There's a reason why the Ford F-Series pickup became America's favorite truck, and it came down to affordability and durability, which have been present from the beginning. The truck has changed significantly during its first 60 years, but what hasn't changed is Ford's focus on making an increasingly better truck. For over twenty years the Ford F-Series trucks have been the best selling vehicles in the U.S. The F-150 half-ton truck continues to hold on to its title, America's favorite pickup truck for more than thirty years. Though the F-Series continues to redesign itself, high gas prices and a dwindling economy are to blame for the lower truck sales today.
A series of full-size pickup trucks from Ford Motor Company, the F-Series represents a long-standing history with strength and utility. Sold continuously for over sixty years, the F-Series is in its thirteenth generation and continues to be the popular choice for millions of truck enthusiasts. The best-selling vehicle in the US for 24 years, the F-150 is the most popular variant of the F-Series. Though it doesn't include combined sales of GM pickup trucks, the F-150 was also the best selling vehicle in Canada. In 1998 the F-250 and F-350 changed body style during the 10th generation and joined the Super Duty series. Smaller Canadian provincial communities either had a Lincoln/Mercury/Meteor dealer, or a Ford dealer, but not both, so a Mercury-badged version was sold at the former dealership from 1946 through 1968. These trucks were nearly identical to their Ford brothers, the only differences being found in the grilles, trim and badging.
Ford's all-time best selling vehicle, the F-Series was the first truly new pickup truck since the start of World War II. Following the war, by 1948 people were returning to their normal lives when Ford introduced the F-1: the first Ford truck to wear the F designation. Buyers could choose from one of three difference engines, each with more power than Ford's earlier pickups, along with the appeal of better fuel economy. The first generation of the F-Series rolled out in 1948 as a replacement for the earlier car-based pickup line that had been around since 1941. Also known as the Ford Bonus-Built, the F-series was introduced in eight different weight ratings, with conventional truck, panel truck, pickup, cab-over engine (COE), and school bus chassis body styles. This first generation continued on until 1952.
Ford introduced what they called a Million Dollar cab, and buyers relaxed on a much more comfortable seat than in previous vehicles. An unobstructed view lay before them in Ford's expanded, one-piece windshield. Level Action cab suspension was added along with a stronger chassis to withstand the strenuous job a work truck was designed for. For 1951 the trucks received a new front-end design, and now featured two new trim levels. To improve visibility in the rear the rear window was expanded slightly. The following year brought about Ford first truck overhead valve (OHV) engine, a 215 cubic inch 6-cylinder.
The second generation F-Series barreled onto the scene in 1953 with enlarged dimensions, better engines and an enhanced chassis. This generation brought modifications to utility, comfort and safety. This generation lasted until 1956. In 1953 Ford celebrated its 50th anniversary and revamped the F-Series trucks as an important part of the celebration. During this generation the pickups were given there now familiar names with the F-1 becoming the F-100, the F-2 become the F-250 and the F-3 renamed the 1-ton F-350.
The updates for this generation went beyond just a typical facelift. Ford added an expanded wheelbase on the trucks and added longer front and rear leaf springs to improve ride quality while still keeping good hauling ability. The inside of the trucks was also completely revamped beginning with a large hood that swept into bulging front fenders. A new windshield was installed with a broader expanse of curved glass to make visibility improved. The rear glass in the truck was also increased. The bench seats were made wider and now featured more adjustment opportunities, improved springs and more padding. The instrument cluster was grouped and now a single unit with relocated switches within easier reach. Added to the 1953 options list was an automatic transmission at a time when many were skeptical how well it would pan out in a pickup. The engine options remained the same in '53, and buyers could choose an Overhead Valve 6-cylinder or a Flathead V8.
For 1954 Ford introduced its new Overhead Valve V8 engine. This was around six years of research and development and an engine that would lay the stepping-stones for the future of Ford's V8 engine program. 1956 brought about some important updates that include the car-like Full Wrap windshield that increased the field of vision by extending over to a vertical door. The truck's back window also had the option of a Full Wrap as well. On the inside of the F-100 was a newly raised instrument panel with improved visibility for driving. New safety items this year included optional seat belts and double grip Lifeguard door latches. The F-100 featured Ford's Lifeguard Steering wheel, which had a deep-dish design that put a bigger distance between the driver's chest and the center hub. The new V8 engine was modified this year and the displacement grew from 239 cubic inches to 272.
1957 brought along the F-Series third generation with even more changes and updates. Featuring a significant redesign and a more innovative look, panels with squared lines replaced the previous generation's rounded appearance and prominent front fenders, and anew hood that extended the entire width of the truck. The widened cab and straight lines took away the need for running boards to connect the front and rear fenders so an integrated step-up was added just inside the doors. Ford offered a fresh new look with the Styleside which had flat exterior sides and wheel wells inside the bed. The traditional Flareside cargo box was still available though. The Flareside kept its wood floor while the Styleside bed received a steel floor.
The smooth blend of a car and a pickup, the Ford Ranchero was the ultimate vehicle for the driver who wanted to keep the smooth ride of a car while still maintaining the solid utility of a truck. Also this year, Lee Iacocca became Ford's Truck Marketing Manager.
