, and Ryan Gagnon, and they came up with a plan. This wasn’t going to be a simple color swap; Joseph wanted a do-everything truck that could tow race car trailers, boats, classic cars, and whatever else he needed it to. But he also wanted it to look good so he could put on a suit and take his wife out to dinner in it.

So the crew tore the truck apart in order to transform it into what he wanted. The body was painted triple black using Valspar 3100 super jet black basecoat and 10 coats of House of Kolor’s Kosmic urethane show clear. With all that painting came three full days of color sanding and polishing, but the painful effort brought the paint to a mirror finish.

Even though there were three long days of color sanding done on this triple-black paintjob, Joseph Safina is not afraid to drive the truck in inclement weather.

All the plastic trim on the truck was sprayed with USC Defender pro-epoxy Kevlar-reinforced bedliner material. A black chrome process was used on the F-450 and King Ranch emblems. A Royalty Core grille was added to the truck for a real stylish statement. Since Royalty Core didn’t have a lower grille insert, Joseph’s team created their own custom lower grille with material supplied by Royalty Core. More looks enhancement occurred when the Recon Truck Accessories blackout light kit arrived.

Joseph added a set of 22.5-inch chrome American Force rims with Sumitomo 255/70R-22.5 tires to really make the truck stand out, and that no doubt contributes to the good looks. Joseph struggled with several companies that tried to get the wheel and tire combo balanced but was finally fully satisfied when Andy at Spinning Wheels and Alignment in Medley, Florida, spent hours cutting the tires and balancing the wheels. The truck rides perfect as a result.

Being a race car driver means always wanting more power, so even though the 6.7L engine probably puts out plenty of horsepower for getting down the highway, Joseph wanted more—a lot more. The engine mods started with a Banks dual exhaust system and might never stop. Bentley at Complete Auto insisted on a bypass and a controller from Spartan Diesel Technologies. A set of 3:73 gears was installed because Joseph rarely drives the truck fully loaded, and he wanted to boost the fuel mileage. He now gets 23.5 mpg.

Joseph loves his Ford and can’t imagine anything else it could need. But we’re willing to bet he seeks out a bit more power in the near future.