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Evolution of the Ford F-Series Truck

Ford Pickup Trucks – The Legacy Continues - Over a Century and Counting

Congratulations, the F Series truck you’re driving has a history beginning over 100 years ago in 1917 with the Ford TT Truck. Based on the Model T it had a sturdier frame and could carry a 1 ton load. Oddly enough it shared some luxury features that the modern trucks have. It had remote start – you had to leave the cab and get up front and crank it! It had 21” wheels and low-profile tires except they were only about 5” wide. No Nerf Bars available but running boards were standard and built right into the fenders. No need to buy a cab visor because the roof had one built-in. It wasn’t there to just keep out the sun though it helped keep the driver and passenger stay dry because there was no windshield.

Ford’s success selling trucks began with this TT Model. It sold for $600 (around $12,000 today) and forced Chevrolet (in 1918) and Dodge Brothers (in 1924) into producing trucks of their own. The Chevrolets weren’t sporting the Bowtie yet and the Dodge and RAM boys didn’t have the big Cummins ‘C’ on their back window, but the competition was on. The head start paid off for Ford and by the time the ‘TT’ was updated in 1928 1.3 million Ford Trucks had been sold.

By 1924 with the Big 3 were fully invested and the truck market was booming. Ford wasn’t about to let the upstarts take over and they upgraded the TT introducing it as the Model AA in 1927. The trucks were still based on their best-selling car line. The Model T car became the Model TT truck and the Model A car became the Model AA truck. We are all thankful that they didn’t continue that trend. Hard to be proud driving your ½ ton “Falcon Falcon” or the HD “Taurus Taurus”.

“War What Is It Good For?”

I find it hard to speak about war in a positive manner, but the patriotism and commitment displayed by the automakers did have positive effects on the war’s outcome and the future of the pickup truck. Ford Motor Company built tanks, bombers, armored cars, engines, bomb parts and - wait for it – JEEPS. How and why they produced Jeeps is a story for another article, but they did.

Because all production was focused on war machinery the auto manufacturers had to stop producing for retail. While there are a few 1942 model automobiles out there for all intense and purposes production had ceased for the retail market in 1941.

Ford Leads The Way – Again

In July 1946 the first new, postwar production automobile rolled off the Ford assembly line. And, in January 1948 the first Ford F-Series Truck was introduced, the F-1.

I don’t know if the copywriter for this ad knew how true his statement of “Hottest truck line in history…” would turn out to be.

That F-1 designation is with us today albeit in an expanded form. In 1948 until 1952 F-1 meant ½ ton load capacity; F-2 meant ¾ ton and F-3 meant 1 ton. In 1953 that designation went to F-100, F-250 and F-350. So, where was the F-150?

Well, in 1975 when the Federal Government mandated certain emission requirements on passenger vehicles, they used a GVW of 6,000 lbs. to determine if the vehicle would come under the mandate or be exempt. Raising the GVW of the F-100 to 6,000 lbs. called for a new model that would be virtually the same as the F-100 but exempt from the new emission standards – enter the F-150.With a payload of 1,500 lbsand a GVWR over 6,000 lbs. Ford was on the way to making history once more. The final production year for the F-100 was 1983 coincidently Ford introduced the compact Ranger pickup that same year and it helped fill the void left by the departing F-100 Light Duty pickup. Since 1984 the F-150 has become the starting point in the F-Series line-up.