The tilt-cab C-Series replaced the cabover F-Series.
In 1958 Ford gave the F-Series a boost in power taking its top engine from 272 to 292 cubic inches and increasing the horsepower from 171 to 186. This year the majority of the changes included slight trim updates.
In-house production of the four-wheel drive trucks began in 1959 by Ford instead of sending them out to Marmon-Harrington for conversion. These trucks were available in both Styleside and Flareside bodies and with a V8 engine or a 6-cylinder. Ford made numerous updates to the truck's frame to increase its strength later in the production year. Rear cross members were strengthened with 50% heavier gauge steel while reinforcing gussets were joined at the side rails and where some of the cross members attach to the frame rails, resulting in an 18% increase in torsional strength. Ford made its Powr-Lok locking differential available at this same time on 2WD F-Series trucks. It was a unit that improved control in unfavorable driving conditions by automatically transferring power to the wheel with the best traction.
The final year of the third F-Series generation, 1960, Ford revamped the front end and also updated the materials on the inside of the truck. In this same year Four-wheel drive trucks received cab strengthening in both the mount area and around door openings. Optional on the 1959 4WD models, heavy-duty front and rear springs now became standard equipment. Improvements were also made to both brakes and steering.
A dramatic new style of truck was launched in the fourth generation of the F-series in 1961. Leaner, longer and lower than the earlier pickups, the new model featured additional dimensions, and all new engine and transmission choices. From 1961 until 1963 the trucks were built as a unibody design with the cab and bed joined, but this unfortunate body design was unpopular and the F-series soon returned to separate cab/bed design in 1964. To create this innovative look, the Styleside was extended forward to merge into part of the cab. It eliminated the gab between the cab and the bed and removing an ear where trapped dirt, mud and snow left to corrosion. Ford believed that this design would offer a stronger, cleaner appearance. The cargo area was now 9 cubic feet larger than the previous generation, and the open tailgate also became longer, extending almost 13 inches. The windshield posts were relocated, which made enough room for a 22% increase in the windshield itself. Other updates this year included thickier seat padding, a heater with higher output, door locks on both doors, and a recirculating ball-type steering box. The traditional Flareside pickup was also available this year.
For the 1962 model year the F-Series underwent a variety of changes. These included the stronger Cruise-O-Matic replacing the old Fordomatic transmission. Originally offered only on 4WD trucks, a non-integrated Styleside bed became available, but by the end of the model year it was offered on all F-Series pickups. The F-Series also received updates on the grille and trim.
The following year even more updates were made which included the standard three-speed transmission becoming fully synchronized. For 1963 both engines now had standard positive crankcase ventilation (PCV). Ford widened the use of galvanized metal and zinc primer in a variety of areas that were subject to corrosion. Also new this year, the trucks' warranty went from 12 month/12,000 miles to 24 months/24,000 miles.
Following several years of low sales, Ford deleted the integrated Styleside box in 1964. Ford knew that many pickup truck buyers were utilizing trucks as a second vehicle, so the advertising began to focus on big truck durability along with comfort and ride. The all-new Styleside bed showcased double wall construction that increased its strength and also kept moving cargo from denting the outer bedside. Instead of the chains with hooks to hold them like previous trucks, the tailgate was double walled and now featured a latch mechanism with a center release handle.
For 1965 the F-100 didn't have too many exterior changes, but underneath the hood was where the big updates happened. The Twin I-Beam front suspension was introduced by Ford on all 2WD models which gave the trucks a more 'car-like ride' while still keeping its 'work-truck strength'. The twin axles were glued in place by large-radius arms while coil springs replaced front leaf springs. Splitting the axles, which allowed each wheel to travel over bumps and potholes independently, ensured a much smoother ride. Bench seat trucks received optional seat belts this year. Also this year Ford replaced its long-standing 292 cu. in. V8 engine with a 352 cu. in. FE series engine rated at 208 hp and 315 lb/ft of torque.
Also this year the name Ranger was first introduced on a Ford truck. It referred to a package featuring bucket seats, an optional console and carpeting, all geared towards the large number of consumers that were looking for a functional, yet sporty and comfortable pickup. This generation continued on until 1966.
A brand new 'Low Silhouette' pickup was introduced in 1966. It featured a single speed transfer case and mono-beam front axle. It sat much lower than a normal 4WD pickup but featured a 2 inch higher break-over point. Similar to the twin I-Beam set used on this generation's 2WD trucks, the mon-beam front axle used coil springs and large radius arms. Most of the other updates this year were very minor and mostly cosmetic.
The fifth generation of the F-Series launched in 1967 and continued to be built on the same platform as the 1965 revision of the fourth generation. During this run the dimensions were expanded, along with the greenhouse glass and the engine options continued to grow. Body lines became much more squared and flat side panels were highlighted with a narrow indentation. Ranger models received stainless molding. In 1967 dual brakes, a safety feature that prevented a localized failure from taking down the entire system, were introduced. More luxurious trim levels were offered during this generation also. By 1967 standards the interior became more 'plush' with added padded sun visors, padded dash and seat belts with shoulder anchor harnesses, all as standard equipment. The same engine and transmission choices remained the same as they in '55 trucks though Ford increased its power train warranty to 5 years or 50,000 miles. Until 1992 a variant of the fifth generation was produced in Brazil for the South American market.
