Video games, especially racing ones, can be a gold mine for automakers. But high-dollar supercars aren’t the only star-power vehicles out there. Trucks like the Ford F-150 can get players just as excited—especially modified ones. And at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, Ford brought one of its digital racing trucks to life with the F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL.
Rocket League offered some special Ford F-150 trucks for a limited time
The video game Rocket League is essentially soccer played with rocket-propelled cars. And while it already features a wide variety of vehicles, fans repeatedly asked developer Psyonix for some kind of truck.
At the same time, Ford was starting to expand its involvement in the gaming world. The Blue Oval’s products have already appeared in games like Forza and Gran Turismo, but the company wanted to go further. And seeing as Ford makes several trucks, including the F-150, Psyonix decided to collaborate with the automaker.
The result—besides a championship sponsorship—was the digital Ford F-150 RLE (Rocket League Edition). Or rather, F-150 RLEs, because Psyonix released two limited-edition versions, Roadshow explains. The first Ford F-150 Rocket League truck was available from February 20-28, 2021. And to celebrate the 4th of July, Psyonix released a red-white-and-blue version available from July 1-5, 2021.
Although it’s not a ‘real’ truck, the Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition is based on the production F-150. Underneath the glowing wheels, bed-mounted rocket booster, and tailgate-exiting exhausts, it bears a few F-150 Raptor hallmarks, MotorTrend notes. For example, the grille, headlights, and fender flares. Not to mention the off-road tires and lifted stance.
However, Ford didn’t stop at putting the F-150 into Rocket League. It decided to do the reverse: bring the video game truck to the real world.
How close does the 2021 Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL come to the video game version?
The product of this de-virtualization is the 2021 Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL. On display at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show, it’s the closest thing to a real-life F-150 RLE. It even has a rocket booster in the bed, though it’s non-functional. And while the truck’s 37” wheels don’t glow blue fully, they are backlit with blue LEDs.
But just like the video game version, the Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL is based on a regular 2021 F-150. Albeit a heavily modified version. And I got a chance to briefly chat with the design and build team about what it took to bring this truck to life.
Firstly, much like with Hot Wheels, the designers had to tweak the F-150 RLE’s proportions somewhat so the physical truck wouldn’t look ‘off.’ Once the look was set, the build team got to work.
Besides the custom tailgate and rear end, the Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL’s bed is roughly 12” shorter than the standard one. Its A-pillars are also five inches further forward, which required fitting new aluminum side panels. But that was necessary to fit the rakish custom windshield. And the truck has the same black-and-green exterior roll cage and C-shaped bed hoop as the in-game version.
Although it rides on 37” wheels and off-road tires, the Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL has stock F-150 suspension. However, it does have a 2.5” lift as well as a Raptor front end. Its front track, though, is actually wider than the Raptor’s front track. The F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL’s headlights and taillights, though, are shaped the same as on the standard F-150.
How much does it cost?
While the 2021 Ford F-150 Rocket League Edition IRL has a functioning powertrain, it doesn’t work very well as a truck. Ford’s spokespeople told me that the wheels’ light elements don’t lend well to high speeds. Plus, even with the lift, the wheels and tires catch in the wheel wells. As such, it’s more of a static concept.
And while it’s based on the production F-150, Ford has no intention of putting something like this into production. The Rocket League Edition IRL truck also isn’t for sale, and there aren’t any plans to make look-alike kits for F-150 owners. Rather, the truck’s job is to “signal Ford’s interest in the gaming space,” MT explains.
Still, bringing a video game vehicle to life is no small feat. And from the sound of things, this might not be the last time Ford does something like this. As for what’s next, that depends on the gamers.
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