February 6, 2001

Ford F-150 Lightening Rod concept
Click image to enlarge


Chicago auto show
Ford F-150 Lightning Rod

Tatooed Lightning Rod is ‘fierce in battle’

Unveiled at the 2001 Chicago Auto Show February 4th, the Ford F-150 Lightning Rod concept truck is inspired by the resurgence of rock-and-roll and the current fascination with body art, says Ed Golden, Executive Director of North American Ford Brand Design. The Lightning Rod features traditional Maori ‘tatoos’ embroidered in the tonneau cover, leather seats, and the tires. (The Maori’s are the polynesian people of New Zealand.)

“Lightning Rod draws from the passion of the muscle cars of the 1960’s, the hot rod industry and the current body art craze to take America’s best selling pick-up to a new level of performance excitement,” said Golden.

Its leather-wrapped tonneau cover has a traditional Maori tribe tattoo that is die cut into the leather with black cow hair in the cutout portions. In moko, a type of Maori tattooing, shallow coloured grooves in complex curvilinear designs were produced on the face by striking a miniature bone adze into the skin. Tattooed designs are thought by various peoples to provide magical protection against sickness or misfortune, or they serve to identify the wearer’s rank, status or membership in a group.

Ford F-150 Lightening Rod concept
click image to enlarge

“In Maori culture, an elegantly tattooed face was a great source of pride to a warrior, for it made him fierce in battle,” said Golden. “The F-150 has a great history and has consistently been the leader among full-size pick-ups – it is certainly fierce in battle.”

Based on the F-150, the Lightning Rod has been lowered and stretched. The roof has been chopped one-inch, the overhangs have been shortened, and the exterior body panels have been cleaned up and finished in a cherry red metallic paint giving the Lightning Rod a hot-rod, performance look.

The conventional headlamps and taillamps have been replaced with twin horizontal neon tubes. A recessed custom aluminum grille features horizontal bars, reminiscent of muscle cars of the 1960s. The Lightning Rod also features a ‘faster’ windscreen, hidden windshield wipers and a stainless steel, dual straight-pipe exhaust system that exits from underneath a rollpan at the rear of the vehicle.

Ford F-150 Lightening Rod concept
click image to enlarge

Flared wheel arches house custom Goodyear 295/40R-20 inch tires in the front and 305/40R-20 inch tires in the rear – which carry the Maori tattoo theme in the treads. Its custom, five-spoke 20-inch cast aluminum wheels are a medium grey, satin finish.

The Lightning Rod’s cherry red exterior colour is carried through to the interior. A leather-wrapped dashboard features an exposed, natural aluminum coloured instrument panel that houses only the bare essential instruments. A three-spoke milled aluminum steering wheel is partially wrapped in red leather.

The Maori tattoo theme is carried through to the leather-wrapped bucket seats and headliner. The die cut pattern is filled in with the same black cow hair as the tonneau cover.

The Lighting Rod is powered by a supercharged 5.4 litre SOHC Triton V8 that produces 380 hp at 4750 rpm, and 450 lb.-ft. of torque at 3000 rpm.

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