For 1968 the new truck was easily recognizable compared to the previous year by federally mandated reflectors mounted on the side of the hood and rear of the bedside. Other changes this year included replacing the trucks' earlier 352 cu.in. V8 with either a 360 cu. in or a 390 cu. in. version. Heavy-duty suspension came with Ford's Flex-O-Matic system on the rear springs, which showcased a longer spring and a revolving spring shackle that adjusted itself to suit the bed load. Another brake update happened this year as the contact are on the F-100's drum style brakes increased by 45%. Modernized, the AC systems were now featured in a new unit integrated into the heater box. According to Ford, this new system kept the cab 35 degrees cooler than earlier add-on units.
Three special models of the F-Series were offered in 1969, the Contractor Special, The Farm & Ranch Special and the Heavy Duty Special. Featuring heavy-duty springs, the Contractor Special came with dual swing lock mirrors, a rear step bumpers, a lighting package and an optional under-hood electric power pack. The Farm & Ranch Special featured a heavy-duty alternator, a bigger battery, heavy duty springs, side moldings and side boards for the bed. A larger battery was found on the Heavy Duty Special along with a more powerful alternator, heavy-duty springs, a rear step bumper and a gauge pack. Custom models featured a painted grille up until now, but half-way through the year Ford made a switch by giving all trucks a bright aluminum grille. Also updated halfway through the year was the addition of a 302 V8, which was available as an option on 2WD pickups.
Most F-Series updates for 1970 were mainly cosmetic. Ford divided the trim levels into four categories: Custom, Sport Custom, Ranger and Ranger XLT. In an attempt to satisfy buyers looking to combine hauling capability with style and comfort the XLT trim featured interior trim just as nice as most passenger cars of the time. For this year the F-Series engine and transmission choices stayed the same.
For 1971 only a few slight changes were made to the F-Series that included little updates to trim and upholstery. All of the trucks got fuel tank vapor control systems to contain fumes from escaping into the air. California models also received an exhaust emission control system.
The following year, once again only minor changes were made to the F-Series. 1972 brought with it emission control systems for all engines and 4WD trucks received a new 3,300 lb rated front axle. A cold weather package was available from Ford that included a larger battery, an engine block heater, a more powerful alternator and a limited-slip rear axle.
In 1973 the sixth generation F-Series was debuted. It continued to be constructed on the 1965 fourth generations' updated platform but it featured impressive updates and modernizations. Not an incredibly radical change, the sheet metal was redesigned for the 1973 F-Series. Ford didn't want to change the truck too drastically as sales were rising quite nicely. To help reduce hood shake and vibration the hood design was adapted slightly and a full inner structure was added. To help prevent rust galvanized inner front fender aprons and zinc coating with rust resistant primer were added. To minimize seams and provide rounded corners and sides to floor contours inner bed and wheel wells were now stamped which also resulted in easier cleaning. The earlier flat door glass became curved while the rear glass expanded by about a third and was tilted forwards to reduce rear view mirror reflections during driving at night. Available as an option was intermittent wipers for this year. The fuel tank was relocated from behind the seat to under the bed, which enhanced safety and provided storage behind the seat. The AC vents became integrated into the dash and the blower was moved to the engine compartment that resulted in a quieter cab and a much larger glove box. The rear wheel track on the F-Series were widened by 4 inches to mimic the trucks' front track which resulted in more stable handling while two-wheel drive trucks were fitted with standard front disc brakes.
The SuperCab truck was introduced in June of 1974. It was available with either center-facing jump seats or a forward-facing bench and both versions flipped up to increase cargo space when passengers weren't on-board. The Supercab was only available in two-wheel drive trucks with a 360 cubic inch V8 and either Cruise-o-matic transmission or a 3-speed manual. Also this year the 460 cubic inch V8 engine was offered in two-wheel drive trucks. Following a two-year absence the 300 cubic inch 6-cylinder engine was returned to the lineup. Halfway through the model year full-time 4WD was available on trucks that were outfitted with 360 cubic inch V8 and a cruise-o-matic transmission.
The following year in 1975 catalytic converters became standard on all F-100 trucks and unleaded gasoline became a priority. As a heavier duty version of the F-100 the F-150 pickup was introduced this year with stronger front and rear axles and heavy rate springs. Not fitted with catalytic converters, F-150s all came with power brakes and were two-wheel drive trucks but available as either a regular cab or SuperCab body. Engine options were the 300 cubic inch 6-cylinder or either the 390 cubic inch or 460 cubic inch V8.
