Inside, designers have taken the Super Chief in a less-obvious direction. "The Super Chief pays tribute to the bold optimism that's part of the American character," says Peter Horbury, executive director of design, Ford North America. "We've taken upscale appointments and translated them to a truck in a way that's distinctly American." The roomy interior--accomplished by removing almost two feet from the eight-foot bed and extending the cab--is paneled in American walnut, brushed aluminum, and brown leather. As if that weren't enough, the entire roof is glass with wood and leather slats, just like that of an old observation rail car. Viewed from above, the cab's flooring is identical with that in the bed--the cab floor appears to continue through to the truck box. The seats are more like lounges, rather than German-dentist-chair chic.

Outside, the Super Chief echoes aeronautical cues from the likes of a P-51 Mustang, nautical styling from elegant boats like Chris-Craft motor yachts, and its namesake, the Santa Fe Railway's Super Chief train engine.

How much of this radical design will make it into the next F-250? Our guess is very little, but the powertrain technology may be something we see sooner rather than later. If anything points in a clear direction, it'll be the interiors. Plenty of truck buyers want more luxurious interiors and amenities, and that isn't lost on truck builders. Whatever fuel prices do, or however fickle buyers' tastes evolve, there will always be people who need to tow, haul, and work. And they'll want choices. Look for more from Ford in the future as the next Super Dutys show up near the end of this year.