Whipped: Nelly Flexes with Ford

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    Take a ride with hip-hop superstar Nelly and automaker Ford as they customize the St. Lunatic’s Ford Flex.  – MADISON MOBLEY

    Grammy Award-winning artist Nelly will see his brand new customized 2009 Ford Flex showcased today November 4, at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in Las Vegas.

    The Flex, Ford’s newest crossover vehicle, caught the artist’s eye in July at when the American automaker sponsored an event in Atlanta.

    “When I saw it, I said ‘Yo, that’s hot! How can I get one of those?'” said Nelly. “I’m what you call a ‘premiere stuntastic stuntman,’ and when it comes to cars, my love runs deep.”

    Nelly reached out to Ford and New York City mixmaster Funkmaster Flex, who has partnered with Ford to customize vehicles since 2005.

    Nelly, Funkmaster Flex and Ford met for the first time on October 2 in Flex’s warehouse in The Bronx to discuss the customization process. Two weeks later, Nelly and Ford met in Dearborn, Michigan for a second meeting. Funkmaster Flex commented, “From our initial meeting 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”

    Usha Raghavachari, Ford’s crossover Marketing Communcations Manager, was delighted to see how excited Nelly was about the Flex. “He is a huge hip hop star who transcends the traditional audience. The fact that he is attracted to the Flex is a huge testament to its head turning design,” said Raghavachari.  

    After meeting with Nelly in New York, Ford designer Melvin Betancourt began sketching. Nelly wanted a custom-color blue car with a white roof, great sound system, 22-inch wheels, and an exhaust system with a little rumble in it, and a personalized interior. He got just that. A custom appliqué was designed for the roof. NC Forged “6 spoke” 3-piece aluminum wheels with NC floating center caps were selected.

    “Wheels are either all-chrome or all painted,” Betancourt said. “We did chrome rims with a brushed aluminum center, which is very unusual. We also offset the wheels with a 4.5 inch rim in the back, and a three inch rim in the front, which creates a staggered look.”

    Inside the Flex, Ford went with a black Tuscany leather interior with Katzkin seats and blue stitching to compliment the blue exterior while the roof’s appliqué artwork replaced the wood grain trim on the interior. Also inside, is Ford’s exclusive SYNC technology and a CIM LIIV wireless entertainment system.

    Despite the custom bells and whistles incorporated on the ‘Nelly’ Flex, don’t expect to see “NELLY” scrawled on every seat and floor mat. “If anything, I wanted ‘Ford’ or ‘Flex’ on the seats. Something classic. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older,” Nelly said.

    Ford helped the rapper celebrate his 34th birthday at Club Lavo in Las Vegas this past Sunday night (Nov. 2) — Flex cake included.

    Though the “Nelly” Flex is nearly complete, there is still some unfinished business. The custom blue must be officially named Nelly’s own. Word on the street is that the color will be nationally known as “Saint Lou Blue.”

    We’ll see…

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