It’s the end of the F-150 as we know it.
Ford’s venerable pickup is set to have its steel body replaced by aluminum later this year. It’s a radical move for the top-selling truck that’s aimed at reducing weight and improving fuel economy in a segment that needs it.
So, unless Ford has a trick up its sleeve, the recently launched 2014 F-150 Tremor will go down in history as the last new configuration of the current truck created before the next generation arrives, making it both the answer to a future trivia question and an instant collectible.
What sets the Tremor apart is that it’s the only short-wheelbase, standard cab version of the F-150 fitted with Ford’s 365 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, which was the last big efficiency bet the company placed on its cash cow. One that paid off handsomely, I should add; the powerful, efficient motor is now the top choice among F-150 buyers and about to spawn a new, smaller 2.7-liter version for the 2015 trucks.
So the Tremor is something of a hot rod, one with flat-black 20-inch wheels, plenty of stripes and decals, HID headlamps and a black grille that all looks the business. It’s also the only standard cab F-150 fitted with bucket seats -- a sporty, supportive set with black leather bolsters and red piping to match the red stitching on the steering wheel, because red=fast. Unless it’s on a flag or light, but I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Ford didn’t give the chassis an extreme overhaul the way that it did for its desert racing F-150 SVT Raptor, but it did tweak the suspension and add a 4.10 rear axle with an electronic locking differential on both two-wheel-drive and 4x4 versions. That’s good stuff for off-road traction, and not bad for drag racing, either.
So that’s exactly what I did with my 2WD test truck, heading to Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ for a couple of runs down the quarter-mile strip. There, doing nothing more than disabling the traction control, locking the differential and stomping on the gas, I made 14.7 second passes all evening long.
Someone with a clue could certainly knock a couple of tenths off of that number, but still it puts the Tremor among the quickest pickups available today, if not at the top of that list.
Out in the real world, the ride isn’t as stiff as you might expect from such a street-focused truck, but since real world roads aren’t all billiard table smooth, and even fast trucks aren’t much about turning, Ford probably got it just right.
That said, it’s been a while since I’ve been behind the wheel of such a short, powerful pickup, and compared to the much more common crew cabs that fill suburban streets these days, the Tremor feels nearly as nimble and responsive as a 1960’s muscle car.
The only thing missing is the rockin’ soundtrack. Those twin-turbos steal the thunder before it gets a chance to get out of the exhaust pipes. A truck named Tremor should move the earth. This one passes by with little more than a breeze.
As parting gifts go, the Tremor is pretty sweet. It sure beats a watch, and if it really turns out to be the last of its line, you could end up getting your $38,545 back at a Mecum or Barrett-Jackson auction in a few years.
That’s if you want to, the Tremor could turn out to be a keeper. Unless, of course, they go ahead and make one out of aluminum.
And that makes perfect sense to me.
2014 Ford F-150 Tremor
Base Price: $38,545
Type: 2-wheel-drive, 2-door, 2-passenger pickup
Engine: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6
Power: 365 hp, 420 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
MPG: 16 city, 22 hwy
Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.