December 9, 1999 – FORD TRUCK HERITAGE

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Source: Ford Motor Company


“For more than 70 years, the Ford truck has been setting a _standard everywhere from farms to freeways. Ford’s reputation as a truck leader and innovator is a big part of our heritage and an even bigger part of our future.” – Jim O’Connor, Ford Division President

Today’s multi-configuration Ford F-Series truck has a history based on innovation. As Ford continues to change the face of the industry with new features, improvements and new versions of its trucks, it’s seems appropriate to note that the first Ford truck actually began its life as a platform derivative of the famous Model T.

The first factory-assembled pickup debuted in 1925 and sold for $281. Henry Ford billed it as the “Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body.” The truck featured a cargo box, adjustable tailgate, four stake pockets and heavy-duty rear springs. Ford built nearly 34,000 the first year.

Three years later, the Model T based truck was replaced by the Model A. The first closed-cab pickup, built in 1928, sported innovations such as a safety glass windshield, roll-up side windows and a three-speed transmission.

It was powered by a four-cylinder, L-head engine capable of 40 horsepower. In 1932, the 65-horsepower Ford flathead V-8 engine was offered as an option in the truck.By 1936, Ford had already produced 3 million trucks and led the industry in sales.

The F-Series

In 1948, the famous F-Series truck was unveiled. Advertised as “Bonus-Built,” the F-1 marked Ford’s first all-new, post-World War II line of commercial vehicles that ranged from the half-ton F-1 to the three-ton F-8.

With a one-piece windshield and side vent windows, the redesigned cab’s front end featured a recessed grille and headlamps along with squared fenders. The spare tire, moved from the side, was now mounted under the load floor as it is today. A new six-cylinder engine, the Rouge 226, boasted 95 horsepower. The redesigned 100 horsepower Rouge 239 V-8 was also available.

In the 1950s, the movement to make trucks more car-like in comfort and styling began. In 1951, a redesigned front end and cab modifications included a larger rear window and a new instrument panel. A new six-cylinder engine known as the “Cost-Clipper Six” made its debut in 1952.

When Ford celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1953, it offered a line of trucks that featured the most significant changes in design and product content in 20 years. The front overhang and wheelbase were reproportioned to provide better weight distribution and better turning radius.

The “Driverized” cab featured a larger, curved windshield and new instrument panel, new grille, shorter fenders and a hood that curved downward. The F-Series numbering system also changed from single digits to _hundreds, a tradition that continues to this day. The F-1 became the F-100, the F-2 and the F-3 merged to become the F-250 and so on.

In 1957, a new design featuring a slab-sided, all-steel pickup body was introduced as the F-100 Styleside. The fendered pickup box, now called the Flareside continued to be offered.

Design Innovations

Characteristics of the 1958 models included a dual (four-unit) headlamp system and a mesh-patterned grille. Its V-8 engine boasted more horsepower, rising from 167 to 186 in 1956.

In 1959, Ford introduced the first factory-built F-100 and F-250 four-wheel drives. Buyers had a choice of three- or four-speed manual transmissions.

Major changes came in 1961 including longer wheelbases, shorter front overhangs and lower heights. Front-end styling was highlighted by a conventionally-curved windshield, a shallower hood and single headlamps

By the mid-1960s, increasing numbers of pickup owners – nearly two-thirds – were using their trucks for recreational and personal use as well as commercial uses. Ford introduced Camper Specials in 1965, an industry first, and buyers could special order a crew cab pickup to carry extra passengers.

Twin I-Beam suspension topped the advancements of 1965. The suspension provided the truck with a good ride and was a major factor behind the tremendous success of F-Series.

Full-size pickup truck sales in 1970 reached 1.2 million, with F-Series commanding a 41.9 percent share of the segment.

The next generation of Ford light trucks arrived in 1973. The wheelbase was stretched two inches to accept longer cabs. New doors, floor pans, roofs, outside skin and instrument panels were added to the list of new features. That year, the F-Series was the country’s third-best-selling vehicle – car or truck – behind the Chevrolet and Ford full-size cars.

Ford introduced the SuperCab in June 1974, adding 44 cubic feet behind the driver’s seat with either a bench seat or two jump seats for extra passengers.

F-150 Introduced

The F-150 debuted in 1975. At 6,050 pounds, the 4×2 F-150 weighed 50 pounds more than the F-100. Available in Regular Cab and SuperCab variations, the F-150 made up more than one-third of the 663,000 F-Series sales in 1975.

In 1978, F-Series sales topped 864,000 trucks.

In 1980, Ford launched the most extensive redesign in the history of the line. To meet the demands of the growing population of personal- and recreational-use truck owners, the interiors were more finished and offered more features, like a car. The cabs featured swept-back front ends with improved aerodynamics. The F-150 4x4s featured a twin traction beam independent front suspension with coil springs.

The F-100 designation was dropped in 1984; its role merged with the F-150 to simplify the choices for customers.

The front end was restyled in 1987 and again in 1992.

A new F-150 4×4 SuperCab with a 139-inch wheelbase made its debut in 1988. A driver’s side air bag became standard in 1994.

In 1997, the under-8,500-pound GVW F-Series was completely redesigned with a new platform, new engines, new aerodynamic styling and an industry first, standard three-door SuperCab.

In 1999, a standard fourth door was added to the SuperCab model.

In 2000, the under-8,500-pound GVW F-250 designation was dropped to further simplify customer choices. A special package F-150 was added to meet the needs of former under-8,500-pound GVW F-250 customers. The Super Duty F-250 remains part of the over-8,500-pound GVW lineup.

In February 2000, the 2001 F-150 SuperCrew will add a new twist to the under-8,500-pound GVW pickup market. The F-150 SuperCrew is the only full-size pickup in its class to offer a full rear seat and front-hinged rear doors for optimum rear-passenger comfort. With a 51/2-foot pickup box, which extends to 7 feet with the optional Bed Extender, SuperCrew adds passenger carrying capability while maintaining traditional pickup durability and capability.

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