In 1976 following a thirty-year run, the FE engine series was taken off the market to be replaced by a more innovative 335 series and 385 series engines. The Flareside body style also came back after a three-year vacation. It was offered only on a standard cab body and on 2WD and 4WD F-100 and F-150 trucks. Four-wheel drive trucks now featured front disc brakes. Power steering went from an external assist setup to an internal in-box design. Also this year was the F-150 Special which was a pickup with the F-250s heavier axles and suspension. The Ford Bronco was also redesigned into a F-series pickup variant for the 1978 model year.
No body changes were made in 1977 to the F-Series, but there were updates in the trim, badging and moldings. The truck now featured a rear window defroster in its available list of options along with AC on all pickups. The 351 cubic inch 400 cubic inch 2-barrel engine replaced the 360 cubic inch and 390 cubic inch V8. The Free Wheelin' truck was marketed by Ford in '77 and it featured rainbow side tape stripes, a blacked out grille, a black front push bar with a spot for fog lights, black tailgate lettering with orange accents, silver and red seat trim and black door panels with silver and red and black trim. Additional updates for 1977 included new plastic splash shields on the front and rear wheel wells, the trucks' radiator support being added to a large list of galvanized steel parts, the truck undersides becoming coated with zinc primer and the front fenders, tailgate, lower radiator reinforcement and rear cab corners constructed from pre-coated metal.
Significant design changes to the grille and the headlight trim made the 1978 F-Series look pretty different from earlier years even though the body panels stayed the same. The grille got bigger and featured an egg crate design. Large polished trim now surrounded it and encased signals, and the rectangular headlights and signals. Finishing off the new look was a contoured bumper. The base model Custom pickup continued to feature round headlights while additional trim filled in the spaces around the light. Other updates this year included the additional option of tilt steering wheel and improved cab mounts and door seals that reduced the in-cab noise level. The F-150 SuperCab was newly available this year in 4WD. 2WD pickup trucks with the 4.9L 6-cylinder and the 5.0 and 5.8L V8 engines featured a new 4-speed manual transmission. The Free Wheelin returned again with the addition of a tubular black rear bumper bar and chrome yellow styled steel wheels that were added to its earlier appearance package.
For 1979 all F-150 pickup trucks received catalytic converters. 4X4 F-150's now had the option of power steering. All other changes this year were minor and only involved cosmetics.
The seventh generation of the F-series debuted in 1980 and ran until 1986. It underwent a complete redesign, the first since 1965, with a bigger body and an all-new chassis. To improve the fuel efficiency and the aerodynamics the outside of the truck was restyled. It was now shorter and narrower, with a lower stance. Also redesigned were the medium-duty F-Series (F-600 and above), and though they shared the same cab as the smaller pickup trucks, the biggest version of F-Series featured a new front hood with separate front fenders, much like the L-Series.
While gas prices continued to rise, manufacturers decided to concentrate on more fuel efficiency improvements. Ford did some wind tunnel testing to determine where rounded lines and altered panel pit would reduce wind drag. Aluminum, plastics and lighter gauge steel were utilized to replace conventional steel in areas that didn't need strength in an effort to cut down on weight. Plastic was also used for the trucks' front inner fender panels and added to overall weight reduction and also helped an area that was once prone to rust. By redesigning the cab and bed areas to minimize spots where dirt and mud tended to accumulate Ford helped manage another rust-prone area. The F-Series ignition switch was moved to the steering column and incorporated a steering lock into the assembly. For security purposes the hood release was moving to inside the truck. To help quiet the interior new sound insulation and a double panel roof were added. Also this year in 1980 radial tires became standard on 2-wheel drive F-Series trucks. The remaining engines were the 300 cubic inch 6 cylinder and 302 and 351 cubic inch V8s when the 400 and 460 cubic inch engines were deleted from the line-up.
1981 brought with some fuel saving updates that included a 4-speed overdrive manual transmission on F-150 4X4s and a 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission on 2-wheel drive models that were equipped with the 5.0L V8. Only offered this year and the next was a 4.2 liter V8 engine for 2-wheel drive F-100s. Other updates this year included a variety of things including standard radial tires on 4-wheel drive pickups and halogen headlamps now becoming standard equipment on all models. Buyers also had the luxurious option of adding power door locks and power windows.
For 1982 the F-Series introduced a 3.8L V6 engine that came standard with a 3-speed manual transmission. Available options were a 3-speed automatic and 4-speed automatic overdrive. Ford used the Ranger name to designate a new line of small trucks and no longer used it to describe an F-Series trim level.
The next year the only major change for the F-Series trucks was the deletion of the 4.2L V8 engine. Other small changes were made to option packages, trim and paint colors. Ford also added diesel power to the F-Series in collaboration with International Harvester. Producing the same power output as the gasoline Ford 351 V8 the 6.9L V8 had a fuel economy of the 300 I6.
In 1982 big changes were coming and the most noticeable was the Ford 'Blue Oval' being added to the center of the grille. '82 was the final year of the Ranger trim as the name was shifted onto the brand new compact pickup that was developed as a replacement for the Courier. This was the last year for the F-100 which had been basically been made extinct by the F-150.
