Driving off-road is both a privilege and a pleasure. While entrance fees, membership dues, and camping rates at OHV areas across the country seem to be on the rise, we’re always thankful for any spot that allows us to explore off-road. Part of the fees associated with dedicated off-highway areas are often set aside for law enforcement. As with all hobbies, there are good enthusiasts and bad. Law enforcement simply helps protect the good, weed out the bad, and keep our wheeling areas a safe and open place to ride.
For nearly a decade now the Carolina Beach Police Department has been in charge of patrolling the beachfront wheeling area known as Freeman Park. Located at the northern end of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, Freeman Park is a year-round wheeling destination that attracts fishermen, surfers, and wheeling enthusiast of all types. Working within a limited state budget, the CBPD doesn’t have the luxury of outfitting its patrol fleet with high-end off-road pickups like the Ford SVT Raptor or Dodge Power Wagon. Instead, the department primarily uses a mostly stock ’08 Ford F-250 to patrol the island and coastal wheeling acreage. Outfitted with stock tires, a mild V-8, and a host of police gear, the truck can be a bit underequipped at times when traversing the ever-changing beach conditions. Since the officers are constantly working hard to keep one of the last beachfront wheeling areas open and safe, we thought we would lend them a hand and give their F-250 a much-needed performance upgrade.
Teaming up with 4x4 experts at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, we grabbed the keys to the Carolina Beach Cruiser and went to work. Our goal wasn’t to pimp their ride, but rather to upgrade it into a more capable patrol vehicle that will allow them to respond faster, go farther, and work better both on- and off-road. To achieve our goals, we installed a heavy-duty 6-inch suspension system from BDS Suspension and outfitted the truck with a wider footprint courtesy of 37x12.50 Dick Cepek Fun Country IIs. Knowing that the police rig is a very active patrol vehicle, we kept function and performance in mind with our upgrades, and we’re extremely pleased with the results. To find out more about Freeman Park, visit www.carolinabeach.org.
Since powering over sand and deep ruts is part of the daily patrol, we opted to upgrade the Super Duty’s front suspension with BDS’s four-link conversion. The four-link kit is a completely bolt-on system that is designed to increase articulation and allow the front end to cycle more freely over the factory radius arms.
To raise the front of the truck 6 inches, BDS provides heavy-duty lift coils rated specifically for the V-8 gas engine. Working with the new springs to help soak up the terrain are BDS gas series shock absorbers.
Up front, a drop pitman arm is used along with a track bar lowering bracket to keep the geometry in check. And to prevent the front end from cycling too far up, the kit lowers the bumpstops a few inches as well.
Since the police department occasionally needs to haul extra gear or a trailer, we upgraded the rear suspension with 6-inch lift springs in the rear. The beefy leaf set works great to keep the truck level and is backed by BDS’s ”if you break it we replace it, no questions asked” warranty.
Once the suspension install was complete we noticed that the front driveline was resting ever so slightly against the driver-side catalytic converter. To fix our minor exhaust issue we took it to the exhaust pros at The Muffler Place in Wilmington, North Carolina. Fortunately it was an easy fix, as the F-250’s exhaust system required only minor tweaking and shortening of the crossover pipe.
To make sure that the truck was driving straight and the new tires were spinning true, we took the F-250 to our local Sears Auto Center. Since the truck only required a minor toe adjustment and the Dick Cepek tire and wheel combo took little weight to balance, we were in and out in no time.
For added steering safety and control we installed the BDS dual stabilizer kit. Combined with the stock high-mount stabilizer, the truck now has a tighter and more on-center feel than before.
Having the right set of tires for the terrain is always crucial. Since the CBPD patrol truck sees mainly a mix of sand and street, we went with a 37x12.50 Dick Cepek Fun Country IIs and mounted them on a set of 17x9 DC II wheels. Given the intended use and area that the truck patrols, the Dick Cepek combo fits perfectly for the department’s on- and off-road performance needs.
On the Beat
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride along in the police rig and help dial in the truck. To say the least, the truck’s performance is a night-and-day improvement over the original setup. With the increased footprint and bite of the Fun Country IIs, along with the increased suspension travel, the truck now rides smoother and moves effortlessly over the sand. And while the truck could benefit from a few more ponies and/or cubic inches under the hood, we are pleased with the overall performance.
The Muffler Place
BDS Suspension Inc
Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels
4600 Prosper Drive
Carolina Beach Police Department
Low Range 4x4
105 Portwatch Way