The Ford truck team sat down with hot rod celebrity Chip Foose last year at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) convention in Las Vegas - the heart of the red-hot $34 billion auto aftermarket industry - and issued a daunting challenge:
"We asked Chip Foose to design a tough, muscular street rod based on the Ford F-150 FX2 Sport pickup that will knock the socks off even the most hard-core boulevard cruiser fan," says Ben Poore, Ford Truck group marketing manager. "And let's make it available in less than a year before the 2007 SEMA show."
Less than five months later, Ford and Foose are revealing the low-slung, production-intent Ford F-150 Foose Edition show truck, a precursor to the truck that will bow in the fall of 2007 as the most powerful and fastest half-ton production truck on the planet.
But right at that table, the seven-time winner of "America's Most Beautiful Roadster Award" waved his wand - in his case a No. 2 pencil - and sketched out a conceptual offshoot of America's favorite pick-up that looked like a true boulevard cruiser with design elements that visually lower the truck.
Hot rod magic
It started where the Ford F-150 Foose Edition meets the road, the big 22-inch original wheels that fill the wheel wells with larger flares, causing the pickup to look lower. Foose also designed and fabricated a custom rocker panel that enhances the lowered look even though the truck was only slightly lowered.
"How the vehicle sits and how the wheels are proportioned to the body is the first essence to give it the illusion of something lower than it is," says Foose.
Wide, bold racing stripes further accentuate the planted stance. They start at the leading edge of the hood, helping to flatten it out. The striping thins out, stretches down over the front fenders, and runs the length of the vehicle above the door handles and across the tailgate for a streamlined look from the side. Then it widens again at the tailgate for an exclamation mark.
Foose also has replaced the Ford F-150 FX2 Sport's dark billet grille and bumper opening with a new grille design with horizontal bars that makes the frame look shorter. Then, he has surrounded the design with lower rocker moldings that seemingly further drop the pickup.
The process was easier than it sounds, Foose says, because he had a great canvas - the Ford F-150 - to work with. It was also a labor of love. Chip Foose's personal primary ride is a souped-up 2005 Ford F-150 Lariat.
Ford engineers then took over by first creating computer renderings of Foose's sketches. "Chip sketches on paper; he doesn't like to use computers," says Karen Gietzen-Stewart, business strategy manager, Ford Advanced Product Creation.
The Ford truck team analyzed these renderings to ensure the Ford F-150's tough images was maintained. A concept truck was built and then, in early 2007, Foose flew to Detroit where he made final finishing adjustments to the design.
Foose touches are carried into the interior, with Chip Foose signature headrests and floor mats. A unique, leather-wrapped center console features a Foose-designed serialization plate with vehicle identification number (VIN) and build-sequence numbers mounted on the ashtray door.
To match its muscular look, the Ford F-150 Foose Edition is the most powerful and fastest half-ton truck on the market. The intercooled, supercharged Triton® V-8 pumps out 450 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 500 pounds-foot of torque at 4,000 rpm.
"The Ford F-150 Foose Edition is the fastest truck period," says Matt O'Leary, Ford F-150 chief engineer. "And it's the only performance vehicle to offer the flexibility of the pickup bed."
Ford F-150 leads huge customization industry
The Ford F-150 was named the "most accessory friendly pick-up" by SEMA, the trade group that keeps tabs on the aftermarket - an industry that has grown eight to 10 percent the past 10 years. Customers also prefer the Ford F-150 for personalization as they currently spend nearly $1,700 each to customize it - more than double the rate in 2004 and more than any other competitive truck.
"The Ford F-150 lends itself to accenting because it's so recognizable as America's favorite pickup. It's already widely accepted because it comes in the most varieties and customers spend more on it than any other truck to personalize it even further," says Foose. "And it's clean, too. That's why I drive an F-150 - it's great looking, powerful and yet very minimalist in its design."
Ford's overall customization business grew 50 percent in 2006, far outpacing all other automakers, and is expected to double by 2008. This growth has been driven by full factory-customized vehicles - such as the Harley-Davidson™ and FX2 Sport F-150 model - versus individual parts sales.
"This is really a fashion industry," says SEMA's Peter MacGillivray. "Consumers want to put their personal stamps on everything they buy - from personalized rings to build-a-teddy-bear - and everybody knows that 'you are what you drive.' The Foose Edition is a fantastic collaboration between Chip Foose and Ford.
