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Story by Jack Baruth – Disturbingly poor photography by Jack Baruth
And… we’re back! The reaction to the first Towin’ Speed:Sport:Life article has been good, so it appears that we weren’t totally crazy to think that a lot of our readers are dragging various clapped-out race cars to tracks and events across the country. With that in mind, then, we’re trying again, this time with an epic 1,400-mile journey to the SCCA Solo National Tour event in Atlanta, Georgia. Last time we had a positively luxurious Lariat Crew Cab, but this time we’ve got a truly hardcore tow rig – a regular-cab, diesel-powered, six-speed manual F-250 4×2 in XLT trim.
Once upon a time, regular-cab trucks were pretty cramped affairs, causing taller drivers to assume all sorts of odd positions on the completely flat vinyl bench seats common to most trim levels. At 6’2″, your humble tester found his 1995 F-150 Regular Cab to be a real bow-legger of a truck – and the competition was even worse in that regard. It’s hard to look cool in your new rig while simultaneously rubbing your earlobes with your knees, and as a result, over the last ten years the market share for extended-cab and crew-cab body styles has risen to the point that most Ford dealers don’t bother to stock any regular-cab Super Duty trucks on their lots. Note, also, that unlike the F-150 Regular Cab, which now has a reasonably-sized cargo area complete with mini-window behind the door, the Super Duty is still an old-school short-cab.
The rarity of regular-cab Super Duty trucks means that we instantly achieved hardcore trucker status the moment we stepped up into our test rig, but this particular truck had a few more features to endear itself to non-sissies everywhere. To begin with, we had the monstrous PowerStroke diesel, complete with six hundred and fifty pound-feet of torque. That’s like having a Lamborgini Murcielago and a Mazda RX-8, torque-wise. With that much twist, accompanied by the angry compression-ignition rattle and audible turbo spool on each shift, we were tempted to start demanding access to the “professional driver” showers at our local Pilot station – but just to make sure we felt totally hardcore, Ford thoughtfully provided the truck with a six-speed manual transmission. Make no mistake – were Ernest Hemingway still alive today, he would insist on having the shift-it-yourself model. He would note with immense satisfaction that the eighteen-inch-long shift lever and super-vague gating makes every shift a voyage of discovery, while nodding approvingly at the amount of double-clutching required to uncork the PowerStroke’s savage pull up a long hill or smoke a Civic Si at the stoplight outside a movie theater. He’d also probably be completely cool with the regular cab, noting that the slightly pinched interior would still be more luxurious than the ambulance he drove in The Great War. The only question would be: in an era of male manicures, would we be able to cope with Hemingway’s truck?