The Four-Wheeled Harley: A Brief History of Ford's Harley-Davidson F-Series Trucks
The F-Series truck and Harley-Davidson go together like Ford and EcoBoost technology. Before August 10, 1999, we might not have expected one of Ford's most iconic F-Series models to originate from a partnership with motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson. It was on that date that Ford unveiled the 2000 Harley-Davidson F-150 at -- where else -- South Dakota's Sturgis Rally & Races.
Ford's Harley-Davidson trucks are bolder and meaner than other F-Series pickups. Perhaps what's been key in distinguishing the Harley-Davidson trucks from other limited-edition trucks is Ford's willingness to include details you can't find anywhere else -- and we're not just talking about leather seats with special badges.
With the 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150 and its 6.2-liter V-8, some might say the special-edition truck has never been more desirable. Then again, with the F-150 model carrying a starting price of nearly $50,000, the Harley-Davidson edition is more expensive than every other 2011 F-150 including the SVT Raptor, King Ranch, and Platinum.
Ford's Harley-Davidson F-Series trucks have serious attitude. Read on to discover how the Harley-Davidson F-Series trucks have changed since the 2000 model debuted in Sturgis back in August 1999.
The first product of the Ford/Harley-Davidson partnership was the 2000 Harley-Davidson pickup, a rear-drive edition with a 260-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 engine. Ford's first 20-inch wheels on a production vehicle were offered on this model. The automaker borrowed the muffler from the SVT Lightning, with dual chrome 3.5-inch "slash cut" exhaust tips. We saw the SVT influence again with the 1.0-inch suspension drop and SVT Lightning shocks. Ebony black leather seats were complemented by a spun-metal look in the instrument cluster and a dash ornament plus chrome steering column stalks, an accessory pouch with a saddlebag-like clasp on the center console, and badges on the seatbacks. The SuperCab truck had a hard shell tonneau cover and three options: a six-disc CD changer, sliding rear window, and an engine block heater. Back in 2000, the starting price was $32,995.
Just like the second model year of the new SVT Raptor truck, Ford added a Harley-Davidson truck with four full-size doors for its second model year. Ford dubbed the special-edition 2001 F-150 SuperCrew "the world's only four-door Harley." Orange and gray pinstriping and those chrome 20-inch wheels kept curb appeal high whether you choose the SuperCab or SuperCrew body style.
We got our hands on a four-passenger Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCrew for the 2002 model year. A charcoal-gray paint finish was new, as was performance. A detuned version of the supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 in the Lightning model had 40 horsepower less than the Lightning but 80 horsepower more than an F-150 with the basic 5.4-liter V-8.
"A bad-boy, leather-and-chrome persona is a big part of the Harley-Davidson lifestyle," we wrote in a First Drive and Road Test story. "The limited-edition H-D SuperCrew represents yet another way to get into it, without pesky altercations with law enforcement or visits to a tattoo parlor."
Truck Trend tests revealed the 2002 Harley-Davidson model sprinted from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, a full 3.1 seconds faster than an F-150 FX4 four-wheel-drive model we tested that year, but also a second slower than the Lightning model. The 2002 Harley-Davidson truck completed the quarter mile in 14.6 seconds at 94.7 mph and came to a halt from 60 mph in 126 feet.
We entered a 2003 Harley-Davidson F-150 in a comparison test against a Silverado SS and Ram 1500 SLT. The Harley-Davidson model immediately made an impression.
"Some may say this is a truck with an identity crisis -- there are more Harley-Davidson badges and logos affixed to it (even a few thousand in the tape stripe) than Ford plates," we wrote in the comparison test. "The Harley's silver-and-black two-tone paint scheme draws attention, as does the standard-issue 20-inch chrome wheels and bright tubular grille. If the Harley-isms are too much for you, just shave off the logos, and you'd swear it's a Boyd Coddington creation."
