At Overland Expo East in Virginia, one pickup truck immediately stood out from the rest. Oh my goodness what a feast for the eyes was this OBS 1997 Ford F-250 4×4 that was as clean as you’d see them back in the day on the showroom floor, but a restomod that was outfitted for overlanding. Even the teal on white color just nailed it with a 90’s vibe.
I wandered over to take a closer look. Even up close, the restomod work appeared flawless and KTL Restorations who performed the work was present at the event. I started speaking to a nice gentleman about the truck. To my surprise, this truck was being showcased by Hemmings! I soon discovered the gentleman I was chatting with was actually Jonathan Shaw, President of Hemmings Motor News. He gave a personal video tour of their 4-Door F-250 gem, dubbed “Project Artemis” and the following are details what this iconic American truck is all about.
The OBS F-250 drivetrain was updated, powered by Ford’s new 7.3L Godzilla crate engine mated to a 10R40 10-speed transmission. Thanks to a custom Dewitts Radiator, the truck never overheats, and juice to start the Ford Godzilla power plant is supplied by dual XS Batteries. Jonathan fired the rig and it sounds as burly as you might expect, especially with it’s Flowmaster stainless steel exhaust system. As Jonathan mentions, you can really hear the crisp lope of the cam which makes the truck sound like an old 460 from the 1970’s at idle.
The steel front bumper was custom fabricated for this 97 F-250, branded with the WARN symbol and housing a 16.5 TI-S WARN recovery winch. This overland build went all the way, so the same was repeated in the rear with a custom WARN branded bumper that houses another 16.5 rear recovery winch, and powerful back up lighting when needed.
The slightly smoked headlight lamps were provided by OBS Ford F-Series specialists, Complete Performance. A co-sponsor of the build who is always present at overland events is KC Hilites, who’s lighting products were integrated throughout the truck. Some of the lighting KC lights integrated into this rig includes:
- Cube LED lighting mounted into the front and rear bumpers
- Roof rack with round spot lights across the front including yellow/amber lights
- Rock/terrain lights underneath the truck
- Overhead LED lighting in the truck bed tunnel
Tires & Wheels
Project Artemis is fitted with Mickey Thompson Baja Boss ATS tires. Jonathan mentioned that, “This is actually the first production set ever made of Baja Boss tires. We were the first ones to get the tires as they rolled off”. Method wheels house beefy 6-piston Wilwood brakes.
Chassis & Suspension
One of the major updates to this OBS F-Series rig was provided by RYD Motorsports, where the original axles were swapped out with those from a 2005 SuperDuty, so the truck could be switched to coil suspension for a much more pleasant ride. The suspension also features Fox 2.0 remote reservoir shocks.
Looking underneath at the long arms and suspension, it’s some truly magnificent work in terms of engineering and appearance. The long arms and other hardware are actually painted and coated with a matte glazing vs. being powder coated which looks spectacular.
First thing you notice in the interior is the buttery soft leather seats that immediately reminded me of Ford’s King Ranch setup. The upholstery was done by Moore and Giles, with leather specific for overlanding that doesn’t scratch despite it’s top quality comfort. The steering wheel and trim highlights were also covered in their specialty leather.
The original gauge cluster was swapped out with Holley’s digital dash, which is a single screen display. The floor pedals were updated with CNC machined aluminum Lokar pedals, specific for the overland community. The center transmission hump shifter housing was custom fabricated, and this is where you’ll find a broad selection of accessory switches that control all the lighting throughout the truck.
Overland Outfitted OBS F-250
In the rear the truck is fully decked out with overland gear, starting with a Leitner rack as the base for it all. On the driver side of the rack, 3 steel, 5-gallon jerry cans are securely housed along with one of Leitner’s small cargo boxes. The F-250 makes the jerry cans look like Rotopax due to its prowess. On the passenger side, you’ve got a cargo box long enough for folding chairs, hunting rifles or a bunch of other gear. To the front of this right behind the cab, is another small cargo access box identical to the driver’s side.
Inside the truck bed tunnel that is covered by the roof top tent platform, there’s plenty of 3 dimensional space. The full size spare, standing upright in the back of the bed against the rear of the cab barely takes up any room. It’s smart placement for distribution of weight, plus just getting it out of the way. Dealing with a swing out spare can get a bit cumbersome at times, and the spare right over the truck’s center of gravity means it will handle much better on & off road.
In the truck bed, accessories packed away include a Nomad portable 4-stage water filtration system, where you can drop a line in any stream or lake and pump purified water with 12V power. Maxtrax boards are also stowed away here, as well as a Power Tank setup for on-demand compressed air as a supply for tires & air tools. There’s also a YETI cooler, and an assortment of recovery gear and other accessories.
The clamshell style roof top tent is the first off production model by FreeSpirit Recreation, and has LED interior lighting & USB Power ports available near the tailgate as well.
Thanks very much to Jonathan Shaw and KTL Restorations for the tour of Project Artemis another vintage overland favorite for Savage Camper!