Long before boring white vans dominated the delivery scene for small businesses across America, transporting goods was done with a whole lot of style. Panel trucks emerged long ago as the delivery vehicle of choice, serving businesses faithfully for decades.
Today, panel trucks are still a great option for businesses, fully capable of delivering goods and serving as a rolling billboard that will turn a whole lot more heads than a plain white van. All you have to do is paint your logo on the side, and presto, instant cool.
This 1949 panel truck is a blank canvas just waiting to be employed by a small business owner somewhere in America. The red and white paint scheme is timeless and classic, as are the moon hubcaps and steel wheels
The drivetrain consists of a modern and reliable 289/C4 automatic, with a few power adders like an Edelbrock carb and intake. Stopping power has been upgraded as well, with front discs replacing the factory drums.
The interior is serviceable, with a tan vinyl bench seat and carpet, classy factory gauges, and the original style wood floor in the back. All it needs is some car parts, catering, or whatever cargo you might need to transport from point a to point b in the back. Because who wants to ride around in a boring old white van anyway?
When was the last time you truly felt alive? Today more than ever, it is perhaps the experiences we have – and the moments when we feel a sense of risk, jeopardy, fear, exhilaration or just sheer joy – that make us truly wide-eyed.
Which brings us to the Focus RS. Britain’s favourite family hatchback. Into which some engineers have dropped a 350bhp, 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine. And yep, it’s bonkers – just thinking about it makes our hearts beat faster. For driving a Focus RS, hard, is not an experience you forget in a hurry.
Ford Focus RS review: Nothing ‘Normal’ here
It begins the moment we get in. The RS feels like a very physical car. We drop onto deeply sculpted Recaro bucket seats. They’re set too high (why can’t Ford get this simple thing right?) but grip hard and tight.
Belt on, we thumb the Ford Power starter and the Ecoboost chunters to life with the exhaust spitting out a small pop to hint at what’s to come. A prod of the drive mode selector, we toggle between Normal, Sport, Race and Drift.
We start in Normal. Having moved off, there’s a physicality about the RS’s controls that leave us in no doubt this is going to be an engaging drive. The clutch is heavy by modern standards; the steering too. It’s no truck, but nor is it the floppy “is it connected?” everyday hatch driving experience.
We set off across the car park and the RS feels like it’s on a leash. Out under the barrier, a prod of the throttle sees the little blue needle in the centre of the tri-gauge dash-top pod arcs across the gauge as the turbo comes to life. It already feels fast.
The very precise gear change – which is positive, but without the machined precision of a Honda – stands out. It’s physical, but without the arm-aching weight qualities of some. It’s a manual, just in case you needed to ask, and it’s a precise thing to use.
The ride feels firm, yet not unyielding. Later, on East Yorkshire’s crumbling B-roads, it refuses to lose its composure. The Focus RS is analogue in a world of increasingly automated, digital machines.
Ford Focus RS review: Sizzling in ‘Sport’
Now we select Sport mode, bury the throttle on a motorway slip and the Focus just digs in and explodes forward, ripping past ponderous, inside lane bumblers. No wheel spin, no drama – thank the standard four-wheel drive – with just the slight, offbeat warble of the 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine.
It sounds more cultured than an four-cylinder has a right to. It remains largely impervious to turbo-lag. The four driven wheels is a Focus RS first – but in some regards a return to the motorsport arms’ historic roots. Remember the Escort and Sierra Cosworth? There’s a red thread linking them to modern Focus RS somewhere in here.
One junction on the motorway is all we need before we roll off, onto meandering, well-sighted and empty B-road driving nirvana. Past the de-restriction sign, down into second gear and pin the throttle… Boom.
We’re not sure we were prepared for what came next: the Focus hurls itself towards the horizon, second gear sees us nearly all the way to the legal limit, and approaching the rev limiter we change gear and an artillery fire of noise erupts from the twin exhausts on the overrun, scattering the local wildlife.
Bumps in the road bring bucking, and that hunting, weaving sensation from the front axle is telegraphed precisely through the steering wheel. It’s not torque steer, just that the car feels so taut it hunts out road cambers and darts this way and that.
