• Meet Rusty Boy: My New 1974 F-250 Highboy Superleggera

    The 1974 Ford F250 4×4 had a GVW of about 7700. But I have tracked down a one off Superleggera lightweight version, well sort of. Meet Rusty Boy, my new to me Ford F250 Highboy project truck. Ford prides itself on the extensive use of Aluminum for weight reduction in their new F-series trucks. The 1974 Highboy? Not so much. It’s weight reduction comes from extensive rusty bed.

    This truck is the biggest investment I’ve ever made. Being 19-years-old, this truck was a huge purchase in my life that represents many years of work. At $3800 this old Ford may seem like a rusty liability to you, but for me, the ‘ole truck is an exciting dream. The 1974 F-250 4×4 is not just any used truck. Referred to as the Highboy by enthusiasts. Why? Because pre 1977.5 F250 four-wheel-drive trucks contain many significant differences that sets them apart from their two-wheel-drive counterparts.

    The most important feature of a “true” Highboy is the divorced transfer case. A third drive shaft connecting the transmission to the differential means front and rear driveshafts are the same length. In fact, the first Big Foot monster truck is based on an F250 4×4 of this generation.

    Highboy frames are narrower than 2wd models and they only have one fuel tank located inside the cab behind the bench seat. The “high” in “Highboy” refers to the astonishingly tall ride height. Different leaf springs and a rear axle blocks meant these old trucks sit much higher than the competition. The one I bought appears to have stock suspension, though it is riding on aftermarket wheels and tires.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is the one I bought is far from new condition. The majority of the rust lies in the bed with gaping holes above each rear wheel. The bed itself has moved its fair share of what appears to be bulldozers and boulders because it is heavily scratched and dented.

    The cab on the other hand is surprisingly solid. Floor boards and cab corners are both in pretty good condition. The interior is the best part of all with the seat, headliner, carpet and door panels all remarkably still in place.

    The mechanics appear to be functioning as well. The previous owner told me the truck has a rebuilt 390 V8. Further research revealed it came standard with a two barrel 360 V8. The transmission is a 3-speed automatic with a worrying hesitation between first and second gear.

    On the road the truck drives much better than it looks. The power steering could do with a rebuild, but the engine pulls strong and transmission shifts well (for the most part). Power assisted drum brakes almost bring the truck to a stop, although a disc brake conversion would improve mine and the truck’s survivability.

    So what’s the plan for ‘ole Rusty? Currently I am flat out of money so for the time being I will slowly bring the truck back up to spec the best I can. While my dad (Roman) HATES the bug guard and ’70’s mud shields, I think they add a period correct look. I’d love to know what you think, please be sure to comment below.

    There will be MANY more videos in the future with my new Highboy, and perhaps even an off-road battle between Big Green, TFL’s 1985 K10 and Kent’s new Dodge Ram. I hope you will join me on this new adventure as we welcome this relic to the channel. Be sure to check out the LIVE video we did below for a brief overview!

     

    Tommy Mica
    Tommy Mica
    Tommy Mica is a lifelong car & truck nut and enthusiast. When he's not in front of the camera....he's shooting, editing and producing TFLcar and TFLtruck videos. Tommy has a passion for off-roading as well as classic cars and trucks that includes anything built before he was born.
    http://www.TFLtruck.com

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    32 thoughts on “Meet Rusty Boy: My New 1974 F-250 Highboy Superleggera

    1. This is a classic, good looking truck. Some Bondo, a cheap paint job, and you are set. My first vehicle was an 84 Bronco 2, and it forced me to become good with a wrench. I am sure that you will have fun with this beast.

    2. What to do?
      1) Keep stock and restore.
      2) Fix rust.
      3) Get rid of bug guard and mud flaps.
      4) Lose the phony new wheels.
      5) New bed.
      6) Clean engine bay.
      7) Have fun!!!

      =====================

      1. I say first get rid of that bug guard. then do the rest in that order. LOL.

        That is a neat find. I never even heard of a high boy until the article on that type of truck. Seems like a very unique truck for sure. I am a little jealous between this old Ford and the old chevy, you guys have some really cool old trucks. Now find a Dodge little red express and you will have a sweet collection of great old trucks.

    3. Most common of the early F250’s sold in Australia, surprisingly none lifted.
      These were assembled in Australia with 302 and 351 engines.

    4. I had 77 straight wheel drive with 351 m 400 that I enjoyed working on. 390 might be better than 360. 390 is good bote anchor, but might better on the performance side compared to 360.

      Looking for body parts for old Ford trucks are not to bad. Looking. For old 86 Thunderbird not so good.

      Curious what was the size of the original wheels? Same size that are on it now? Finding original wheels for 8 lug truck might be difficult.

