Auto World’s latest Warlock not as spooky as its name …
Today it is hard to imagine any vehicle being named Warlock without an entire marketing department being fired and the automaker’s PR staff committed to a mental institution in the aftermath.
But Dodge played loosey-goosey with names and color descriptions throughout the 1970s. Remember Dodge’s purple being labeled Plum Crazy? So when Dodge decided to make factory-custom pickups beginning in late 1976 the Warlock name was chosen.
Auto World bravely jumped into the die-cast pickup market itself a couple years back and the 1977 Warlock was a hit, so now comes a 1:18 scale Warlock II, a 1979 model of the fancified D100 Utiline.
Styling was tweaked for ’79 with a new nose and hood. And inside it was loaded with goodies not standard at the time, like air conditioning, cruise control, a radio and a clock. The Utiline bed with real oak sideboards was an option, as were the wide tires and custom wheels. This model has all of the above.
Originally Warlock was a limited release, sort of a test by Dodge to see if the factory-custom truck idea would fly. That original had gold wheels, gold pin-striping, bucket seats, wide Goodyear tires and oak sideboards and bed flooring.
By 1977 Dodge had moved the Warlock into full production and began offering it in more than just black. As in the earlier AW model, there was dark green now. Other colors were blue, red, and of course, black. All Warlock interiors were black, to keep costs down and builds as simple as possible.
For 1979 the standard engine was a 145-horsepower, two-barrel 318 cu.in. V8. Also available was a four-barrel 360 cu.in. V8 that that made 160 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Warlock II was available in 2- or 4-wheel drive and sold through the end of the 1979 model year.
One could argue Dodge started fueling America’s love with fancy pickups, which the Ram continues today.
What’s new and different on the 1979 model vs. the earlier 1977? All the changes are up front.
By 1979 Dodge had moved to large single headlights and a more streamlined hood with its two panels slightly raised, and of course outlined on the Warlock II with gold pin striping and filigree, which also decorates the front fenders and cab, plus the cab’s roof and the big bulging rear fenders. Even the tailgate features the gold trim along with a gold and black Warlock II nameplate in the tailgate’s center.
Face it, Dodge had figured out how to customize its pickups at the factory and this model reflects that with the sparkling Canyon Red paint scheme that looks deep with a touch of cinnamon tossed it for a bronze tint to this metallic finish.
Warlock’s grille is a massive chrome number, beautifully recreated, plus chrome front and rear bumpers, large side mirrors, wipers, door handles and side steps on this Stepside model. The racy custom Mag wheels also are chromed and there’s a silver gas cap by the step on the driver’s side. A short chrome antenna protrudes from the top of the passenger’s side front fender.
Just like the earlier 1977 model, this ’79 touts a blue block Mopar V8 under the huge hood that is supported by solid hinges so is easily posed open. There’s a black air filter cover along with big black hose running to the radiator. A white coolant container also is visible along with a white top just over the radiator and a power steering unit protrudes from the firewall.
As with the previous model the bed features textured wood-look plastic panels with red metal seams in the floor and the same wood-look railing on each side of the bed to mimic that of the original truck. This is a little lighter shade (a tinge of yellow) than I’d like, but still features a wood-grained texture. In back that tailgate also can be lowered.
Inside, the cab is mostly black, but the door panels include more of that gold pin striping at the top to add some glam while also boxing out the lower portions of the doors to add color in what otherwise would be a dark interior. Just a bench seat as there was no Crew Cab at the time, and the dash looks great with a detailed instrument panel that includes reflective gauge faces to add realism. In addition, the steering wheel features three silver spokes while there are no seatbelts on those black seats.
Rubber tires are treaded and branded as Goodyears and freely roll, plus the front wheels are steerable for posing purposes. As with other AW models, the undercarriage is nicely detailed too, including a spare tire under the bed, a full exhaust system, differential, and detailed front suspension.
I really liked the 1977 Warlock, but this color is so striking and the single headlight grille seems a bit more handsome too. Hey, plus it’s a Warlock!
Vital Stats: 1979 Dodge Warlock II
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AW298 MSRP: $119.99
Hybrid F-150 generates apocalypse-conquering power …
After 43 years as the best-selling vehicle in the United States I suppose nothing should surprise me about the latest Ford F-150.
Ford hasn’t stayed atop this highly competitive money-making bonanza of a market for U.S. carmakers because it coasts. Nope, it keeps re-inventing the envelope.
For 2021 Ford adds a hybrid powerplant to the F-150 and, get this, a generator in the tail that you could use to power your house during one of our apocalyptic 100-year floods, tornadoes, rains, etc. This monster of a truck is exactly what you’d want during the apocalypse. It should star in a blockbuster movie as it squishes zombies and 4-wheels over a crumbling world’s infrastructure.
