Concept cars are just that—conceptualized vehicles that deliver on form but can sometimes fall short on actual real-world function. Ford was looking to give us both with the release of its fully electric 1978 Ford F-100 pickup at the ’21 SEMA show. On the outside, this truck looks like a typical custom show truck. It’s been lowered, painted, and peppered with add-ons to give it a truly unique appearance. What is on the underside of this pickup, however, is something on an entirely different level that will have you contemplating the future of classic vehicle customization altogether.
Design to Reality
Ford engineers handled the design of its ’78 F-100, and when they had a good idea of what the truck could evolve into, they looked to Jeff Lane and Pat McCue of MLe Race Cars to handle the execution portion of the project. While other skilled outside hands did play a big role in making the truck what it is today, the bulk of the responsibility fell on the shoulders of these two guys—talk about a heavy load.
Now before MLe sank its teeth into the electrification of the F-100, Jeff and Pat first had it sent out to Roadster Shop so 3D scans could be taken to fabricate a full custom chassis that would house some very special suspension parts and a host of electric engine components that would all soon be forthcoming.
The suspension parts in question just happened to come straight from Ford, as they are the very same front and rear independent systems that have been included in the Mustang Mach-E GT electric SUV. The engine included in the project is the newly released Ford Eluminator Mach-E crate engine. Actually, two of them are used on this truck—one in the front and one at the rear for a combined total of nearly 500hp of AWD power. Even if you’re trying your hardest to remain partial to internal combustion power while reading this, you’ve got to admit that’s pretty damn impressive.
Wiring the Engine
With the truck back from Roadster Shop, Jeff and Pat were then able to figure out the logistical work of wiring up the crate engine and all its many essential accompanying components. The guys didn’t have to stress themselves out attempting to orchestrate the entire system piece by piece. Instead, Ford was kind enough to provide everything needed from their stock of Mach-E parts to integrate its entire workings into the F-100—complete with the batteries, control package, inverters, and all.
While the electric conversion was taking place, the truck’s aching body was massaged back into shape by the loving hands at Brand X Customs. While there, the metal was not only straightened out, but the existing fuel door was deleted, and a special charge port door was created that actually blends right into place. Deciding on a paint color did take a bit, but in the end, Avalanche Gray with custom copper trim proved to be the winning combination. The two complementing tones can be found at every angle of the truck down to the 19-inch Forgeline three-piece wheels.
Plenty of Surprises
With the cab and bed back on the frame, a couple items of interest were obvious right away. First, the engine bay doesn’t ring familiar to its prior version. The current rendition features a glimpse of the inner workings of the electrical system, as well as a handy dandy frunk (trunk up front). This might be something you’ll have to force yourself to get used to, but on the bright side, the engine is capable of a range of 225 miles on a full charge!
Second, and a pleasant surprise, the entire inside of the bed remains completely untouched. The amount of storage space is exactly the same as before, which is huge given that the entire rear motor and its components are hidden underneath and out of sight.
Opening the door into the cab is a sight to see, that’s for sure. Right away, the first thing you’ll most likely notice is the huge 15.5-inch center screen that has been imported from the Mach-E. In fact, there is a lot of other Mach-E interior inclusions such as the seats, console and other luxury creature comforts found in Ford’s high-end e-SUV—and just check out that retrofitted dash screen! JJR Fabrication is the party responsible for creating the billet aluminum panels necessary to allow it to look so seamless. Tim Paul of Marysville, Washington, joined the project by covering the buckets in avocado oil tanned leather, and he also whipped up fresh door panels to match.
An Electrified Classic
All in all, Ford’s Eluminator F-100 electric truck is one of the coolest concept vehicles to date. Combining the classic appearance of a 44-year-old pickup with the very latest in voltage-based performance technology is the absolute dream for a lot of folks out there.
Is electric horsepower the future of high-performance custom vehicles? We will see a lot more of them from now on, that’s for sure. We will also see Ford doubling down on their role in the future of EV conversions soon enough as they are looking into creating turnkey kits to make the job easier for seasoned builders and weekend tinkerers alike.
The bridge from the old school to the new school of thought has been successfully gapped in the automotive world—where it goes from here will be exciting to watch.
- 1978 Ford F-100 Custom EV
- Shop: McCue-Lane Electric (MLe) Race Cars
- 2022 Ford Eluminator crate motor
- Ford Mach-E rear drive
- Roadster Shop custom frame
- 19×10 Forgeline custom three-piece aluminum wheels
- 275/45/19 Michelin Latitude Sport high-performance tires
- Shop: MLe Racecars
- Matrix Avalanche Gray paint, custom copper cerakote trim by Brand X Customs
- Fuel door removed, charge door added
- Truck-Lite headlights
- Bright LEDs used throughout
- Mach-E seats w/ avocado-tanned leather upholstery by Tim Paul at MDM Upholstery
- Billet aluminum dash by JJR Fabrication