Can you picture your favorite truck? Many of us truck lovers can imagine a lineup of trucks that we adore, but picking just one can be difficult to do. Such is the case for Brian Bormes and his Cummins-swapped 1967 Ford F-250 and 1979 Ford Bronco.
Brian hails from the “Black Hills of South Dakota,” as he put it. He’s a student of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where he works to one day become a geologist. But that’s just one side to this hard-working young man. The other side, as we learned, is one that loves to tinker on older pickups and make them better than imagined in their heyday.
We learned of Brian through Instagram, where his account, brianbormes, holds a virtual gallery of his life. We reached out to him and talked about his background, his builds, and what’s next.
Diesel always gets us when we’re young. For Brian, it was his teenage years when he first started. “I got my first 12-valve Cummins when I was in high school,” he said. “Ever since then, I’ve had many diesels and been addicted.”
Brian already had plans in his head formulating for what he was going to do to his Bronco, which he received at 14 and proceeded to work off in retribution. “It was rusting, falling apart, and barely ran,” he told us. “It didn’t even have a topper on it. I slowly fixed it up and drove it throughout high school until I joined the Marine Corps at 18.”
Even halfway around the world, Brian was still working on his beloved Bronco. He asked his parents to help him get it done by sending them money and having them pay to get the work done, mainly where it concerned restoring the body and painting it. “I’d get paid every month and transfer the money to parents and they would pay him to restore the Bronco,” he said. “When I came back, it had new body and new paint on it. It used to be white and red, and I wanted it painted black with an orange stripe.”
“When I got out of the Corps in 2013, I got a 12-valve P-pump from a FedEx truck and started the Cummins swap,” said Brian. “It now has a fully-built NV4500 with a South Bend Clutch dual-disk clutch and transfer case from a Dodge truck.”
“It also has a 10.25 Sterling rear axle and a Dana 44 up front,” continued Brian. “It runs on 37-inch tires. The engine has oversized injectors and a single ATS turbocharger, and the AFC housing is gutted. The fuel pump has been modified, too. Altogether, she makes about 400 horsepower and 900 lb-ft of torque.”
These days, the Bronco is Brian’s go-to vehicle when it’s time to have some fun. He’s been known to take it out to the Badlands, or go hill-climbing on snowy terrain like in the video below.
On the flipside is the F-250, which started life as a 1967 F-100 that was two-wheel-drive and was used on a ranch that Brian used to hunt at as a child. “It was rust-free,” said Brian. “Not long after, I found a rusted-out four-wheel-drive 1967 F-250 and used its frame. I liked it better because it was a lot stronger and thicker than the F-100’s frame.”
Afterwards, Brian bought a friend’s mud truck, a 1993 Cummins, and used its drivetrain to motivate the Frankenstein build. As he put it, he wanted the truck to “look period-correct, but be able to tow and drive like a modern vehicle.”
Brian began tearing down all three of the pickups and rearranging the pieces in the summer of 2016. “I put the Dodge’s rear Dana 70 and leaf springs onto the F-250’s rear, which would support heavy loads, and did a Chevy Dana 44 with 2005 Super Duty coil springs up front, which would support the weight of the Cummins,” explained Brian. “Then I put the Cummins in with the Dodge Getrag transmission and an NP205 transfer case. After that, the F-100’s body went on top.”
The F-250 received a custom-made 50-gallon fuel tank in the bed, giving it plenty of range as a workhorse. Brian went the extra mile for authenticity and had 9×16 Power King tires with steel wheels installed on all four corners (with period-correct hubcaps, no less). All told, the young man states he did 95-percent of the work himself, and spent 41 days straight working 16-hour days on average to complete it.
It’s always interesting to find people like Brian who put so much effort into building up trucks. From figuring out engine bay clearance to suspension issues to paint and body, a truck build is serious business. It takes an intense amount of work to get these builds started and followed through all the way to the end, not to mention when it’s two projects back-to-back.
You might think that investing so much of yourself into two machines would make it difficult to choose a favorite. In the case of Brian, you’d be right, but also wrong; in his eyes, these trucks represent two different approaches to working, and both fulfill their own unique purposes.
“They both are totally different and serve two different purposes,” he said. “The Bronco is high-horsepower for off-roading and having fun in. The F-250 is a classic built for towing and daily driving. The Bronco I built fast, and with a lot of help from friends, and it still has a long way to go. But I think the F-250 better reflects my work. It is a cleaner and nicer-looking build.”
Both of these builds get some degree of reaction from the public, which Brian was able to comment on. “Guys love the Bronco,” he said. “They can hear the turbo from a mile away. It’s quick and rolls a lot of coal, so some older people dislike it. But for the most part, everyone thinks it’s awesome.”
“The girls love the F-250,” he continued. “They love the lunar green color. A lot of guys will walk past the truck at car shows, stop, turn around, and walk back say things like, ‘Holy crap, it has a Cummins in it!’ Then they continue to look harder and see that is on coil springs instead of leaf springs, has a five-speed, and many other things. It really hides a lot of secrets that you would never notice otherwise.”
Brian’s favorite spots to take his trucks varies. He’s done several trips to the river with the Bronco, and accordingly done several river crossings, as well as snow trips. The F-250, on the other hand, putts around town most of the time, but he admits he did take it on an adventure at one point last summer.
“After I built the F-250, I had to take it back to where I bought it,” he said. “The lady who sold it to me did so on the condition that I would let her drive the truck after it had been fully restored. She took one ride and was blown away!”
Regarding future modifications, Brian has some for the Bronco, but nothing much for the F-250. “The Bronco will eventually get twin turbos and a Dana 60 up front,” he said. “I break axle shafts and U-joints often with the Dana 44. The F-250 is pretty much perfect. It doesn’t need anything mechanically, but I do want to give it a clear coat to keep the patina looking good.”
We’re really pleased to see these classic Blue Ovals are still running today, and are in the care of an off-roader and outdoors enthusiast with a knack for restoration. We recommend you check out Brian’s Instagram for more cool pictures and videos; and if you see a busted pile of pickup on the side of the road, kick in that imagination of yours and take on a project you’ll never forget.