In 1984 the 5.8L V8 engine was upgraded to a 'High Output' engine with a 4-barrel cab, larger air cleaner, new camshaft and low restriction dual exhaust system. This resulted in an increase from 163 hp and 267 lb/ft torque to 210 hp and 304 lb/ft of torque. Additional engine changes this year included the 4.9L 6-cylinder, 5.0L V8 and the base 5.8L V8 engines with EEC-IV electronic engine control. The F-Series lost the 3.8L V6 engine this year. Pre-coated steel and additional galvanized panels were used by Ford to help combat corrosion and rust. Standard now was the F-Series key-in-ignition warning buzzer. New this year, unless the clutch pedal was completely depressed a new clutch safety switch kept the engine from cranking.
Only a few updates were made in 1985 and they included fuel injection being added to the 5.0L V8 engine. Other minor changes concentrated on cosmetics.
For the final year of the seventh generation in 1986 only a few changes were made. They included front disc brakes becoming standard and the addition of a new seam sealer and elctrocoat primer that assisted in corrosion protection. A few earlier options became standard this year. New in '86, outside sheet metal featured a more rounded front end that helped improve aerodynamics. Blending into the new fenders were new replaceable halogen bulbs that were inserted into headlights constructed from impact-resistant housings. Redesigned to now match the new body panels was the grille, taillights and all of the truck's mouldings and emblems. The inside of the truck received an all new dash, seats, interior trim and door panels.
1986 became the last year that buyers could purchase the F-150 with a 3 speed manual transmission that shifted through a steering column level. This was also the last vehicle in the U.S. that would offer this set up.
The eighth generation was introduced in 1987 and ran until 1991. The platform from 1980 received an upgrade that included aerodynamic changes to the front clip, which improved fuel efficiency. Featuring a style that was remarkably simple, the composite headlights became separate from the grille. The front bumper was mated into the bodywork for the first time rather than being an add-on part. Crew-cab trucks now featured full-width windows in their rear doors. Introduced in 1987 was fuel injection under the hood, which replaced carbureted engine completely by 1988. Ford following numerous years of lost sales to the StyleSide version dropped the FlareSide bed option quietly.
In '87 the first F-150 4WD SuperCab was introduced and with this redesign several changes were made to F-Series mechanicals. These included the 4.9L 6-cylinder engine receiving electronic fuel injection, along with hydroelastic motor mounts that aided in reducing the amount of engine noise and vibration transmitted to the body. The 3-speed manual transmission was deleted this year while the 5.0L V8 received an updated version of electronic engine control. Newly standard this year was an all-new electronic controlled antilock brake system that the kept the rear wheels from locking up on hard braking.
Hoping to fill the void between the F-350 and the medium-duty F-600, the F-Super Duty was debuted in 1987. This model was fitted with a suspension that allowed for a higher GVWR and also featured only the 7.5L V8 or the 7.3L diesel V8. The F-Super Duty was available only as a chassis-cab model and was intended for commercial use only.
Only a few changes were made in 1988 and they included 5.8L V8 engined trucks being fitted with electronic fuel injection. The 4-speed manual transmission was replaced with a 5-speed overdrive manual transmission. The following year was yet another year of just minor updates. SuperCab trucks with captain's chairs now had a tilt and slide mechanism up front to make getting in and out easier. The other changes concentrated on trim and color choices for 1989.
Available at the end of the '89 production year, but announced for 1990 the C6 3-speed automatic transmission was replaced with a 4-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission. For this year manual hubs were optional while four-wheel drive trucks now featured automatic locking front hubs. Two different sport packages were offered late in the 1990 model year and one included body and tailgate stripes and body colored styled steel wheels while the second added a black tubular bumper and a light bar with off-road lights to the first package.
1991 brought along with it an electronic switched transfer case that was available on 4WD trucks with the automatic overdrive and 5.0L V8 engine. A special 'Nite' model was debuted this year. It was a completely black truck with either red or blue stripes and special Nite decal. The buyer could opt for a handling package, the 5.0L or 5.8L V8 and a rear step bumper.
1992 brought with it the ninth generation of the Ford F-Series which ran until 1996. Once again with a focus on increasing its aerodynamics the lineup went through a huge cosmetic facelift. A new grille, bumper, headlights, fenders and hood front were some of the updates this year. On the inside a new dash and instrument panel was installed whicle heat/AC controls were tweaked and the glove compartment got bigger. Stylistically the F-Series was now in line with the Explorer and the Ranger. A single window rather than twin side windows in the rear was the only distinguishing factor of SuperCab models of this generation.
The Flareside Bed came back to the market in 1992. Rather than sporting the traditional pickup bed from the past, the new FlareSide took a lot of the rear bodywork from the dual rear-wheel F-350. Also this year Ford offered a 75th anniversary package on its '92 F-series which included a stripe package, special 75th anniversary logos and an argent colored step bumper.
In 1993 Ford's base truck received a new name, the XL, losing its Custom tag. The Lariat XLT became simply XLT. Due to Ford's cruise control recall in 92, the following year cruise control became an electronic system with the ability to increase or decrease speed by 1 MPH when either the accel or decel buttons were touched.