"It's a vehicle that will be embraced by all kinds of buyers - not just the hard-core enthusiast who really knows the Ford F-150's heritage and Chip's track record, but also people who are just into cool cars and trucks. Couple that with Chip's celebrity and broad appeal - there are millions of excited consumers from his TV show - and I think Ford's got a real winner here."
The Ford F-150 already offers the most models and configurations - five series and 60 major variations - of any half-ton truck. Ford also continues its long-time truck heritage of building specialized models to appeal to the growing number of niche customers. Poore says the F-150 has led the trend of pickups going mainstream.
"Chip Foose is similarly reaching beyond traditional automotive audiences and will help Ford trucks reach an even broader audience with the 2008 Ford F-150 Foose Edition," says Poore.
The 2008 Ford F-150 Foose Edition will begin life as an FX2 Sport model from the Kansas City Assembly Plant. The unique Foose elements will be customized at a modification center before being shipped to Ford dealers. The truck will go on sale by early 2008.
Foose's quick ascent
Ask his fellow auto designers and fans - from J Mays to Jay Leno - about Chip Foose's artistic style and you'll hear the words "clean" and "minimal styling" a lot.
"It's sweet and juicy, pared down and minimal, but it pops with that quintessential Southern California hot-rod flavor," says Mays, Ford Motor Company Group Vice President, Design, and Chief Creative Officer. Chip Foose, the driving force behind Foose Design, based in Huntington Beach, California. His legacy began at the age of seven when Chip began helping out his father, Sam Foose, himself a hot rod legend, at his project design firm. By age 12, Chip had painted his first car.
But it was a chance meeting with famed Tucker and former Ford Motor Company designer Alex Tremulus that inspired Chip to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, from which he graduated with honors in 1990.
Working for several designers and fabricators in the 1990s, Foose was instrumental in designing and building signature street rods, customs, studio vehicles and show cars for such films as Blade Runner, Robo Cop and Gone in 60 Seconds.
In November 1990, Chip began his association with legendary customizer Boyd Coddington at Hot Rods by Boyd, where he was responsible for many internationally known vehicles, including Roadster, Sportstar, the Boydster I and II and Boyd Air.
In 1998, Chip left to form Foose Design with his wife, Lynne. His career includes numerous industry honors, including being the youngest member ever inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame (at age 33) in 1997.
In 2002, Foose went mainstream when he was featured on the Discovery Channel's "Rides" documentary that aired repeatedly on The Learning Channel in early 2003. The show featured many of Chip's award-winning vehicles and allowed viewers to watch him conceptualize and re-design a 2002 Ford Thunderbird called "Speedbird" that debuted at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and received Ford's "Best of Show" award. Today, Chip and his Foose Design crew star in the popular series "Overhaulin'" that airs on The Learning Channel and has captured the imagination of not only automotive fans, but the general public, because of its humor and humanity. The premise is to "steal" a wreck from an unsuspecting owner and then return it as a completely tricked-out Dream Car.
Leaders of the trade
Ford F-Series trucks recently marked 30 years as the best selling truck in America and 25 years as the best selling vehicle in America. 2007 also marks the introduction of the new 2008 F-Series Super Duty with Ford's newest, most capable truck arriving at dealerships now.
Powertrain 5.4-liter Triton V-8, intercooled and supercharged
Iron block, aluminum cylinder heads
450 hp @ 5,200 rpm, 500 lbs.-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Four-speed automatic transmission
Wheelbase: 138.5 in.
Length: 224.0 in.
Height: 70.5 / 73.5
Track (f/r): 67.0 / 67.0 in.
Front tuning: Eibach coil springs, Sachs dampers, jounce bumper
Rear tuning: Eibach leaf springs, Sachs dampers, jounce bumper
Wheels/tires: 22-inch forged, polished Foose wheels and P275/45R22 Pirelli tires
Ford Racing exhaust system
Foose designed and fabricated wheel flares, lower side and front rocker moldings
Unique front fender badges
Foose-designed stripe package
Foose-designed upper and lower grilles
Embroidered headrests with Chip Foose autograph
"Foose" embroidered floormats
Unique, leather-wrapped center console with personalized build sequence badge
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