New Car/Review

Ford

The Ford F-150 Harley Davidson (2000)

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

By Larry Weitzman

Harley Davidson has been making motorcyles for nearly 100 years. No they don't make cars or trucks, although they do make three wheelers for parking enforcement. Ford, who has been making cars and trucks for about as long, has teamed up with Harley to produced a special pick up truck that would embody the spirit of a Harley. A real tough truck with an attitude that can rumble with the best of them.

Ford started with an F-150 4X2 SuperCab style side short bed pickup. Then Ford went to work to make this truck special from the factory. The fully independent forged short/long arm suspension with coils is used in front and a live axle with leaf springs handle the rear loads. But Ford lowered the suspension one inch and then added five spoke chromed alloys that are 9X20 inches. They are shod with P275/45R20 Goodyear Eagle GTII rubber.

Ford didn't stop at the suspension improvements. There is no sound like a Harley Davidson. The sound is so unique that Harley tried to patent it and filed a lawsuit claiming that the sound was their trademark. Last year, Harley even brought out a new Twin Cam 88B engine that is so smooth you can only tells its running by the lumpy, deep rumble. The Ford Harley propulsion system received some tweaking as well. The only engine available is the Triton 5.4L SOHC V-8 which is rated at 260 hp at 4,500 rpm and 350 pounds of torque at 2,500 rpm. But Ford has added a little twist by installing a unique tuned sxhaust system using the SVT Lightning tuned muffler. It is a single inlet, dual outlet with twin 3 1/2 inch slash cut chrome tips. The sound is also unique with a deep V-8 burble.

Ford doesn't claim any more power for the Harley, but I think they are not telling us everything. This thing feels like it wants to fly. Nailing the go pedal from a dead stop will cause the F150 Harley to scramble from 0-60 in 8.02 seconds. I had two runs in the 7.7s, very quick for a nearly 5,000 pound sport truck. The F-150 Harley was also up to the job of passing with 50-70 mph runs of 5.02 seconds on the level and just 7.69 seconds up a steep grade. Throttle response is immediate and the truck feels powerful and athletic. And that's with a very low 3.55 limited slip axle. With 3.73 or 4.10 gears the Harley would run deep into the sevens to 60. But the 3.55 is the right choice for economy and flexibility giving the Harley the ability to run near fifity in first and an easy 80 in second. The sound emitted from the exhaust is sweet, but a 70 mph on the highway, the engine slows to a very relaxed 2,000 rpm with a very muted wonderful murmur. There is nothing like a smooth, great sounding V-8.

Performance does demand a price. Although the EPA rates the F-150 Harley at a very good 15/19 mpg city/highway, my test mileage averaged about 14.5 mpg. It might have had something to do with the inability to refrain from getting into the go pedal. This Harley feels and sounds so good, it becomes like a magic potion and you can't get enough.

But there is more. The lowered suspension and huge wheels and performance tires turns a good handling pickup into a literal sports car. The Ford Harley feels more like the Harley motorcycle. It is without question, the best handling full size truck Ford manufactures. It grooved the twisties of Green Valley Road, Cold Springs Road or any other tight road course with the best sporting sedans. Steering was perfect and the feedback intuitive. Body roll was very well contolled and the moderate understeer very managable. This is such a terrific driver that it could probably out handle a real Harley. But the real Harley is way faster, way more frugal and way fun. But you can't stay dry in the rain and you won't be able to move you buddy's refrigerator.

On Ponderosa Road, the Ford Harley was remarkably tight. The huge wheels were able to remove some of the washboard, but the live axle and lowered suspension was not at it's best in the two bumpy corners. It was controllable but with some axle hop and sidestepping at speeds that were beyond normal. The smoother the road, the better.

On the outside, the Ford Harley gets special treatment as well. The F150 design, which is now in its fifth year, still looks fresh and modern. The soft rounded style has set the trend and other manufacturers have all gone from an angular to a more rounded appearance. Since is has been the best selling motor vehicle for the last several years, the appearance has certainly received public acceptance.. The Harley package adds special badging on the front fenders with the Harley insignia. The grille has a machined billet look with the blue oval in the center and a lower valance is added with fogs and more billet.

