As I was filling up the 2006 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150's gas tank while preparing to rack up almost 3,000 miles in four days' time, it occurred to me that the trip might be a little extreme. My dog Bongo and I left late Thursday afternoon right after work. We piled all our gear-consisting mostly of cameras and dog cookies-into the Vivid Black Ford's cab and pointed its headlights north.
Perhaps it might have been a subconscious reaction because I wasn't able to ride to Sturgis this year, or maybe it was the real bad experience I had flying to the All Truck Nationals in Carlisle the week before, who knows. Either way, thanks to the good folks at the Ford Motor Company, I was able to line up a Harley F-150 on a moment's notice, then make a wild banzai run to cover the Goodguys show in Spokane, Washington.
If I had to pick out my all-time favorite new truck, it would have to be a Ford Harley-Davidson. Around four years ago I road-tested the '03 model that commemorated Harley-Davidson's 100th birthday ('03 was also Ford's 100th anniversary in the United States and '04 for Canada) and the '04 model. The '03 and the '04 Harley-F 150 were Super Crews running a slightly detuned version of the supercharged engine, the same year Lightnings were equipped with. Last year, while I was an editor for Primedia's American Motorcycle Group, I tested a Ford Harley-Davidson F-250 with a turbocharged Diesel while pulling a big, heavy enclosed trailer to serve as a chase vehicle for the Hot Bike magazine ride to Sturgis.
The '06 Harley F-150 we drove to Spokane and back in four days was equipped with all-wheel drive and 22-inch wheels. The Ford has a much better ride than my '05 GMC Sierra, plus it stuck like glue over the hundreds of miles we had to drive throughout California, Oregon, and Washington's winding mountain roads.
We took cat naps at most of the rest stops along the way, but there were times I chuckled to myself imagining what some poor drugstore clerk's face might look like if I skidded up and asked for some over-the-counter sleep replacement pills. Thanks to about 10 cans of Starbucks Double-Shots during the trip, there never was any need for No-Doz.
When it comes to custom classic Ford trucks, one of the trends emerging lately is to yank out the small-block Chevrolet engine and return to Ford power with one of Ford's new Mod-Motors. Since the Ford Harley-Davidson is powered by the 5.4-liter Mod-Motor, the 2,700-mile round trip to Spokane provided an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the engine. Ours ran smooth and strong the entire time and delivered up to 18 mpg for most of the trip. Again, it's one of those times when I have to chuckle to myself thinking I should probably include a disclaimer, something along the lines of, "Of course, your gas mileage might be a lot better, because most owners shut the engine off while the vehicle is parked." Come to think about it, this would also be a good time to thank the Goodguys staff manning the gates at the Spokane show. To elaborate, the weather while Bongo and I were in Spokane was in the high 90s, and it was hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell. Dogs aren't allowed into Goodguys shows, but I was able to park the Harley-Ford next to the exhibitor's entrance gate. The staff kept an eye on it while Bongo slept inside with the air conditioning on. So how is the cooling system on those new Ford trucks? I would say pretty damn good. The truck idled all day long in the hot sun with the A/C on, and the temperature needle never moved from normal.
I would also like to thank the guys who told me they thought, "It was pretty cool we drove up in a truck instead of flying in and driving around in a little Japanese rental car for the entire time." If all goes well, when the Goodguys Spokane show arrives next year I will have my '56 Chevy panel running, and I'll be able to spend at least a week on the road instead of just four days. It's not that sleeping in the Harley-Ford was all that bad, it's just that I will be able to pass out lying down just like in a real bed.
Well, I better get going. I have to look into an A/C unit and a good heavy-duty cooling system for my '56 panel. In the meantime, if you want to contact me, I am easily reached on the forums page of our Web site at www.customclassictrucks.com.