DEARBORN, MI — In the beginning, there was the pickup truck. It had but two doors: one for the driver, and one for the passenger. Things were simpler then. But the ordinary pickup truck has kept up with the times and consumer demand, evolving over time into a new breed of work vehicle.

Ford’s Goes Four-Door With New SuperCrew

Ford Motor Company offers what is, for now at least, the only full-size four-door pickup truck in a conventional (F-150) size truck line: the F-150 SuperCrew.

This is an extension of the supercab or crew cab concept, born to give passengers a third door, and then a fourth for easier access to the rear passenger compartment. These were smaller, mini-versions of the regular front doors. Now you can get four honest, full-size doors in a conventional size pickup truck — 8,500 lb gross vehicle weight (GVW) — without having to go to a bigger, heavy-duty model truck. This is important for contractors who not only use a pickup truck on the job, but also occasionally need to take along the boss, other techs, apprentices, etc. It also allows easier access to the rear seating compartment for bulky toolboxes and equipment.

The truck becomes almost a hybrid vehicle: an SUV with a bed. As such, it makes an interesting work truck: big enough to carry tools and equipment in the usual pickup truck racks and tool boxes, but also large enough in the cab to carry along a crew of four. On weekends, it easily doubles as a personal vehicle.

Ford introduced the F-150 SuperCrew at the North American International Auto Show in January, and it just became available in showrooms.

The News test-drove this truck in August, finding it to have all the familiar car-like amenities that have now transferred over into the truck lines. It features big, comfortable seats, a smooth, car-like ride, and better interior storage space. Plenty of extras such as cupholders and a compact disc player are available, as well as another new feature, power-adjustable pedals. SuperCrew is designed for a broad range of buyers who need all the capability of a pickup along with passenger-carrying capacity and easy entry and exit. Its 5 1/2-ft box and optional Bed Extender — which creates a total of 7 ft of cargo carrying capacity — ensure that owners can put it to work like any other Ford pickup.

Manufacturer’s suggested retail prices for the 2001 F-150 Super-Crew range from $26,755 for the XLT 4x2 to $31,790 for the Lariat 4x4 (including destination and delivery charges).

“The new 2001 F-150 Super-Crew adds a new dimension to work and personal use trucks offering customers a one-of-a-kind combination,” says Gurmin-der Bedi, Ford vice president, Ford Truck Vehicle Center. “Its four full doors and spacious rear seating make F-150 SuperCrew a true, full-function passenger vehicle.”

Its looks reflect the same muscular, aerodynamic stance and styling of the current F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCab models.

The bright red 4x4 tested topped out at $32,965, with mostly cosmetic enhancements driving up the base price of $29,310 — with the exception of $800 for the 5.4 liter engine upgrade from the standard 4.6. Anti-lock brakes are standard along with electronic shift-on-the-fly. The F-150 SuperCrew is the same overall length as the 139-in. wheel base SuperCab model, which is an advantage when maneuvering in tight spaces, like parking lots or garages. At the same time, it offers extra interior space, improving rear passenger comfort. There’s really no downside anymore to sitting in the back of a pickup.

The bad news is the fuel economy rating: 13 in the city, 17 on the highway. We barely got 300 miles even with a 25-gallon tank of gas.

Basically unchanged are the venerable Econoline full size vans often used as service vehicles. David Simpson, Simpson Heating & Cooling, Fairfax, VA., said he buys Ford, Chevy, and Dodge vans but prefers the Fords. “The service techs seem to prefer them too,” he said, “and that’s a factor in what we buy. Some said the engine compartments of the Dodges got too hot and they didn’t like that. Another guy complained about his back in one van so we gave him an Econoline and that seemed to take care of it. But the best vehicles we’ve bought by far are the Mazda pickup trucks, which we use just for parts delivery.”

Heavy-Duty Fall Lineup Unveiled at GM

This fall, General Motors unveils its new lineup of heavy-duty pickups, featuring a wide range of models, including 2500HD (3/4 ton) and 3500 Series (one ton) regular cabs, four-door extended cabs, crew cabs and chassis cabs.

This is the corporate follow-up to last year’s complete revamping of its conventional pickup truck line, and gives contractors a bigger, more rugged alternative to the standard size pickup.

The Silverado HD sports a stylish new front-end look that includes wider openings and a bolder chrome center bar, better to display the trademark Chevy bow tie and to distinguish it from its smaller siblings. We thought last year’s overhaul of the conventional-size truck line was well done mechanically, but the exterior look was rather uninspired. This time, the hoods are elevated, and front bumper pads are thicker to accommodate two more inches of body height.

Both models also feature integrated wheel flares for a more macho, aggressive appearance. Big Dooley models featured one-piece composite rear fenders for less weight and added durability (they’ll tend to flex rather than scrunch). The extended cab model provides the industry’s largest rear-door openings, according to GM.

A new Isuzu-GM Duramax diesel engine, built in Moraine, OH, offers good fuel economy, high output (300 hp) and exceptional durability (in the 200,000-mile range). It’s also said to be “amazingly quiet” compared to most other diesel engines.

