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Seven-ton Gorilla

Tow Test: Ford F-650 Super Crewzer

January 1, 2002
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You have big boats to tow and a schedule to keep. Unfortunately, the biggest, brawniest SUVs and pickups on the market lack the intestinal fortitude to haul your 46′ Cigarette poker player. What to do? Check out Ford’s F-650 Super CrewZer. This limited-edition road beast is the largest rig you can operate without a commercial driver’s license. Ford, aided by the Fontaine rs Modification Co. of Louisville, Kentucky, builds 300 of these honeys a year for anyone with the heavy load of a race car, powerboat, or travel trailer to move.

Packing a GCWR of 43,000 pounds, the CrewZer will tow a 14-ton payload with muscle to spare. The Cat turbo diesel under the hood is conservatively rated at 300 hp and packs 860 ft-lb of torque punch. An air-ride rear suspension system keeps the chassis level no matter which of three standard hitch systems-fifth wheel, goose neck, or Class V receiver-you use. Unless the target object is rooted like Mount Rushmore, it will go when hitched to this draft horse.

Driving the CrewZer is nothing like motoring in a minivan. You ride eye to eye with professional truckers. The mighty engine quakes and growls. Flooring the accelerator engages powerful cooling fans. The onboard air system (for the rear suspension and parking brake) hisses as menacingly as a dragon. The air horns’ salute will wake the dead.

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Surprisingly, the CrewZer is easy to drive. The steering is quick, light, and accurate. A keyboard commands the double-overdrive, six-speed automatic transmission. Oversize mirrors and a tall seating position keep you in touch with traffic. Cars obligingly change lanes when the Super CrewZer looms in their rearview mirrors.

The Queen Mary wasn’t available for tow testing so we hitched up a 26′ Galaxie Thor on a tandem-axle trailer. Our 5,000-pound payload barely scratched available capacity-think of it as the equivalent of a bird on a water buffalo’s back-but it did raise an eyebrow or two at the launch ramp.

In spite of the CrewZer’s well-engineered driving characteristics, a rough ride and the cacophony of big-rig noises take their toll. You don’t steer a truck this big down the highway, you herd it. In other words, don’t invest $95K with the idea of having the CrewZer serve as your daily driver or weekend family hauler. Your thoughts will drift longingly toward hitchhiking after a few days in this saddle.

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MODEL FORD F-650 SUPER CREWZER
Engine 7.2-liter Caterpillar turbocharged and intercooled diesel
Net hp/rpm 300/2200
Net torque (ft-lb/rpm) 860/1440
Transmission Allison 6-speed automatic
Suspension Front rigid axle, leaf springs
Suspension Rear rigid axle, air springs
Brakes (front/rear) Vented disc/ vented disc, power assisted
Tires Goodyear 245/ 70R-19.5, regroovable
Wheelbase (in.) 194.0
Length (in.) 276.0
Width (in.) 96.0
Height (in.) 102.0
Curb weight (lbs.) 13,960
Towing capacity (lbs.) 29,000
Cargo capacity (max. cu. ft.) 42
Fuel capacity (gal.) 130
Observed towing fuel economy (mpg. avg.) 8
Price (as tested) $94,776

Monitoring your boat and trailer on the dash-mounted screen is a nice touch. At the launch ramp, the big Cat generated enough oomph to smoke the dual rear tires, a performance that always wins applause from onlookers. Fuel efficiency was an acceptable 8 mpg.

LAST WORD. Just the thing to tow your ocean racer. Leave room in the budget for a hired driver when the novelty wears off.

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