Ken Block and Ford Performance went to great lengths to turn the 1977 Ford F-150 into the Hoonitruck for Gymkhana 10. But there's more than just fancy fabrication and quick footwork to make this truck work its magic. There's research, development, and what Ford calls a record-breaking use of 3D printing.
The Hoonitruck drops the original 1977 Ford engine for a 3.5L twin-turbo Ecoboost V6. The same engine as the Ford GT supercar. But in this truck, the power gets turned up. Way up. More than 900 hp. To help do that, they needed the largest 3D metal-printed part to ever go into a working vehicle.
Ford Performance engineers ran computer simulations to design an intake that would maximise power. It used to be that figuring out the right design was the easy part. Then you had to build it. You needed to make expensive moulds or spend dozens of hours fabricating a part that may or may not be exactly what was called for.
This time, Ford Performance reached out to the RWTH Aachen's Digital Additive Production Institute in Germany. They printed the intake manifold from aluminum, using a complex inner structure. Supports needed for production but not for the finished product were then dissolved with acid.
Using 3D printing, they were able to build the 12 lb intake in just five days, and have it look like a piece of performance art.
"I think Ford did an exceptional job. This is my favourite part of the ‘Hoonitruck’. You could not have made it any other way," said Block.
3D printing, and the speed and ease of manufacturing that comes with it, can lead to cheaper and easier development of performance parts. Not just for one-offs like the Hoonitruck, but for sale to customers down the road.