Anybody interested in trucks knows that Ford’s new F-150 has a new aluminum body on its stout metal frame. And while the aluminum body is a pretty big leap in weight loss, we at MANVIL weren’t satisfied that that was a good thing. How could the number one truck manufacturer in the world change the mix so hugely and make it work with lightweight aluminum?
Due to our close ties with Pete Wilson Stoneworks, we have a pretty good idea of the abuse real work trucks get. And the 2015 F-150 would have some serious shoes to fill for PWS small truck needs. Any rig worth its salt would have to accept the burden of the current rig, a reliable, and remarkably stout 1997 Ford F-250 king-cab long bed. The new truck would have to be comfortable, carry 3/4 of a ton of rock and aggregate, and be able to return for more all day long. And continue to do so flawlessly year after year.
We didn’t doubt that a truck the size of Ford’s F-150 was up to the task, we doubted that an aluminum bed could handle the pressure without displaying some serious wear. So we took Ford up on their ‘You Test Challenge’. We posed that the new Ford F-150 would show significant wear after a day of loading and unloading basalt stones. Ford rose to the challenge in a manner which could only befit the number one manufacturer of pickup trucks in the world. They showed up with a beautiful short bed, quad-cab Lariat XF4, a truck too good looking to call ‘work ready’. I was satisfied that the creampuff they arrived in for the quarry work would be a hulk they’d have to return to Dearborn on a trailer. I was wrong.
And then they upped the ante by making the video an international affair: a la Francaîs!
The test was as unvarnished and brutal an attack on the bed of a truck as I’ve ever seen. Loading with an excavator is not unusual in the stonemasons day at work. Unloading rock from a pickup bed with an excavator is, as I said, “An act of lunacy”.
In the out-takes, which may never air in any form, I explained aloud that if I ever came to a site and saw a man with an excavator planning on unloading my truck I’d tell him “To get the fuck away from my truck and escort him the hell off my site”. From my point of view, the test was an exercise in hamfisted showmanship. On every unload the excavator operator, who knew better, pushed the bucket down on the bed til the suspension hit the the wheel stops, and dragged the rocks out. I watched as he pushed the wall of the bed towards the cab to grab rocks, and stood by thinking of the less than kind words I’d fire off had it been my truck. As I’d compose the vitriol laced sentence in my mind, the bucket would come away from the cab and the bed would simply flex right back as if nothing had happened.
After 51 runs of this same abuse, which represented probably 6 months of Pete Wilson Stonework’s small rock runs, I can say this: The bed held up stunningly well. It was dented in spots, you would be too with some of the 80+ lb. rocks we chose to drop in it, but it was alarmingly resilient. Serious props to whoever makes Ford’s factory spray on bedliner. The dude with the excavator looked hell-bent to scrape that stuff off, and it took every amount of scraping, dragging, gouging and mechanical abuse and stuck around to do its job.
I wasn’t kidding when I said my hat was off to Ford. They abused the hell out of a gorgeous F-150 that might otherwise have lived a sedate life between the mall and the cul de sac. The Lariat finished off the challenge I gave it, shook off the slight abuse, and went up to Alaska for more punishment, still on the “You Test Challenge” roadtrip.
The 2015 Ford F-150, MANVIL approved!