2004 Ford F-150 - Bonneville Speed
Race-Bred, Hot Rod-Inspired
Ford Motor Company asked Brad to design a concept truck based off an '04 F-150 to be showcased on the main turntable in the Blue Oval booth at the 2003 SEMA Show. FoMoCo wanted a performance-based custom with serious hot-rod flair and high-end influence to show the potential of the newly released '04 body style. To start the ball rolling, Brad contacted Kyle Tucker of Detroit Speed and Engineering for a little back up in the planning and fabrication of this project. Kyle helped lay out a course for the suspension buildup. At Detroit Speed, the decision was made to convert the rear suspension over to an independent design. Ford handed over a complete rear axle and suspension from an '03 Lincoln Navigator. Kyle removed the F-150 bed and created the necessary room and mounts on the factory truck frame to accommodate the rearend swap. The Navigator rear suspension rides on airbags, but for a performance build such as this, they are useless. Detroit Speed put together a coilover-style replacement using pieces from Koni. An additional set of adjustable Koni coilover struts is riding under the front of this hauler. To keep body roll to nil, Hotchkis created sway bars specific to this truck's needs. Providing motorvation for this concept is a supercharged 5.4L 32-valve DOHC V-8 pushing its ponies through a Hurst-shifted T-56 six-speed manual bang box. Breathing chores are handled by a factory high-flow intake and Borla exhaust. A Be Cool radiator ensures consistent temps for driveability, and a Fuel Safe fuel cell allows this truck to roll pedal to the metal. Bonspeed 20-inch forged alloys were given to DuPont for a powdercoat called New Penny before being rubberized with BFGoodrich P265/50R20 and P305/50R20 g-Force tires. Backing down from the speeds, this truck is capable of required large binders. Baer stepped up to have them supplied before final road testing.
Back at Bonspeed, the now sport-oriented F-150 could run the part but certainly didn't look it. With nothing available on the market, Eric Pepper and Jon Polo, of Bonspeed, started on molding their canvas into a wind-defying missile. A new lower fascia was first created in clay (see sidebar), and then from a fiberglass mold. Thunderbird '03 driving lights were incorporated into the design to keep with the Ford parts theme. The front grille was modified by removing the crossbars and adding honeycomb mesh inserts. Continuing the wind-cheating theme, the fuel-filler door was moved into the bed, and functional brake ducts for the rear brakes were molded from fiberglass and fit to the lower bed sides. Detroit Speed cut smooth metal panels to fill the inner confines of the bed, and the plastic bedrail caps saw themselves thrown away to be upstaged by fiberglass units. Bonspeed's design group wrote the stock bumper into the final product, but it was flipped, narrowed, reshaped, and smoothed before it was all over. The tailgate was all-together removed, creating a void in that a Pro Drive carbon-fiber wing filled. Derek Lies and Lil' John Buttera made billet ends for the wing. In the center of the bed, another wing was used as a diffuser panel for the truck when it was at speed. Hiding all the intense metalwork is DuPont Black Currant expertly laid down by the amazing crew at L&G Enterprises in San Dimas, California. L&G had to finish the smoothing of all the body restyling and do a complete color change to the concept truck.
The factory interior did not keep up with the high-end aspect of this concept, so it was gutted. Working with Mulholland Brothers Luxury Luggage, located in San Francisco, California, Bonspeed had special luggage made to fit behind the seats. The fact that the interior leather matches the luggage is no coincidence. Mulholland specially dyed the leather to Bonspeed's specs. More than 300 square feet of supple leather was created for this vehicle. Andy Harrison of Bonspeed hand-stitched the entire interior, covering the dash, seats, and door panels in the material. Speaking of seats, those are Recaro's top-of-the-line sport seats fitted with amenities, such as heating and cooling, as well as being infinitely, electrically adjustable. The floor of the standard cab was covered in Mercedes-Benz chocolate-hued wool carpet. Bonspeed's Rick Martin designed the instrument cluster in a gothic theme, and US Speedo laser-cut the design from a sheet of polished copper. This is a hot rod-inspired truck, but unlike most of Brad's cars, it has an enclosed roof and the audio system is actually usable. Eric Pepper center-staged a Sony receiver, an LCD screen, and a DVD player into a faceplate he created. An additional Sony LCD is located in the passenger sunvisor. Diamond Audio crossovers are flush-mounted with the leather in the doors feeding a pair of Diamond Audio 6-1/2-inch separates. The center console was converted to a sub box with a port exiting toward the floor. If you lift the lid on the console, a plexiglass screen makes the dual voice coil Diamond Audio 10-inch sub visible. Two Diamond Audio amps power the system. One amp is located in a vented enclosure under the floor, while the other is mounted vertically on the back wall below the rear window. Metra supplied all of Bonspeed's wiring needs, including a power cable, a speaker cable, RCA lines, battery terminals, a distribution block, and a 60-amp power supply. Dual Optima batteries, wired in succession, ensure consistent power. Business partner and long-time friend of Brad, Michael Anthony of Van Halen, double-checked to make sure that the system rocked before giving it the green light.
With the truck completed and back in Ford's hands, Brad admits he did not get any time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Total time from start to finish was a scant 45 days from delivery from Ford to display at SEMA. Considering the amount of work put in by three different companies, that is amazing. The crews at Bonspeed, Detroit Speed, and L&G Enterprises can sure pat themselves on the back for all their efforts. Once at SEMA, the truck garnered much attention and Ford's execs had a hard time deciding who was going to be the first to drive her. We can't wait to see what Bonspeed delves into next. Special thanks goes to all sponsors involved: Bonspeed Wheels, Detroit Speed & Engineering, Ford, Ford Motorsports, Diamond Audio, Metra, Sony, Optima, Recaro, Hurst, Be Cool, BFGoodrich, Koni, Hotchkis, Fuel Safe, Baer, Borla, Mulholland Brothers, US Speedo, Meguiar's, Pro Drive, DuPont, and last but not least, L&G Enterprises.