Let’s get right to it.
I drove a Rapid Red F-150 4×4 SuperCrew Lariat, a midlevel model that will seat five or six, depending on seat arrangements. Mine was a luxurious 5-seater with a giant console, but more on this interior in a bit.
Most important, this is the first hybrid pickup on the market and if Chevy and Ram are the least bit interested in gaining ground on Ford they’d better have one soon.
Standard in this model is the powerful twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 gas engine that makes 325 horsepower, or you could get a 5.0-liter V8 with 400 horses if gas burning, or buying, simply doesn’t matter to you.
The hybrid system, added here for $3,300 extra, conjoins a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 with a 35kw electric motor with batteries under the rear seat. It makes a whopping 430 horsepower and pounds 570 lb.-ft. of torque all while delivering an EPA rated 24 miles per gallon, city or highway. Combined with a 30.6-gallon gas tank that creates a 700-mile driving range.
Past experience tells me that even with a cyclonic tailwind you’d be lucky to hit 20 mpg on the highway with any gas-only powered pickup. With this one I averaged 20.5 mpg in a week’s drive, with plenty of city and highway miles. The trip computer said I was managing 22 mpg. Either is a vast improvement on pickup gas mileage.
A reminder here that Ford chopped hundreds of pounds from its last generation F-150 by using more aluminum in the body, so Ford has been working on making its full-size pickup more environmentally acceptable for some time.
From a driver’s standpoint the new F-150 is a rocket despite its hefty 5,517 lbs. Power comes on quickly and when you punch it the twin-turbo V6 delivers boatloads of power to get up to highway speeds or out-power most anyone at a stoplight. Handling is reasonable for a big pickup too, easy to keep in its lane and maneuver, except in a crowded parking lot. Then you’ll want to leave a little extra room, even though this one only had the smallest, 5.5-foot, bed. A 6.5- and 8-foot bed also are available.
Ride, well, it’s still a truck. Despite its independent double wishbone suspension up front with coil-over shocks and stamped lower control arm and rear leaf spring with solid axle it’s bouncy. Not harsh, but there’s rock and roll over severe streets and back roads. Although I must say the interior remains comfy and quiet, just some noticeable tire noise on certain pavements.
Ford now uses a fine 10-speed automatic transmission to give the truck a luxury feel while aiding its mileage. Mostly it’s wonderful, at least from third gear on up. Shifts from first to second and second to third can be a little abrupt at times, which you notice when cruising at low speeds on electric power around the neighborhood.
There’s much to praise for Ford’s luxury-level interior too, but first let’s look at its bed and that generator, which is tucked inside the driver’s side rear fender, with power access in the bed’s wall. Here you can plug into various outlets to access 7.2kw of power. This is just a $750 option for the Pro Power system, and would cost you more to get similar generation power from an independent unit. A smaller unit is standard.
Obviously this is a boon for contractors and construction folks needing quick access to electricity on a job site. Just leave the truck running (Stop & Go will turn off the gas engine shortly) and plug in. The batteries in the truck do the rest through the inverter and generator.
Just how much power is this? Well, I’m cheating a bit here, but found that Ezra Dyer of Car and Driver magazine tested the generator by running extension cords to his house and fired up virtually everything one would need to survive a big power outage. (Truck should sell well in Texas after this winter!) That means a couple fridges, TV, computer and plenty of lights. Ford assures us the power will last at least 72 hours. Wow, just wow!
Talk about a perfect truck to tow a camper. Just plug in wherever you stop and you’ve got lights, heat, etc. to help you smooth out your “roughing it” outing. Speaking of trailering, this hybrid model will tow a magnificent 12,700 pounds, so it’s still a hauler.
Inside, well, nothing is rough in here.
The red truck features a handsome chocolate brown over black interior with doors and dash being two-tone and the seats a perforated black leather with chocolate brown piping while the giant storage box between the front seats is brown with black edging. That box is massive, and here there was a flip-up work surface, just $165 extra.
Now, one might wonder how that works since there’s a large shift lever at the front of the console that would prevent the flip-up surface from lying flat. Ford solves this with a button to retract the shift lever. Clever, but it sounds like a coffee grinder during retraction. Hope they work on that for the next go-round, or put the shifter on the column, or make it a retractable knob like some other brands do.
Seating is comfortable and roomy front and rear with fairly flat seat bottoms and more contoured backs. Everything is powered and there are three memory buttons for the driver’s seat. Front seats are heated and cooled and the steering wheel is heated here, as are the outer rear seats.
