Okay, it’s confession time. I’ve got a man-crush on the new Harley-Davidson F150. It’s been three days since we posted about it, and I keep coming back to admire it again.
I feel guilty about it. Let’s face it, ol’ Butch Deadlift isn’t really a truck guy. My friends have their big heavy-duty trucks, and I always shake my head at them. I like my luxury cars, my sports cars, and even some sport-utes. I like compact pickups. The fact that the Ranger is still around, even if it’s been neglected as badly as the Crown Victoria, makes me feel like some things are still right in the world. Toyota, once manufacturer of reliable, simple, compact pickups that were the vehicle of choice of warlords everywhere, has moved their attentions to making large, comfortable, powerful full-size trucks that compete head-to-head with the Domestics. And that’s made me a little sad.
So why, then, am I salivating for the Harley-Davidson F150? It represents virtually everything I don’t like about a vehicle. It’s a full-size truck. It doesn’t get a performance upgrade, merely a cosmetic one. It’s brand prostitution of the highest order.
And yet… it’s beautiful! The 6-bar slat grille looks perfect. The wheels suit the truck perfectly. The touches of chrome, added as “bling”, make the truck stand out. Driving this, you will get noticed.
And yet, you won’t care. It is the interior of this truck that really shines. Ford, in the last few years, has been learning. They watched what happened when Volkswagen spent significant extra time and money upgrading their interiors, and saw that millions of people were willing to overlook mediocre reliability, high maintenance costs and a poor dealer network in North America in favour of a cabin that was a genuinely enjoyable place to spend time. And they saw that the Chrysler 300, despite handsome looks and an excellent set of powertrain options, ended up with low desirability because of piss-poor cabin materials and shoddy ergonomics.
Ford has learned, and spent a lot of time and money designing a cabin that is a pleasant, welcoming place to be, particularly on their higher-end models. And the Harley-Davidson F150 is evidence of that. The colours are excellent, the materials are sumptuous, and the execution is appealing, luxurious, and yet still somehow decidedly masculine. It’s like the automotive equivalent of a crystal brandy decanter, or a high-end sterling-silver shaving set.
Let’s face it. Full-size trucks are designed to occupy a new realm. Purists like myself may not like it, but the times, they is a-changin’. I might look at a thing of beauty like that, and think that it would be totally inappropriate for hauling a few truckloads of logs home for the fireplace, but at the same time I can’t help but appreciate it for what it is: an excellent, well-engineered, comfortable, stylish piece of automotive machinery. It’s proof that maybe, just maybe, Ford really does know what they’re doing.
I want it, and I feel dirty for wanting it.
I think I need a shower.