Click above for high-res gallery of the Flexes from SEMA
With so many acres of sheetmetal to work with, the Ford Flex definitely offers a tempting canvas for tuners and automotive taggers. But 13 official custom Flexes? It seems everyone and their mother decided to do up a tuned Flex this year for SEMA. We were told there were at least 13, but we suspect there were closer to 1,000 including everything from street machines to art cars to Land Rover look-alikes (above). While any one of them might be striking enough to catch your eye at the local pee-wee soccer game, seeing so many together can be overwhelming. Still, if taken individually there are some very nice interpretations of the modern full-size wagon here. Flex customizers displaying their handiwork include Funkmaster Flex, 3dCarbon, Catalyst Industrial Marking, Kal Koncepts/Air Syndicate Inc., Mobsteel, Galpin Auto Sports, Lee Quinones for Automobile Magazine, CGS Motorsports, Rick Bottom Designs, Hot Rod Magazine, Heavy Hitters Magazine, and even Motor Trend. The MT one has a humidor. A video of the unveiling with... uh... Nelly and complete details of each are after the jump and a huge gallery is available by clicking any image.
Photos copyright ©2008 Frank Filipponio, Drew Phillips/Weblogs, Inc.
Nelly introduces Ford Flex
FORD FLEX LEADS PERSONALIZATION LINE-UP AT SEMA
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 31, 2008 – The already daring design of the all-new 2009 Ford Flex lends itself to a wide range of opportunities for customers who want to add personality to their vehicle.
More than a dozen aftermarket designers will display their unique, "tricked-out" interpretations of Ford's newest crossover at next week's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.
"Flex is a vehicle that speaks to people with its polarizing style," said Kate Pearce, Flex marketing manager. "That really is the magic of the car and what makes this vehicle so important for Ford Motor Company."
According to Pearce, Flex's customization appeal starts at the factory.
"When you're ordering the car, there are a variety of personalization options available, with the colors, series and features you choose," she said. "For example, you can order a monotone versus a two-tone vehicle, and you can pick what color roof you want."
At the dealership level, the range of possibilities broadens even further with Ford Custom Accessories, which run the gamut from rear spoilers and exterior vinyl graphics to interior trim kits and Katzkin® leather seat covers.
"When people see this car, they're absolutely surprised that it's a Ford," said Pearce. "The fact that we're able to put new designs out in the marketplace that are different from anything we've ever created before is exciting for us and for our customers."
Pearce says that there was a lot of interest and curiosity surrounding the Flex early on – especially from aftermarket designers who wanted to customize the vehicle.
"Before the vehicle was even launched, customization shops were playing with the images online to show what they could do with the car," she said. "That was confirmation of what we already knew, which was that this vehicle would have mass appeal in the customization world."
Adam Genei, owner of Mobsteel in Brighton, Mich., says the Flex grabbed his attention.
"Flex has a lot of character, and it has a kind of retro-coolness to it," he said. "There are 100 different versions of it I'd like to make."
For the SEMA show, Genei says his goal was to create a more "aggressive-looking" Flex.
"We're known for the dark, menacing-looking ride," he said. "Essentially, we redesigned the front and rear fascias of the vehicle to give it a mean look and turn it into a pit bull."
The Mobsteel Flex is "dark." It's all blacked out with a matte black roof, grille and 24-inch wheels. The interior is also completely black, from the headliner to the pillars to the seats. The vehicle also features a rear center-exiting exhaust and rear doors that open from the center out to the side.
"We tried to make a real statement with this car," said Genei. "We made it as raw and mean-looking as possible without getting flashy."
Ernie Bunnell, owner of 3dCarbon, had something totally different in mind for his show car. His Flex reflects more European styling.
"We designed a 10-piece body kit that makes the vehicle look sleek," he said. "To complete the look, we added 24-inch rims, a carbon fiber roof and a Katzkin® leather interior."
Ford Designer Melvin Betancourt says each and every Flex on display at the SEMA show is unique and different.
"The vehicle is like a blank canvas. You can customize it any way you want," he said. "That's the beauty of Flex."
