A King Of The Road Unfit For Dirty Work

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It was dirty work. A truck was needed for the job. It's too bad I had to use the F-150 King Ranch.

To understand, imagine having spent a handsome sum of money remodeling your living room. You installed expensive, deep-pile carpeting. You bought splendiferous furniture, including sofas covered with supple leather. There is a costly entertainment system on one side of the room. And the paint! You spared no expense there.

Now, into all of this voluptuous luxury, you drag in the driveway trash and stack it along your elegantly painted walls on top of your rich, cream-colored carpeting. Would you do something like that? No. You'd be nuts to even consider mistreating your living room that way.

But I committed an equivalent sin in loading the F-150 King Ranch, easily one of the most luxurious pickups available in the United States, with dirty rubbish -- and then driving it to a dusty Fairfax County dump site in Lorton to dispose of the mess.

That is why the F-150 King Ranch makes little sense to me.

The F-150 is supposed to be a work truck. Year after year, it and its other F-Series siblings, as a group, are the world's best-selling work trucks. They are supposed to get dirty, scratched, dented and otherwise banged up. They look their best and seem to do their best with bruises.

By comparison, the F-150 King Ranch, with its plush carpeting and pricey, glove-leather seats, and its thoroughly unprotected metallic paint cargo bed, is an abomination, an affront to the venerable notion of the pickup truck as workhorse.

By the time I finished hauling trash, its cargo bed, despite my attempt to protect it with a drop cloth, was miserably scratched. The carpet in the passenger cabin was stained and soiled. There was a fine filament of dust atop the dashboard. And the dark grease I got on the back of my jeans from God-knows-where had transferred to the supple leather on the driver's seat.

I could barely look at what I'd done to the F-150 King Ranch. I did my best to clean it up, to make it look as new as possible, but it was a futile effort. The fancy interior and fancily painted cargo bed were no longer fancy.

I understand Ford's thinking in producing something such as the F-150 King Ranch, named after a historic cattle ranch established in 1853 in what is now Kingsville, Tex. There are two kinds of pickup-truck buyers in the market nowadays -- real truck people and pickup poseurs.

Real truck people buy full-size models such as the F-150 XL or STX, or some comparable vehicle, such as the Silverado from Chevrolet or the Titan from Nissan Motor Co. Those are basic, rugged, body-on-frame pickups with meant-to-get-dirty, cleanable interiors. They specifically are designed for commercial use, construction jobs, for the kind of rough work that actually takes place every day on the real King Ranch, and for hauling trash.

Real truck people care about fuel economy, but you won't see them running away from their trucks when pump prices rise.

Pickup poseurs dump their pickups when gasoline prices go up. They want tufted, plush trucks -- trucks that look and feel more like limousines than they do pickups. They like models such as the F-150 King Ranch. Beneath its pretty face and overdressed body are a commendable 5.4-liter, 300-horsepower V-8 engine and sturdy body-on-frame construction. It is rear-wheel-drive, or, as is the case of the tested model, four-wheel-drive. It has all of the things that make a full-size pickup a pickup.

But pickup poseurs are more interested in style than they are in substance. They would never use the F-150 King Ranch to haul trash, traverse mud, or climb rocks. They are not pickup truck loyalists. That means they are not likely to hang tough with Ford or any other automotive company when the going gets rough at the gas pump.

Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092900419.html

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