Ford Motor Company kicked off its presence at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show at a massive Harley-Davidson dealership just outside of the Windy City in the suburb of Glenview, Illinois. There, Chief Engineer Matt O'Leary gave a brief presentation, reviewing most of what has already been released regarding FoMoCo's latest special edition, the new
Afterward, I had a chance to talk with Ford Design Manager Brad Richards, the guy responsible for the Harley-Davidson line of special edition F-Series trucks. Even though the Harley-Davidson changes to the F-150 are almost entirely color and trim, Richards revealed some interesting details:
- Harley-Davidson head honchos are deeply involved with the project. Ford designers like Richards visit Harley-Davidson's Milwaukee studio at least twice a year to meet with H-D founder Willie G. Davidson and other senior officials. Richards and other bikers on Ford's staff also ride to events like Daytona Bike Week and Sturgis with Harley-Davidson staff to meet with bike enthusiasts and see what trends they may be following.
- The team that has put together fourteen Harley-Davidson F-Series trucks over the last nine years is something of a "skunk works" within Ford. "We've pioneered a few things that have gone on to other F-Series trucks," says Richards. “We can try things out because volumes are lower. Like those 22-inch wheels. Now you can get them on every F-Series."
- The use of aniline leather was also pioneered on Harley-Davidson F-Series trucks. This is a less treated type of cowhide that shows age the way a broken-in leather jacket or favorite pair of shoes might. "It's leather that is not as treated, that is closer to natural -- so the patina changes over time," says Richards. Again, the low volume of these trucks and "skunk works" mentality of the Harley-Davidson/Ford alliance allowed for experimentation with this kind of leather. As a result, aniline leather is also found on Ford's King Ranch line of vehicles as well.
- Some of the more expensive items on the truck are the cloisonne badges found on the seats. Made by hand in a multi-step process (Brad said something like 12 steps of firing and re-firing), no two of these badges are identical. They are handsome though, and add a bit of Native American/wild west feel to the interior. Other tricky bits are aluminum Harley-Davidson bar and shield badges. No way Willie G. would allow Ford to use plastic, says Richards (though I was surprised to hear he didn't demand iron).
- Most Harley-Davidson F-150 owners do not use their trucks to haul or tow their motorcycles. In fact, a substantial number of H-D F150 owners do not even own Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Those that do tow or haul, tend to use the Super-Duty F-250 version.
- Finally, the mind blowing factoid of the night courtesy of Richards: Willie G. went to Art Center College of Design, one of the world’s foremost automotive/transportation design schools. That is a bit like finding out Alice Cooper attended Juilliard, no?
No word on the pricing, volume, or availability of 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F150, but we'd speculate roughly $45,000 (like the previous generation), with availability this spring, and a target of approximately 15,000 units.