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Behind the Design of the Ford F-250 Super Chief
By: Michael Levine Posted: 01-08-06 06:02 ET
© 2006

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Ford’s design team found inspiration from the power and luxury of the famous “Super Chief” passenger train, that ran the rails between Los Angeles and Chicago during the mid-20th Century, and crafted the Ford F-250 Super Chief Concept pickup in its image as a bold new way to express American luxury. The historical train is so integral to the F-250's form that the pickup was introduced to the media with images of the original Super Chief hurtling across the landscape as a backdrop.

In a twist of automotive irony, however, it was actually General Motors that built and produced the Super Chief locomotives that provide the distinctive profile Ford has adopted in the Super Chief Concept.

Ed Golden, Ford’s Design Director for the Super Chief Concept, told PUTC that, “There was a lot of freedom to think big and bold with this truck. Ford has the strongest brand equity in trucks and (the Super Chief) brings that strength to reality.”

And much of that big and bold design exploration can be found inside the truck, which has warm burled walnut, leather, and aluminum textures that are molded into natural surfaces, inviting chairs, and a precision machined instrument panel.

Two huge LCD televisions drop from the ceiling to provide entertainment to rear passengers who might care to lounge in the Hollywood mogul club chairs. The second row of the cab also features pop-up ottomans to rest weary feet on, and a pleasure dome ceiling with visibility straight to the heavens through coffered glass and wood.

Parking the Super Chief in your garage wouldn’t just add another vehicle to your personal fleet as it would add a first class cigar lounge - complete with a humidor, ash trays, and a glass bottle ready to receive some 29-year old scotch to celebrate that same number of years Ford has spent in the top spot as the best selling pickup in the U.S.A.

Golden emphasized that, “We especially wanted to explore the ceiling for high end interiors in a truck. Even with today’s luxury interiors in our trucks (like the King Ranch) there’s still a pent up demand from out buyers for even more luxury. Tough luxury. And this truck points to where we might go.”

About the only thing missing from Golden’s vision is velvet ropes and a bouncer.

The exterior of the Super Chief sports the new Ford three-bar grille that debuted with the 2006 Ford Fusion sedan and is quickly being extended to new Ford products like the 2007 Ford Edge that also debuted during the Detroit show today.

Could this be the end of nostrils on the front end of Ford trucks?

Golden commented that, “I love the new look of the 3-bar grille. I believe it would make for a strong, fresh look in Ford trucks, but nothing has been decided yet (about this replacing the nostrils).

What does the Super Chief mean for the general design of the next generation Ford Super Duty?

“The Super Chief could have the same impact the Ford Tonka Concept had on the current Super Duty,” said Golden.

And what about Ford’s poor sister brand Lincoln that has suffered the Blackwood and tepidly received Mark LT pickups? “Lincoln still remains a luxury vehicle, but we still haven’t reached the limit of luxury in our Ford trucks,” Golden said.

Golden further defined the target audience for a vehicle like the Super Chief by saying, “The truck is aimed at buyer’s who are self-made successful individuals in business, like in real estate or construction. These are individuals who wouldn’t consider driving a luxury car like a Rolls, but would drive the right luxury pickup. Something like this truck.”

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