The Flex project vehicles featured at this year's SEMA show include:
2009 Ford Flex by 3dCarbon
Flex is a uniquely American vehicle with a global appeal. In this spirit, the 2009 "Euro Series" Ford Flex by 3dCarbon is the embodiment of European aerodynamics fused with American hot rod styling.
The bold, dynamic styling transforms Ford Flex into a true hot rod-inspired European touring vehicle, which exudes confidence and street presence. The 3dCarbon "Euro Series" Flex starts with 3dCarbon's 10-piece body kit that includes front air dam, 4-piece side skirts, rear lower skirt and upper roof spoiler. Add a host of mods like custom paint from House of Kolor, 24-inch rims, super-low-profile tires and unique graphics and you have a vehicle that will turn heads day or night. On the inside, the driver and passengers are caressed by a custom Katzkin leather interior and surrounded by bangin' Sony audio.
2009 Ford Flex by Catalyst Industrial Marking
Ford Flex Limited is built to deliver freedom, surprises and delights. It is everything life ought to be. Combining head-turning style with seven-passenger capability, Flex is everything but ordinary.
Enter Catalyst Industrial Marking and their history of pushing personalization to the edge with Raceskinz™ Premium Composite Graphics & Accessories. Their take on Ford Flex Limited features Timeless Brushed Metal components that include: exterior lid (roof), mirror covers, rear door fascia, plus interior door and dash trim. The Flex by Catalyst also introduces LIIV™ (live), the first wireless internet entertainment system for your automobile that enables passengers to enjoy web surfing, online games, e-mail, downloaded movies, music and more.
2009 Ford Flex by Kal Koncepts/Air Syndicate Inc.
With its unique profile, Flex owns the night. Wherever you go in Flex, everyone will see you coming. Now, everyone will hear you coming as well with this 2009 Ford Flex that embodies the Urban/Hip-Hop genre in a
An in-your-face kustom paint job is the primary element of the vehicle theme. From MC, to DJ, to B-boxing, to Grafitti, the heroes and art forms of this on-the-edge lifestyle are depicted in the mural work. The 22-inch Dub spinners top off the radical look to give this Flex a very unique and individual attitude. The theme is continued through the interior with the massive Sony Xplod sound system and the traditional DJ station set up in the back. The two turn tables, and mixer have been set up in "battle" style by renowned DJ Alex G of "Violator All Star DJ's." This is a true Urban Flex, with solid roots in the Hip Hop Genre.
2009 Ford Flex by Mobsteel
Flex and Mobsteel are both committed to being anything but ordinary. It's not surprising that the 2009 Ford Flex by Mobsteel is an extraordinary vehicle.
The trademark black-on-black Mobsteel paint job, custom fascias, along with a host of trim touches and details give this 2009 Flex a tough menacing look whether it's coming or going. That's just the beginning, however, because this Flex has the goods inside and out. This bad boy rides on massive 24-inch Mobsteel forged two-piece wheels and super-low-profile Pirelli P Zero Nero tires. A completely customized chassis with Air Runner front struts, Low Rider Depot air management and Mobsteel adjustable rear air ride provide attitude to the max. And, a Magnaflow Performance cat back exhaust makes this Flex sound as tough as it looks.
2009 Ford Flex by Galpin Auto Sports
The 2009 Ford Flex is a segment busting vehicle that combines urban attitude with everyday utility. This customized Ford Flex from Galpin Auto Sports takes that blend to the limit and offers the essence of 'Urban-Metro' design.
Created to present a daring but subtle street look, the color scheme features bold Butterscotch Orange from BASF topped with a White Pearl roof design. This look is set off by a subtle custom front fascia and monochromatic grille treatment. On the inside, passengers can relax in white leather Katzkin seats with butterscotch accents while they groove to a poppin' audio system that features JL components housed in a custom enclosure by Galpin Auto Sports. With its blend of attitude and function this unique Flex is a head-turner and a daily driver all-in-one.
