Ford F-150: A Legacy of Trucking Excellence

December 11th, 2020 by

A red 1948 Ford F-1 is shown with two men leaning against it and a man on horseback next to it.

When those first F-Series Bonus Built pickup trucks began rolling off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan, in time for the 1948 model year, few knew then that Ford Motor Company had begun a journey that would last over 70 years, leading to the latest Ford F-150 trucks. Back in 1948, the United States had just helped win World War II with its allies, and Ford had played a major role in helping America become the Arsenal of Democracy. Ford took the knowledge it had gained in building vehicles for the war effort and applied it to improving its fleet of pickup trucks. Today, you can see for yourself why they are Built Ford Tough by getting behind the wheel of a used Ford F-150.

A used F-150 truck gives you a great combination of performance, ruggedness, and dependability. What’s more, the F-150 gives you so many options, including a plethora of trim options, many different engine options, and three choices of cab design. There is the two-door Standard Cab with one row of seats, the SuperCab has two rows of seats with two full-size doors and two reverse-hinged half doors in the rear row, and the SuperCrew has four full-size doors with two rows of seats, providing a larger rear row of seats than the SuperCab. If you are looking to get behind the wheel of a used Ford F-150, stop by Colonial Motor Mart. At our dealership, we are your choice for quality used cars, trucks, and SUVs in Indiana, Pennsylvania. See how we can put our 70 years of experience to work for you.

The F-Series Starts a Revolution in the Post-War Era

The story of the Ford F-150 begins back in 1948 when Ford decided to replace the old Model BB trucks with an all-new series dubbed the F-Series. The half-ton model was called the F-1 when it hit dealerships in time for the 1948 buyers. This featured Ford’s famous 100 horsepower Flathead V-8, with a 95 horsepower Flathead I-6 also available. There were a total of 8 different truck models available, running from the aforementioned F-1 to the biggest F-8. Those early trucks were pretty rudimentary by today’s standards, with just two doors and one row of seats. But they set a standard for automotive excellence that continues to this day.

In 1953, Ford decided to build on this success with the introduction of the second-generation F-Series. As part of this updating, the F-1 was given a new name: the F-100. This name would continue until 1987, a 34 year run for a very popular and versatile truck. In fact, the entire F-Series was renamed with the three-digit numbering system that is still in use today. There were more changes in store for this venerable truck than just a simple name change. Ford phased out the Flathead engines in the 1954 model year, replacing them with a 130 horsepower overhead-valve V-8 and a 115 horsepower Mileage Maker I-6. These models also featured power brakes and an optional automatic transmission for the first time.

The third generation hit the road in time for the 1956 model year sporting the same V-8 and I-6 engine options on the F-100 as the prior model. The main change was a body styling that was more aggressive, with a wider stance and front bumpers integrated into the truck’s design. These third-generation F-Series Fords began to take on a shape that is more familiar to today’s truck drivers, leaving the old F-1 design for use by junk collectors like Fred and Lamont Sanford. Also, in 1959, Ford introduced four-wheel drive as an option on the F-Series, allowing drivers to choose between the standard rear-wheel drive and the improved traction afforded by a four-wheel drivetrain.

A red 1992 used Ford F-150 is parked with mountains in the background.

Ford Goes Trucking Into the Sixties

With the dawning of the Swinging Sixties, Ford vowed not to be left in the dust with its F-Series trucks. As a result, a full redesign was launched in time for the 1961 model year. These fourth-generation models featured improved horsepower on the I-6 and V-8 engines, with the old I-6 ultimately getting replaced by a more powerful version in time for the 1965 model year. Ford also hinted at things to come when it introduced the first four-door Crew Cab as an option on the 1965 F-250 heavy-duty truck. While F-100 drivers still had the only option of a Standard Cab, they could dream that someday their light-duty truck would also come with a second row of seats.

Those fourth-generation F-Series trucks also began a trend of introducing greater creature comforts for truck drivers. For example, the top trim Ranger was introduced for the 1966 model year featuring power steering, power brakes, a carpeted interior, and air conditioning. All of these are things that every modern pickup truck driver takes for granted, but that was big news back in the mid-60s.

Ford would finish out the decade with the fifth-generation F-Series pickup truck. The main change was design related. The headlights on these models were integrated into the front grille, and the vehicle lost the last of its original curves in favor of a more angular design. Ford would continue building these fifth-generation trucks up until the 1972 model year.

