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First Drive: 2018 Shelby F-150

Lightning Strikes a Third Time?

G. R. Whale
Mar 19, 2019
Photographers: Courtesy of Shelby American
Ford offers quick 3.5L EcoBoost-powered pickup choices for both pavement (the Limited) and off-road (the Raptor). But for those bent on more power, more exclusivity, giggles galore, a genuine V-8, or all of the above, Shelby American answers the call with a 755hp monster. For those new to the sport-truck party, that’s essentially twice the output of Ford’s last supercharged sport truck.
The Shelby F-150 begins as a well-equipped Platinum SuperCrew with 3.73:1 axle ratio and a locking rear differential. It’s highly optioned as well, including the panoramic glass roof. Cosmetic changes include unique upholstery and badges, perhaps 30 pounds of paint and wallpaper, a bed cover to keep the carpeted liner dry, and step bars. Brake caliper covers are curiously red rather than some shade of Shelby blue, all the grilles are honeycomb, and the hood has functional air inlets to feed the sealed airbox, supplementing the factory cold-air ducting.
Photo 2/16   |   First Drive 2018 Shelby F 150 Rear 3q
BDS supplies the 4-inch lift and rear-axle radius rods—all matched to Shelby-proprietary tunable Fox shocks to customize the ride for comfortable cruising or higher-speed dune bashing. The truck rides on 20-inch Shelby wheels, a change up from earlier versions’ 18s, and BFGoodrich 35-inch KO2 All-Terrain tires with a 106-mph speed rating—we know you’ll never drive that fast, but considering how fast you can get there…
Photo 3/16   |   First Drive 2018 Shelby F 150
Exhaust is Borla-built to Shelby spec, while the brakes, spare tire, and transmission internals remain factory standard.
Spring for the option, and the Ford 5.0L V-8 gets a Whipple-based supercharger—properly coated in blue, of course. The package adds a charge air cooler, bigger fuel injectors, billet throttle-body, custom intake ducting, and Shelby electronics to run it all. It’s fully emission-compliant, though in some states you’ll have to buy the truck first, then have Shelby install the supercharger system.
Photo 4/16   |   First Drive 2018 Shelby F 150 Engine
So equipped, the engine delivers 755 hp at 6,600 rpm and 640 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm (on 91-octane pump fuel). Shelby claims a curb weight of 5,500 pounds, 100 pounds less than a factory Limited SuperCrew V-6 and 360 less than a Raptor SuperCab. Either way, it has a power-to-weight ratio superior to any factory and most tuner pickups.
In the world of tuner trucks, we’ve encountered dash lights glowing and blinking, tires rubbing, groaning or clunking suspension, small fluid leaks, and smoking brakes. However, the only issue here was a tire pressure warning light because it hadn’t been set. We were more concerned with tires than brakes, but you’d need a summer Montana highway, desert wash, or lots of open dune space to really tax them.
Mat the gas pedal on a 7 percent incline, and it spins the rear tires well into Third gear. Use four-wheel drive and there’s less spin, but torque steer wants to wiggle the steering wheel. Passing performance is such that you could likely tow a mid-weight race car and get around things like a stock F-150 does empty.
Photo 5/16   |   First Drive 2018 Shelby F 150 Interior
Despite the extra height, it rides and handles quite well; the damping rates are ideally dialed in. It might not be suited to flight as well as a Raptor, but it pitches and rolls less, and it’s right at home on a winding road. If you don’t need altitude or four-wheel drive, Shelby makes a street truck, too, but that wouldn’t have the in-your-face presence this one does.
You will debate whether $107,000 is too much for a pickup. But look what people spend to be seen in cars, adding in the limited production (500 units) and the option to pull a Hellcat off the line, and maybe the price becomes a bit less silly.
Photo 6/16   |   First Drive 2018 Shelby F 150 Emblem

2018 Shelby F-150

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, fullsize pickup
Base price: $88,595
Price as tested: $107,000
Engine: Supercharged 5.0L V-8
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Horsepower: 755 @ 6,600 rpm
Torque: 640 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Curb weight: 5,500 pounds
Towing capacity: 10,900 pounds
EPA mileage rating: NA

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