The pickup truck is as American as bald eagles and apple pie. And among the many pickup trucks on the market, there’s no truck more iconic than the Ford F-150. It’s a truck with a long history. There’s a reason that truck owners hold onto their Ford trucks for so long.
The Original F Series
Ford built its very first pickup trucks way back in 1917. It was called the Ford Model TT and had a capacity of one ton. That’s not much by today’s standards, but back then it was considered a feat of engineering and American ingenuity.
The original F-Series made its first appearance in 1948. They were designated with model numbers F-1 through F-8. They were rated by weight and included panel trucks, conventional trucks, cab-over-engine, school buses, and – of course – the pickup truck.
The F series was Ford’s first post-war truck and it included some features that made it technically impressive, including driver’s side and passenger’s side windshield wipers, manual transmissions, and a foot-plunger windshield washer.
The F Series in the 1950s and 1960s
In the two decades after its initial introduction, Ford made significant improvements to the F-Series. Here are some of the changes that
- The second generation of the F-Series was introduced between 1953 and 1956. Ford updated the name of the F-1 to the F-100. It also added a new chassis and a new V8 engine: the 239 CID overheard valve Y-block. That new engine’s power led to this model being nicknamed “The Power King.”
- During this period, Ford also added power steering to the F-Series.
- The third generation of F-Series trucks made their appearance between 1957 and 1960. On the new trucks, the front fender was part of the truck’s body and the hood was integrated into the bodywork. In 1959, Ford added four-wheel-drive to its pickup trucks.
- The years between 1961 and 1966 introduced the fourth generation of the F Models. The most significant advancement was the introduction of the Twin-I-Beam front suspension, which provided a smoother ride and greater maneuverability than the older models.
In just two decades, Ford had taken their original pickup truck and refined it with new technology to create a smooth ride. And the coming decade would bring even more improvements.
The F-Series in the 1970s
The 1970s brought some big changes to the F-Series. The fifth-generation models were introduced between 1967 and 1972. A new emphasis on safety brought the addition of reflectors at the rear of the truck bed. Other changes included expanding the cab and adding factory-installed air conditioning.
It was the sixth generation of the F-Series that introduced the Ford F-150 and changed history. Upgrades in the new model included:
- Front disc brakes
- Improved heating and air conditioning
- More galvanized steel
- Larger cabins
The Ford F-150 debuted between the F-100 and the F-250 and was designed, in part, to avoid new emission control standards.
The Ford F-150 is the iconic American pickup truck. Its introduction marked a sea change in the world of automotive design that continues to be felt today.
The F-Series in the 1980s and 1990s
The seventh and eighth generations of the F-Series were released between 1980 and 1991. Some of the biggest changes made during this period included:
- Improved fuel economy
- Improved aerodynamics
- The removal of the 3-on-the-tree manual shifting from the F-150
- The introduction of the first 5-speed manual overdrive
- Newly designed fenders and grilles
- The introduction of the FlareSide bed
In 1983, Ford stopped production of the Ford-100, a move that made the F-150 the lightest pickup truck on the market. And in 1988, the Ford F-150 became the first pickup truck to be sold as a non-carbureted engine and claimed a spot as the best-selling vehicle in the United States.
The ninth generation, which was introduced between 1992 and 1996, marked the 75th anniversary of the Ford Motel TT, which Ford celebrated by adding a special 75th-anniversary logo to its 1992 F-Series trucks.
The F-Series in the New Millennium
With the introduction of its tenth generation of F-Series trucks, Ford made major changes that involved splitting them into two categories. The F-150 became a modern personal use truck, and the F-250 and F-350 were reclassified as working-class trucks. Other changes included:
- Improved aerodynamics like those used on the 1986 Ford Taurus
- Better fuel economy
- The addition of a standard V6 engine
- The introduction of four-door trucks
- The introduction of the Triton engine
- The addition of an early navigational system
The F-150s introduced between 2004 and 2008 earned the North American Truck of the Year award and was chosen as Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 2004.
Starting in 2009, Ford introduced multiple upgrades to the F-150, including:
- A three-bar grille
- A lighter chassis
- A higher towing capacity
- Standard V8 engine (with an EcoBoost V6 as an option)
- Automatic transmission
- Electric power-assisted steering on all models (except the 6.2)
As of 2019, we’re in the thirteenth generation of the Ford F-Series. In 2015, the F-150 became the first pickup with Adaptive Cruise Control. It also switched from a steel body to an all-aluminum body, resulting in a 750-pound weight loss. The frame is still made of high-strength steel. It was the first pickup truck to earn a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA.
Additional upgrades included a more efficient base engine, including options for the 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 and the 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6. The 5.0L V8 is still available as well.
As of 2018, the F-Series is truly iconic and reigns as the best-selling vehicle in the United States. We’re sure that, like us, you look forward to seeing where Ford takes the F-150 in the future!
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