The Sixth-Generation F-Series Welcomes the F-150

Ford entered the Seventies knowing that changes needed to be made. First, the fifth-generation F-Series began offering a second row of seats on all models, including the F-100, in time for the 1974 model year. While fairly rudimentary by today’s standards, this original SuperCab gave a choice of either bucket seats or a bench and allowed drivers to have room for extra passengers in the back.

The second change was even bigger. While a seemingly minor move at the time, the introduction of the Ford F-150 in time for the 1975 model year sent shock waves through the pickup truck industry. Here was a larger version of the F-100 that kept all the benefits of the lighter truck while adding greater payload capacity, towing ability, and acceleration. In addition, drivers could choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive on the new F-150, providing greater options than previously known in the F-Series.

The Eighties saw more innovation with the F-150 as it quickly surpassed sales of the F-100. This led Ford to decide to discontinue the smaller truck in 1987. The seventh-generation F-150 gave drivers a choice of three different V-8 engines: a 4.2-liter with 115 horsepower, a 4.9-liter with up to 190 horsepower, and a 5.8-liter with up to 210 horsepower. However, with the decision to discontinue the F-100 for the eighth-generation F-Series, Ford began offering the F-150 with a 145 horsepower I-6 in a move to capture drivers who had previously preferred the six-cylinder F-100 model.

A black 2019 used Ford F-150 Limited is parked at a marina, angled left.

Built Ford Tough Into the Nineties

The public began to really embrace the pickup truck as we moved into the Nineties, seeing the benefits of a versatile and dependable vehicle like the Ford F-150. The ninth-generation model proved to be so popular that it became the most popular vehicle in the world, passing the equally esteemed Volkswagen Beetle in 1995.

This ninth-generation model F-150 also gave drivers the choice of four-wheel and rear-wheel drivetrains and either a Standard Cab or SuperCab configuration. This would continue with the tenth-generation model until the dawn of the new Millennium.

Ford F-150 and the Dawn of a New Era

The year 2000 meant many things to many people. For fans of pickup trucks, it meant that they could now buy a Ford F-150 with a SuperCrew. This added space made the promise of seating up to 6 passengers a reality, as the SuperCrew afforded a spacious and comfortable setting whether you were using your Ford F-150 for work or play. The truck also saw improved capabilities, as the F-150 could tow up to 8,500 pounds or haul up to 2,385 pounds of cargo.

The eleventh generation of the F-150 was introduced in time for the 2004 model year and boosted the capabilities even further. This was the result of Ford offering two more powerful engines on the 2004 F-150: a 4.6-liter V-8 with 231 horsepower and a 5.4-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower. The eleventh-generation F-150 was also the biggest yet, with more passenger room reflecting Ford’s dedication to providing comfort, style, and luxury in a vehicle that could also help you get the job done.

The twelfth-generation F-150 made its debut for the 2009 model year and added even more bells and whistles, reflecting the public’s growing demands for pickup trucks with the same modern conveniences of passenger cars. This culminated in the introduction of the luxurious Platinum trim in 2012, which featured the same premium tech found in Ford’s top luxury cars. The twelfth-generation trucks also sported a more aerodynamic profile than their predecessors to improve fuel economy while not reducing the generous interior dimensions enjoyed by passengers.

Despite the successes of the previous two generations, Ford was not content to sit back and rest on its laurels. The thirteenth generation of the Ford F-150 proved to be a very lucky number indeed, as the new all-aluminum body on a steel frame improved the truck’s durability and safety while reducing overall gross vehicle weight to improve fuel economy. Although this change seemed radical at the time, it proved so successful that other truck manufacturers are also beginning to copy Ford’s extensive use of aluminum.

It’s no mystery why many consider this to be the best pickup trucks ever built, and while the new fourteenth-generation trucks are again pushing boundaries with their new hybrid powertrains, a used thirteenth-generation F-150 is a great way to get a highly-capable truck at an affordable price. When you stop by our dealership to test drive a used Ford F-150, you can now understand how much history has gone into your truck. For over 70 years, Ford has been building, improving, and perfecting the pickup truck. That dedication to ingenuity never stops so that drivers like you can appreciate a truck that is truly Built Ford Tough.

Posted in Used Ford F-150