Dearborn is going Hollywood with the Ford Edge ST Camera Car.
Pursuit Systems helped modify the Edge ST for high-speed action footage.
Quick question: Say you need to film a car scene in a movie or a TV show, how do you do it? There’s a number of tricks Hollywood can pull, but if you want to shoot an actual car, driving down an actual road, you have to use something known as a “camera car.”
These are custom-built rigs that run all the way from simple to complex. However, this Ford Edge ST is, to my knowledge, the first camera car ever made by a major manufacturer.
Yes, I know, technically, this is a camera truck, and not a camera car, but that’s more of a generic term. Most of them are trucks. That’s because not only do you have to haul all the gear, but also the crew. And in a lot of situations, that means the camera operator, director of photography, crane operator, and other assistants.
The Ford Edge ST Camera Car has a huge gantry arm on top. This allows the camera to hang on the far end, being panned, tilted, and swung this way and that as called for in the script. Yes, having that much added extra weight is going to change how the thing handles. And that will only be compounded by actually moving the thing around during a shot.
Ergo, this is far from a normal Ford Edge.
FoMoCo partnered with camera car company Pursuit Systems to modify the Edge ST for high-speed chase scenes and action footage. The benchmarks for a typical camera car are daunting. For one thing, you have to use an industry standard crane system. Those can weigh up to 1,000 lbs.!
Next, camera cars often travel more than 100 mph, being driven with a degree of precision, braking, and handling. All while tracking to precise marks as the camera is rolling.
So, Pursuit Systems traveled from their North Hollywood headquarters to Dearborn and said that immortal line: “Hey kid, wanna be in pictures?” And of course Ford said yes, cause this is America and everyone wants to be a star.
“We’ve never done anything like this before with an SUV because there’s never been an SUV like Edge ST in our showroom,” explained Mark Grueber, Ford SUV Marketing Manager. “It has the performance chops and utility to keep up with fast-paced movie making.”
Ford’s first contribution to this tweaked Edge was a specially-tuned, twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost. Next, they dialed up a performance braking system, added an eight-speed transmission with selectable traction controls, and still made room for the driver and film crew.
Ford also added lots of structural support to the roof to accommodate the nearly 1,000 lbs. “Pursuit Arm.” That’s a company-specific piece of kit, but generically these things are called jib arms. And any jib arm worth its salt has to have all manner of stuff attached to it: Gyro-stabilized remote-control cameras, boom extensions, light set ups, you name it.
Shoot, back in the old days they used to hang the operator out there in a tiny seat!
To compensate for the weight of the crane and film equipment, Ford added an individual-wheel air suspension and gutted the interior. A roll cage protects occupants because things can go very wrong on movie sets. All wires are wrapped in matte black vinyl so they don’t reflect and spoil the magical illusion that is Hollywood.
One of the reasons I got into film and TV production (way back when) was, in addition to getting to make movies and stuff, I got to play with some really cool toys, like this 2019 Ford Edge ST. Sure, the hours are long, and you’re getting yelled at a lot of the time, but you get the satisfaction of saying, “Hey! See this Cheetos commercial? I did that!”
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter:@TonyBorroz