Easy totame Ford’s brute

The F350 of­fers tonnes of fun and power, writes Neil Dowl­ing

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

IT’S like Gul­liver drag­ging his feet through a for­est . . . tiny trees are cast aside as the gi­ant marches on. The Ford F350 — all chrome grille and thun­der — com­mands all be­fore it and isn’t to be messed with on the free­way or shop­ping cen­tre car park.

It used to be a feel­ing beloved by cer­tain types who bought 4WDs: to have a clear view across traf­fic and feel pro­tected from col­li­sions, they said.

The prob­lem is a lot of other peo­ple started driv­ing SUVs and the view ahead was blocked by the sight of hun­dreds of SUVs.

Not any more. Fork out $155,000 and the road is yours again.

It’s enough to buy the strength of a five-seater ute that will take 1.6 tonnes in the tray and tow up to 5.2 tonnes.

Tradies will love this toy for big kids be­cause, apart from the haul­ing ca­pac­ity, it’s loaded with mod cons and has enough sheet metal to wear their busi­ness name in big letters.

Yes, it’s big — scary big. But the biggest sur­prise is how easy this ute is to drive and how the con­trols fall read­ily to hand, though not the hand you might ex­pect.

For ex­am­ple, the gearshift lever that con­nects drive from the 6.4-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel to the five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is on the right side of the steer­ing wheel.

The F350, along with a few other trucks from the F250 to F450, is im­ported with the steer­ing wheel on the left and con­verted by ex­ten­sive en­gi­neer­ing and clever cabin work.

The utes come into Mel­bourne new and are im­me­di­ately pulled apart. The dash­board is taken out and a right­hand-drive ver­sion in­stalled.

The ve­hi­cle sits con­fi­dently on the road be­cause of its steer­ing and sus­pen­sion changes and be­cause it’s 2m high, 2m wide and weighs 3.6 tonnes.

But once you are ac­cus­tomed to the ball­room di­men­sions, it’s as easy to drive as a Fal­con.

Max­i­mum torque hits at 2000 revs, so there’s no need to keep prod­ding the ac­cel­er­a­tor. It runs with some of the best utes from the traf­fic lights and ev­ery up­change brings an­other kick for­ward.

More cau­tion is ex­er­cised in the dirt. The 4WD writ­ing on the flanks in­di­cates this has po­ten­tial in the dirt, but I’m only about 2km into a dirt road when fear comes over me like a cold blan­ket.

I’m in a 4WD area but it’s midweek and I’m alone. The ute is start­ing to find dif­fi­culty and I’m al­ready in low range.

And I fig­ure that it will take about six days and a cou­ple of heart attacks for me to dig out this 3.6-tonne thing if it sinks. So I care­fully re­verse out.

Out the back the bed has handy fold-out plas­tic rail­ings— called a bed ex­ten­der but more like fences — to ex­tend the cargo area over the opened tail­gate. Or you can re­verse it to cre­ate a smaller, safer area to store goods. And to get up on the tray, the tail­gate has a slip-out, ex­tend­able step and a hand rail that locks into po­si­tion.

The F350 was pro­vided by Barba­gallo’s in Perth. It has four more F350s on the way, in­clud­ing a black Har­ley-Davidson edi­tion. F250, F350 and F450s are avail­able and, later, the F150 will be added.

Pic­tures: Neil Dowl­ing

Odd spot: the F350’s gear lever is on the right of the steer­ing wheel. A fold-out step gives ac­cess to the tray.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.