It's not often we have a bad week here at PickupTrucks.com. In fact, more often than not, we can't believe we're getting paid to do what we do. Last week, though, was something special. It started out pretty strong with the media introduction of a Ford F-150 Tremor piloted by NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski and things just got better from there. Here are some of the highlights from our time in and around Detroit.
2014 Ford F-150 Tremor
Being in the passenger seat as Keselowski rung out a 2014 F-150 Tremor at the Michigan International Speedway provided some exciting moments. It didn't take him long to figure out where the apexes were in each corner or how close he could get to the concrete wall, but when he did, he was able to hit those points over and over, all the while having a comfortable conversation. The Tremor looks well done, but let's be realistic here; this will be a low-volume player and will not become "the next Raptor."
Stopping by the Lingenfelter Performance Engineering headquarters allowed us to drive a pair of 2013 Chevrolet Silverados outfitted with the company's newest pickup truck performance parts, but the real thrill of the day was touring the on-site museum with one of the local Corvette club members. Ken Lingenfelter only opens up his private collection for friends and clubs looking to raise money for charities. One of our favorite vehicles in his collection was the 1955 Chevrolet E-Rod that showed up at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show several years ago; it has an eco-green theme (the 5.3-liter V-8 runs on E85) with a TrailBlazer SS sport-tuned platform sitting underneath. Gorgeous.
Classic Trucks On Parade
By far the best thing that happened all week was finally attending the Woodward Dream Cruise. It is definitely difficult to describe. We loved the parade/car show/county fair atmosphere and being able to walk for miles, occasionally stopping at a park, a parking lot or a side street to talk to classic truck owners. Practically every inch of curb space was filled with lawn chairs, shade tents and amateur photographers. Cars and trucks of every shape, size and year were parked on the grass with owners and friends seated alongside. It's a 10-mile salute to old metal.
Ram Rumble Bee Concept
Wherever auto enthusiasts gather, there will always be car and truck makers looking for a marketing opportunity. Not that we have anything against Ram Truck debuting its 10th anniversary edition Rumble Bee concept truck in the heart of the power and performance universe, but why not just tell us this vehicle will be offered pretty quickly? To say this is a concept that won't make it to production would be akin to torture. We have to assume when a great chef goes to the trouble of setting a great meal on the table, wafting the aromas under our noses, that at some point he's going to feed us. Our highlight was watching the engineering and marketing team, along with CEO Reid Bigland, interact with real people about real issues: "You have to make that truck," folks said of the Rumble Bee. You can't pay to get that kind of product feedback.
2013 Ford Transit U.K.
Although some of our compatriots were driving some exotic automobiles around Detroit during the Woodward Dream Cruise, we took advantage of Ford's offer to drive a United Kingdom-made Transit van it was marketing to Detroit business fleet buyers. The 8-foot-tall, 20-foot-long Transit had a turbo-diesel 2.2-liter inline four-cylinder and a six-speed manual powertrain that got 24.2 mpg from the half-tank of gas we burned navigating the highways and city streets around Woodward. We predict these work vans will gain popularity as buyers discover their tremendous flexibility; they drive and handle pretty well too. Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans will fill this growing segment nicely, not to mention the Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City and Nissan NV200 stepping in where capable smaller vans will do the job.
Next-Gen Titan to Use Cummins 5.0L V-8
Although the official announcement that a brand-new Cummins turbo-diesel would be a powertrain option in the next-generation Nissan Titan wouldn't come for a few days, we did hear about the news while wandering the boulevards in Detroit (we have friends everywhere). Some thought it exceptionally interesting that Nissan Vice President of Sales and Marketing Fred Diaz, previously the CEO of Ram Truck, was the executive to make the announcement. At Ram, Diaz was in on the decision to put the Italian-based VM Motori turbo-diesel into the Ram 1500, so it does make you wonder whether this was, on some level, some sort of jab for not going with a Cummins diesel for Ram. Maybe that's too much conspiracy theorizing, but we love how this is playing out. From where we sit, the more light we can shine on light-duty powertrain alternatives, the better.