This dash is an eyeful, mostly in a good way. The instrument panel in front of the driver, plus the infotainment screen are both 12-inchers, so easy to see and read. In fact, the digital speedometer is so big it took me the full week to get used to it, but you SURE CAN see it. Mostly the info screen is easy to see and use too, but the split screen does take a little study, so do that first before you engage the throttle.
One morning I had a little bugaboo when the screen froze trying to load the navigation system, saying it was in low-power mode. So I couldn’t use the screen until after I’d shut the truck off for several hours and it decided to return to full power mode. Hmmm!
Possible too that one could become overwhelmed by all the dash buttons. I counted 31, plus 1 toggle and 7 knobs. The buttons were a bit much, plus there are more to deal with on the info screen.
Overhead was a fine twin-panel sunroof that adds $1,495 to the sticker, one of 16 options here. I liked it though, and the standard Bang & Olufsen sound system was a winner too.
Certainly Ford offers a full complement of safety devices from lane-keeping assist to park sensors, blind-spot warning and emergency collision braking, plus a smart cruise control system. I should point out for trailer haulers the cool Pro Trailer system that uses a knob on the dash to help a driver back up to, and attach, a trailer.
Other goodies included a power tailgate ($695) that both powers up and down, plus there’s a fold-out step and handle in the gate. A spray-in bed liner ($595) was added, and there was a yardstick and meter measuring template molded into the tailgate, another benefit for those using this big people hauler as a work truck.
Luckily the F-150 added running boards for $225, otherwise those under 6-foot or so probably would need a stepladder to crawl aboard. Rubber floor mats added $200 and the 360-degree camera another $765. That’s needed for parking.
Other various packages including one for Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 and appearance packages added another roughly $10,000. Overall there were $20,000 in options on the Lariat, which starts at $52,675 including delivery. Total then was $70,960, a huge price that falls just short of what I paid for a house 25 years ago.
Don’t be scared off though, there are so many models and configurations that surely you can find an F-150 in your price range. The base regular-cab XL with 2-wheel-drive lists at about $29,000. While a Limited 4×4 hybrid model can nearly hit $80 grand.
Know that there are three cab style choices, three bed lengths, 6 powertrains (including hybrid and diesel), 6 trims and then the performance-oriented Raptor. But that’s for another review.
Ford remains the technology leader among pickups.
FAST STATS: 2021 Ford F-150 4×4 SuperCrew Lariat (hybrid)
Hits: Roomy work truck with luxury interior, hybrid power and improved mpg, plus a built-in generator in the bed. Huge info screen and instrument gauges, large sunroof, heated wheel and heat/cool seats, power tailgate w/step, 360-degree camera, fold-out work area, running boards. Excellent towing power and acceleration, decent handling and Pro Trailer system to help when attaching a trailer.
Misses: Big truck bouncy ride, difficult parking in tight lots, odd fold-down gear shift lever sounds like coffee grinder, an overabundance of buttons and knobs on dash, info screen got stuck once and couldn’t be used.
Everyman’s Car of the Year, where style and value still matter …
Nothing lasts forever I’m told, so my Zoomie Car of the Year awards appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 25 years, then got kicked to the curb. I wrapped up my Zoomies on the Savageonwheels.com website and on WUWM in 2015, and that was that.
But now that my auto review column appears weekly on WUWM’s website, and the annual Milwaukee Auto Show is rolling back around from now until March 1, it seemed a good moment to bring back Zoomie.
There are big trucks and Monster trucks, no not those with the giant wheels that crush cars in arenas around the Midwest all winter, but Really Big trucks, like the RAM heavy-duty beast I just drove.I’ve been on the commercial test truck list for Chrysler Corp. of late. So this week I ran the RAM 2500 SLT Crew Cab 4X4, with the CNG option. That’s a long name for a giant truck, but the key differentiator is that it runs on both gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG).
To be honest, no one who isn’t into the construction trades or farming is likely going to even consider this monster. RAM says it only offers the truck to fleet and commercial buyers. But here’s the lowdown on it, in case you fall into one of those categories.
The RAM, formerly known as Dodge, is the normal three-quarter ton heavy-duty crew cab model with a long (8-foot) bed. It needs the long bed because it hauls along two large CNG tanks (130-liters each and equivalent to 18.2 gallons of gasoline) under a steel cover in the bed, just behind the cab. You can fill the tanks via an outlet in the normal fuel filler area, or fill its 35-gallon gas tank in the same spot. Continue reading 2013 RAM 2500 SLT Crew Cab→