Super Duty: Ford Designs and Builds 'Em Tough

According to the chief engineer, Pete Reyes, the Ford F-Series Super Duty has had a separate platform from the F-150 since 1999 in order to provide this lineup of vehicles—the F-250, 350, 450, and 550—in the over 8,500-lb. segment with the capabilities required to meet demanding towing, hauling, and associated tasks.

According to the chief engineer, Pete Reyes, the Ford F-Series Super Duty has had a separate platform from the F-150 since 1999 in order to provide this lineup of vehicles—the F-250, 350, 450, and 550—in the over 8,500-lb. segment with the capabilities required to meet demanding towing, hauling, and associated tasks. Speaking of the F-150, Reyes comments, “We call it our ‘little brother.’” Given the fact that the ’07 F-150 has a 3,050-lb. payload capacity and a 10,500-lb. towing capacity, that term is somewhat relative. That is, consider the capabilities of the ’08 F-450, which is the biggest factory-built pickup (all Super Duty models are built at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant) in the Ford lineup: payload of 6,120 lb. and towing capacity of 24,400 lb. That’s the difference between “big” and “little.”

According to Al Giombetti, president, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury Marketing and Sales, for 29 years the F Series has been the number-one best-selling truck in the U.S. They’ve sold some 31,569,000. “We will do whatever it takes to remain America’s truck leader,” he states. The Super Duty is a good example of what they’re doing to retain that position.—GSV

One of the most evident changes in the Super Duty is the front end, which features a grille that is more obvious, larger, and in-your-face than that of the previous generation. Note the “Super Duty” embossed in the leading edge. Pat Schiavone, chief designer of the Super Duty, who refers to the design approach as describing “tough luxury” points out that the larger grille isn’t just for show, but also for go: the bigger grille allows improved airflow, which means better performance, which is particularly important for activities like towing. There are also functional air vents in the fenders that are color coded: red for diesel powertrains, black for gasoline. The Super Duty has the Ford truck dropped beltline for improved visibility from the cab, another point of designing for function as well as appearance.

The Super Duty has a patented high-strength steel body structure consisting of two side rails welded to the bulkhead and frame. This is not only to provide rigidity, but to help simplify assembly (as it is a module) and to assure fit of the body panels assembled to it. The frame rails are hydroformed. The front structure is fully boxed. The frame horn design in the front lowers the frame by 7 in. to help meet vehicle compatibility standards without requiring an additional blocker beam. The entire frame is e-coated for corrosion resistance.

 

At the back of the truck is what they’re calling the “Tailgate Step,” which Reyes says was developed by Ford engineers working on the program. This option is integrated into the tailgate. There is a 16.7 x 4.5-in. flip down step pad that is pulled out of the tailgate and then lowered in place. This MIG-welded high-strength steel assembly has been tested to handle 1,000 lb. The grab handle is embedded in a channel in the tailgate inner liner; it is readily flipped up and locked in place. It can support up to 300 lb. The whole assembly facilitates getting into and out of the bed.

 

 

A new 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel engine with an iron block, aluminum heads, and four valves per cylinder is available. It produces 350 hp @ 3,000 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm. Part of the driver of the low end torque performance is a turbocharger system. There is a small, electronically controlled variable geometry turbocharger that is activated at low rpms for additional boost at takeoff. Then as there are increased rpms a second, fixed turbo is activated, as well, to boost power through the middle of the torque curve. Finally, when optimum speed is reached, the larger turbo operates by itself. The diesel also features what’s called “Ford Clean Diesel Technology,” which includes a high-pressure, common rail fuel system, piezo-electric fuel injectors, and a particulate filter. This is claimed to provide the diesel with emissions numbers “on par with gasoline engines.”