Bigg Brown
Article and Photography by:  Bryan Fross
 Model: Heather Moss

There are many custom vehicles out cruising around, parked at shows or being built at this moment. Once in a while, a vehicle comes along that raises the bar even when many doubted that it would ever be driven or displayed at shows. Initially, it can be disheartening to hear that there are those out there who are skeptical of the abilities, possibilities and probability of completion. This kind of thinking is what drives some builders to do what they do. Whether it is a one-off part that needs to be made for a specific project or a full custom built from top to bottom, they do the hard work until the desired result is achieved. Todd Burton is that kind of Fabricator. You may recognize the name as the Owner of one of our previous feature vehicles titled A Veterans Affair. His shop, Lowboy Motorsports in Mesa, Arizona, was tasked with this huge project to turn a stock Ford Excursion into a Magazine Cover worthy custom ride.

When Brad Bosman sent an email over to Lowboy to inquire about laying out an Excursion, Todd replied with what his plans would be and the cost of doing so. At the end of the email, Todd wrote, “So don't pull my chain Brad! Sounds like a fun project!!!” Two days later, Brad purchased a used 2001 Ford Excursion SUV and just a short few weeks later, dropped it off at Lowboy Motorsports. Todd quickly got to work starting with some wheels and tires he found at a great price along with a newer style Ford Super Duty front end. After going over the details and reassuring Brad, who was notably nervous about this huge undertaking, that his SUV would make waves in the custom scene, Todd started cutting. The factory air conditioning was not going to be usable with the new wheels tucking so far into the fender wells so it was removed and replaced with a unit from Vintage Air. The factory gas tank configuration had to go as well so Todd built a 40-gallon fuel cell to replace it and still hold enough fuel for long trips to wherever Brad wanted to go. As a UPS Driver, Brad’s first thoughts were to paint his project a flat brown which is when the name Bigg Brown was conceived. With his knowledge of the industry, Todd voiced his concerns that flat paint may keep it off the cover of a magazine. After weighing Todd’s opinion, Brad made the decision to change that plan and says he’s glad he did because “the paint turned out pretty damn cool.”

 Getting the Excursion down to the floor was a monumental task but the crew at Lowboy was up to the challenge. A bag-on-bar dual wishbone 4-link setup was fabricated and installed into the rear with Slam Specialties RE-7 Air Bags and Shocks. The factory Ford rear end was narrowed 5-inches to accommodate the 26x10 DUB Hustla 8 Wheels and 305/30R26 Toyo Proxes Tires. The front suspension was more of a test and rework process but Todd settled on using a set of OEM 2004 Chevy 1-ton spindle/hub with the hubs re-drilled to the Ford 8 x 170 lug pattern. Lowboy also custom built upper/lower control arms and swapped in an HD power Rack & Pinion to go along with another set of Slam ‘bags. To get it to fully lay out, Todd had to cut into the firewall, flip the front fender mounts and section the oil/transmission pans. Height adjustability is managed using and Accuair vu4 controller with e-Level, two ViAir 480 Compressors and two 5-gallon air tanks.

With the “flat paint” idea in the distant past, the body of Brad’s Excursion had a lot of work planned for it before anything could be sprayed over it. At Lowboy, a few of the basic changes were the removal and smoothing of items including the emblems, door handles, roof rack and the addition of a smooth fiberglass wiper cowl. Some items were re-imagined completely by Todd for a one-off look. Up front, the bumper was shaved of all holes then recessed to fit tighter to the body and a Grillcraft mesh grille was installed to replace the clunky factory model. The rear bumper was actually three bumpers sectioned and welded together to remove the factory tow point indent as well as sucking it tighter to the body. They were going for a “rollpan” look with the bumper. BC Autobody was the next stop for the SUV and it was covered in a base coat of Diamont RM Paint. Then it was topped in layers of flames using House of Kolor Pagan Gold, gold metal flake, copper pearl ghost flames and copper pinstriping. Custom Paint and Airbrushing by Leon Redman of Full Bleed includes the artwork on the one-off engine cover that really completes the look by continuing the color scheme under the hood of the flamed Ford.

Now you can’t just stop at this point if your intention is to build a cover vehicle. The interior work was a whole new world that Brad needed to discuss, design and decide with the right upholstery shop. Brad turned the Excursion over to Steve Yiu at Elevated Design for the job with the idea that a hexagon pattern should be used where possible since he had that vision for it back in 2009. Inside the ride, everything was changed from top to bottom starting with the Curry carpeting, seats wrapped in Palma Cork Vinyl, a custom built center console, custom door panels, rear cargo doors and ultra-suede headliner. Elevated Design also built LED’s into several elements of the interior as accent lighting. The audio in this ride comes from a JVC KW-V10 Head Unit, four Diamond Audio Hex Pro 12-inch subwoofers and Diamond Hex Series Amplifiers. Under the massive hood resides a 6.8 Liter Triton V10, two Optima Yellow Top Batteries, Mouse’s Kustom Fab power steering/coolant reservoirs and the one-off engine cover by Nick Sinioris at Hubcaps Hotrod and Custom.

After the long process of getting Brad’s Excursion to where it is today, he can cruise it, show it and still has plenty of space for his Wife, his Daughters and the trophies he takes home from every event attended. His goal of having it on the cover was also fulfilled in the August issue of Truckin Magazine. This undoubtedly was a proud moment for both Brad and Todd who exchanged weekly emails and shop visits throughout the build process to get/give progress reports on the project. Brad would like to thank Todd at Lowboy Motorsports for bringing his dream to fruition as well as Steve at Elevated Design, Nick Sinioris as well as his Wife Cynthia for her support and patience while the “family ride” was turned into a bar-raising custom creation.