2009 Ford Flex, an Art Car by Lee Quinones for Automobile Magazine
Ford Flex has staked a claim on the streets as a true American original. So has Lee Quinones. He emerged from the New York City subway art movement in the 1970s to international prominence in the arts and in popular culture. Appearing and starring in important films like Wild Style, his work is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, the Groningen Museum and the Museum of the City of New York.
Automobile Magazine, America's leading automotive lifestyle publication, has collaborated with Quinones to create a modern Art Car. "Only in New York" is Quinones's vision of the Ford Flex as an urban social gallery, a reflection of both modern day New York and folkloric aspects of Big Apple culture. His concept of the Ford Flex embodies the determination and power that propels New York pride and epitomizes the frenzied fast-paced lifestyle, where everything and anything can happen in the hint of a blink of an eye.
2009 Ford Flex by CGS Motorsports
CGS Performance Exhaust has added a sense of artistic design and hot rod performance to the 2009 Ford Flex, giving it a styled "Reflex." The vehicle captures the eye of the automotive enthusiast as well as a sense of awe from the average person. The styling changes are subtle, looking as if they could be factory design. Yet you know without a doubt something is a little "cooler," although, you're just not sure what. The "Reflex" has 22-inch one-off custom billet wheels, custom body kit accentuating the Flex's styling, two-toned custom paint design, re-wrapped custom leather interior, and added exhaust and air-intake modifications. As this vehicle passes by, people will definitely have their "Reflex" checked.
2009 Ford Flex by Rick Bottom Designs
The 2009 Ford Flex has a one-of-a-kind look that generates electricity everywhere it travels. With this upscale custom edition Flex, Rick Bottom Designs has turned up the voltage.
This Rick Bottom Ford Flex features a custom Tu-tone pearl paint scheme and a stylin' eleven piece body kit. Sparkling chrome moldings and grilles give it a jewel like appearance. A 22-inch wheel and tire package add a sporty attitude and improved handling. Inside a serious sound system and second-row refrigerator will make any excursion seem shorter. This is the perfect vehicle for making your trip to the Hamptons in style and luxury.
2009 Ford Flex by Hot Rod Magazine
Ford Flex comes standard with an attitude all its own. The 2009 Ford Flex by Hot Rod Magazine pushes that attitude to the limit.
This eye-catching, high-performing take on Flex features bold, contemporary style. With its unique red "suede" finish, metal flake roof, legendary Hot Rod door graphics and distinctive Moon discs, this is one Ford Flex that has the kind of character it takes to stop traffic, whether it's cruising to the Hot Rod Shop in Los Angeles or supporting a Hot Rod Test Car on the salt at Bonneville.
2009 Ford Flex by Heavy Hitters Magazine
The 2009 Ford Flex is a 7-passenger, 24 mpg, head-turning street machine. Heavy Hitters built on the attention-getting style of Flex to create a vehicle that commands, but never demands respect.
The Heavy Hitters Ford Flex boasts all of the finest interior appointments possible; including state-of-the-art massage chairs and a thermal imaging system. On the outside, modified body lines flaunt sophistication and power. The end result is a clean execution that is true to its original form and function. It earns double-takes and nods of approval from the ruling elite and industry experts while maintaining its street credibility and mass appeal.
2009 Ford Flex by Motor Trend
Flex from Ford is a segment-busting lifestyle vehicle for those who are ready for something way beyond ordinary. With their take on the Ford Flex, Motor Trend has pushed the envelope even further. They turned Flex into a ground-based version of the ultimate high tech sophisticated vehicle, the private jet.
The exterior of the Flex from Motor Trend is both imposing and discreet, with subtle brushed metal finishes complementing the black-on-black paint. Inside, there's a functional pilot's cockpit for the chauffeur, and a luxurious private cabin for two, trimmed in the finest leather and equipped with an information and entertainment system, bar, and humidor.
Friends Surprise Nelly with Big Birthday Bash in Sin City
LAS VEGAS, Nev., Nov. 4, 2008 – Grammy Award-winning artist Nelly will see his brand new customized 2009 Ford Flex for the first time today when the vehicle is unveiled on the Ford stand at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.
