Special Coverage

Chicago Auto Show

Ford Motor Co. is confident its ’10 Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup will be a hit, despite the downturn in demand for personal-use pickups.

The truck will be unveiled Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show.

When Ford launched an all-new ’09 F-150 last year, it emphasized the pickup’s best-in-class payload and hauling capacities aimed at commercial-use customers, noting personal-use buyers, or “air-haulers” as they’re sometimes called, largely had left the segment.

But there are still enough personal-use buyers left to ensure the new Harley-Davidson SuperCrew F-150 pickup is a success, says Doug Scott, Ford’s truck marketing manager.

“You have to be careful about black and white, decisions or conclusions you come to when you’re looking at the market,” Scott tells Ward’s. “There is still an image buyer out there. There’s certainly less of them then there were a year ago, but this is a truck that fits that need for that person.”

Ford declines to provide volume projections for the new niche-market truck, which marks the 8th generation of the F-150 Harley-Davidson edition. Some 74,000 units have been sold since 2000.

As soon as the new F-150 launched, Chief Engineer Matt O’Leary began receiving emails and phone calls from customers interested in knowing if there would be a Harley edition.

“So there are people just waiting for this version,” he says.

As with previous iterations, both Ford and Harley designers teamed up to evoke the motorcycle maker’s signature image. The design team also took the pulse of its customer base at numerous Harley-Davidson events throughout the year – including Daytona Bike Week, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Harley-Davidson dealer meetings.

“We talk to everyone we can; we find out what the customer values,” O’Leary says. “We look at what they like, what they want and what they wish they had, and we go from there.”

The truck’s exterior gets a new front fascia and 6-bar billet-style grille, as well as specialized forged aluminum and Harley-Davidson chrome badging, while a new integrated deployable running board gives the vehicle a lowered appearance.

The truck comes shod with 22-in. low-profile performance tires – the largest in the F-Series lineup – and forged wheels with a polished and painted center wheel cap.

The exterior is painted Tuxedo Black, accented with Ford’s first application of Lava, a deep maroon with 3-color metal flake.

Inside the Harley theme is continued, with hand-made cloisonné badges on the seats and console lid, as well as a limited-edition serialization plate.

“These handmade badges continue our theme of premium Harley-Davidson offerings,” says Pat Schiavone, design director. “Probably the only place that most people have seen hand-made cloisonné is on premium Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It’s really high craftsmanship, and people will recognize it as another connection between the two brands.”

The truck’s seats were designed to resemble a Harley biker jacket, with the backs featuring ribbed leather treatments, engraved Harley-Davidson button snaps and map pockets featuring zippers from Harley jackets.

Powering the truck is a 5.4L 3-valve V-8 producing 320 hp and 390 lb.-ft. (529 Nm) of torque and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport-tuned exhaust and a top speed of 115 mph (185 km/h).

It comes available in either 2- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

The HD F-150 goes on sale this fall. It will be made at the Dearborn, MI, truck plant, which built the first pre-production model last Friday. Pricing has not been announced.