Mystery of the Ford Unibody 4×4 Pickup

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Ford Unibody 4x4

Ford never built a unibody four-wheel drive pickup. Or did they?

As most hardcore Blue Oval fans already know, there never was a factory Ford unibody 4×4 offering. Heck, Ford only produced a couple thousand four-wheel drive pickups per year back in the early ’60s. And for good reason – buyers didn’t really covet them like they do today. But an eagle-eyed FTE member by the name of Amphihauler did spot a supposedly factory-built Ford unibody 4×4 while perusing the web. And his discovery sparked a fascinating flow of information.

“I saw this on a slick FB page so I can’t take credit for coming across it myself. Just wondering what you folks thought about the claim in the article about this truck possibly being a Ford creation? Perhaps a test mule? Anyone have a copy of that book and any more info?”

Ford Unibody 4x4

The single picture and text found in The Complete Book of Classic Ford F-Series Pickups proved quite ominous. Could it really be that Ford actually built some sort of unibody four-wheel drive test mule? It makes perfect sense that they might do so, only to quickly figure out that the body wasn’t suitable for off-road use.

As you might imagine, a ton of debate and speculation ensued. But as always, we’re quickly reminded of the amazing and vast array of knowledge that exists in the forums. This time, thanks to tripleframe.

“You are looking at preproduction factory photos. The Ford unibody 4×4 was a test unit, never released to the public as a standard production unit. I wouldn’t be surprised if there F-350 unibody test unit photos out there as well. Notice the 2wd F-100 (lower photo) has ’57-’60 style hubcaps, further indication these are early preproduction photos.

Regarding the fenders, Ford kept changing the 4×4 rules. Small radius fenders came on ’62-’64 F250 4×4 with 16″ wheels. Larger radius fenders were used on ’62-’64 4×4 F 250s only when larger optional wheels (17, 17.5 19.5) were ordered. ’65-’66 4×4 F-250s came with large fenders with all wheels. ’61 was slightly different, as F-250 4x4s with 16, 17 and 17.5 got the small fenders and 19.5 got the large fenders. Photo of 4×4 uni has 17.5″ wheels.”

Ford Unibody 4x4

And per request, he goes on explaining F-100 fender radius differences.

“’62 thru ’64 F-100 4x4s got the small fenders with 15 and 16″ rims. ’62-’64 F-100s got the large fenders with 17.5 wheels. ’65 F-100 4x4s got the large fenders with all rims. ’66 F-100 4x4s got the small fenders with all rims. ’61 F-100 4x4s got small fenders with all rims. When you talk 4×4 fenders, one must be year and model specific.”

53deere said it best when he exclaimed “The knowledge on this board continues to amaze me.” Us too. We’d be willing to wager that few people ever knew that a Ford unibody 4×4 existed, whether in preproduction form or not. And if they did, it’s because there are quite a few conversions floating around. Regardless, if you want the full lesson on fender radius and unibody conversions, be sure and check out the entire thread here!


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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