Who: Ford Australia and RMA Automotive
What: Factory-approved right-hand drive F-150
When: F-150 XLT and Lariat are due in the third quarter
Why: Because Australia’s love American pickups these days
One of the first examples of the locally-converted right-hand drive Ford F-150 utes has been caught on the road. The F-150 in question was being used as part of the blue oval brand’s assault on the Finke Desert Race, acting as a tow vehicle for the Ranger Raptor desert racer.
Torquecafe was one of a selected group of motoring journalists who got a look at the prototype truck, which was close to production-ready but still needs some changes before customer deliveries can begin.
The most obvious difference between this ‘proof of concept’ and the production versions was the quality of the plastics used, with Ford building the dashboard out of cheaper materials during the development phase. The company has promised that despite the right-hand drive conversion taking place in Melbourne the finished product will be up to the same standard as the left-hand drive F-150 that leaves the US factory.
Speaking of which, the first Australian-bound F-150s rolled off the production line in Dearborn, Michigan last week and have begun the journey to Australia. Once they arrive locally they will be taken to a facility set-up by Ford Australia and its conversion partner, RMA Automotive, where the work will be carried out to swap the steering wheel to the right side.
Ford Australia will offer two F-150 models at launch, the high-grade XLT and Lariat, both powered by the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6. The twin-turbo V6 makes 298kW of power and 678Nm of torque, and the company chose it because it’s the most popular choice for US buyers and provides the F-150 with a 4500kg towing capacity.
The F-150 spotted at the Finke was the higher-grade Lariat version. It featured a pair of large digital screens, for the instrument display and infotainment system, and the overall level of fit and finish looked good for a vehicle that is a development prototype.
The Finke tow rig was fitted with aftermarket wheels and tyres for the gruelling demands of the off-road race through the Northern Territory, so expect the same wheel options as found in the US when the F-150 hits local showrooms.