In 1993 the SVT Lightening was introduced. Sold from 1993 until 1995 the Lightening got its power from a modified 5.8L V8 with performance cylinder heads, cam, pistons, intake, dual exhaust, headers, oil cooler and modified engine computer programming. The rear axle was a limited slip unit with 4.10:1 gearing. The Lightening was offered with a reprogrammed 4-speed automatic transmission with an auxiliary cooler. The suspension of aptly named Lightning was designed for performance and handling. It's steering featured much quicker response time than a standard F-150. The interior of the truck featured 6-way adjustable sport seats with lumbar controls and a console between them. A 120 MPH speedometer and a tachometer were part of the truck's instrumentation. On the outside was a body color-matched front bumper and a lower front air dam with interspersed fog lamps.
A high-mount brake light was added in 1994 to the rear of truck cab roofs. Other safety features included a security package with an intrusion alarm and remote keyless entry. Standard now were driver side air bags and door intrusion beams this year, along with an automatic transmission and transmissions fitted with a shift lock that restricted drivers from shifting out of park unless the brake pedal was depressed. A brand new 4-speed automatic overdrive for trucks that were outfitted with the 5.0L V8 engine replaced the earlier 4-speed auto transmission. And off road-package for 4WD trucks was introduced and included a handling package, off-road decals for the bed sides and skid plates.
1995 brought with a bit more class with the edition of the plusher Eddie Bauer Edition, the top trim level. SuperCab models received a new bench seat and the earlier jump seats were long gone. Only a few minor changes were made the following year in preparation of a major redesign as Ford began to phase-in integrated headrests in the seats and deleted the anti-theft aspect of the keyless entry system.
Arriving early in 1996, the tenth generation of the F-Series was debuted with a F-150 redesign for the first time since 1980 from the ground up. New rounded styling enhanced the aerodynamics nicely and along with a larger interior this new generation featured even better fuel economy. Sharing its V8 engine with the Crown Vic and V6 engine with the Taurus/Windstar, the F-150 acquired a brand new engine lineup. SuperCab models received a third door which helped with rear-seat access and in 1999 Supercabs became four-doors. The SuperCrew crew cab was added to the lineup in 2001. It took the larger seat of a crew cab and combined it with a slightly shorter rear cargo bed.
1997 and 1998 were the only years that the F-250 utilized this body style. The heavy duty model; or the old body style as it was known, was available with the 5.8 liter, the 7.5 liter gas motors and the 7.3 liter diesel motor. The crew cab four-door models were only featured with the 7.5 liter gas and 7.3 liter diesel motors. The extended cab and the regular cab models were available with all three engine options. The new body style F-250s (or non-heavy duty models), were only featured with the 4.6 liter and the 5.4 liter Ford modular gas motors. They had no diesel motor option, though there was a CNG compatible 5.4 liter engine option. No crew cab option was available for the new body style. A standard cab 2-door model and all extended cabs with this body style was available only with 3 doors. Not many changes were made in 1998 as Ford focused its advertising on the 50th anniversary of the F-Series and the 50th anniversary of NASCAR.
This generation was monumental in marking the separation of the F-150 from the heavier-duty trucks. Following a year long interruption, in 1999 the F-350 was reintroduced as the Super Duty; the Super Duty model included the F-250 through the F-550. Joining with International, Ford revamped the medium-duty F-Series, now part of the Super Duty lineup and the B-Series bus chassis was deleted.
Also this year a driver's side rear opening door was added to SuperCab trucks, which made it easier to get to the back seat from either side. The SVT Lightning package came back after three years, and featured a supercharged 5.4 liter V8 that produced 360 horsepower. It also featured a lower sport suspension and aerodynamic side skirts and front bumper. Other updates were only minor and included a new grille and 25 more horsepower for the 5.4 liter V8.
Redesigned on a whole new platform the eleventh generation was introduced for the 2004 model year. On the outside it was similar to the previous generations, but it featured sleeker styling and the addition of the stepped driver's window from the Super Duty trucks. All F-150's received four doors regardless of cab type.
Super Duty trucks also received a new platform in 2008. Keeping the same bed and cab as before, they could be distinguished from earlier models by the brand new interior and larger headlights and grille. The F-450 was now available as a pickup truck directly from Ford whereas previously it was offered only as a chassis-cab model.
Introduced for the 2009 model year was the twelfth generation and now current lineup. The F-150 received a huge update of the Ford full-size truck platform. Standard cabs were back down to two doors again rather than four. Updates on the truck platform included Super Duty style grilles and headlights. Manual transmission was dropped, along with the FlareSide bed, and the F-150 Platinum replaced the Lincoln Mark LT outside of Mexico. The SVT Raptor was all-new for 2010 and it was exclusively meant for off-roading.
In 2009 the Ford F-150 won Motor Trend 2009 Truck of the Year Award. This same year it also received the Best Redesigned Vehicle from Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, 'Best Luxury Pickup' and 'Truck of Texas' for the 2009 F-150 King Ranch from Texas Auto Writers Association. It also received 'Best Overall Half-Ton Pickup' from PickupTrucks.com. Popular Mechanics awarded 'Automotive Excellence' award in the Workhorse Category. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety dubbed it 'Top Safety Pick' for its standard safety technology: AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and Safety Canopy side curtain air bags.
