The iconic F-Series of pick-ups are legendary workmates and playmates to millions of North Americans. Since 1948 more than 30 million F-trucks have rolled out of showrooms, and for 32 years it’s been the best-selling vehicle, of all types, in the United States.
Lock up the cowboys and round up the cowgirls, for a herd of Ford’s F-250s is thundering back this way.
But in many of its incarnations, the F-Series has been left-hand drive only. Australia last saw a run of Brazilian-built, right-hand drive F-250s between 2001 and 2007; before that, some RHD models were built in Brisbane’s Eagle Farm plant from 1959 to 1992 and from 1959 to 1997 at Broadmeadows in Victoria.
All these remain well-prized and some local examples have appreciated in value over the years – a rare thing for a rough-and-tumble workhorse.
Yet today, Ford’s bean counters reckon there’s not enough demand to engineer the current F-Series in right-hand drive. The Australian-developed Ranger ute is good enough and big enough for us, according to Detroit.
That holds true for many, although there remains a hard core of little truckers who need – and want – something a tad bigger to better tow boats, vans, race car trailers and prize bulls.
So it’s up to the Queenslanders to help out again with Gympie-based Performax getting the official tick to convert F-250s for our roads and back tracks.
Performax, already converting and selling full-sized Yankee pickups such as the Chev Silverado, Toyota Tundra and Dodge Ram, is now an accredited car manufacturer with Australian Design Rule approval to re-work the 2014 Ford Super Duty F-250 for registration across the country.
The first of these little trucks should be on the road in August after six months of development work by a team led by former GM Holden and Ford Australia engineers. Performax International becomes the first local manufacturer to score full volume compliance for the F-series.
Offered here, to begin with, will be the Ford Super Duty crew-cab from less than $100,000 with higher-spec Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum crew-cabs running through to around $125,000 plus on-road costs. All Performax prices, naturally enough, are subject to the day’s exchange rates, but those look pretty good right now.
The four-door Ford pick-ups run a 6.7 litre, common-rail, turbocharged diesel V8 pumping out 294kW of power and a stump-pulling 1084Nm of torque. This is fed through a six-speed automatic transmission with on-the-fly four-wheel drive available.
That means a five-tonne towing capacity in a high, wide and handsome package, fronted by a tonne of chrome.
Performax general manager Glenn Soper expects ‘healthy demand’ from both business and private buyers when customers consider the Ford’s features, work capacity and price compared with other high-end four-wheel drives.
“In addition, buyers have the assurance their vehicle is not just a one-off conversion job but fully-warranted with production-line quality, consistency and parts availability,” says Soper.
All F-250s arrive with a four-year/120,000km warranty plus roadside assistance. The crew cab Super Duty F-250 sits at 5.7 metres long with a cargo bed close on 2.5 long. The pickup’s cabin is almost two metres high by two metres wide. Ground clearance is 215mm.
In case that bulk sounds daunting, consider this: standard gear across these Fords is roll stability control, trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control, integrated trailer brake control, stability control and ABS for 17-inch wheels.
Move on up from XLT to the Lariat and there’s leather trim, a rear-view camera, power adjustable pedals and more. Options here include an off-road suspension pack.
Most extras on top-end King Ranch and Platinum editions are cosmetic, including unique 20-inch alloys.
So whether it’s for work or play, loaded-up Ford fanciers in Australia again have access to one of the automotive world’s most popular machines.
Words: Bruce McMahon