The larger version Vortec diesel is also new. A sensor tells you when to change the oil, saving on unnecessary changes, and the engine coolant is said to be good for 150,000 miles. There is also a “limp home” feature which allows you to drive the truck short distances even after a total loss of coolant.

Another unusual feature of the trucks (not available on all models) is a composite 8-ft box, which will never rust and won’t require a bed liner. This is good news for hauling tools and equipment or anything else that might move around back there and scratch the bed.

GM’s full size cargo vans are essentially unchanged except for the engines and a couple of new exterior colors: light pewter metallic and forest green metallic. There is a new LT model loaded with options.

Returning to the commercial truck lineup are the S-10 pickup, described as “a versatile light-duty delivery vehicle”; the Venture Cargo Van; and the Astro Cargo Van, “a combination of a minivan and a truck.”

Interestingly, GM will offer an optional four-wheel steering system called Quadrasteer on a full size pickup in the 2002 model year. It allows the driver to turn in the same radius as a Saturn coupe, reducing circle diameter by 20%. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels. At moderate speeds, the rear wheels remain straight. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels.

Dodge Stands Pat With Ram Pickups, Vans

DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge truck line sports few changes for 2001.

We took the new midsize 2001 Dakota for a test drive at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, MI, immediately noticing the new front fascia and a completely redesigned interior.

The floor console is new, as are the door trim panels and carpets. Two new interior colors, dark slate gray and taupe, are available for the first time. Besides cosmetics, the Dakota’s transfer case actuation is now electronically controlled from a rotary dial mounted in the dashboard. Steering components have been redesigned and the overheard console has been made easier to operate.

A new exterior color, bright silver metallic, is available for the first time. Also new this year is the availability of factory-installed tow hooks, popular for off-road applications.

As in past years, Dakota remains the most powerful compact-class pickup truck in the country. Available engines include a 2.5-liter Magnum inline four-cylinder, with 120 hp and 145-lb-ft of torque; a 3.9-liter Magnum V-6, rated at 175 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque; a 4.7-liter Magnum V-8, boasting 235 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque; and the 5.9-liter V-8, which tops out at 250 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque. Maximum towing capacity of Dakota is 6,700 lbs and 2,100 lbs is the maximum payload.

New this year are the 15 x 7-in. cast aluminum wheels, standard on the popular Dakota Quad Cab and an option on the Regular Cab and Club Cab models. Larger 16 x 8-in. wheels are now available as an option on all Dakotas.

Dodge Ram’s 2500 and 3500 models are now available with a high output (245 hp/505 lb-ft of torque) Cummins Turbo Diesel, making Ram the most powerful pickup on or off the road, with a maximum towing capacity of 15,150 lbs. For truck owners who prefer gasoline, a 8.0-liter magnum V-10 is also available, churning out 310 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Smaller diesel, V-6, and V-8 engines are also available.

The Ram full-size van line remains popular, with models serving as dependable work vehicles or as comfortable conversion vans. The Ram van features unibody construction and can carry up to 4,160 lbs of payload and has 299.5 cu ft of cargo capacity. A new Crew Cab model allows up to five people to ride comfortably without sacrificing a lot of cargo space — perfect for many businesses.

Specialty Equipment, Accessories for Vehicles

Recently, Moyer & Son Inc. purchased a Reading Panel Body from Crest Truck Equipment, an authorized Reading distributor in Bowmansville, PA.

Chosen because it fulfills its truck equipment needs, the Reading panel body is used for hvac equipment repair and swimming pool service in this southeastern portion of Pennsylvania.

The panel body is equipped with a compressor mounted in the cargo area for air-driven drills and impact wrenches. Also stored in the cargo area are special holders for refrigerant tanks. Moyer & Son’s technicians particularly like the way the panel body safely stores pool chemicals away from the truck operator. This truck also features a few Reading options, such as a side-mounted pipe rack and roof-mounted ladder rack.

Like all Reading products, the panel body is constructed of two-sided zinc-coated A60 galvannealed steel, which provides the first layer of rust protection. After assembly, the bodies also receive immersion priming for further corrosion resistance. Standard features include a fully unitized welded understructure for extra reinforcement, as well as stainless steel bolt-on hinges, which allow the doors to operate smoothly in all weather conditions. Weathertight, flange-mounted automotive rubber door seals on the compartments are also standard.

Secure Your Tools With the Right Toolbox

If you’ve got a truck, chances are you need a toolbox. That said, the rest is a matter of picking out the right one, and there are plenty of choices available.

Contico Manufacturing of St. Louis, MO, a Katy Company, showed a full lineup of toolboxes at the recent National Hardware Show held in Chicago. Its aluminum truck boxes are constructed of 16-gauge rust-resistant aluminum, featuring heavy-duty gaskets and a gas cylinder for easy opening, along with keyed locks. New features due out soon include adding a second gas cylinder to ease opening and closing, especially from either end where most contractors wind up grabbing the lid.

Those are the best looking boxes, in shiny metal, but blow molded boxes are also available, and are often cheaper and more practical, since they resist dents and will never rust.

