This year, for the first time ever, I went on an adventure to Pennsylvania for the 4 Wheel Jamboree show. Unsure what to expect, the Bloomsburg PA fairgrounds was filled wall to wall with anything and everything four-wheel-drive. I have been hearing about this show for years and I was excited to finally hit the event and see what the east coasters had to offer. To check out the event coverage from this show, click here.
It didn’t take long to see the wildest rigs, but it was Kathy Groft’s family-sized off-road machine that caught my eye first. With the “Editors Choice Award” in mind, I had a certain criterion I wanted to see. When Groft’s build showed its face, I knew it checked all of the boxes. Check out her 2005 Ford Excursion.
What Did I See?
I travel all around the country to shows like this and I see everything from mild to wild. I don’t mean this in a hateful way, but typically the winners of the show are whoever can sink the most money into a truck. A lot of times I see brand new $75,000-$100,000 trucks that have an additional $20,000-plus invested in paint, chrome, and accessories.
I am not downplaying these high-dollar builds, I’m just stating that when I am looking for my choice, I’m looking for a truck that is more than just “loud”. What I am looking for is something that clearly took time, budgeting, and a true enthusiast-style build. When I saw Groft’s Excursion, it was understated and still grabbed my attention. It was nearly bone stock and was impeccably clean from top to bottom. She spent a big part of the day walking around it, wiping it down and showed true enthusiasm towards her build. To me, that is why it deserved my editor’s choice award.
57-year-old Kathy Groft bought this ’05 Excursion back in January of 2015. She had been attending truck shows for years with friends and just wanted to get involved. She wanted something she could cherish and make hers. The thought of working and fixing up a truck reminded her of when she used to work on vehicles with her dad.
This truck was actually used to haul motorcycles for a local Harley Davidson dealership in its past life. Since then, Groft has changed out the headlights, taillights, mirrors, intercooler pipes, and the stereo. She has certainly taken her time to create a ride exactly how she wanted and now you see what it has turned into.
Something I noticed once I took a closer look was that even the underneath of the truck was just as spotless as the topside. Meaningless parts that people don’t normally pay attention to were either painted, polished, or just replaced with clean new ones. Groft may not have thousands of dollars sunk into this build but she does have blood, sweat, and elbow grease in it.
What All Have You Done?
Pop the hood and you see a meticulously cleaned 6.0-liter Power Stroke. With 182,000-miles on the ticker, this 6.0-liter is still clean and chugging along just fine. Groft hasn’t really put a ton of money into aftermarket goodies on the engine and that may be why. Although there aren’t many items she has added to it, the ones that she did are good ones. This includes an aFe cold air intake manifold and a 4-inch Diamond Eye Performance exhaust.
After being blown away at how clean the truck was, it was time to pop the doors open. You guessed it, spotless. Groft’s Excursion looks like your typical mid-2000s Ford interior with a few personalized pieces. To keep an eye on the engine and transmission operating conditions, she uses an Edge CTS monitor.
Making our way back outside, I noticed a bit of a lift and a modest set of wheels and tires. No, these aren’t 14-inch-wide polished wheels with a thin sidewall surrounding them. That just isn’t her cup of tea. Instead, Groft went with a pair of 16-inch by 8-inch chrome Raceline Raptor wheels wrapped in 37-inch by 12-inch Interco tires.
Geared with 3.73 axles, Groft’s Excursion rolls down the highway real high with a Rough Country suspension, Pro Comp shocks on all four corners, and Rough Country leaf springs. On the undercarriage parts that are now painted, Groft used Eastwood Products for that, and she noted that she has did it all by herself.
What Is Your Favorite Part?
Like any build, I assumed that Groft had a favorite part of this one. “I would have to say my favorite part of the build is the reactions I get from it,” Groft said. “When people realize that I own and perform the majority of the work on it, it gives me satisfaction. This is really something I enjoy doing.”
Since this is my first show out east, I asked how often she shows her Excursion. “I don’t run in any particular class but I do show it quite a bit. I have gotten runner-up for 4 Wheel Jamboree’s Street Zero Class multiple times and I have won first place for the Carlisle All Ford event in the Excursion class event multiple times.” Groft went on to claim many other awards that she and her all-black machine have earned with a huge smile on her face.
Since I’ve started showing in 2014, I have been hooked ever since. My husband Scott has helped me with all of the heavy-lifting items like the wheels and tires and some of the mechanical issues we’ve experienced. If he isn’t around, my daughter will help, too. Other than that, it has been all me. I have met some great people throughout this whole process. They are now like a family to me. – Kathy Groft
After seven years of attending shows with her ride, Groft wanted to put out a huge thank you to everyone that has been there for her and helped her get the Excursion to where it is today. This includes Scott and Jess Groft, Bob Powers, Chip Simon, Eric Schlitzer, Matt Zdaniewicz, and John Kovach Jr.
I was excited to give Kathy the Editor’s Choice Award at the 4 Wheel Jamboree in Bloomsburg this year. She was trembling with excitement and that made my choice of her truck that much sweeter. Congratulations on the award and we look forward to seeing you at future events.
For more information about the 4 Wheel Jamboree, head on over to their website here. For more truck features, installs, and event coverage, stay tuned to Diesel Army. What do you think about Kathy’s Excursion? Have you been a fan of these big Ford Suburban-like trucks? Let us know in the comments below!