Beast on Wheels! Jaci Piatt’s Monster Ford F-250 Build

The Daily Driven Street Crusher

JACI PIATT IS A STUDENT FROM FORT Loramie, Ohio. Like many students, Jaci needed a new set of wheels—but unlike other students, she has Joe Henke for a stepdad.

Joe, a longtime member of Negative Camber truck club, has been building lowered customs for years. For this special project, he pushed the suspension in the opposite direction. Jaci got to work alongside Joe and express her own style with her 1978 Ford F-250. This single-cab truck was just begging for monster-truck styling, and the family duo happily obliged.

The 1978 F-250 3/4-ton truck was big in its own right. The sixth-generation Ford F-series trucks carried a lot of changes with them; major updates in the front fascia and accessory styling mark the ’72-’79 years. But the sixth generation F-250 4x4s in particular garner enthusiast attention because they were made notorious by Bob Chandler’s “Bigfoot,” the original monster truck. Much of that rebel spirit is present in Jaci’s monster. Its massive stance is a combination of suspension mods and rowdy set of wheels and tires.

In total, this ’78 boasts 9 inches in lift over its factory form. A Skyjacker 6-inch lift kit gets the party started, making use of Rancho Shocks at each corner. Jaci, Joe and his son Tom then worked out a custom set of body mounts to provide the remaining 3 inches of lift. Up front, there is also a dual Rancho steering stabilizer. The Blue Top steering box uses a custom ratio. The ride height is then further pushed thanks to a set of Toyo Open Country 40×15.5×22 tires. The massive rubbers are wrapped around a set of Fuel two-piece “Crush” wheels. The forged rollers measure 22×14 inches, the largest size offered in the model. The combination ride-height increase makes for a staggering stance. The F-250’s road presence is undeniable.

All that rubber gets moving thanks to the 7.5L Ford big block. The 460cu V-8 was built in 1972, in Jaci’s home state of Ohio. L&L produces the custom mounts and headers needed for the ’78 F-250 application. The headers lead into a custom bent 2.5-inch stainless exhaust. The motor also boasts an Edelbrock Intake and FiTech 600 GoEFI system, MSD ignition, roller rocker and a roller timing chain. It’s mated to the ’78s original C6 AOD transmission. The C6 now sports a TransGo shift kit, installed by Purk Automotive in Piqua, Ohio. For good measure, the transmission also received a billet auxiliary cooler tucked behind the bumper. Power is sent from the C6 to the legendary NP205 transfer case. The case is also present in many AMC-designed Jeep Wrangler models, including the ultra-stout YJ and TJ generations. The NP205 sends power to a Dana 44 axle in the front and Dana 60 outback. Both are equipped with 4.10 gears that suit the rolling ’40s well. Stainless steel brake lines lead to brake discs at all four corners.

One of the most prominent features of this F-250 is its mean mug. The ’78 model came with the largest update to the front fascia in the sixth generation. A single piece grille was added. The grille was significantly larger than the previous two-piece grilles. It also disintegrated the headlights and headlight buckets. Jaci and Joe took advantage of the ’78’s massive grille to put together a custom centerpiece for the truck’s front end. Joe made a custom Ford Raptor-style grille that has become iconic for its integrated “FORD” lettering. The aggressive styling of the custom grille is present in the front and rear custom bumpers. Joe also fabricated a custom headache bar behind the cab. Their off-road style is carried over by the Bushwacker “Extenda” fender flares, doing their best to cover the rolling 40s. The front and rear custom bumpers also house a total of 12 LED light units.

While the ’78 that Jaci and Joe began with was indeed a fantastic example, there was a serious roadblock to overcome. The F-250’s bed floor was damn-near rusted through. Rather than fight the rusty remnants, Joe opted for a surgical repair. They grafted an updated bed floor from a 1996 F-150 and used reproduction bedsides to complete the fabrication. Once the custom bits were complete and the bed floor buttoned up, the truck got its signature finish. The truck is wrapped top-to-bottom in a whole lot of Matte Dark Aluminum vinyl from 3M. The battle-ready color perfectly complements the gloss-black wheels and accessories.

The gray/black theme continues into the nicely updated truck cabin. The original bench seat has been ditched in favor of an XLT armrest bench seat from a 1991 donor. It’s finished in factory gray cloth to keep to the look consistent. Custom gauges from Jegs are housed on the dash. Also present: a Wet Sounds BlueTooth head unit. The system is comprised of twin amps and a 10-inch subwoofer. For added creature comfort, there is also a backup camera and integrated hat holder.

Jaci is probably the envy of all her classmates, as not many can claim as cool of a cruiser so young!

More often than not, a custom truck is about so much more than just driving. Certainly, driving should not be lost to the build altogether. But the process can be just as enjoyable as the result. The journey is more important than the destination, assuming you drive a badass truck. The process of building a truck together for Jaci and Joe was a special one. Passing along a love of custom trucks in the family is a unique experience. The result is a pavement pounding, rock crawler, mudslinging, collection of memories. And with a build of this presence, there are decades coming to make more.

[divider] TECH SPECS [/divider]

1978 Ford F-250
Fort Loramie, Ohio


  • Skyjacker 6-inch lift kit
  • Rancho shocks
  • Rancho dual steering stabilizer
  • Custom 3-inch body lift
  • Blue Top steering box


  • Ford 7.5L Big Block
  • MSD Ignition
  • FiTech 600 GoEfi
  • Edelbrock Intake
  • Roller rockers and timing chain
  • L&L motor mounts
  • L&L headers
  • Custom 2.5-inch exhaust
  • C6 Transmission
  • TransGo shift kit
  • NP205 Transfer Case
  • Dana 44 front axle, 4.10 gears
  • Dana 60 rear axle, 4.10 gears
  • Billet trans cooler


  • Fuel two-piece “Crush” wheels, 22×14 inches -78mm
  • Toyo Tire Open Country 40/15/22”
  • Disc brakes and stainless steel lines


  • Custom fabricated front and rear bumpers
  • 12 bumper mounted LED lights
  • Custom headache bar
  • Bushwacker fender flares
  • Matte Dark Aluminum vinyl wrap by 3M
  • Rebuild bed with later model F-150 bed floor and reproduction sides


  • Late model F-150 bench seat, XLT armrest model
  • Jegs gauges
  • Wet Sounds BlueTooth head unit
  • Twin amps, 10-inch subwoofer
  • Backup camera
  • Integrated hat holder
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