1978 F-150 Becomes Beloved Family Project

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1978 F-150

Rusted out 1978 F-150 gets a second lease on life as one family’s fun driver.

When it comes to project trucks, there’s only one thing that can make them better. Well, except maybe winning the lottery after you buy one. We’re talking about using a project not only as a means to build a cool truck, but forge priceless memories with your family as well. And that’s exactly what FTE member Warhawk77 has planned with his latest project – this 1978 F-150.

“This will be a family project for sure. My wife and I both have good memories of these trucks. Both of our dads had one like it when we were kids. Now, we have two teenage boys (16 and 13). As a family, we are all looking forward to this truck and will be working on it over the winter.”

1978 F-150

The OP scored the 1978 F-150 for the paltry sum of $1,100. And it even came with extra parts, including a set of doors, a grille, and a passenger side floor pan. The truck was originally powered by a 300 6-cylinder, which was replaced by a 360 some time ago. Other goodies include a 4-speed manual transmission, NP-205 transfer case, and 9-inch rear end. But aside from swapping in a 390, the OP’s vision for the truck is pretty simple.

“My goal with this truck is to make it a fun driver. I might not make it a daily driver, but I want that option. I don’t plan on doing major off-road stuff or lifting it, but I want to be able to pull anything I need to. So I’ll do some engine upgrades and maybe change the gears. I do want a nice growl from the V8. And if I can leave some black marks on the pavement, that would be nice too. I told my boys it will be for fun, so we’ll drive it like we stole it. And when we break it, we’ll will fix it and do it again.”

1978 F-150

At this point, we’re wondering if the OP will just adopt us into the family. Maybe after the hard work is done, of course. After the initial teardown, several common problems reared their ugly heads. The floor pans on both sides were rusted out, with a few other holes here and there. The brakes obviously needed a refresh, and there was a fuel leak. But it didn’t take long to cross most of those items off the list.

“Here is my list of what I have done up to now:
-Fixed fuel leaking
-Replaced metal cab corners and floor pans (both sides)
-Replaced back of cab and floor
-Changed doors and fixed holes
-Rebuilt rear brake system”

1978 F-150

Not too shabby for a couple of month’s work. With input from the forum, the OP was gathering up some additional ideas for the once-downtrodden 1978 F-150 as well.

“I have been thinking I should paint if flat green and make it look like a military truck. Really like the idea of the fighter-style paint job, but I’m not sure I can sell the idea to the family. I think they like the idea of painting it two-tone blue.”

Things weren’t exactly going perfectly, however. Upon diving into the bodywork, the OP found some seriously poor repair work from the past.

“Started at the passenger side cab corner because someone had patched it before and I wanted to see how bad it was. WOW I found 4-5 feet of what looks like screen door and 2 pounds of Bondo. Tapped it with a rubber hammer and it kinda fell out. I don’t get some people. What were they thinking?”

1978 F-150

It’s a problem that many of us have faced with project trucks at least once in our lives. Far too many people have tried their hands at body repair, it would appear. Thankfully, the rust on the old 1978 F-150 wasn’t as bad as the OP initially feared, at least. And before long, the cab was looking like new in black primer.

1978 F-150

Eventually, the family got the chance to chip in and learn a few things.

“This weekend my youngest son and I rebuilt the rear brakes. I did the driver side first and showed him how to remove the drums. On the passenger side, he wanted to do it himself. So I let him remove everything. We also bled the system and he got the fun job of “1..2..3..holding.” He was a great help and I really enjoyed the time.”

Since then, the OP has begun fixing the heater and tidying up the interior. The grille is being straightened, and new bumpers fabricated. It’s safe to say that this 1978 F-150 is well on its way to becoming a fun toy. So be sure and follow along as this family project takes shape!



Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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