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Ford comes out blazing with Harley pickup

June 03, 2005|by TIM SPELL/Motor Matters

A double helping of macho is heaped into Ford's 2005 Harley-Davidson F-Series Super Duty pickup. This F-250 Crew Cab 4x4 heavyweight test truck packs the high-torque 6.0-liter Power Stroke Diesel V-8 and a get-out-of-the-way Harley bike attitude.

This isn't the type of truck that blends into traffic. It's big, bold and in your face, and available in hefty F-250 and F-350 configurations. The price tag is sizable, too - a $36,990 base price, plus $4,640 for the Harley package and $5,100 for the diesel engine.

Along with weighing in at 6,538 pounds and stretching almost 22 feet long, this Super Duty's body sides bear graphics fitting for a Harley motorcycle-themed truck. The lower body sides are engulfed in flames - a well-known Harley theme, and the most common graphic found on motorcycle fuel tanks and helmets. These are the industry's first factory-painted flames.

The Super Duty's flames are available in two treatments - Toreador Red on black or True Blue with Medium Wedgwood Blue. Both support the Harley image, but the red on black reflects the heritage a bit stronger. The black test-truck's red flames definitely are bold, but don't pop out of the black paint as much as one might think.

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Ford's goal was to apply the flames in a smooth and seamless manner - much like that of a custom bike shop. The process used on the Super Duty is called wet-on-wet paint, which features a special primer that allows a second coat of paint to be applied while the initial coat is wet.

With the tester, the red flames were painted first, followed by an ultra-thin flame-shaped mask on top of it and black body color sprayed immediately. After the mask is removed a clear topcoat is sprayed. A chemical bonding occurring between the layers results in a smooth finish.

For those who may not snap to the fact this is a theme truck - not merely someone attempting to hot rod a giant pickup - there's special badging on the front fenders and tailgate. Made of heavyweight zinc die-cast metal, the badges are in the shape of the Harley-Davidson Bar & Shield logo and are engraved with "Harley-Davidson Motorcycles." The F-250 designation is etched on a sidepiece. On the upper rear of the bedsides "Harley-Davidson" is scripted in red to match the flames.

The largest Harley logo is stamped into the thick rubber mat that protects the cargo box's load floor. Harley-Davidson is again branded on the rubber footpads atop the tubular chrome step bars. Placing a blacked-out backer behind the steps provides a cleaner more integrated look.

A close look at the center caps of the 20-inch, bright-polished, forged-aluminum wheels reveals an outlined Harley logo. These wheels feature five wide spokes, locking chrome lug nuts and dimples around the rim.

This dimpled effect also is highlighted on the bullet-style chrome exhaust tip. This welded-on exhaust outlet - sized like a small coffee can - as well as chrome tow hooks up front, show off the designers' attention to detail.

On a grander scale, the giant grille opening on the Super Duty's blunt nose is filled with a custom black-and-chrome billet-like treatment. Headlamps also are blacked out, adding to the truck's menacing look.

This bad-boy theme is carried inside the cab with black leather seats punctuated at the tops with Harley-Davidson Bar & Shield logos. Giving the owner a feel of exclusivity, an ID plate is attached to the center console storage compartment lid. Along with the Harley logo, it displays the vehicle's production year, VIN and serif numbers.

Gauges are round and retro-style with chrome bezels and a silver face texture similar to, but more refined than, hammered metal. "Harley-Davidson" is scripted in red at the bottom of the speedometer and red pointers move along old-style black serial numbers.

Actually getting a count of the number of Harley logos within the cab would be a tedious process. Zooming in on the carbon-fiber-look trim applied to the instrument panel and door inserts reveals a pattern made up of tiny Harley Bar & Shield logos.

Evoking visions of a powerful Harley V-twin cruiser's footboard, designers gave accelerator and brake pedals a striped chrome-and-black appearance. Stomping the gas pedal awakens either a monster 6.0-liter diesel or a 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine.

So, the powerful Super Duty doesn't need Harley enhancements to make it a credible tough truck. The flames, however, effectively distinguish it from most other big pickups.

(Tim Spell is the automotive writer for the Houston Chronicle Cars & Trucks section.)

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2005

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