Chrome side nerf bars are added below the body on the cabin sides. The pickup box is a styleside (that's Ford's term for step side) and an orange and gray stripe. Even the wheel centers and the bed liner mat have the Harley logo. Topping all this Harley stuff off is the color in the true Henry Ford tradition. You can have it in any color you want as long as it's black. So is the Harley truck.

It is not a small truck. Overall length is 225.5 inches on a wheelbase of 138.5 inches. Width is 79.3 inches. This is a big motor vehicle and being so makes for a turning circle of about 45 feet which is reality is quite tight for such a full size truck. But on the inside of the cab you will be rewarded with expansive room in front and what may be the best leather bucket captain chairs in trucks. They are adorned in soft black, tuck and roll leather with the Harley logo (after all, it is a Harley, if you want it in brown leather, there is another truck I'll tell you about) with six way power for the driver.

The passenger gets the same comfort without the power adjustments. The dash is standard fully instrumented F150 with a speedo and tach flanked by the ancillary gauges left and right in groups of two. The facing is done in a spun metal finish. The center of the dash has a pod containing the sound system and AC controls. The center console is large and finished in leather with the Harley logo. Buy the optional six pack CD player for $210 which is contained in the console..

The door paneling needs special mention for its luxury and softness. Ford should put the softer door panels in every upscale truck.

The rear seat isn't bad for a SuperCab. It is much better than the SuperDuty SuperCab rear seat and it's also done in black leather. Access it through two suicide doors which only can be opened when the front doors are opened. Legroom is adequate for adults and large for children. It is a usable seat for a longer trip, but I'll want to ride shot gun.

Pricing is not cheap but everything is standard except the six pack CD player and the sliding rear window which are a paultry $210 and $1254 respectively. Most Harleys will come equipped with both inexpensive options. The base on the Harley is $32,305 plus $690 for destination. The total is $33,310 with all options.

For 2001, the Ford F150 Harley will be offered in the Super Crew with buckets front and rear. The badging, and trim will remain the same as will the 20 wheels and special exhaust system attached to the 5.4L Triton V-8. It again will be a limited edition. Harrell Motors received one F-150 Harley SuperCab and its gone. When they get the next Harley, don't be sitting on your hands because it is limited and will last about as long as it will take for the hands you sitting on to go into paralysis.

But there is another special F150 coming for the horse set to be called the King Ranch F150. It will have special King Ranch badging and a very special interior done in natural leather that looks like it's a quarter of an inch thick and the hides were purchased from the Circle Y or Tex Tan Saddle Companies. You won't get the 20 inch wheels but you will get lighted running boards, special paint treatment and a full load of what would otherwise be options on other truck with a price based at $30,910 for a 4X2 and $34,365 for the 4X4. It will be a limited production run as well. Good hides are scarce.

Specifications
 
Price                $32,995

Engine
5.4L SOHC V-8        260 hp @ 4,500 rpm
                     350 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm

Transmission
Four speed electronically
controlled automatic

Configuration
Longitudinal front engine,
rear wheel drive

Dimensions
Wheelbase         138.5  inches
Length            225.5  inches
Width             79.3    inches
Height            
Weight            4819 pounds
Fuel Capacity     25     gallons
Tow Capacity      4,500 pounds
Turning Circle    45.92 feet

Performance
0-60              8.02 seconds
50-70             5.02 seconds
50-70 uphill      7.69 seconds   
Top Speed         Without the electronic intervention
                    from a governor, it would run well
                    into the triple digits.
Fuel Economy      EPA rated at 15/19 mpg city/highway.
                    I averaged only 14.5 mpg, but the song
                    of the Sirens (the engine melody) made
                    me do it.  Under a more restrained foot
                    (maybe straight-jacketed) expect 16-17
                    in El Dorado County and near 20 mpg on
                    the highway at legal sspeeds.

 

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