We've got a brand-new commander in chief and the financial world teeters on the brink of disaster, but we just don't care because there are new trucks to think about. Ford captures our attention this month its just-released 2009 F-150, which we'll review in the next issue.
Somebody hand me a spatula...
What if you could drive a truck powered by the same fuel that lets you grill bratwursts outside? Great, because Detroit's Roush Industries can make it happen. The magic fuel is liquid propane (which is actually a waste by-product of refining gasoline and natural gas), and it can power almost any 2007-2008 Ford F-150 with a 5.4-liter Triton V-8.
Roush loaned us a converted Super Crew XLT for a few days, and we came away mighty impressed with how normally the truck ran. The conversion focuses on the fuel system and it begins with storage. Roush offers two fuel tank sizes: a bagel-shaped 25-gallon holding cell that occupies the same location as the truck's discarded gasoline tank, and a larger 59-gallon drum-type that fits in the bed (according to Roush, most customers go for the larger tank because of its 500-plus-mile range.) Forward of the tank, Roush replaces everything fuel-related including billet fuel rails, which carries the propane in liquid state to custom injectors. Roush engineers also reprogrammed the F-150's engine control module. The resulting output matches the gasoline-fired F-150 at 300 hp and 365 lb-ft torque.
Driving the Roush-modified F-150, there's nothing to tip you off that you're driving a propane-powered truck except how it starts. When you key the ignition, except for the gauges and radio coming to life, nothing happens. If it's cold out, the fuel system takes up to 10 seconds to pressurize itself. Then, once it's darn good and ready, the starter motor magically engages and the truck fires. On warmer days, or after when the engine is at operating temperature, the starting sequence requires less than three seconds.
On the road, the LP truck drives just like the F-150s we've come to know and love. Wide-open throttle lays two patches of rubber. Initial concerns about carrying 59 gallons of fuel above the axles quickly evaporated. The Super Crew is designed to carry more than 1,700 pounds of payload, so a full 59-gallon, 250-pound load of LP doesn't begin to stress out the Ford.
If you manage a fleet, contact Roush because its $10,500 conversion will save you money in the long run once you factor in the Federal Tax Credit and calculate your savings on fuel (LP costs about 75 percent of what gasoline usually runs). More information is available at www.propanetrucks.com.
2009 Ford F-150 SFE
Gets 21 MPG Highway!
Even before it officially let the media drive its all-new F-150, Ford announced a Superior Fuel Economy model that delivers up to 21 highway mpg with 7,500 pounds of towing capacity. This model takes on the new GM trucks with the XFE badges we told you about last month.
Ford creates the SFE model by carefully combining engines, gearboxes, and tires. The SFE is a two-wheel-drive featuring a Super Crew cab and the short box (5.5 feet) powered by the three-valve 4.6-liter V-8/six-speed automatic transmission. To this lightweight combination, Ford adds a tall 3.15:1 rear axle and low-rolling-resistance P265/60R18 tires. Overall, the '09 F-150 is significantly more aerodynamic (6-percent) than the outgoing model, so these improvements combine to deliver a relatively fuel-efficient fullsize truck with fullsize capabilities. The SFE is a no-cost option on XLT trim levels but will set you back and extra grand on XLs.
Banks Sets Another Record
The Banks Sidewinder S-10 diesel drag truck ripped off a spectacular 7.87-second e.t. at 175.45 mph at the National Hot Rod Diesel Association's "Desert Diesel Truck Nationals" at Speedworld Dragstrip in Wittmann, Arizona. Driven by drag racing veteran Wes Anderson, the S-10 diesel pickup's record-setting run was made with "tire smoke only," exemplifying Banks' unique CleanTune technology. The following week, the team was already back at the race shop continuing their work on a new, Spitzer-chassis, 276-inch-wheelbase, all-out rear-engine dragster, which will be seen for the first time at this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And yeah, this new machine is a Duramax too!
A New Racetrack!
Palm Beach International Raceway partners, Scott Revell, Ron Dixon, and Keith Wilson, announced their substantial stake in a partnership, which has transformed the newly renovated Palm Beach International Raceway.
Revell commented, "With our combined experience, we are working with our new partners, Joe Lubeck and J.C. Solomon, toward completing the facility in its entirety over the next 12 months. The results will yield one of the finest motorsport parks in North America, with Palm Beach, Florida, as a destination.
"The road course and drag strip are now completed," continued Revell, "and testing at the tracks will commence in four weeks."
Partner Ron Dixon and father of current Indy 500 winner and twice IRL champion Scott Dixon, said, "I've never seen a better road course surface than this, and we are soon to announce its FIA certification."
Concerning the future of the drag strip, PBIR is currently in discussions with NHRA's Tom Compton, Graham Light, and senior vice president Gary Darcy with PBIR's drag strip track master, the legendary George Case.