It sounds horrible, but by this point we’re smiling, laughing as we grip the steering wheel harder, approach the corner, dipping onto the powerful breaks and then throwing the Focus at it, at a seemingly ludicrous speed, only for it to track obediently round.
Overdo it, and the RS moves into a slight four-wheel drift. Engage the vaunted drift mode and it’ll hang it’s arse out for England, yet keep you out of the undergrowth. Every down change and every up change through the gearbox accompanied by that army of exhaust noise.
This is an adjustable, tactile, egg-you-on sort of car.
Ford Focus RS review: Small gripes and sensibilities
Ten miles down the road we stop to take some photos. And change our underwear. We hear the car tick and ping as it cools.
But upon getting back in we can’t help feel this interior is showing its shortcomings. The Sync touchscreen is difficult to reach in its high-mounted dash position. The list of small gripes runs deep.
But that’s all but forgiven when dipping that throttle again. We turn the Focus around and drive our B-road all over again. And then again.
With a price from £31,000 (hitting £34,342 as tested, including £1,145 of the race style RS Recaro Shell seats and £465 of Sync2 Sat Nav) the Focus RS is a lot of cash for an everyday family car. But, in the same breath, there’s nothing family nor everyday about this hatch.
The Focus RS might look like it’s been driven through a Demon Tweeks catalogue – it even possess an image those of us over 30 will feel just a tad uncomfortable with – but for that one mega drive, and for embarrassing Porsche Caymans and BMW M2s, the Focus RS really is the one.
It’s a car that’s achieved that rare thing: to make us feel truly alive.
Jennifer Shaw, Ford driver assistance electronics supervisor, gave Hard Working Trucks a tour of the 2017 Super Duty camera assist features.
Shaw, a self-described novice at backing up a trailer, makes it look pretty easy as she demonstrates camera modes and assist features that come with Ford’s Trailer Reverse Guidance (TRG) system.
Take note of the auxiliary camera which has been mounted on the rear of the trailer. The camera, which is submersible, comes with a cable that can be ordered in 38-, 48-, and 58-foot lengths.
Shaw also talks about how to install the special reference sticker on a trailer which Ford’s TRG system uses to determine trailer angle relative to the rear of the truck. Additional instructions can be found at Ford’s website, trailerreverseguidance.com.
70’s model F-100s are popular for a variety of reasons. One of which is that they look like they can take a solid punch to the face – a face
that is as square jawed as a Hollywood action movie star. And this 1979 example, with its slightly raked stance, looks ready to fight anything from aliens to waves of Communist antagonists.
The gorgeous red respray is impossible to ignore, and the trim is equally shiny. The debate over aftermarket chrome wheels on old trucks is a heated one, but Torq Thrusts have been cool since before this truck rolled off the assembly line.
Aside from the rolling stock, this F-100 is almost exactly as it came from the factory. The interior has been redone but retains all of its original bits and pieces, minus a modern radio. Motivation is provided by a stock 302 that is begging for some upgrades (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Even if you don’t appreciate the retro cool look of the American wheels, this truck is undoubtedly a beauty, and it can quickly and easily be returned to stock. It even comes with all the original manuals and goodies like the window sticker for those who wish to retain it as a collector’s item. No matter what kind of look floats (or sinks) your proverbial boat, this truck is for you.
Ford and Nissan were both at the Detroit Auto Show where they showed off their Ford F150 Raptor as well as the Nissan Titan Warrior. Both these models looked great on their own but when you start comparing them to each other, you will start to notice how similar these two models actually looked like.
From the overall design of the vehicle to the tires and the even the color. It is hard to believe that they actually both decided on the same design. It could be just a coincidence but many seem to believe that Nissan might be the copycat here.
The Ford F-150 Raptor was fitted with a 3.5 liter turbocharged engine that will be delivering about 450hp and will be mated to a 10-speed auto transmission. The Nissan Titan Warrior, on the other hand, will come with a 5.0 liter Cummins turbodiesel engine that will be mated to a seven-speed auto transmission.
