What is it the politicians like to call it – the ‘special relationship’? That shared set of values that supposedly bonds Great Britain and the US.
They would have you believe our two nations are really one and the same. Same political ideologies, same cultural tendencies, same social make-up. Separated by the Atlantic Ocean and precisely nothing else.
And yet, if you ever saw the US’s best-selling car, the Ford F-150, parked in a movie set-picturesque Cotswold village – vast knobbly tyres pressing heavily into ancient cobbles, vibrant paintwork and bright orange running lights positioned as abruptly against sandstone brickwork as graffiti on marble – you’d think we had nothing at all in common but the planet on which we live.
For all that they seem completely absurd in an English village, though, Ford’s F-Series trucks are nothing short of a phenomenon in North America. Last year, 896,764 of them were sold globally, the vast majority of those staying within Canada and the US. The F-Series range also includes the F-250 and F-350, right the way up to the gargantuan F-750, which is the sort of thing you’d use to tow a stack of felled redwoods. But most of the trucks Ford shifted last year were F-150s, just like this one. In fact, the F-150 isn’t just America’s favourite car – it’s the best-selling vehicle in the world, full stop.
Amazing, really. It’s like a party that we Brits haven’t been invited to. You can’t buy an F-150 in the UK through official channels but, if you were really determined, you could import one yourself. You could even find somebody to convert it to right- hand drive, after which you’ll have spent close to six figures. Which kind of begs the question: what is the US’s favourite car like to drive in Britain?
This isn’t just any F-150. It’s the F-150 GT3, although Ford prefers to call it the Raptor. But like a Porsche 911 GT3, the Raptor has been completely overhauled and re-engineered, given much more power and kitted out with trick suspension components. It has all the single-minded purpose of a 911 GT3, only for a very different sort of task.
You could just about make a case for the Raptor here in the UK if you happened to live on a farm, or in some remote Scottish wilderness. Everywhere else? It’s just too vast, too obscene. But the Raptor is one of those very rare cars for which every reason for not buying one is also every reason why you would buy one. It’s silly, but brilliantly so. And surely, at times like these, we could all do with a little more silliness in our lives.
FORD’S BEST-SELLERS: F-150 RAPTOR MEETS FIESTA
The dainty, pocket-size Ford Fiesta is the best-selling car in Britain. Last year, 94,533 new Fiestas found homes in the UK. Parked alongside the US’s best-selling car, the F-150, the little hatchback barely looks big enough to sit inside.
If every one of those 94,533 Fiestas parked nose to tail, they would stretch from London to Newcastle; if every one of the F-150s sold in the US did the same, they would reach from London to New York. Like the size of the universe, the number of F-150 trucks Ford sells each year is almost impossible to get your head around.
This mid-range Fiesta Titanium, with its 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, sells for a little under £18,000 in the UK. Incredibly, that’s more or less half what Ford charges for the Raptor in the US. Do they have anything at all in common? No, of course not, except that while the F-150 Raptor is the pre-eminent desert-racer-for-the-road, the Fiesta is every bit as definitive in its own sector.
This article was originally published on 14 March 2018. We’re revisiting some of Autocar’s most popular features to provide engaging content in these challenging times.