Ford responds to Twitter pleas for electrified 1978 F-100: What CEO said

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press

This particular dream, my truck-loving friends, is not coming true. 

No matter how much begging and pleading is done.

It's just not happening. 

But watching the tease has been fun.

Ford Motor Company unveiled a vintage 1978 Ford F-100 Eluminator on Tuesday with a battery electric powertrain, hand-crank window handles, giant display screen and a sleek interior modeled after the Mustang Mach-E at the SEMA Show, where the Specialty Equipment Market Association temporarily steals the spotlight in Las Vegas.

Social media has been buzzing for days.

This 1978 Ford F-100, displayed at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas on Nov. 2, 2021, with a 2021 Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition battery electric powertrain and twin front and rear electric traction motors. This promotes the Eluminator electric crate motor available for purchase from a local car dealer or online from Ford Performance for $3,900.

The one-of-a-kind prototype vehicle nearly blew up the Twittersphere. 

"For the first time in my life, I want a truck," tweeted film critic Michael Nordine Wednesday from his @slowbeard account.

On  new album "Something More than Free," Jason Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit, stick to the quiet, spare sound that characterized "Southeastern," their acclaimed 2013 release.

"I will buy the living hell out of this if you make it," Grammy-winning singer songwriter @JasonIsbell, formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, tweeted Tuesday to his 407,000 followers.

Country singer Margo Price tweeted Wednesday from @MissMargoPrice to her 70,000 followers, "Holy (expletive) ... I would even write a song about a truck for the commercial."

Nostalgia wins

Robert Davidman, a partner at The Fearless Agency on Madison Avenue in New York, told the Free Press that the retro campaign and eco-friendly message especially resonates with young consumers and generates a unique excitement for the company and what's possible — even if this specific product isn't being made. 

"Retro is chic. For Ford, it means that people want to keep a little nostalgia while being a bit more eco-friendly," he said. "Seeing the F-100 reminds me of the summers where we backed into the spot at the drive-in and sat on lawn chairs in the truck bed and watched 'Jaws 2.'" 

Amanda Yeo wrote for this week, "Ford has revealed a new electric pickup truck that looks like a retro futuristic dream. I don't even drive and I'm excited."

Internet personality Casey Neistat (L) and host King Bach at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 4, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. Neistat gave a shoutout to Ford on Twitter after the company revealed an electrified 1978 Ford F-100.

"careful Ford. you go and release a truck like this and youre gonna find yourself atop the throne for the coolest (expletive) car company on the planet," Casey Neistat tweeted Tuesday. The YouTube personality and vlogger has two million Twitter followers and 12 million subscribers to his online video platform channel. 

Ford CEO Jim Farley tweeted back Tuesday, "Who doesn't love a throwback? I'll see what I can do."

It was a brutal tease.

After all, Ford took its iconic Mustang and turned it into the award-winning all-electric Mustang Mach-E that has won over its harshest critics, so the automaker is feeling a little cheeky.

The UK-based @autocar website and magazine tweeted, "It's only Wednesday, but chances are ... F-100 Eluminator concept is the coolest thing we'll see all week."

Thing is, this whole amped-up situation was inspired by news that Ford Performance would be selling for $3,900 an electric crate motor for regular people to buy for their classic cars. Ford Performance is an organization within Ford Motor Company that runs global motorsports and builds and sells performance parts and vehicles such as the F-150 Raptor and Mustang Shelby GT500.

Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, told the Free Press Thursday, "We don't have a current way to put the F-100 Eluminator into production so we're letting our passionate customers build the electric vehicle of their dreams, ordering online to build something special in their own garage."

Ford says more car accessories are on the way.

"Buckle up. This is just the start," Rushbrook said.

In fact, a bunch of specialty companies already transform classics into hybrid versions of vintage beauty and current safety and luxury, with vehicles that start at $150,000.

An F-100 is no Cybertruck

People are connecting with this prototype in ways few expected.

"You can’t replicate the heritage and feeling of an F-100. And you definitely don't expect it to be all electric," Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications director, told the Free Press.

The Ford team knew this was a place where its primary challengers in the all-electric Wild West simply can't compete. The value of childhood memories riding in a truck, watching work get done with a pickup and cruising, is priceless. Farley has said the team has to get creative and find its soul in order to compete on every level against the $1 trillion company dominating electric sales: Tesla. 

 A company launched in 2003 in San Carlos, California, doesn't have the same history with America as the company founded in 1903 in Detroit.

"F-Series is part of America’s DNA," Levine said. 

Tesla is creating the Cybertruck while Ford will build the F-150 Lightning.

Ford has confirmed more than 160,000 reservations placed with $100 deposits for the first all-electric version of the bestselling F-Series. That franchise is worth billions. So building the Lightning trucks is top priority.

More:Ford CEO gives employees sobering data about Tesla, challenges ahead

More:I drove a Ford Mustang Mach-E for 10 days — and it was incredible

Meanwhile, Ford was never suggesting it would remake the F-100 to sell.

This Eluminator F-100 is just the stuff of fantasies.

Still hoping

Writer Baratunde Thurston, a cultural critic who helped relaunch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, tweeted Wednesday from @baratunde a photo of the F-100 to his 265,000 followers and said he wanted the Sanford & Son pickup next. Then he asked, "What cars do you want remade as electric?"

Farley tweeted praise Wednesday for the 1951 pickup used on the 1970s sitcom and asked, "Good question. What classic (or modern) vehicle would you want to see converted to become an EV?"

Pressed again on Friday about whether Ford might or could or would build the F-100, Levine said, "Keep the feedback coming."

When it comes to trucks, no is no.

For now. 

More:Ford goes all-in on electric vehicles with massive multibillion-dollar investment

More:Ford stock was cheaper than a sandwich. Now shareholders are gloating.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard her on Twitter@phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.