While car makers are scrambling to make cars smarter, even self-sufficient, not all automotive innovations need a drastic change in the car’s systems. And some need not even change the car itself. As part of its “Further with Ford” program, the car maker looked to its own designers and engineers to come with up not just with ideas but also working prototypes to make drivers’ and commuters’ lives easier. Thus, experiments like Carr-E, Phone As Car, and On the Go H2O were born.
Perhaps taking inspiration from Wall-E, the Carr-E is what you’d get if you crossed a Roomba with a hoverboard, but with a design that still looks like a car. The idea for this mode of transportation, because, yes, you actually do ride on it, was to take care of that “last mile”, that stretch between the parking space and the house or building door that no car can drive through. It also functions as a personal baggage cart when you have to carry heavy loads.
Of the three, Phone As Car is probably the one with the least intuitive name, and also the one that is perhaps the hardest to explain. In a nutshell, it provides riders with a connection to a Ford car’s SYNC system without having to pair with it via Bluetooth. Instead, the rider’s smartphone app uses open source protocols to connect with the driver’s smartphone which, in turn, is the one directly connected to SYNC. What happens afterwards is the more interesting part. With the connection, passengers on ride sharing services will be able to control certain parts of the car, like radio and climate. Even more useful when driver and rider don’t speak the same language. Riders can simply type in their message and the text gets translated for the driver.
Last but definitely no the least, On the Go H2O is the most ecological of batch. Addressing the need for water, both for the car’s passengers as well as the world at large, the system converts and purifies the condensation from a car’s A/C system into potable water, envisioned as a way to minimize stops for water or provide water in long treks in remote locations. Maybe just don’t tell the passenger where the water came from.
It reminded me a little of my first successful driver’s test at age 16. Stop a little longer. Wait until the pedestrian completely crosses the intersection. Remember, the instructor could take something valuable away.
This was the opposite of my ride with NASCAR legend Bill Elliott at Road Atlanta back in the 1990’s.
“We follow the speed limit (in this case 25 miles per hour). We drive by the letter of the law,” said Schuyler Cohn, one of two Ford autonomous vehicle engineers who served as my fellow passengers. “We’re going to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, maybe a little longer than most people would.”
Today, Ford has 10 of these vehicles and 20 more are in production, said Randy Visintainer, Ford director of autonomous vehicles. By 2018 Ford employees will be able to use them to get Ford’s sprawling campus.
But Ford has sufficiently refined its small fleet of self-driving Fusion hybrids to allow an international media group to test it on a specific route. The automaker has pledged to deliver a fully autonomous vehicle — no steering wheel, gas or brake pedal — to a ride-sharing service by 2021.
As Ford and other automakers admit, this technology is aimed at a very different pool of customers than those who have bought five generations of Mustangs or placed the earliest order for the GT ultra sportscar.
“Why are we doing this? Consumer attitudes and their priorities regarding vehicles and transportation are changing, ” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. “The world has moved from owning vehicles to owning and sharing them. This is driving us to reconsider our entire business model.”
The self-driving Fusions still have steering wheels, gas and brake pedals. Ford engineer Jakob Hoellerbauer sat behind the wheel and could have taken control if needed.
Still it’s easy to spot them from the outside. They all carry a contraption that looks a little like a bike carrier on the roof. Within that device are mounted four rapidly rotating cylinders about the size of a 20-ounce aluminum soft drink can. Those are the Lidar modules that emit light beams at a staggering speed to capture every detail of the environment within about 100 meters of the vehicle.
That landscape has already been mapped in three dimensions down to a one-centimeter definition of each stop sign, parked car or curb.
Velodyne, the Lidar supplier in which Ford has invested $150 million, is close to releasing the next generation which will make those rotating cylinders smaller and easier to package.
Complementing those spinning cylinders are tiny cameras mounted on bumpers and side mirrors as well as short and long-range radar.
While the technology can “teach” the vehicle to stay within lane lines, stop at traffic lights and stop lights, and detect pedestrians, bicycles and even pets or other animals, it can’t yet recognize the hand waves, head nods and other interpersonal non-verbal communication that drivers use to avoid fender benders at intersections. At least not yet.
Jim McBride, Ford technical leader for autonomous vehicles, said his team also has mapped routes from Ford World Headquarters along I-94 to Metro Airport. That requires programming the vehicle differently.