Sam Walton needed one vehicle; Jay Leno has hundreds. But the comedian and founder of Walmart both knew about business, marketing and a good truck when they saw one.
Which is why Walmart and Leno, the renowned collector, have collaborated to reimagine the late Walton’s 1979 Ford F-150.
Using a 2021 Ford F-150, the project will celebrate the debut of Leno’s line of car care and detailing products at Walmart beginning in early 2021.
Jay Leno Has Honored Sam Walton
Walton cherished his battered truck. Among the entrepreneur’s legacy is a tale about why Walton continued to drive the truck despite being able to afford any vehicle he wanted.
“What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in a Rolls-Royce?” Walton said when asked about his vintage truck. It remains on display at the Walmart Heritage Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.
There’s nothing new about making a new truck look old. But the new Ford F-150 is painted the same red and white two-tone color combination at Walton’s beast. It even has Walton’s dog boxes in the bed.
The bespoke F-150 white steelie-style pieces are painted white to match as well. They’re wrapped around white-letter tires, just like Walton’s truck.
Leno has customized the truck as he thought Walton preferred. The new F-150 has some exceptions, like leather seating and other amenities the retailer would have determined are unnecessary.
“We matched it exactly as what I think he would have liked,” said Leno of the icon who died in 1992. “I know Sam was not a fancy guy. He probably wouldn’t have gone for the leather interior and all that stuff, but we built it up,” Leno said on his Youtube show Leno’s Garage.
According to legend, Walton always favored simplicity. He drove his 1979 Ford F-150 as an ideally reliable form of transportation. He used it for hunting and fishing trips and drove to various Walmart stores.
Alan Dranow, the curator of the Walmart Heritage Museum, called Walton’s truck a “symbol of humility and frugality.”
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: [email protected].