Focusing on fuel efficiency, the whole engine lineup for the F-150 was revamped for the 2011 model year. Besides two new V8 engines, the F-150 received a new 3.7L base V6 engine, and a powerful twin turbocharged 3.5L V6, named EcoBoost by Ford. The only option was the automatic transmission. Most models also received the addition of a Nexteer Automotive Electric Power Steering (EPS) system.
For 2015 the thirteenth generation of the F-Series will be updated. The F-150 was debuted in 2013 and featured a style loosely mimicking the Ford Atlas concept. It will not only have improved fuel efficiency, but it will have more EcoBoost engines; 2.7 V6 and 3.5 V6). It will also include the current 3.7 V6 and 5.0 V8. The 6.2 V8 will most likely be dropped because of bad fuel economy, though it will be used in the Super-Duty. Nearly 700 pounds will be dropped from the full-size trucks by Ford Engineers. Becoming best in class, Ford would like to bump up fuel efficiency to 26 Highway, and 18 City while keeping the F-150 body on frame (BOF).
Ford released several special models of the F-Series. One such model was introduced in 1993 for the model year; the SVT Lightning. A sports/performance version of the F-150, this model competed against the Chevy Sport. The SVT was powered by a 240 hp 5.8 L V8. Its basic framework came from the F-150, but numerous modifications were made to the frame the suspension to improve handling. With the SVT Ford was attempting to broaden their image from rough and tough man trucks to personal-use, fun, sporty vehicles. From 1993 until 1995 a total of 11,563 models were produced.
Following a three-year break, in 1999 Ford SVT introduced a brand new Ford Lightning. Similar to its predecessor this version was based on the F-150 with significant suspension updates. Using a supercharger engine that produced 360 hp, the Lighting also shared its 5.4 L V8 with the standard F-150. The 4-speed automatic transmission was borrowed from Ford's V10/diesel Super Duty trucks to handle the additional power. From 1999 until 2004 when it was discontinued a total of 28,124 models were produced.
The first ever Harley Davidson Edition F-150 was available in 2000. Originally it was offered in a Supercab with a standard-length bed before moving to a Supercrew F-150 in 2001. The following year the Harley Davidson Edition became more exclusive with the addition of the supercharged motor from the SVT Lightning with a slightly larger pulley to reduce boost by 2lbs. The 2003 edition coincided with the 100th year celebration of Harley-Davidson and featured the addition of 100th Anniversary badging, available on Supercrew F-150s with the supercharged 5.4 liter V8.
In 2000 Ford established an alliance with Harley Davidson, which continues today. No huge changes were made for this year. The first Harley Davidson F-150 was offered only as a SuperCab Flareside truck in black and came with special badging, wheels and interior trim.
In 2001 there were significant changes that included the introduction of the F-Series SuperCrew truck, the first half-ton pickup that featured four full doors. Reaching an even bigger audience, the Ford F-Series trucks were great for hauling more than just people and cargo. The Harley-Davidson F-150 was available as a SuperCrew but with the only color choice continuing to be black. Newly available this year was the King Ranch truck, which was the beginning of an alliance with the large Texas cattle ranch of the same name. These trucks were top of the line and featured western-theme leather interior covers with brand-like logos embossed in the seats, door panels and console.
2002 brought a new color with it to the Harley-Davidson edition trucks, smoke gray. The trucks received special 20' wheels and a supercharger that brought the horsepower up to 340. Four-wheel drive models were now available with the FX4 package with unique striping, special 17' wheels, Rancho brand off-road shock absorbers and skid plates.
In 2003 both Ford and Harley-Davidson celebrated their 100th anniversaries. To celebrate this milestone a unique black and silver paint scheme was available for the Harley-Davidson truck with lots of anniversary badging. Also this year the SVT Lighting increased their horsepower to 380.
For 2004 two different body styles were available, the Heritage Edition truck and the new generation pickups. The Heritage Edition was a re-badged '03 SuperCab or SuperCrew to fill the void until the new model was ready to be delivered. The new generation truck was a brand new complete redesign that featured a less rounded front and taller grille and fender. To fit the taller body line the bed-side height went up 2 inches which resulted in a more handsome and rugged looking truck. Rear passengers received more leg-room once the standard and SuperCab trucks were stretched six inches lengthwise. It also made enough room to allow Quarter rear-opening doors to access the extra storage behind the seat of Regular Cab trucks.
Two engines were available in the '04 F-150, the 4.6L Triton V8 (the same engine used in the previous generation) and the 5.4L V8 with 3 valves per cylinder, which replaced the 03 optional 5.4L V8 with 2 valves per cylinder. This new engine had better fuel economy and produced 15% more horsepower and had improved low-end torque. Making it a better ride, a new completely boxed frame increased the torsional rigidity along with making the cab quieter with less vibration. New rear shock absorbers were mounted outside the frame rails to help improve the ride and handling and innovative design suspensions bushings and rack and pinion steering took the place of the earlier truck's recirculating-ball steering box. Passengers were much more safe now thanks to the truck's hydro-formed steel panels. Also the new front passenger seat weight sensor this year which controlled the air bag on that side along with a seat belt reminder system that lets you know that the belt isn't fastened were all new this year.
