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US:Ford flexes its urban muscle; hip-hop DJ to promote customized F-150, Fusion sedan

Ford flexes its urban muscle; hip-hop DJ to promote customized F-150 pickup, Fusion sedan

MARCUS AMICK | Automotive News

Ford Motor Co. is teaming up with auto enthusiast and hip-hop disc jockey FunkMaster Flex to promote customized versions of the Ford F-150 pickup and new Fusion sedan. Ford wants to make the vehicles more appealing to young trendsetters.

Flex is the star of "Ride with FunkMaster Flex," a show on the Spike TV cable network. He will appear at Ford promotional events and lead a five-city tour that includes the customized vehicles this summer.

Ford marketing officials say they anticipate the partnership with FunkMaster Flex will attract black consumers to the F-150 and Fusion.

'Simple stuff'

"I think this is a good-priced car," Flex says of the Fusion. "It still has that Americana look. Simple stuff like the way the exhaust pipe is cut out and the way the car already appears to be lowered makes it appealing."

The Fusion is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this fall. It is expected to have a base price under $20,000.

Flex says he plans to customize the Fusion with wheels, chrome accents, tinted windows, exhaust modifications and two TV sets. He plans to paint the car's mirrors to match its exterior color.

Flex will give away the Fusion and F-150 he is customizing after the summer tour. He will coordinate the contest on his Web site,

Ford's black marketing agency, UniWorld Group Inc. in New York, brokered the deal between Flex and Ford.

James Malone, the agency's group account director, says Flex brings panache to the Ford brand.

"He brings some style and pizzazz to Ford, which is really a tried and true brand," Malone says. "We're going to have him show another side of Ford and the product line that (people) don't see beyond the Mustang GT and Ford GT. They've got some exciting vehicles coming, and we want to get Flex involved in those."

Malone says the agreement with Ford also calls for Flex to customize versions of the Explorer SUV and the 2007 Expedition SUV.

On an episode this month of MTV's "Total Request Live," Flex touted a Ford Excursion limousine and a 2005 Mustang GT convertible as "ultimate" prom vehicles.

Through his customizing group, Team Baurtwell, Flex has customized vehicles for musicians Mariah Carey, Moby and Wyclef Jean; model Tyra Banks; and sports figures Tracy McGrady and John Madden.

Previous promotions

He also has participated previous customizing promotions of the Cadillac Escalade and Nissan Altima.

Flex's touring celebrity car show that will include the customized Fusion and F-150 starts in June. It has scheduled stops in Boston; Miami; Atlantic City, N.J.; Edison, N.J.; and Ocean City, Md.

Flex says customization is increasingly important to automakers and buyers. "Whether they're male, female, young or old, people do not want their car to look exactly like the person that they pull up next to," he says. "But they still want a factory feel. When you can capture that, you got a successful car."

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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