2015 Ford F150 Uses Aluminum Body Panels


In an effort to wring more fuel efficiency out of the F150, the 2015 model from Ford will use aluminum body panels on top of a high-strength (yet lighter) steel frame. The move has shaved 700 lbs from the truck’s curb weight, but it has had its detractors along the way, as people still tend to think of aluminum as beer-can material. Ford did their homework, however.

It turns out that Ford has been testing all-aluminum F-series trucks since 2009, running them in torture tests like the Baja 1,000 and not finding any body cracks or defects at the end. The company has also taken 2014 models, fitted them with aluminum, sent them to fleet buyers and tracked the results; even with extreme usage (like dropping an oilfield drill bit into the bed), the aluminum body panels held up as well as or better than steel.

While aluminum is more e ...[more]

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TBT: 1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi


Something about the mid-size B-body Dodge/Plymouth cars has always held an appeal; their no-frills appearance called to mind a muscle car version of a highway patrol car. In ’68, Plymouth already had the GTX , based on the Satellite two-door, but they felt the need for a stripped-down counterpart to the more upscale GTX. Their goal: a car that could run a 14-second quarter mile and sell for under $3000.

Chrysler paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers for the name and likeness of Wile E. Coyote’s nemesis the Road Runner (as well as $10,000 to engineer a “beep beep” horn), and the Road Runner was born. The no-frills Road Runner had a plain-jane cloth-and-vinyl bench seat  and rubber floor mats; its base engine was the 335-hp 383 V8. For an extra $714, you could get the Road Runner with the 425-hp ...[more]

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Today in History: Ford's First Order


Henry Ford wasn’t the first out of the gate with automobiles and the internal-combustion engine – Daimler had a jump on that in the late 19th century – but Ford was definitely the first to see the potential of mass production, mass marketing, and the economy of scale that could make cars affordable for the middle class.

On July 15, 1903, Ford Motor Company took its first order, for an $850 two-cylinder Model A with a “tonneau,” or back seat. Manufactured at Ford’s early Mack Street plant in Detroit, the car was delivered to its new owner, a Chicago dentist, about a week later.

Ford had been working as chief engineer at Detroit’s Edison Illuminating Company plant when he designed and built his first car, the Quadricycle, in 1896. By 1903, he had lined up the investors and financing to fo ...[more]

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