By now, many Blue Oval fans are quite familiar with Scott Birdsall‘s 1949 Ford F1 race truck that he affectionately calls “Old Smokey,” a ratty build packing a bonkers 6.7-liter Cummins diesel that cranks out a cool 1,400 horsepower. But while we’ve featured this wild machine before, Birdsall recently let Top Gear‘s Rob Dahm take it for a spin around Willow Springs Raceway, where he quickly discovered that this insane creation is even wilder to drive than it is to look at.
Birdsall picked up his 1949 Ford F1 for a mere $225 in pretty horrible condition, which was fine because he had visions of transforming it into a dominant racing truck anyway. The heart of the beast is of course the aforementioned diesel powerplant, which was put together by the folks at Freedom Racing Engines. The Cummins features a host of upgraded internals designed to handle copious amounts of boost (up to 100 psi!) from the compound turbo setup, and makes a rather insane 2,100 pound-feet of torque to go along with its crazy horsepower figure.
Since that giant oil burner weights 1,200 pounds itself, Birdsall moved everything else to the bed to even out the weight distribution, while total weight comes out to around 4,200 pounds – pretty hefty for a racing machine of any kind. Regardless, the truck has gone on to set a record at Pikes Peak, so there’s that. The only question left to ask is, what’s it like to drive this unconventional build?
The answer to that question, as one might imagine, is pretty crazy. “Oh my God, this is a once in a lifetime experience,” Dahm says after whipping Old Smokey around a few corners. “This is one hell of an experience. I’m very impressed, this thing actually handles way better than I thought it would.”
Dahm notes that the hardest thing about driving Old Smokey is realizing that you’re in a vehicle that can pull 1.7 gs in the turns, and yet, it’s a truck. Getting over that mental hump and trusting the vehicle proved difficult, but since Birdsall normally doesn’t let anyone drive his truck because he doesn’t want them to ruin it, taking it easy was probably the best strategy here.
Source: Ford Truck Enthusiasts