Since 1977, the Ford F-Series truck has been the best selling truck in the United States since 1977 – and the Ford F100 is still regarded a fan favourite.
The iconic vehicles of yesteryear don’t only appeal to car lovers, but also attract those passionate about engineering, design, art and yes, history. Before cars were built for efficiency and speed, it was about the experience, style, exclusivity and ultimately, craftsmanship – making them timeless, works of art.
Although these days the name Ford is commonly associated with family style sedans, in a different time the Ford Motor Company pioneered vehicles that partnered innovation, practicality and style – perhaps none more so than the iconic Ford F100 Series, and arguably where America’s great love of large scale pickup trucks began?
The Origins Of The F Series And Ford F100 Truck
It’s not an exaggeration to state that Henry Ford, the founder and owner of Ford Motor Company, changed the world in 1908. With the release of the Model T and the manufacturing process used to churn out relatively inexpensive cars, the pioneer was rapidly en route to ensuring every American had access to a set of four wheels.
The first embedded pickup bed in trucks emerged from the Ford Motor Company in 1925. By 1928, Ford had already manufactured and sold over one million Model T trucks alone, and followed with the Model AA and BB trucks accordingly. and then built the Model AA and BB trucks with similar success.
America’s love affair with trucks wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down, but their intentions were rapidly diversifying. As vehicle owners began to source cars that provided as many uses as possible in the one body, Ford Motor Company released a range of trucks designed to appeal to those adjusting to life after the end of World War II, including the original Ford F100 Series. The aesthetics, body and design of these heavy duty trucks were gradually tweaked between 1950-1954, before morphing into the overall design that most of us associate with vintage Ford Series pickup trucks. Unbeknownst to most, the original Ford F100 release was also known as the “Ford Bonus Built” or simply the F1. It wasn’t until 1953, or the Ford Motor Company’s 50th anniversary, that the name of the model officially moved to the F100.
The second generation of Ford F100 Series trucks were released between 1953 and 1956. Now prized collectors items, they were – and still are – easily recognisable via their rounded goods and large headlights. However, there were other substantial changes added that stretched beyond the cosmetics. The traditional flathead engine popular in the United States at the time was replaced with an upgraded engine valve, affectionately nicknamed “The Power King”. This saw the models capable of reaching up to 130 horsepower, which was regarded as impressive at the time.
As technology and demand changed between 1950 and 1960, over time the F1 became the F-150, the F2 and F3 became the F-250, and the F4 turned into the F-350. For the third generation, Ford widened the bodywork and introduced the choice of FlareSide and StyleSide rear beds as well squarer styling that would go onto to define Ford’s truck to this day. Guaranteed to save gas, save drivers from discomfort, and offer additional work capacities to save money. Some of its major selling points included the low floor to ground height and wood floorboards, and Ford continues to market the F Series pick up tracks as the logical choice for economic buyers.
Although hard to believe that Ford could make a misstep with the F100 Series design, the models released between 1961 and 1966 were not well received by the American marketplace. Ford introduced unibody pickup trucks that appeared more stylish while also saving cost on the vehicle’s manufacturing. However, the new design didn’t provide enough “flex” considering the weight in the tray, and as a result doors would open seemingly on their own and refuse to close – or not open at all. Thankfully, the unibody release was swiftly canned in favour of Twin-I-beam suspension that was unveiled in 1965, along with a new four door crew cab model.
Through the previous three generations, the rounded hood was slowly disappearing. By the time the fifth generation of Ford F100 series were released in 1967, they were gone entirely in favour of being “squared off”. Along with the hood, this trend even applied to the headlights, which received similar amendments with the release of the sixth generation of Ford F100 Series trucks in 1973. Finally, the Ford Motor Company was able to take out the highly coveted gong of “America’s Favourite Pick Up” in 1977 – a title that it has held ever since.