Power to the Purple!
Thanks to the midyear availability of an optional supercharger, the 2007 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson goes off to work with 450 horsepower.
No doubt, 450 is a huge number. But what is more remarkable about this newest version of the Harley F-150 is that there are more Harley-Davidson badges plastered in, on, around and near this truck than there are horses under the hood.
An American Tradition Since 1999
Never a model of restraint, the Harley-Davidson edition of the F-150 has been a visual adventure in branding since Ford and Harley began their marketing collaboration in 1999, yet this example of a glorious American tradition sets a new standard for logo-fication.
When this truck arrived at our office, all metallic purple and shiny chrome, we set out to count all of the Harley logos. Let's see: one on the center cap of each polished 22-inch wheel; a badge the size of a dessert plate on each of the front fenders and on the tailgate; and tall chrome letters that spell out "Harley-Davidson" on each side of the cargo box. Once inside, we started counting the tiny logos on the plastic trim of the center stack and door panels. Imagine a Louis Vuitton bag with its "LV" logo spread all over it. But the bag is a Ford pickup truck, the "LV" is a little Harley badge, and the owner, it can safely be assumed, is a different person.
Our logo count got to the triple digits before our eyes glazed over and we gave up and went to eat a sandwich.
This was before we noticed that the frit (the dotted black pattern etched into the edges of many car windshields) was comprised of -- yipes -- tiny little Harley badges instead of dots.
You Seem...Strangely Familiar
If this supercharged version of the Harley-Davidson F-150 looks familiar to you, it's probably because it is in the same getup as the 2007 Harley-Davidson F-150 that went on sale last fall. The new version has the same aerodynamic-style bodywork trim pieces, same 22-inch forged-aluminum wheels, same captain's chairs, same 3.73:1 axle ratio, same four-door configuration and the same choice of black or "Dark Amethyst" paint.
What's new is the optional $6,500 supercharger kit for the SOHC 5.4-liter V8, which includes a pretty high-tech (it's featured in the Shelby GT500) twin-screw supercharger and twin water-to-air intercoolers. The package has been engineered by Saleen, the California company that started out building hopped-up Mustangs, then went racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its midengine S7 sports car and eventually did the assembly of the Ford GT. The bottom line is 450 hp at 5,200 rpm and 500 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.
If 450 hp sounds familiar, it's because this is exactly the same peak output of the 2007 Saleen S331 Supercharged Sport Truck that we drove last month. The Saleen and the Harley both began as the Ford F-150 FX2, a sporting version of Ford's full-size truck, and then went off in directions as different as Milwaukee and Le Mans, France.
Think of the Saleen S331 as a super-sport motorcycle, while the Harley-Davidson is, well, more like a Harley, an American cruiser. The Saleen has been slammed down on Eibach springs and Sachs dampers and serious-as-a-heart-attack, 23-inch forged-aluminum wheels. Its fashion is function. The Harley truck, by comparison, is given to glittering finishes, an accessory catalog of billet-made bits on wheels.
Power to the Purple!
Let us begin by saying that 450 hp is an enormous amount of juice. Yet when bolted into something as big and heavy as a four-door, full-size pickup truck, 450 hp is slightly less enormous. At about 5,500 pounds, the rear-wheel-drive Harley F-150 loads each of these horses with more than 12 pounds of mass. That's about one pound per horse more than a Mustang GT carries. So the Harley is fast, but not, you know, like 450-Freakin'-Horsepower fast.
Figure a run to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. The most recent run-of-the-mill F-150 with a 300-hp 5.4-liter V8 we took to the test track did the deed in 9.2 seconds, so the improvement represented by all this supercharged horsepower is not insubstantial.
Ford also says that the Harley's exhaust system has been "cranked up into a sustained growl," and we suppose that's one way of putting it. A "monotonous drone" is a less generous description. The throttle pedal is something of a toggle switch for the engine audio. Keep your foot out of the throttle and the Harley is commendably quiet. A tiny press turns on the full-force exhaust noise. The tone of the exhaust doesn't really seem to rise and fall with engine speed and instead becomes your familiar and constant companion. It is not an arrangement that's to our taste.
Where You Do Your Riding
The interior is blacker than a Spinal Tap album and, fittingly, upholstered in leather.
It's a pretty big space, suitable for big guys who like to wear leather. The four-door cab has transformed the pickup truck into a device that makes as much sense on weekends as it does during the week, and the Harley F-150 makes a pretty good recreational vehicle thanks to a towing capacity that exceeds 5,000 pounds even before you order up the optional towing package. And since the supercharged V8 has 500 lb-ft of torque on call, this is a Harley that can tow a couple of Harleys to Sturgis or Daytona bike week without breathing hard.
The interior is trimmed with shiny piano-black surfaces, and you can order an optional pod of gauges for the dash that will display supercharger boost and air-intake temperature. It's a pretty stylish place, and it looks neither like an industrial site nor a rental car.
Easy Rider Redux
Of course this Harley-signature truck is really about cruising up and down the highway.
The highway ride is actually very civilized, aside from a certain heavy-footed feel from the weighty 22-inch wheels and tires. The F-150's boxed-in frame delivers enough structural rigidity to make the truck seem impressively solid. It's not exactly a lively piece at 5,500 pounds, and the controls don't communicate more than the occasional whisper of reassurance, yet you can hustle down the road at a pretty impressive rate until the speed limiter shuts you down at 110 mph.
The truth is, a Ford F-150 is more like a Harley-Davidson than you might have realized.
It's So Money
This is the ninth edition of a Ford truck with Harley-Davidson signature, including six F-150s as well as an F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks. There have been some 60,000 Harley trucks built since 1999, a marketing success that has led Ford to build a fistful of F-150 special editions this year, including the Saleen and Funkmaster Flex trucks. There are almost as many specialty F-150s as special-edition Mustangs, a reminder that these two vehicles are essentially the same thing, only in different clothes.
Be aware that the supercharged, rear-wheel-drive 2007 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson is priced at $43,710, which makes it a cool $10,000 to $20,000 less expensive than the Saleen S331, depending on options. You'll find that the Harley, like its stock motorcycle brethren, is not going to be at home on a racetrack in the way the Saleen will be. But, remember, that's why you bought a cruiser and not a sport bike. Besides, it's even harder to count your logos while wearing a helmet.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.