For 2005 the King Ranch was available as a F-150. Other changes this year included the 4.2L V6 with manual transmission being added to the power train list. Customers looking for a bare-bones basic truck without frills could purchase the Work Truck Group package.
The following year 20-inch wheels became available on FX4, Lariat and King Ranch trucks. Traction Assist was now available on 2WD V8 pickup trucks. For the techno savvy driver, Sirius Satellite radio was offered on STX, XLT, FX4 and Lariat models. The Flex fuel version of the 5.4L Triton was introduced in 2006. Available as an F150, the Harley-Davidson Edition came in a choice of 2WD or AWD.
2007 brought with it a brand new grille design for both XLT and Lariat pickup trucks. A new FX2 Sport Package was offered on SuperCab and SuperCrew XLT trucks. Standard equipment now included a tire pressure monitoring system while DVD based navigation system was optional. Also standard on STX, XLT, FX and Lariat trucks were auxiliary audio input jacks. For '07 4.6L V8 horsepower went from 231 to 248 while the maximum tow capacity was increased to 10,500 pounds.
For 2008 the Ford F-Series maximum towing capacity was increased to 11,000 pounds. This year the truck received a new tailgate-mounted rear view camera and the option of remote start system. Also new this year was new manual telescoping trailer-tow mirrors.
The 2009 Ford F-150 featured a much quieter ride that was smoother and eliminated any steering wheel vibration at idle. Other updates included the addition of a six-speed transmission; roll stability control with trailer sensing, front side-impact and side curtain airbags. Also this year was a larger Crew Cab with a flat rear door. More luxurious features this year included options like Ford's SYNC audio system with voice activated radio and navigation, SIRIUS travel Link, a reverse sensing system, heated and cooled seats and rear vision camera. To fully get the most of the truck's cargo space one could purchase options like a tailgate step, cargo management system, retractable bedside step and retractable running boards.
Though a sluggish economy and rising gas prices make it a challenge to own a truck, big truck sales still count for a large share of the market today.
The Harley-Davidson Edition became basically an appearance package from 2004 until 2009 with its offerings expanded to the F-250 and F-350 Super Duty series. The newest version of the Harley-Davidson F-150 was debuted on February 10, 2008 at the Chicago Auto Show. Many of the lux features of the Platinum Edition were found on the Harley, in addition to authentic Harley biker-jacket materials used in the leather seating surfaces. Additional features included the requisite exhaust tones and power that achieved a top speed of 115 miles per hour.
The SVT Raptor model of the F-150 was introduced in 2010. Completely dedicated to off-road use, the Raptor featured modifications that improved its off-road ability. The body and fenders are wider than the base F-Series truck and it features a full set of FOX shocks with 11.2' of front suspension travel and 12.1' of rear travel. For the first time since 1982 the blue-oval Ford emblem on the grille isn't found on the Raptor, instead 'F-O-R-D' is spelled out in the center. Added alongside the standard 2+2 door SuperCab model was a full four-door SuperCrew model in 2011. Same as the the Ford Super Duty, the Raptor is powered by a 411 hp 6.2 L V8 engine, mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Following the 2008 model year Ford ended sales of the Lincoln Mark LT in the U.S. and Canada. Ford introduced a high-end trim of the 09 F-150 called F-150 Platinum to fill the gap at the beginning of the 2009 model year. The Platinum is rebadged as the Lincoln Mark LT in Mexico and it continues to be very popular.
The Ford F-Series has a history in Motorsports. Ford entered into the Baja 1000 class eight race for slightly modified, full-size pickup trucks. The car was constructed in joint effort with the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT), Ford Racing, and Foutz Motorsports, Inc. Steve Oligos was the drivers of record, supported by co-drivers Greg Foutz, Bud Brutsman and Randy Merritt. Ranked third in its class, the F-150 SVT Raptor B completed the '08 41st SCORE Baja 1000 race in 25:28:10. This same model completed the 'Terrible's 250' race in the Best In The Desert race series, placing second overall in the Class 8000.
A single Raptor SVT (#439) competed in the Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally in January of 2010. Chilean driver Javier Campillay was unfortunately unable to finish because of a catch-up crash with another car in the middle of the road during stage seven. The following year two Raptors started in the Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires with Campillay behind the wheel of the more dependable Raptor (#375), and American female driver Sue Mead driving a T2 Raptor (#374). Wining the 'Super Production' class, Mead crossed the finish line in Buenos Aires and achieved the first North American class win in Dakar history. After losing time because of a mechanical failure during the 11th stage, Campillay was unable to finish the 12th state, which let to his being disqualified for failing to reach the race camp by the scheduled deadline.By Jessica Donaldson