This article originally featured in the June 2022 issue.
The Transformers universe is rich with movies, television shows, books, comics, collectibles and more. It has captivated kids and adults alike with compelling storylines and movie director Michael Bay’s love for explosions on the big screen. Among those captivated is Alexandra Kelly, a 23-year-old from Iowa, who grew up absorbing the franchise any chance she got. Her dad first showed her the 1980s TV show and then she had the surreal moment of watching the original 2007 movie in a theater.
“As a kid,” Alexandra said, “I always remember thinking, ‘How cool would it be to have your own Transformer?’ The thought of giant alien robots was the coolest concept to me.”
Her dad regrets selling off his own collection of Transformers toys he had as a kid, so Alexandra took up the call and has built up a giant collection that is ongoing today. She can hold in-depth conversations on what a Transformer’s life force is, what makes them run, the color of their 'energon' or eyes—pretty much anything you can think of. When it comes to Transformers, Alexandra is the expert.
So when it came time to build her 2001 F250 Power Stroke, Alexandra naturally built it with Transformers in mind.
Her love for trucks started in high school, where many in her circle of friends had diesels or lifted trucks. Alexandra’s first truck was a 1991 Dodge RAM D150 graduation gift from her dad, but she eventually sold in the hopes of buying her dream truck, an OBS F350 7.3L Power Stroke.
“What's not to like about diesels? I mean, come on,” Alexandra stressed. “I genuinely prefer diesel over gas when it comes to trucks. I think they sound a thousand times better.”
Her dream pickup proved hard to find, so she expanded the parameters for what she was looking for.
“I was told about this stock flatbed Super-Duty by my boyfriend,” she explained, “but I was a bit hesitant. Flatbeds weren't my thing. I decided to give it a shot and look at it anyway. I test drove it, learned about the truck, but there was one thing that I didn't like at first. I thought that truck sounded too much like a V10 Triton and I do not like V10's. I went home and sat on the idea for a few days before biting the bullet and getting the truck.”
Building A Transformer
Basically everything in this build is inspired by Transformers. In the franchise, there’s a GMC Topkick Autobot named [Ironhide] that Alexandra especially liked.
“The character was just a really rough, rugged Autobot that I just always thought was the coolest. I said when I was kid that my first truck was going to be named [Ironhide], and that stuck with me forever.”
Alexandra took her time planning out this build. She would complete one modification, and then sit on it for a while, taking her time to decide on the next step. The first thing she did was upgrade mirrors and headlights. The headlights were custom built with RBGW halo lighting by Proliteretros to get them as close to [Ironhide]’s eyes as possible. After that came XD wheels from Custom Offsets. Other [Ironhide] modifications include a Steelcraft heavy-duty bumper to protect the diesel from deer and 18 rock lights that will often run in a purple flow to look like Energon, the fuel of the Transformer race.
Ignoring The Haters At Shows
One of Alexandra’s favorite things is to attend shows, even if her truck doesn’t fit the mold. She’ll attend classic, muscle car shows and roll up with her big pickup and receive weird looks from other car owners, typically older men. She said they relax after they see she’s there for the same reason they are—a love for amazing machinery.
“It's hard being a female in this industry,” Alexandra explained. “It really is. You’ll have people thinking you aren’t allowed to do something or you can’t do something just because I’m a girl. It’s dumb. We can learn and know just as much as guys and even build a better truck than them. It’s just one of those things you ignore and just show them what you can really do. In the end while they may not like what you are doing, you’re doing what you like. Trucks aren’t just for the boys, and neither are the Transformers.”
One show had a field open to automotive owners to let loose donuts. At first Alexandra wasn’t planning on trying with [Ironhide], but a friend convinced her and the truck performed better than she thought it would. The only cost was dirtying the recently cleaned and waxed diesel.
[Ironhide] will soon see dual stacks on her flatbed, another Transformers-inspired modification. Alexandra is also deciding between a 4- to 6-inch lift. If she goes with a 6-inch lift, she’ll also get a larger wheel setup to keep it looking proportionally correct.
Alexandra will also keep up her photography business, 3 Diamond Photography, which will help her capture [Ironhide]’s build journey and show it off to other people.
“My favorite thing to see is kids gushing at the Transformer that sits in front of them,” she concluded. “They are always so amazed. I remember being that kid years ago.”
3 Diamond Photography