King of the Road: FTE Picks the 7 Greatest Ford Trucks Ever Built
The 2019 F-150 Diesel is awesome, and the 2020 Bronco will be big hit. But when it comes to Blue Oval’s all-time best, FTE‘s writers dwell on the past.
Taking into account the Blue Oval’s entire history, which of Ford’s many trucks do you think remains the all-time greatest vehicle that the company has ever made? This is the question we posed to Ford Truck Enthusiasts‘ motley crew of writers and editors, whose combined time spent test-driving new vehicles, hooning, doing donuts, burning the quarter-mile, and covering the world of autos equals about half a century of solid, tire-smokin’ experience.
Some of our writers have been flown to exotic locals far and wide to get behind the wheel of new Ford trucks to experience the power and performance firsthand long before the vehicles hit showrooms. One FTE contributor even went Raptoring with race legend Tony Stewart. So, when it came time to present Ford Truck Enthusiast’s very carefully considered list of the best ford truck of all-time, we knew exactly who to call. Check out what makes and models of Ford trucks some of the industry’s best auto writers consider to be the greatest vehicles to ever roll off of Ford Motor Company’s assembly line.
1953 F-100: Most historically significant Ford truck ever produced
TRENDSETTER: The debut F-100 was the first step in making pickup trucks a viable alternative to cars.
“Choosing one Ford truck as the greatest ever is an especially difficult task,” says longtime FTE contributor Brett Foote. “I’ve owned/driven/loved everything from a 1931 Model A to a 1974 F-100 to my current 2013 Lariat. Ultimately, however, it’s hard not to pick the 1953 F-100, arguably the most historically significant Ford truck ever produced.
“Five years after the F1 debuted, Ford spent an incredible (at the time) $30 million developing its successor: the first-ever F-100,” adds Foote. “Never before had any truck undergone such extensive — and expensive — design and ergonomic studies. The result was a truck with features like a quieter ‘driver engineered’ cab, convenient control layout, and improved visibility. It was the first step in making pickup trucks a viable alternative to cars. And even today, the 1953-1956 F-100 is still the best-looking truck ever produced. Period.”
1989 Ford F-150: Greatest Ford truck that has ever existed
TOTALLY AWESOME: We spotted this ’89 Ford F-150 in the FTE forums, and it belongs to lucky owner belongs Bowman85merc.
“The Ford truck legacy is so long and so impactful on the industry, that it feels impossible to pick the greatest,” offers Christian Moe, whose byline often appears on FTE as well as Internet Brands’ many other sites, like Team Speed and 6 Speed Online. “On one hand, the original Model TT from 1917 changed the world forever and kickstarted the Ford Truck family. And then you have monster machines like the Ford Raptor that have completely redefined what a factory pickup is capable of in terms of performance and off-road ability. On a style and taste level, nothing in this world would make me happier than owning a Ford F1 with a modern frame and a Coyote V8 that I could use to tow the race car or my horse trailer. I also miss my 1965 F-100 on a weekly basis.
‘The 1989 Ford F-150 was my first vehicle, my first truck, and my first Ford. It opened my world and gave me a taste of freedom like I had never experienced before.’
“But they say your first is always the one you will remember, and for Ford trucks, that holds true,” continues Moe. “The greatest Ford truck that has ever existed is the 1989 Ford F-150, particularly the long-bed model with the single cab, and a 302 V8 under the hood. This truck was my first vehicle, my first truck, and my first Ford. It opened my world and gave me a taste of freedom like I had never experienced before. My first drive-in date with my wife happened in that truck. My first speeding ticket. My first missed curfew. My first job. There are nicer trucks, faster trucks, and certainly far more capable trucks, but for my money, nothing will ever beat that 1989. Plus, it still had the switch for the high-beams on the floor, and I love that more than you would believe.”
2017 F-150: Culmination of many years of fine-tuning the Ford recipe
LIVIN’ THE DREAM: This rockin’ red F-150 belongs to auto writer Jerry Perez, who recounts his road to ownership in a popular FTE post.
“The all-time greatest truck Ford Motor Company has ever made is the thirteenth generation F-150, more specifically the 2017 year model,” says Jerry Perez, who has covered virtually every recent Ford truck release as an FTE editor, including the 2017 F-150. “The exterior design is handsome yet modern. The interior is comfortable, durable, and friendly for drivers and occupants of all ages. Furthermore, the performance and reliability are ‘Ford Tough’ and second to none.
‘The 2017 F-150’s performance and reliability are ‘Ford Tough’ and second to none.’
“Personally, I think the 2017 F-150 represents the culmination of many years of fine-tuning the legendary Ford recipe,” adds Perez. “My last reason for loving this specific model is because I actually own one.”
Ford F-150 SVT Lightning: Insanely quick for a truck in the early ’90s
LIGHTNING-FAST: Boasting a 0-60 mph time in the mid 7s, the Ford F-150 SVT Lightning was insanely quick for a truck in the early ’90s.
“When it comes to Ford trucks, the first-gen F-150 SVT Lightning ranks as one of my all-time favorites, namely because the high-performance pickup was so groundbreaking for Ford,” says frequent FTE contributor Marcus Amick, a Raptor fan who also contributes to F-150 Online and JK Forum.
‘The first-gen F-150 SVT Lightning ranks as one of my all-time favorites, namely because the high-performance pickup was so groundbreaking for Ford.’
“The fact that it shared some of the same parts as the Shelby Cobra Mustang only added to its appeal. Sure, these days, a 240-horsepower truck would be considered way underpowered as a high-performance variant. But in ’93, the idea of the F-150 SVT Lighting was pretty mind-blowing. As a matter of fact, it had a 0-60 mph time in the mid 7s, which was insanely quick for a truck in the early ‘90s. I love the styling too: that low but very clean profile, capped off with those dual exhaust and mag wheels.”
1948 Ford F-8: Greatest Ford truck of them all
BEAST OF BURDEN: Ford’s 1948 F-8 is equal parts brawn and beauty, which is why we’ve always been captivated by it.
“While Ford fans always seem to lust over the latest Raptor or the F-150, the work trucks are really what started it all,” says popular auto journalist and FTE contributor Tim Esterdahl, who also has covered trucks for YotaTech. “In fact, without these beasts of burden, Ford would not have had the sales success to build these other trucks. And I think the 1948 Ford F-8 is the greatest Ford truck of them all.”
‘Ford’s work trucks are really what started it all. Without these beasts of burden, Ford would not have had the sales success to build these other trucks.’
This truck is the forefather of all the new heavy-duty trucks and it was a few years prior to cab-over engines became all the rage. Back then, Ford engineers literally took the base truck and simply added a lot heavier components. It rode rough was geared low and only really got moving when going downhill, with a big load and a stiff tailwind. They weren’t fast and they weren’t sexy by any means, but they are still in use today in some rust-free areas of the country. When there is work to be done, nobody cares how fast your truck goes, they just care that the job gets done. The 1948 Ford F-8 truck simply got the job done.