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SKYJACKER SUSPENSIONS AND A FORD SUPER DUTY—A MATCHBOX MADE IN HEAVEN

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. You’ve probably heard it a hundred times, possibly in the mutterings of a long-suffering spouse as you drag boxes of parts through the house or block off the entire driveway as you wrench away underneath your rig, oblivious to the world. The saying could also be applied to the girls and the ladies, of course, since there are plenty involved in this scene. The cool ones, anyway. Male or female, young or old, the hobbyist bug does not discriminate.

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The 8.5-inch front lift is accomplished with Skyjacker’s LeDuc coilover setup with M95 auxiliary dampers. The kit is supplied with radius arm brackets to correct suspension geometry and drop pitman arms to retain steering response after the extreme lift.

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The rear suspension is leveled with auxiliary leafs damped by Skyjacker BlackMAX shocks. Here you can see the gnarly Nitto Trail Grappler rubber with the aggressive tread pattern that spills over and down the tire’s sidewall.

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Lee McGuire, marketing lead for Skyjacker Suspensions, is one of those women. She’s a keeper, as Grandpa might have said. She was the creative force project lead for the truck pictured here, codenamed MBX350 Matchbox Police. It’s a ’17 F-350 Super Duty that was built not just to evoke the nostalgia of the old days when you were a kid pushing toy trucks through the dirt, but to bring those long-ago imaginings to life as a life-sized law enforcement support vehicle, a “fully functioning police tactical unit,” according to the project’s official manifesto.

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Fab Fours supplied the black-coated steel bumpers as well as a 72-inch roof rack mounted on the A.R.E. bed shell. Both the front and rear of the truck are festooned with lights supplied by Whelan and Rigid, all controlled by a custom switch panel mounted on the center dash. The front bumper also conceals a Warn Zeon 12-S winch with a 12,000lb pulling capacity.

McGuire’s idea was a good one; having collaborated with Matchbox in the past, she first secured their backing and then pitched the idea to Ford Motor Company, which decided to make the truck one of the pieces displayed in its booth at SEMA 2017. In fact, Ford’s SEMA real estate is more akin to a showroom floor, so the MBX350 would be guaranteed plenty of space to soak up the limelight.

Tactical Readiness

With the truck’s stated purpose in life as a de facto mobile command center, the back end becomes a much more integral part of the build than your ordinary built pickup truck. To start with, the bed is enclosed by an A.R.E. Z-Series camper shell. Flipping down the tailgate will reveal an integrated Truckvault. Popular with outdoor enthusiasts, the Truckvault company also supplies storage lockers to public safety officials, including law enforcement. They are, obviously, lockable and fully secure for stowing all manner of sensitive equipment. Different drawer configurations are available; the MBX350 uses a twodrawer setup sized for the crew cab Super Duty’s standard factory bed.

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The F-350’s interior is set up in a fashion like that used in a police cruiser if you’ve ever been fortunate or (unfortunate) enough to take a look inside one of those. Mounted up front and directly over the dash and center console dividing the seats, a custom rack from Lund Industries is set up to hold a laptop computer and other electronic gear. A different sort of vertical rack is arranged behind the front seats to hold rifles and other tactical implements. Going with the “Blue Line” color theme, but offering a bit more luxury than you might find inside a police vehicle in the field, the seating surfaces were re-skinned in smooth Katzkin leather—black with blue inserts—and the Katzkin and Skyjacker logos stitched into the seat headrests and backs, respectively.

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A Magnaflow 5-inch exhaust pretty much negates any possibility of backpressure and upsizes the 6.7L’s factory growl to an ungodly roar.

American Force Level FP5 20-inch wheels hold the pavement down, with the FP5s’ riveted flush aluminum faceplates powdercoated blue to flow with the truck’s theme. The FP5s have been wound with Nitto Trail Grappler dirt slingers in a 40×15.50 format. They are some of the gnarliest tires going, with tread blocks that extend the main pattern onto the three-ply sidewalls for extreme durability in off-road conditions—ideal for potential extreme-duty mission scenarios.

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True to the MBX350’s Law Enforcement aspirations, a multivarious array of high-intensity lights festoon the rig, supplied by established LE vendor Whelan and aftermarket stand-by Rigid Industries. Whelan Tracer series lights illuminate the 350’s running boards and a Whelan Legacy 54-inch lightbar mounted up top on the cab give the MBX350 the iconic police vehicle profile. Whelan also supplied a siren/loudspeaker system to give the Super Duty a suitable aural presence. All the electronics are controlled by a custom switch panel installed on the cabin’s center console.

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Whelan and Rigid lighting accents the truck’s front and rear ends as well. At the show, the truck’s interior was dressed and outfitted with LE jackets, tactical vests, cases and lights and supplied by 5.11 Tactical, another trusted LE supplier, imparting a very gritty, real-world feel you don’t often get in the rarified world of SEMA Show trucks.

HD Performance

To reinforce the truck’s purpose-built look, the front and rear factory bumpers have been replaced with much beefier and more imposing steel units from Fab Fours. The front unit is Fab Fours’ Premium unit (as is the rear), minus the optional grille guard. What the bumper does integrate is a stealth winch install, the unit being a Warn Zeon 12-S with 12,000 capacity, meaning it has the grunt to pull this truck out of any sort of sticky situation times two. Fab Fours also supplied the 72-inch roof rack affixed to the A.R.E. shell.

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American Force Level FP5 wheels in a 20-inch format, with their removable and customizable aluminum spoke plates, extend the “Blue Line” color theme to the truck’s lower four corners.

Of course, this truck is suitably outfitted to avoid said sticky situations in the first place. A Skyjacker 8.5-inch suspension lift hoists the body over those knobby Nitto tires using Skyjacker’s LeDuc Series coilover assemblies in the front and augmented leafs and BlackMAX dampers in the rear. The frontend also features drop pitman arms and dual steering stabilizers to keep the sky-high pickup truck hooked to its steering mechanism at its new, extreme running altitude. The sides of the truck have been outfitted with genuine Ford 5-inch sidesteps to enable access to and from the raised cabin.

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Everything is wrapped up, so to speak, in a full stainless-steel-look vinyl wrap Skyjacker had done locally near their headquarters in West Monroe, Louisiana, complete with Matchbox logos and the Duty/ Honor/Courage credo. The interior graphics, applied to the center console and portions of the doors, were printed and applied in-house.

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The result is a project truck that works on simultaneous levels of the viewer’s imagination. It’s something your mind’s eye can envision your younger self pushing through the dirt and grass on your parents’ front lawn. And then you blink and suddenly see yourself behind the wheel, lights pulsing, siren wailing, as you careen across rocks and mud, running down the bad guys in glorious 1:1 scale.

Would it be too much to say, mission accomplished?