For a brief period of time, Ford had a direct competitor with the Chevrolet’s Suburban, the almighty family-hauling machine. It was called the Excursion, and it was one big mother of an SUV.
Nearly 19 feet long, 7 feet wide, and 7 feet tall, it was the largest SUV Ford had ever produced. It weighed 7,688 pounds with the Power Stroke diesel engine, and gained popularity quickly amidst the relatively low fuel prices of the day.
Sadly, the Excursion ceased production in 2006, and earned the ire of many journalists who considered it a blight upon the automotive landscape. But that hasn’t stopped one Excursion from bringing big, bold, and standout SUVs back into style. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you… the Sixcursion.
Background of the Build
The Sixcursion was built and is owned by the McNeil family, the same family that owns and operates McNeil Racing. The company is a powerhouse of the off-road community here in Southern California, especially where it concerns desert-bound off-roaders.
Obviously, being a shop that operates within the off-road sphere, it helps to have a vehicle that exemplifies what the company stands for; such was the part of the idea’s genesis for the Sixcursion. We learned this from Mike Meadows, an employee at McNeil Racing and one of the builders that worked on the SUV.
McNeil Racing, located in San Diego, California, is owned by Matt and Perry McNeil. It got its start with Perry racing down in Baja, and then building his own vehicles, and then building vehicles for friends and friends of friends. From there, it became synonymous with fiberglass panels, as products for various makes and models were constructed at a breakneck pace. The experience and attention-to-detail that came from working on custom-made fiberglass obviously had a great effect on the building of the Sixcursion.
“We wanted a ‘Wow factor’ vehicle that looked different, but had six doors and was a lifted SUV,” said Mike Meadows. “It also had to be big enough for us to take down to Mexico for racing, because we’ve always run across issues with having enough room for stuff.”
The solution? Six doors, ten seats, and a 7.3-liter Power Stroke capable of hauling around all that needed hauling.
The interior looks fresh and clean now, but it doesn't stay that way when the Sixcursion heads to Baja to act as a support truck.
What Went Into The Sixcursion
As always, what sets a vehicle like Sixcursion apart from the rest is its look. The primary thing one notices about this rig right away are its six doors, which took significant time and effort to complete.
Mike was able to shed some light on how this aspect of the truck came to be. “We had the Excursion already, and purchased a donor F-250 crew cab short bed for the rear,” he said. “We took the F-250’s rear doors and cut the whole back half of the frame off, and basically tied those into the Excursion’s side panels; B-pillars, if you want to call them that. So the F-250’s rear doors now bolt up to the Excursion’s B-pillars. The other two doors were sourced from an junked F-250.”
That is accomplished in part by the suspension. In this case, it’s a kit provided by BDS Suspension, and is an eight-inch, four-link, coilover setup up front, and a leafsprung affair out back with BDS Recoil traction bars. Adjustable Fox coilover shock absorbers can be found on all four corners, as well as a couple of Fox air shocks being used as steering stabilizers.
The body, meanwhile, was made to stand out from the rest. It has a near seamless transition from the 2003 look of the doors to the modern-day, 2015-up F-150 front and rear ends. Being that McNeil’s bread and butter is making fiberglass panels that look OEM while staying wide and out of the way of the tires, it makes total sense that their handiwork would manifest itself here in perfect form.
The wheels and tires (left) are 22-inch TIS 539Bs and 40x15.5R22 Tri-Ace Mark Mas. The suspension, meanwhile (right) is comprised of an eight-inch BDS Suspension kit using Fox shocks, with a four-link up front and leafsprings in the rear.
Adding to the finishing touches are the OEM Ford headlights and taillights, topping off the build with a dash of authenticity. The paint is a PPG-made metallic called Sonic Blue, and was selected by Mark McNeil. It was supplied by the a local paint store called Mesa Auto Body Paint.
We needed it to act as a support vehicle for racing down in Mexico, so that’s how we had it built. Plus, the truck had to be able to tow trailers. – Mike Meadows, McNeil Racing
Commenting on what went into painting the rig, Mike said, “A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into painting the truck. Originally, we were going to go with wrapping the truck, but that didn’t go as planned. We were on a deadline for the SEMA Show, and the company that was going to do the wrap came back to us three days before we had to leave, saying that they couldn’t do the job.”
“We were left in a bind,” continued Mike. “So we decided to devote three full days of non-stop work – primering it, painting one coat, painting another coat, and then a third coat. We were blown away by how well it came out for it just being a three-day job, considering that we usually devote much more time to such a task.”
For graphics, a sponsor provided all of the necessary decals. All of that work, too, was done in-house at McNeil Racing.
The front comes equipped with all sorts of off-road goodies to make it capable if and when it actually does go off-road. Chief among these is a Warn VR12-S winch, which can support up to 12,000 pounds, making it ideal for the heavier-than-ordinary Sixcursion. It’s encased inside a custom-made Mercenary bumper. Lighting is comprised of multiple light bars and pod lights, all provided by Baja Designs.
The roof, meanwhile, might be a spot on other builds that goes unnoticed. For the Sixcursion, however, it was a site of inspiration. First and foremost is the roof rack. Mike said, “The roof rack is probably what stands out the most to me about the build. We equipped it more or less to suit our needs for a racing environment.”
The roof sports Wetsounds sound bars on both sides of the vehicle, which get used for blasting rock, rap, or country music. Also installed are Baja Designs lights, with eight square pods up front and light bars on the other three sides.
To that end, the rack was equipped with Baja Designs lighting on all four sides – eight pod lights up front, light bars on the driver and passenger sides, and a light bar on the rear. “We use these lights for just about anything,” said Mike. “Working on vehicles, support lighting, or driving in the desert.”
The last part of the roof rack, and Mike’s favorite part of the whole build, is the sound system. It’s comprised of Wetsounds Stealth Core 10 sound bars, facing the sides of the vehicle.
“The sound system is great to have on the Sixcursion,” said Mike. “It’s fun to take the truck out and crank up some tunes and hear it, even at freeway speeds. I like playing country music on ’em, but the other guys will play rap, heavy metal, and rock music.”
Not content to keep the truck to themselves, McNeil is making the Sixcursion available to see at several upcoming events. These include a local car show in San Diego and the Baja 500 in June.
The truck is near perfect as it stands, but Mike commented that it will be receiving updates soon. "We want to modify the fenders, bed, headlights, and grille, and it will wind up looking more like the 2017 Super Duty that just came out," he said. "The bumpers will probably be left alone, but we're not sure yet. We're also building a slightly upgraded 7.3-liter Power Stroke as well, and we're going to swap that in. This will hopefully all be done in the next three months."
We think the Sixcursion represents a really cool interpretation of the Ford Excursion, a model that unfortunately doesn’t get enough love when it comes to off-road builds. What would you do if you were to make an Excursion build? Let us know in the comments below.