The 34-year-old rapper, singer and actor says Ford's newest crossover caught his eye for the first time in July when it was on display at a Ford-sponsored event in Atlanta.
"When I saw it, I said 'Yo, that's hot! How can I get one of those?'" he recalled. "I thought it was a real unique vehicle."
Later that night, Nelly shared his excitement about the car with his good friend, hip hop DJ Funkmaster Flex, who has a customized Flex of his own. That's when the metaphorical wheels started turning.
"I've been partnering with Ford on some amazing vehicles since 2005," said Funkmaster Flex. When Nelly reached out on wanting a custom Flex of his own, I knew it was going to be 'on and poppin.' From our initial meeting with him at my warehouse in the Bronx to follow-up conversations that we had about this vehicle, there was no doubt that we could deliver something that would ultimately be true to Nelly and his own style".
"When it comes to a vehicle looking sweet, this crossover is beyond sweet," said Flex of the crossover. "This vehicle is one where you can be hot coming off the dealership lot-which is a plus, but when you know that you can customize it afterwards and turn a car that's a 10 into a 20-that's super hot." It was even more exciting for me to be able to work with Nelly and introduce him to the Ford team of designers to create a vehicle all his own. It was definitely an experience."
Usha Raghavachari, Ford's Crossover Marketing Communications Manager, attended the initial event in Atlanta and says she was delighted to see how enthusiastic Nelly was about the Flex.
"He is a huge hip hop star who transcends the traditional audience. The fact that he is attracted to Flex is testament to its head-turning design," she said.
Nelly says he was thrilled about the idea of "building" his own Flex.
"I'm what they call a 'premiere stuntastic stuntman,' and so you know when it comes to cars, I'm pretty inclined to go overboard," he said. "I wanted to really turn the vehicle into mine. You can do so much with it, and I think that's the best thing about it."
After meeting with Nelly and getting a feel for his taste, Ford Designer Melvin Betancourt began sketching.
"Just from talking with Nelly, we knew that he wanted a custom-color blue car with a white roof, a great sound system, 22-inch wheels, an exhaust system with a little bit of a rumble on it, and a personalized interior," said Betancourt, who worked with Catalyst Industrial Marking, Inc. to build the vehicle. "He wanted our input on the other elements of the customization."
One of the first ideas they had, says Betancourt, was to design a custom appliqué for the roof.
"We created an art form that we feel reflects Nelly's personality," he said. "It's a bird, which is a symbol of freedom -- the ability to do whatever you want in life -- and it has a very modern feel to it, which is very Flex."
The wheels had to stand out. So the team chose NC Forged "6 Spoke" 3-piece aluminum, 22-inch wheels with NC floating center caps.
"Wheels are usually either all-chrome or all-painted. We did custom chrome rims with a brushed aluminum center, which is very unusual," he said. "We also wanted a wild, crazy offset on the wheels, so we went with a 4½-inch rim in the back and a 3-inch rim in the front, which creates a staggered look."
Betancourt says the inspiration for the interior of the vehicle came largely from the exterior.
"The outside of the car reflects his personality, so it was a matter of bringing the some of the same elements inside," he said.
The team selected a black Tuscany leather interior with Katzkin® seats and contrast blue stitching that picks up the unique exterior color of the car. They also replaced all the wood grain trim inside the car with the same artwork appliqué featured on the roof.
In addition, Nelly's Flex features the industry-exclusive Ford SYNC™ technology and a CIM LIIV™ wireless Internet entertainment system, which enables passengers to enjoy web surfing, online games, e-mail, downloaded movies, music and live television.
Nelly says one of the things that really attracts him to the Ford Flex is the vehicle's potential to transcend the generation gap.
"It used to be that parents and kids didn't like the same thing. Families are getting a lot younger, and now it's kind of a friendship between parents and kids," he explained. "When you can have a vehicle that both can rock their own way, I think you have something there that's very special."
"Flex has successfully attracted a wide variety of people to Ford, with over half our customers being completely new to the Ford brand," she said. "This car helps our customers make a real statement about themselves and allows us to make a statement about where Ford is headed in terms of design and innovation."