In a cross-promotion without precedent, two iconic companies joined forces to celebrate their place in American folklore. We look back now on the lengthy Ford/Harley-Davidson collaboration that made motoring history with the Harley-Davidson F150.
For 13 model years (2000 to 2012) if you were an ardent fan of both Harley-Davidson and Ford you could buy a Harley-Davidson branded pickup as either an F150 or in later years an F250 or F350. What brought about this union of two and four wheels? One hundred years. Even though the first Harley-Davidson pickup was offered in 2000, both companies were looking forward to 2003 when the two iconic American manufacturers celebrated their respective centenaries.
It was the Year 2000 model—unveiled at the 1999 Sturgis Rally—that was the coolest of the entire run of trucks, if your tastes run to hotrod. That first truck was based on an extended cab, flareside 2WD F150 and it came in any colour you wanted as long as it was black, any size wheels you wanted as long as they were 20-inch, and any interior as long as it was leather.
That the engine was the standard 5.4-litre V8 without the supercharger was the only downside to this truck in comparison to the Harley-Davidson F150s to come. The normally aspirated motor in this truck output a factory-spec 260 horsepower, which is odd considering Ford had positioned the fully loaded H-D F150 as a premium model. Even more bemusing is that Ford already had its F150 Lightning in the lineup and it featured a supercharged 5.4-litre engine capable of delivering a fire-breathing, tire shredding 380 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds torque!
For the following model years 2001-2003, the trucks moved to the four-door SuperCrew body while maintaining the RWD platform. The seating was improved for back seat passengers but the sweet dimensions of the previous truck were lacking. Through those years a couple of options came and went including a different colour choice and a two-tone paint scheme.
The 2003 model had special 100th anniversary badging both inside and outside the vehicle. The most interesting development was the addition of that supercharged SVT model in the 2002 and 2003 trucks with a power jump to 340 hp and 425 foot-pounds torque.
CB founder Len Creed rolled in one afternoon with his brand-new 2003 100th anniversary Harley-Davidson F150 and the glorious sound of its supercharger spooling up when the throttle was stomped almost made up for the lack of the 2000’s flareside cool.
An entirely new F150 was introduced in 2004 so the Harley-Davidson truck became either a F250 or F350 with options that were all over the map: motors, bodies, engine and colours.
It was not until model year 2006 that the trucks reverted to the F150 body and after a year of the normally aspirated 5.4 in 2007 Ford stoked the truck with a new supercharged motor capable of 450 hp and 500 foot-pounds torque. Bringing back the hotrod and the endless burnout, the new motor was mated to a 2WD transmission. The slight glitch in the system was that the Saleen supercharger was a $6,500 option over the base Harley-Davidson F150. Smoking all that rubber was going to cost some money. The supercharged F150 option would last through the 2008 model year.
Over the next couple of years the offerings would range all the way to the F450. The last three years were back to the F150 body and colour options included (if you like this kind of thing) white.
The final motor was a 6.2-litre V8 producing 411 horsepower and 434 foot-pounds torque with which you could tow (if you were so inclined) 7,500 pounds worth of trailer and Harley-Davidsons to Daytona. It is estimated that well over 70,000 Harley-Davidson F150 and other model branded pickup trucks were sold over the duration of this marketing collaboration.
It’s interesting that the very first Year 2000 Harley-Davidson F150 to roll off the assembly line was purchased by Jay Leno. Because he was Jay Leno, he did get a supercharged Lightning version of the motor in his truck. He didn’t drive it much and with around 2,000 miles on the odometer he donated the truck to charity—it was auctioned by Barrett Jackson this past January with the winning bid being $200,000US, well less than half the price of the Vincent Red White Shadow we featured on the cover of the March issue which was also sold at auction. That particular Harley-Davidson Ford F150 truck and 8,000 others sold in 2000 were built right here in Canada.