Super-Truck: F-150 ‘Flew’ into the ’80s (Video)

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Sure, it looks boxy, but the 1980 F-150 was one of the most aerodynamic half-ton trucks ever sold in America.

The modern-truck segment is chock-full of vehicles that have spent countless hours in a wind tunnel as engineers worked to add as many slippery lines as possible. But back in 1980, all of the trucks offered by Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge were pretty boxy by today’s standards. However, when the 1980 Ford F-150 hit the streets, it was actually a fair deal more unique—and more badass—than prior Ford trucks and the competitors from GM and Dodge.

The fuel crisis of the 1970s and rising fuel prices in the 1980s led to greater concern for consumers when it came to fuel economy. So, cars and trucks alike received improved aerodynamics with a lower coefficient of drag.

The Ford F-Series was the most popular truck in America at the time, and had been for a few years. However, the Ford Motor Company looked to stay ahead of the competition with a new, sleeker F-150 for the 1980 model year.

The result of those efforts was the 1980 Ford F-150, which was so aerodynamically ideal that when it came to advertising it on TV, Ford enlisted the help of a helicopter to lift and carry it to show off the truck’s sleek lines.


The 1980 F-150 was so aerodynamically ideal that, for its ad, Ford enlisted the help of a helicopter to lift and carry it to show off the truck’s sleek lines.


OK, so having a helicopter carry the 1980 Ford F-150 doesn’t really prove anything about the truck’s aerodynamics, but it serves as a great attention-getter for this classic commercial, below.

After the 1980 F-150 was carried across what appears to be America’s heartlands, it is lowered into a large dirt lot, where a team of guys in lab coats unhook it from the helicopter. From there, the F-150 is free to soar across the open plains.

Thanks to its smooth lines, the 1980 Ford F-150 was the most efficient large truck in America with city numbers of 19 mpg and highway numbers of 29 mpg–both of which would still be strong numbers in today’s stricter tests.

All things considered, the 1980 F-150 sounds like it was, like, totally awesome. Check it out in the clip below.

Patrick Rall is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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