America loves pick-up trucks. For decades, the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the USA, especially in four-door ‘crew cab’ form.
In a country built by pioneers, the crew cab pick-up makes perfect sense. During the week, it can be a five-seat family car with all the comfort and convenience of a family car, and/or a tough work vehicle. And at the weekend, you can put a jet ski in the load bed and hook a boat up to the towbar for some water-based fun. Or whatever it is that the the idealised, adventurous American family gets up to.
We actually understand this concept in the UK. Crew cab Nissan Navaras and Mitsubishi L200s are an increasingly common sight on our roads for the exact same reasons. Now, by our standards, these are big vehicles – the Mitsubishi is 16 and-a-half feet long. But as is so often the case, the American trucks dwarf ours.
That Ford F-150 is only considered mid-size, yet it’s over 20 feet long and eight feet wide. In British terms, that makes it a lorry. As big as it is though, the F-150 is a long way from being the mack-daddy of American pick-ups. That honour belongs to another Ford, the F-450.
The fact that most F-450s come with a thumping 434bhp, 860lb/ft, 6.7-litre V8 turbo diesel engine gives a bit of a clue as to exactly what it’s about. But other numbers that go with it give a better idea of the sheer scale of the thing. Like the fact it’s 22 feet long. And weighs 3,905kg empty. In the DVLA’s eyes, that makes it a lorry before you’ve even put anything in it.
Of course, carrying stuff is what the Ford F-450 is all about, and the numbers there are positively eye-watering. The load bed is just about big enough to carry an original Mini, for instance, though you can pile at least four in there before you start troubling the 2.4-ton payload limit.
But towing is where the F-450 really comes into its own, as it can, in the right spec, tow over 18 tons. 18 tons! Yet you can still option the cab up to near-Range Rover levels of luxury. Only in America.
Prices for this monster start at an entirely $51,950 (£33,000), but you really want the top-of-the-range Platinum at $69,250 (£44,000). It would surely be uselessly enormous over here, and yet there’s quite a large part of me that wants an F-450. Just to see the look on other people’s faces when they see it coming.