Recovering from a life-altering accident will help you put your priorities in order, which is exactly what happened to 24-year-old Shyla Nordman from Fowlerville, Mich. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2012, she crashed head-on into a tree on her ATV. With the love and support of her friends and family, she spent the next several weeks recovering in the hospital. She had to learn how to do basic skills, such as walking and talking, all over again.
One of the thoughts running through her mind during this time was her daily driver.
“I kept thinking about getting back to work on my truck,” says Nordman. “I’m always going to find a way because I’m never going to stop doing what I love.”
When Nordman recovered, she quickly jumped back into building the truck of her dreams.
Nordman’s truck is a 2001 Ford F250 7.3L, which she purchased five years ago. The truck had been lying on the ground in a ton of different pieces as a project the previous owner never got around to completing. Seeing nothing more than a frame, she was able to put a picture in her mind of what it could be. The cab wasn’t attached and the motor was in more than 50 pieces. Obviously this wasn’t just showing up at a dealership and leaving with a truck. It was a complete build right from the very beginning.
“The truck was completely rusted out,” recalls Nordman. “It looked like it belonged right in the junk yard.”
Nordman and her fiancé James Burton started the painstaking process of putting the truck back together. The couple started by painting the frame with frame protector and then had to purchase all new body parts. They ended up doing a cab and front end swap with a 2006 model and adding a 2012 Super Duty tailgate.
Following The Plan
From there, they powder coated the intercooler pipes and brackets, added an S&B Air intake, Oracle Halos headlights and Bushwacker fender flares. The truck also has hydro-dipped carbon fiber antifreeze and brake fluid jug and custom Diesel Babe door seals and emblems. Her next steps include wheel, tires, lift, traction bars/other metal fabricating, bumpers and light bars.
“Because of the condition of the truck when I bought it, a lot of the work so far has been cosmetic,” says Nordman. “But I’m getting ready to start on engine modifications by adding bigger injectors.”
When they rebuilt the engine the first time, they replaced the parts that need to be immediately addressed and then made everything else work.
“We put a lot of time into the engine when we were putting it back together because we wanted to make it last until we could get to a full engine build,” says Nordman. “I’m excited to get the motor built so I can start truck pulls.”
The couple owns a performance shop together, J&S Auto, in Fowlerville, Mich. It’s more of a side job at this point, but they are hoping to make it full-time soon.
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Power Stroke Nation
Nordman has lived in the Michigan area her entire life where her family’s ties to Ford run deep. Her grandfather devoted his entire career to working for the company and eventually retired as an engineer for the Michigan-based auto maker.
“I grew up in a Ford family,” says Nordman. “It will be the only truck I ever drive.”
Nordman grew up in the country near her grandparents’ farm. She regularly attended truck and tractor pulls with her dad. When she met Burton, the two quickly realized it was a passion they both shared and started getting deeper into the industry together.
Not only did Burton stay by her side throughout her hospital stay after the accident, he continues to prove his devotion with this build. He owns a blue 2002 F250 Power Stroke of his own, but he put the build on hold so they could concentrate fully on getting her truck up and running.
“I could never share my baby with him, so we each have our own,” laughs Nordman. “He tells me that he wishes I was into more girly stuff instead of truck pulls so his truck could get a turn.”
Ladies Of Diesel
Nordman is passionate about getting other women into the diesel industry.
“I wasn’t raised to be girly,” says Nordman. “For other women, if you believe in something, give it your all. You might fail at first, but your passion will get you where you need to be.”
Nordman’s fiancé, Burton, and Kat Ray, the head of Ladies of Diesel, as the two people she admires most in the diesel industry.