Need a heavier-duty pickup for hauling and pulling large loads? Accubuilt in Lima, OH, is building them now.

The company, which is best known for its domination in the funeral car business, is working in close cooperation with Ford Motor Company to convert F-450 and F-550 chassis into extra-heavy pickups.

I first spotted these trucks last fall while driving by the lot and thought they might be a good option for hauling grain. At the time the company had only two show trucks available. Since then it has increased production, and I was able to test-drive two of them in March.

Stronger bed

The company starts with new Ford original equipment manufacturer (OEM) pickup box components and then beefs up the bed with four more under-the-bed rails to support more cargo weight or the weight of a goose-neck hitch.

Because they are heavier than regular pickups, these trucks can pull and haul heavier loads and trailers. But the motors aren't any bigger than those in the regular one-ton trucks (350s). The dealer says that “it makes a perfect hot-shot truck — that is, a truck to deliver light freight.” A disadvantage is that they ride rougher.

I drove two versions: one with regular suspension and one with air suspension. The air suspension was a lot nicer. It's a Reyco-Granning suspension and is a $4,189 retail option. It's well worth the money if you drive on rough roads. The option is also useful for raising or lowering the bed.

Three configurations

The Ford F-450 and F-550 Super Duty are available in standard, super and crew cab configurations; other options include XL, XLT and Lariat trim. Power choices include a 6-liter V8 diesel with 325 hp and 570 lbs. ft. torque and a 6.8-liter gas-powered V10 with 362 hp and 457 lbs. ft. torque.

Automatic and manual transmissions are available. The company recommends the automatic. It's a heavy-duty, high-tech transmission that makes the truck run more efficiently. Towing capacities are up to 24,900 lbs., and maximum payload capacity is 11,300 lbs. A 50-gal. fuel tank is standard.

The trucks will be sold through Ford dealerships that can option them to your specifications. In 2007, a 7.4-liter diesel will be available in addition to the 6-liter diesel. Prices range from $35,000 to $70,000, depending on model and options.

For more information, see your local Ford Truck dealer, contact Accubuilt, 2550 Central Point Pkwy., Lima, OH 45804, 888/324-7895, visit www.AccubuiltTrucks.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 194.