Quick, somebody build a bigger sandbox! The good folks at Ford, in conjunction with Elkhart, Indiana based Tuscany Motors and Hasbro Toys, are giving all big boys what they really want to play with: life size TONKA trucks. These larger than life steel toys were a mainstay around our house for the better part of three generations (before electronic gaming caught on) and it is good to see that they continue to load and dump sand and rocks on make believe work sites somewhere in the minds of Ford engineers. If TONKA trucks make you want to wax nostalgic, then maybe you ought to look into purchasing one of these. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP)? Around $72k. How is your haggling? These trucks are wheels down at your local Ford dealer, right now but hurry because only 500 will be produced.
It all begins with the world’s best selling vehicle for over four-decades — the Ford F-150. Specifically, a 2014 Ford F-150 Lariat Crew-Cab 4X4 with a 360-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine mated to a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (with manually selectable tow/haul modes) and a two-speed 4X4 transfer case. The front suspension is comprised of a long spindle dual-wishbone independent coil spring configuration with the rear using two-stage variable rate leaf-springs. The frame is fully boxed for optimum strength and stability. An electronic locking rear differential, electronic trailer sway controller, electronic stability control system, and electronic trailer braking system are all standard equipment on the Lariat model. Power rack-and-pinion steering with electronic variable steering assist is also a standard feature.
AT THE HEART
Ford uses a 5.0-liter aluminum block with specially designed aluminum cylinder heads to help maximize air-flow and dissipate heat faster, providing increased power and fuel efficiency. The lightweight characteristics of aluminum are not wasted on Ford engineers either. One needs to look no farther than the 2015 Ford F-150 to see that. This powerful V8 uses twin-independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT) which allows for independent variable control of the overhead intake and exhaust camshafts. This electronic control system yields higher combustion at wide-open throttle, when more power is required and increased torque at lower RPMs. It also uses a variable valve overlap theory to improve cold-start drivability and decrease cool engine exhaust emissions.
Thanks primarily to the strength of the patented Ford safety cage crash protection system the 2014 F-150 earned perfect marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and garnered “Top Pick” status in its class. Standard safety features include dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags, seat mounted side impact airbags, safety canopy side curtain airbags, electronic stability and traction control, hill descent assist system, safety belt reminder, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, SOS post crash alert system, metal anti-skid plates, and an optional rearview camera.
The 2014 Ford F-150 Lariat 4X4 TONKA truck is loaded with enough luxury items to officially be called a Cowboy Cadillac. Among the laundry list of opulent accessories are listed dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic headlights, fog lamps, power sliding rear privacy glass, unique interior trim accents, keyless entry, Sync system with voice controlled audio interface, dual USB ports, and Bluetooth connectivity (Warning: I have heard some very bad reviews about this system), MyTouch electronics interface with 8-inch LCD touchscreen, power adjustable pedals, leather seating surfaces, power adjustable heated front bucket seats with memory function, a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a 110-volt household power outlet, and a tilting and telescoping steering column. That is all before being handed over to Tuscany motors where the ordinary F-150 will be transformed into a TONKA truck.
It seems fitting to begin the exterior description after the truck has visited Tuscany Motors in Elkhart, Indiana for the full TONKA Yellow treatment. Everything is painted in this unmistakable shade of “Safety Yellow” including the custom front and rear bumper cladding with TONKA badges, custom front and rear fender flares, functional front fender vents, custom designed side cladding with TONKA logos, custom tailgate cladding with TONKA logos, and a Tonneau cover with a carpet liner. If you feel the need to stand out from the crowd, then this is your truck because it is safety yellow, everywhere. It has custom front and rear bumpers with billet inserts, a billet grille insert with yellow accents and exclusive logos, a dual-intake ram-air TONKA hood (full-replacement), chrome tow hooks on the front, chrome mirror caps, chrome door handle covers, chrome TONKA badging all over, and a set of 5-inch oval Ford factory style step bars. Tuscany also adds a Quiet Tone high-performance stainless-steel exhaust system with beautifully protruding tips and a melodious tone.
MASTER of the SANDBOX
A 6-inch Pro-Comp suspension lift gives this toy an added dose of ground clearance and wheel travel as well as making room for the specially designed 20-inch TONKA alloy PVD coated wheels, which are wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A Radials in 325/60R20. An optional set of BFG KM2 Mud Terrain tires is also available at an additional cost. Heavy-duty Pro-Comp performance shocks help to soften the ride in addition to yielding some additional inches of wheel travel when needed. After the modifications are completed the truck is realigned, an AccuPro speedometer recalibration program is inserted into the PCM, and the tire pressure sensors are recalibrated. Tuscany Motors is no shade-tree operation. They provide a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on everything they do. I have had a chance to spend a little time with one of these trucks and everything is top-tier quality. Now this little upstart called Ford, on the other hand…
The interior of the F-150 undergoes quite a transformation at Tuscany Motors. The factory leather seating is adorned with an embroidered and custom made matching head rest that bears the TONKA logo. TONKA floor mats take the place of factory carpeted floor mats and 50-state legal deep tint is applied to the windows.
If you must have more, there are several optional items available. A Bed Rug bed liner is offered for a nominal fee. These liners are state-of-the-art with a feel and appearance that is like soft carpeting combined with the durability of steel and stain resistance of silicon rubber. For all of you true rednecks (yes, just like me) you can get a stainless-steel bull bar/brush guard for the front. If you load it down with KC lights (off-road use only) those yellow covers will match almost perfectly with safety yellow paint.