We know it's the middle of summer and you're probably kicking back with a brew and a babe, but we thought we should tell you about some important all-new trucks barreling down the highway, heading right at you.
2009 Ford F-150
When you combine the sales of all Ford F-series vehicles, the team from Dearborn, Michigan, is responsible for the best-selling vehicle on the planet. Nothing like being under a little pressure when it comes to introducing an all-new F-150 then, eh?
Our first impressions are that the 1,000-person crew responsible for the new F-150 did their homework. The new model is better looking and gains features and capabilities, many lifted from last year's all-new Super Duty. Put an '09 F-150 next to an '08 Super Duty and you'll see they share a more squared-off look and a similar face. The F-150, however, sports more refined styling than its bigger brother. Details in the hood, fenders, and on the tailgate show real attention to design, making the F-150 look upscale and tough... as opposed to just tough. We're driving the all-new truck and will deliver our report soon.
2009 Dodge Ram 1500
The Ram is thoroughly redesigned for 2009, and it's about time. It was 2002 the last time Dodge did anything major with its big truck. A more powerful (380hp) and efficient (mileage up 5 percent) Hemi is behind the new grille, and later in the production run there will be a new Cummins light-duty clean diesel for the 1500s. Under the new body, the live rear axle is now suspended with coils instead of traditional leaf springs. This new arrangement improves stability and ride refinement without compromising cargo-hauling capabilities. The interior is all-new, and body styles now include a true crew cab.
In a breakthrough of common sense, Dodge figured out how to use all that wasted space in the rear fenders-and the manufacturer did it better than in GM's feeble attempt in the Avalanche or Escalade EXT. For all you golfers in the Sport Truck audience, the fender bins are large enough to carry a set of clubs. The rest of us will pack them with ice and the beverages of our choice.
2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck
We actually heard about this back in the spring and thought it was an April Fools' Day joke, but Pontiac is serious about marketing a pickup based on its hot new G8 sedan. The G8 is based on the Holden Commodore, a family of rear-wheel-drive vehicles GM builds down in Australia where apparently pickups like these are popular in the outback. The El Camino-style Poncho boasts a 361hp, 6.0-liter V-8. With a payload of approximately 1,300 pounds and 0-to-60 times of about 5.5 seconds, this truck should really haul.
100 Miles Per Gallon: A Pipe Dream?
Progressive Auto Insurance is putting up 10 million dollars in a contest designed to bring the world's best engineers and designers together to build cars that get 100 mpg and are salable. These vehicles must meet certain environmental, safety, and emissions requirements. The Progressive Automotive X Prize competition will feature teams of builders that will take their designs to the road in a cross-country race to be held some time during 2009 or 2010.
Pete Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation reminds us that the original Ford Model T got 25 mpg, so the industry should already be on pace to put 100-mpg automobiles on the road (he must have overlooked the part where the world asked for cars that would go faster than 18 mph).
The Automotive X Prize contest will award prizes in two classes: one for "mainstream" vehicles equipped with four wheels and capable of carrying at least four passengers, and another for "alternative" vehicles that have at least three wheels and room for two passengers.
Go Ahead and Build That '78 Dodge
Govenor C.L. Otter of Idaho signed into law SEMA's H.B. 365 which creates a new definition for replica vehicles. What's cool about this deal is that if you build a replica of a '69 Ford F-100 or a '78 Dodge Ramcharger, the truck only has to meet the safety and emissions standards for the particular model year of the vehicle you're replicating. This means you can swap drivetrains and go big in the horsepower department as long as it's got the O.G. emissions equipment and as long as you live in Idaho. Sweet!
10 mostly worthless facts
1. On '08 Ford Super Duty trucks, the side badges on the front fenders aren't just there to display the engine displacement. They are also functional side vents that dissipate heat from the engine compartment.
2. It's impossible to lick your elbow-unless you are Gene Simmons.
3. The cable cars in San Francisco are our nation's only mobile national monument.
4. There is a rumor circulating the world that Coca-Cola was originally green. Maybe now only on St. Paddy's Day.
5. From 1948 to 1953, the cabs of all Ford F-1 to F-4 models were interchangeable. Significant redesigns subsequently changed all that as Ford's golden anniversary approached.
6. Datsun freaks need to go here: www.forum.ratsun.net.
7. In 1980, if you wanted to add an electric clock to your new Chevy LUV at the dealer, it was gonna run ya 55 bones. But if you wanted an AM/FM radio, that would only set ya back 33 bucks. So in 1980, time cost more than music. Crazy.
8. The term "sideburns" came about thanks to a man with unusual facial hair named Ambrose Burnside.
9. Texting while driving is lame, even though we're guilty of doing it.
10. 75 percent of you will probably try to lick your elbow now, and only 62.5 percent of you know who Gene Simmons is.
The staff speaks and you listen. It's that simple. This month's question is: What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you while wrenchin'?
Mike: A few years ago while grinding on the frame of my Toyota, I lit my T-shirt on fire. The sparks from my Makita angle grinder were hitting me right in the gut. I didn't notice it, and after about five minutes of straight grinding, the sparks burned a perfect 8-inch circle in my shirt and singed off most of the hair on my belly. I smelled like barbecued dog. The hair grew back, but the shirt was toast. Occasionally, I rock that shirt around the shop just for laughs.
CALIN: Well, it wasn't me, but this is one funny story. My dad and his friend Dale were underneath a Chevy dualie swapping out the transmission. Right about the time they were bench-pressing the TH400 back into place and really straining, one of them (who shall remain nameless) farted. Well, that got them both laughing, making it impossible to line up the trans to get the bellhousing bolts in. To make matters worse, once the aroma of the air biscuit hit their noses it was all over: They both scurried out from under the truck muttering things like "Oh my god" and "What did you eat?" Needless to say, the transmission didn't get installed on that try, but once the air cleared everything went as planned.
KEVIN: While cleaning up the engine compartment on my '62 GMC for a tech story in this issue, I stumbled across probably two or three rolls of electrical tape stuck around a wire harness. I was simply removing a dual battery system on my truck when it dawned on me that these wires must have been taped together by someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder. It took at least 20 minutes to unravel the many layers of tape that bound just two wires together. I figure this must have been done a long time ago since I discovered some outdated cloth tape near the center. Nevertheless, it was a ridiculous amount of tape.
ANDY: This story is pretty embarrassing and I hate to admit it, but here goes. I had just picked up my '54 Pontiac and only had it about a month. It's my first old-car project, so I am kind of new to how things work on it. Anyway, I decide I should do a brake system overhaul and get things working properly. First things first, the wheels need to come off, so I jack up the car, bust out the lug-nut wrench, and go to town. I start cranking on the passenger-side wheels and the lug nuts won't budge. I'm pulling like crazy on the socket wrench, and still they won't loosen up. So I squirt some WD-40 on the nut and slip a length of steel pipe over the handle of the wrench for some leverage and keep cranking on the bolt. A half-hour goes by and I'm pissed, sweating, and smell like WD-40. WTF! It's righty-tighty, lefty- loosey, isn't it? Yeah, right. Not on this old car. My neighbor comes over to see what all the yelling is about and says, "Don't you see the 'L' embossed on the end of the stud? It stands for lefthand thread."
Sport Truck Slang Term O' The Month
#143: sano (sa?n-o) adj. A term used to describe quality fabrication, customization, or modification of a sport truck. This slang term became popular in the '80s and describes work that is so clean that it's "sanitary."