Overall, we thought Ford may have taken the Harley-Davidson theme too far on the truck even though both companies celebrated their 100th anniversaries in 2003. With a 6.0-second 0-60 mph time and $38,240 as-tested price, the Ford truck offered the best mix of performance and interior polish.
The 2004 model year was a big one for Ford and the Harley-Davidson series - literally. The news for 2004 was the introduction of the Harley-Davidson F-Series Super Duty model, a logical extension of a Ford truck sub-brand that had sold nearly 40,000 units from the original truck's debut until the announcement of the Super Duty model in February 2004.
A majority of the four-wheel-drive Harley-Davidson Super Duty trucks had a 6.0-liter diesel engine under the long hood. A choice of Black/Competition Orange or Black/Dark Shadow Gray two-tone paint combinations was offered in addition to the black monotone style. As you'd expect, you couldn't go far without seeing a special badge inside and out. Another Harley-Davidson Ford truck trademark -- the four captain's chairs -- was offered on the Super Duty along with a traditional rear bench seat.
When the 2004 Harley-Davidson Super Duty was compared against a 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab SLT and 2004 GMC Sierra HD Crew Cab, the diesel-powered Ford accelerated 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds on to a 16.2-second quarter mile at 84.0 mph. The Ford was the victor in that comparison test, though Truck Trend editors weren't enthralled with any of the three trucks. We said the Ford had a quiet interior and prodigious power but numb steering feel and awkwardly supersized dimensions. In 2004, the price as tested was $48,825.
The following year, Ford provided a flame paint option with black and red or blue on blue. Interior improvements were also included but the real news came in 2006, when Ford offered Harley-Davidson editions on the F-150 and Super Duty trucks. The F-150 edition was the first model on the new body style.
When the original 2000 truck was revealed, 20-inch chrome wheels were considered huge but the 2006 truck moved things forward with 22-inch polished forged-aluminum wheels (20-inchers made it onto the Super Duty model). Chrome accents, a red stripe outlined in blue, and a unique front fascia added to the appeal on the outside. Once the driver stepped inside, piano-black trim as well as chrome interior trim and a serialized nickel plate with the vehicle's production date and number made it no ordinary F-150 on the inside. With a tuned exhaust system, the 5.4-liter V-8 produced 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Rear- and all-wheel drive were available.
Not much changed for the 2007 model year, when a Dark Amethyst color was introduced along with the four-door Super Crew model. By 2008, though, the performance figures of the standard 5.4-liter V-8 were beginning to feel dated. To fix this, Ford finally added a higher-priced supercharged version, upping power to 450 horses and torque to 500 pound-feet. The 0-60-mph time of 7.0 seconds still fell behind the supercharged SuperCab model we clocked in 2003, but the 2008 model was a SuperCrew. A stripe in a Dusted Copper color - the color found on Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary Edition bikes -- was optional.
We loved the supercharger on the 2008 truck, but were disappointed with Ford's decision to stick with a four-speed automatic transmission. On the next-generation F-150, Ford began to use a six-speed automatic, though the 2010 Harley-Davidson model still featured a non-supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 making 320 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque.
At last, in the 2011 model year, Ford is using a more powerful V-8 engine standard. You've seen the 6.2-liter V-8 in the SVT Raptor trucks making 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is up significantly, to 9300 pounds. Wealthy Ford truck buyers are now faced with a number of upscale F-150 options but, for some, the Harley-Davidson edition trucks remain the only trucks worth considering.
2012 was the last official model year for the Harley-Davidson edition F-150. Ford quietly phased out the Harley edition after 2012 to put greater focus on its new in-house premium brands, the Limited and Platinum. New on the 2012 model were snakeskin leather interior accents, and a revised bodyside graphic. The 22-inch alloy wheels got a new design, and White Platinum Tri-Coat became a new exterior color. As with the 2011 model, the 6.2-liter 411-hp V-8 was the sole engine choice for the truck.