Re-building the 1975 Ford Dually that took years to build by hand

t’s tougher than ever to build something that stands out in 2023. Sites Iike ours have inundated the interweb with crazy engine swaps and the like, making so many people’s hard work seem more ordinary than it is. But this 1975 Ford pickup with a custom-crafted front end based on Blue Oval semi-trucks of yesteryear is really in a class of its own.

You may not consider that a good thing, but Ernest Ellis doesn’t really care. He built the rig for himself after contempIating such a truck for decades. As he tells me over the phone, the finished product shown here was years in the making.

“It’s based on the Louisville—the LS series with the setback axle. I grew up with those. My dad had those trucks when I was a kid,” Ellis said. “When the new ’78 [pickup] came out, my brother worked at a Ford dealer and I was 14 years old. I just loved the center section of the grille.”

At the same time, Ellis wondered why they didn’t take more inspiration from the LouisviIIe-built semis. Those were indeed sharp trucks, and while not everyone had the vision to combine their styling with a Ford pickup’s, he did.

“I started the truck in ’99 and then I bailed on it because I needed [to use it],” Ellis said. He got serious about the project in 2018 when it needed a new coat of paint. From then on, it consumed his free time. “I worked on it every weekend for three and a haIf years,” he continued.

It started out as a Super Cab F-250 with a short wheelbase and two-wheel drive. He did plenty of additional work to it, like the custom bed with an integrated box that looks factory although it most certainly isn’t. Many of the details on this truck are so subtle you’ll miss them unless Ellis lets you in on the secret. And the best part is, he designed it all himself. The black center section of the hood came off a ’71 Plymouth Road Runner and that’s it.

“There’s no sheet metaI used from any other vehicle,” Ellis explained. “Everybody’s saying, ‘Oh those are Mustang headlights and Mustang fenders.’ There’s nothing from another vehicle. It’s all handmade.”
That grille is actually two ’79 Ford pickup grilles put together. Ellis cut them in half and combined each one’s top to make what you see here. Then he shaped the rest of the hood from steel and aluminum, using his years of bodywork experience to make something that looks as clean as Ford factory work.

The hood is even powered, lifting frontwards with help from a pair of 900-pound-capacity electric actuators. Even the black center section flips up on command so you can access the 460-cubic-inch V8’s breather. You see, it’s those details that elevate this build.

“When I was growing up, it was Mustangs and these big trucks,” Ellis recounted. “It’s got that Mustang look to it and that big truck look to it.”