Indulging fans who grew up with Tonka’s famed trucks, Ford introduced the Mighty F-350 Tonka Concept at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The pairing brought together the playfulness of the legendary children’s toy and the strength and reliability of Ford trucks.
The truck was based on the F-Series Super Duty F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab model, though its creators removed the B-pillar, giving the Tonka concept rear-hinged doors, accentuating an open cabin.
While the exterior was designed to revisit the toughness of the namesake toy, the aircraft-inspired interior was intended to be luxurious. A hydraulic Commander’s Seat inspired by class 8 vehicles was shock resistant in all terrain. A “smart box” located between the center console and front passenger seat was wired for power and data, and it also featured a navigation system. The box could also be converted to a jump seat for a sixth passenger.
In addition to the interior, the truck added a touch of class with “kneeling” entry courtesy of an air suspension system. The truck lowered 5 inches and running boards emerged for easier entry and exit, in addition to assisting cargo loading and unloading into and out of the truck bed.
The truck featured the first use of LED lighting in a headlamp application, as well as high intensity LEDs throughout the inside the outside of the vehicle. Early smart features such as a lane departure warning system and bed-mounted cameras for hitching and reversing were also added to the truck.
A 6.0-liter turbocharged V8 diesel engine produced 350 horsepower and 600 ft.-lb. of torque. The concept powertrain also featured Hydraulic Launch Assist, which was estimated to improve fuel economy by 25 to 35 percent by storing energy during deceleration for use during acceleration.
Though the Mighty F-350 Tonka Concept was not produced, it left its mark on the 2005 Super Duty, most notably with a bolder, more imposing front grille which had a more machined appearance. The prototype’s influence was also seen in the bumper treatment, which featured chrome steel lower bumper with a painted upper fascia.
A limited-edition Super Duty Amarillo – painted in Blazing Yellow – was also available in select markets.