Our Story: David Sutton & His Pickup Trucks
While this story is a part of the "Your Story" series, we believe it's more appropriate to call it "our story" because it features CARiD's very own David Sutton. After all, it's the team who makes a company what it is, and we want to tell you more about people who collectively tell the story of CARiD. When not helping people buy their dream wheels, David Sutton devotes a big part of his life to his trucks. Having started with fast muscle cars, David ended up falling in love with offroading and pickup trucks. Now, his heavy duty garage includes the F-Series and Dodge W350 trucks, which he has virtually built with his own hands. Now if you think we're talking about DIY installation of bolt-on grill or tonneau cover, you're wrong. Imagine pulling engines, replacing truck bodies, and cleaning engine heads right in your bedroom. Yeah, David's approach to customizing vehicles is just as heavy and solid as his pickups are. David's story is a great source of inspiration for any DIY enthusiast, so enjoy the interview and leave your props in the comments!
How did your interest in cars spark? What was your first car? I actually had very little interest in cars until I started driving when I was 16. I’ve always been interested in how things work and being that I was always pressed for money, I had no problem learning how to work on my own vehicles rather than take them to a shop. My first car was a 1992 Pontiac Firebird. In my time with this car, I learned more and more while getting as much hands on experience as I could. I wish I had kept the car because it was so clean, but after a year or so, I wanted something faster and traded it in for a Z28 Camaro. You are a truck enthusiast. What kind of trucks are you passionate about? Tell us more about your current garage. I suppose after the last question, you would think I would be into fast cars and the like, but there were a number of changes that occurred over the years following my purchase of the Camaro. Firstly, I took up a liking to Fords despite my family’s dominant General Motors following. Liking all types of motorsports, I wanted to purchase a pickup for various reasons. I picked up an 84 F150 with the straight 6, 4 on the floor, and 4 wheel drive for less than $1000. The usefulness of a pickup was terrific. I could pick up car parts, drop stuff at the scrap yard, and drive in snow with no issues, but most of all, I learned how much fun off-roading could be.
At some point over the next few years, the truck would change slowly into something completely different and it now shares almost no parts with the truck that I had originally purchased. Even the frame was replaced with an ’82 after I tweaked the old one and the bed was swapped with a step-side. It now runs and drives with the following driveline setup:
- Engine: 460ci (7.5L) V8 – Lunati cam, Scorpion roller rockers, Edelbrock RPM Air Gap intake manifold, Holley 770 Street Avenger, ported 1969 C9VE cylinder heads, double roller timing chain, Accel billet distributor adapted to Chevrolet HEI ignition module
- Transmission: Unmodified NP435 4 speed from a mystery F150 w/hydraulic clutch
- Transfer case: Twin-sticked NP205 from a 1979 F-series
- Driveshafts: Custom built competition shafts w/ high travel 7” slip spline, 1350 U-joints on the rear shaft, 1330 up front.
- Drive axles: Dana 60 front from an 89 F350 dually converted to single wheel, Dana 70S from a 2003 Chevrolet Express 3500 (4.10 gears)
- Brakes: Huge dual piston calipers at all corners with Chevrolet V3500 master cylinder adapted to a Ford booster
- Wheels/Tires: American Racing 16.5x9.75 Outlaw IIs with 37x12.5-16.5 Military OZ tires from a Humvee
- Suspension: Custom lift – front coils converted to leaves w/ custom built front spring hanger/cross member, F350 front leaves w/ shackle reversal, leftover rear lift springs, Skyjacker shocks
I’m not sure what the total amount of lift is, as it was mostly a custom job and I never measured. I am looking to do a shackle flip in the rear and use lift springs in the front to gain another 6” or so. After selling all of my cars, this became impractical to drive every day, so due to some influence from my brother who is now a diesel mechanic for Caterpillar, I purchased a 1993 Dodge W350 extended cab dually with 4 wheel drive and the legendary Cummins 6BT. The modifications to that have been inevitable as well (injectors, fuel pin, governor spring, etc.), but it’s still much better on fuel.
Do you take your trucks to the auto shows or competitions? Up until now, I have just been off-roading recreationally. Even my Dodge sees its share of trails when we go into the woods for bonfires and it receives more than its fair share of abuse in recovery attempts. My vehicles aren’t what you would call show quality, as they are usually built to perform, not to look fancy. I’ve always thought it should be function over form, not the other way around. With a few more modifications that I have in mind for the Ford in the near future (a front locker mostly), I would consider going to more formal events, although they are not usually competition based and are more about having a good time.
If you could have just one car in your life, what would it be? This is by far the most difficult question on the topic that you could have asked. Even in the truck side of the automotive world, there are so many different types that are better suited for different things. Although I also like a variety of other car types, I could never see giving up my F150. With that being said, I feel that at the moment, the next project that I have in mind could be that one vehicle, but my mind is always changing. I am becoming more and more determined to put a Cat 3126 7.2L straight 6 turbo diesel in an 80-86 F350 or F450 dually (with a pickup bed). It’s definitely doable, and once I have the time and money, I will attack that.
What is the best and the worst part of working in the auto parts retail industry? There are a few huge advantages to working in the industry. The biggest of which is that I’m exposed to people that are into different types of cars and racing, so I constantly learn new things in other corners of the industry. It is difficult to pick out a huge downside, but it may be how monotonous it gets at times to constantly field the same questions. If there are any trends in how people customize their vehicles, what is the latest fashion you can observe? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the average person has become more concerned with the appearance of their vehicle than the performance (unfortunately, this goes for maintenance too). I would guess that this may be because cars are getting more complicated and an increasing number of people aren’t willing to modify the advanced drivelines of today. To a car person, it’s easy for your vehicle to be your favorite possession. No matter what you are into, the modifications are your personal touch to a painting that the manufacturer could only provide the canvas for. My Ford would not sell for as much as a new car of today, but the hundreds of hours, the lost sleep, and the bloody knuckles are worth more than that. You can’t understand what it’s like to fire up an engine for the first time knowing you’re the one that assembled it until you go out and do it.
What would be your tip for those who are just getting started with their car tuning and customizing? Read. Read everything you can. It’s the 21st century and we have so many resources. Step one is knowing what you are doing and what you’re in for. Step two is to get your hands dirty. My Ford is 30 years old. 15 years ago, most of the parts interchange would have been a nightmare to figure out, but with the internet, I’m able to know what I’m up against before I even try it. Don’t let what other people have done limit your ideas though; sometimes people say things won’t work and I have to just make it work.
Do you want your story to be featured on CARiD Blog? Email us at community (at) carid (dot) com.