12:00 PM EDT, September 10, 2013
For those who regularly visit our PickupTrucks.com Facebook page (and if you don't, you should), no doubt you did a double take when you saw this big yellow monster in our photo gallery from the 2013 Fabulous Fords Forever event at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., earlier this summer.
The behemoth Tonka T-Rex Yellow Super Duty is an impressive, eye-catching marketing tool for its owners. It is making a nationwide circuit of special events and truck shows (see the calendar of events below) to generate attention for the toy brand. Frankly, we don't care how they decide to use it — as crazy as it is, this truck is just plain cool.
The truck is a 2013 F-250 Super Duty 4WD Lariat that has been modified with quite a few custom and aftermarket parts and pieces. Longtime big-truck experts Kelderman Manufacturing did a lot of the serious work, replacing just about everything under the frame. And what Kelderman didn't replace, it painted or chromed. The shop set the beast up with a four-corner adjustable airbag and link suspension that allows it to float over rough terrain, sitting almost 2 feet higher than normal heavy-duty pickups, as well as adjusting the ride height by several inches.
The truck's AccuAir management system gives it between 8 to 10 inches of lift, which allowed the builders at Galpin Auto Sports to fit a set of monster 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires on custom-painted (in Tonka Yellow, of course) American Force 20-inch rims. Kelderman also had all the parts and pieces powder coated and painted for extra pop.
The beefy front winch bumper and grille guard, as well as the bulletproof rear bumper and hitch, are designed by Fab Fours, and the custom lumber rack and side-mounted toolboxes are the creation of Highway Products.
As you might expect, the engine got some attention as well. Let's just say that the experts at Banks Power worked their magic with the programmable Banks IQ engine controller, a Ram-Air intake system and the newly readied high-output methanol injection system. Although we didn't get a chance to test this truck on a real engine dyno or do some quarter-mile runs, we can say the engine modifications definitely helped this well-armored tank feel more factory fresh than custom-truck sluggish. Our biggest bit of fun was catapulting up one of the nearby freeway on-ramps, where the truck made a great roar, launching much like a rocket ship (rear end squatting, front end nosing skyward) as we not so subtly merged with traffic.
The rest of the interior and exterior design choices were decided by the truck-building team at Galpin; it coordinated the overall paint designs inside, outside and underneath the truck. In fact, Galpin even modeled the unique Tonka grille that looks similar to the grille in the toy lineup. Galpin used Katzkin leather, Line-X for the spray-in bedliner and on the bumpers, Bushwacker for fender flares, Kenwood audio and video upgrades, and incorporated dozens of Tonka logos throughout.
We should note we did get the chance to poke around the truck early in the build process and it is definitely well done. The details in the suspension design and execution are impressive, and the stance of this lifted pickup is imposing and quite intimidating. Climbing into any of the seats is a tricky proposition, requiring no small amount of strength and dexterity, if not a ladder.
Our beefs with the truck are all pretty minor but worth noting. As you might expect, with the stock axles, the extra weight of the wheels and tires are a big challenge, especially for the stock steering box. The mud-terrain tires like to wander on the highway, so you need to be quite diligent about making course corrections. Still, there is plenty of power to move this heavily modified three-quarter-ton truck through traffic at freeway speeds, with plenty of extra push available to climb mountain highways. There's no question this Power Stroke engine has quite a bit of torque, but we were most impressed with the power charge the methanol system provides. We didn't have a readout to tell us how much of the water injection we were using, but the extra power made us think we had an extra turbo or hidden supercharger onboard.
We'd guess the truck weighed every ounce of 9,000 pounds. We didn't get a chance to do enough driving to collect fuel economy data, but our guess is the people (or 10-year-old boys) interested in this kind of truck wouldn't be too worried about actual mileage numbers.
By the end of our drive we were used to having people drive alongside us, frantically waving their hands to let them take a picture, getting the thumbs-up signal or trying to high-five us from a different lane. We even had to give a tour around the truck to a small group of patrons at a McDonald's when we stopped to use the restroom. We have to admit, the attention was fun. No doubt this truck will do exactly what it was intended to do — get attention.
For more detailed photos of the Tonka T-Rex F-250, go to our PickupTrucks.com Facebook page. For a full list of the aftermarket products and the companies that provided them, click here.
To get an up close and personal look at the Tonka T-Rex, here's a tentative schedule of where it will be for the rest of the year.