Better Built of Pensacola, FL, also showed truck toolboxes. The company says its automotive-style locking system is tougher to force open than some competitors’ models. The boxes also come with gas struts for easy opening and closing, and are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations to fit most any vehicle.

The company recently introduced its Snap-On series, an extension of the well-known line of tools that contractors have used for years. This is a top-of-the-line item for discriminating customers, according to the company. Interesting options include deluxe liners made of polypropylene with a rich-looking carpet finish that is durable and easy to clean. The tools won’t slide around as much inside the box, and the cushioning keeps them from getting scratched or otherwise damaged.

Adrian Introduces New Ladder Racks

Adrian Steel Company recently announced an addition to its Steeler line of pickup ladder racks. The “Load Runner” features aerodynamic tubular steel construction designed to fit all full-size pickups. It provides up to 750 lbs of carrying capacity, and its “knockdown design” makes it easy to ship and assemble. The Load Runner is available in models for 6 1/2 or 8 ft pickup bed lengths in regular cab or extended cab-over styles.

The racks receive black “Steel-Cote” powder coat paint with a G-60 galvanized undercoat for corrosion resistance. Each rack mounts to the truck’s bed rails via 24-in. bed rail plates that allow for cross and side box mounting. Phone 800-677-2726 for more information or visit

Reaching New Heights

Everything’s up in the air — literally — when it comes to setting or servicing a rooftop chiller or air handler at a strip mall, convenience store, or any other type of commercial low-rise building.

Three new scissor lift models with 46-in. wide platforms for extra workspace at maximum elevations of 20 ft, 26 ft, and 32 ft, respectively, have been introduced by Mayville Engineering Co. for hvac, maintenance, construction, and other overhead applications.

The new electric-powered models — the 2047ES, the 2647ES, and the 3247ES — feature the manufacturer’s pothole protection system and its patented, single-beam “Powerlift” elevating system that delivers rigidity and operator comfort at working heights up to 38 ft.

Replacing the Hite-Master series, the new models include a tighter, 0-in. inside turning radius with full 90° steering; an all-metal platform with a superior slip-resistant surface; and proportional drive and lift speeds for smooth movement.

Retained Hite-Master features include a standard, 42-in. roll-out platform extension; 25% gradeability; a sheet-loading entrance that accommodates standard, 4-ft-wide panels; a high-torque power package; and a remote, removable control station.

Driveable at any work height, the new lifts have a platform length of 106 in. and lift capacities of 750 to 1,250 lbs. Overall width of each design is less than 48 in., allowing for passage through double doorways.

Speaking of reaching new heights, Mayville Engineering has also introduced a new articulating boom lift designed to reach out as much as 30 ft, 3 in., at a working height of 49 ft. The new MEC 43E, powered by a 48-volt electrical system, has a 500-lb capacity platform, with a 32-by-58-in. working platform. The base of the unit rotates 350°, while the boom itself rotates a full 180°.

Designed for plant maintenance, construction and other overhead tasks from a slab surface, the 43E, according to Mayville, “has a full set of controls at the platform level for proportional drive, steer, lift, boom extension, rotation and platform leveling — all smooth and precise.” This compact unit moves at speeds up to 3 mph through narrow aisles and around obstructions. Features include safety dual handrails at the platform, emergency stop at platform and base, slope detector, self-closing entrance gate, and more.

For more information phone 800-387-4575 or visit the company’s website at

Mobile Field Office Holds More Than Just Tools

Once your truck or van gets you to the jobsite, how about installing a portable workshop-and-office?

Delta Consolidated Ind., Ral-eigh, NC, has introduced a new four-door heavy-duty “Jobox,” which is more than your standard toolbox. In fact, it’s a mobile field office. The model 674990 has a large, slanted hinged desktop and two easy-to-reach shelves on the back wall to hold blueprints, reference manuals, small parts, and tools. The front lip of the upper back wall shelf is punched for using 1¼4-in. commercial pegboard-type hardware to hang frequently used small items.

The upper level storage includes a lockable compartment located under the desktop for quick access. It can be locked while the rest of the field office is left open. Delta also makes a variety of aluminum and steel storage systems for trucks. For more information, telephone the company at 877-866-3063.

Have Truck, Will Weld

Truck-mounted welding units aren’t new, but The Lincoln Electric Co., Cleveland, OH, has tweaked the idea with a few valuable improvements.

The company’s new engine-driven 300-A Ranger 305G is also a generator capable of producing 9,000 watts of 120/240 vac power to run a plasma cutter, inverters, tools, and lights. The ranger is powered by a Kohler 22-hp Command engine. This unit is designed for installation contractors, as well as maintenance and repair applications.

The entire unit is enclosed to protect the engine and deaden the sound, yet three doors are available for easy service access. It comes with digital weld output meters, a 12-gal fuel tank and an automatic engine idler. The unit features a 6-pin connector for remote output and a 14-pin connector for Lincoln wire feeders, “Magnum” spool guns, and the “Cobramatic” aluminum push-pull wire feeder.

For more information, call 888-355-3213 or visit the company’s website at

Publication date: 09/11/2000