      Yea that bug shield is good for scraping the Colorado snow off the truck.

    5. All I can say is that I am jealous. I have wanted to buy this generation of F-series for years, but life keeps getting in the way

    6. Beautiful.
      Get rid of that tool box it’s taking room away for girls to sit back there.
      I gotta find a truck like that or big green, I’m having withdrawals watching these shows.

    7. Those Highboys are awesome, drive train is bullet proof, fix the rust clean it up ,I would most definitely go for a disc brake conversion,

    8. My (52 yr old former football player) son-in-law bought a F250 Super Duty when they first came out. He just pushes us two grandmothers up the step to get us up and aboard!! Wow, it a neat truck with a gorgeous interior!!
      I’ve just turned eighty (!) and don’t know diddly squat about trucks’ power trains, gears, etc. but I sure enjoy riding high in that great looking vehicle.
      The first day he got it, we all went to eat ( to celebrate his new acquisition) and he dropped us passengers off at the front door. He then parked that huge truck by backing into a regular sized parking spot as easily as if he were driving a VW Bug! The people waiting outside the restaurant watched with disbelief,… and then applauded when he slid into the spot like he did it every day! ( I suspect he had to work pretty hard to look cool as he walked up to join us!)
      Y’all have fun w/ your trucks!!

    9. Love the new truck Tommy!!! I had a 73 F-250 2 wheel drive that I drove for 17 years. My Dad had a 77 F-150 4 wheel drive. If you are going for the period look, keep the bug shield and mud guards. The current wheels look good but if you want a total stock look buy some 16″ stock/factory steel wheels with 7.50-16 bias ply tires! I envy you. There is so many things you could do with that truck. Some guys install a steel flatbed when the factory bed rusts out. That is one option. Awesome pickup!!!

    10. It has been a good feeling to see a younger​ generation to appreciate the old good stuff.
      More people like Tommy around us and we won’t be flooded with new junk.
      Congratulations to you, to find what you wanted. Enjoy it every day.

    11. I would get rid of the bug guard, install new bed and some bars like this, to make it more safer in the case of rollover to be fully functional like a roll cage.
      Make it from large diameter tubes, like drive lines and bolt it through the bed right to the frame. You can just put tarp over it and use it for camping.

      http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-global/dims3/GLOB/legacy_thumbnail/750×422/quality/95/http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2013/08/bttf-toyota-1.jpg

    12. Nothing else even came close to Ford trucks of that era. And that style of bug shield is the only one that actually kept bugs off your windshield

    13. That’s awesome I have a 79 xlt 2 wheel drive short bed.Red with factory interior and I bought it when I was 15. I’m 51 now and she sets in the garage with 125 thou on her.Glad to see kid’s fixing up the older trucks.Congrads

    14. I had the same truck,same black .I bought it in 1978 from the original owner.I was supposed to be taking my girlfriend to the Prom that night,but I kinda forgot(She married me anyway ).
      A true BEAST of a truck!
      RANGER XLT package, 360V8,Western power tilt plow.
      The factory wheels are 16.5,not 16.
      Great memories!
      Lose the bug guard.
      I believe that a later model (77-78)bed will have twin tanks, and the same body style so you can delete the in-cab fuel tank.

    15. We had a 75′ Highboy just like this, so many great memories! Started to rust over fenders in same spot.
      Frame and leaf springs on these trucks were unreal, they just don’t make em like that anymore. First gear was so low, we pulled out many a stuck vehicle! We too had a rebuilt 390 with an RV camshaft, edlebrock 4-barrel, serious low-end torque. Breaks stunk, but I learned to drive a stick in it. Best of all we called it “The Beast” and it was known and loved by all of our friends.

    16. I might be showing my age here but my first truck was a two year old ’74 F-250 High Boy with a 360 and automatic. Mine was also black. The first change I would make would be to do the front disc brake conversion. I remember running through a creek and then trying to climb a really big hill. I didn’t make it to the top but I came down backwards in record time! I nearly discovered the hard way that four-wheel drum brakes and deep water do not mix well. I sometimes wonder how I survived my youth…

    17. I had 2 1975 High Boys. The first was a full time 4WD with a 360 and that thing was a dog. Lasted 2 weeks until it was totaled. Then I replaced it with another full time 4WD 75 this time with the 390. Talk about a night an day difference between the 2. It had an in cab and aftermarket fuel tanks. Gotta love that smell in the cab!!! Since it was full time 4WD with the NP 203 transfer case, I converted it to part time with hubs and had to replace the drive chain in the transfer case, a weak link from the factory. Then I added headers which opened it up even more. It was a fairly easy truck to work on but like a lot of trucks from that era, rust was a killer. It also liked to eat U-joints and there were a lot of them!!! Ended up selling it to go to college.

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