Ford F100 Historyby James JordanUpdated August 06, 2023
For over six decades and many different model years, Ford's F Series of trucks has stood as an iconic symbol of American excellence, consistently ranking among the nation's best-selling vehicles.
Among the prestigious F-Series truck lineup, the Ford F100, a remarkable Ford pickup, holds a significant place, serving as the base truck for nearly three decades from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s.
This article delves into the historical journey of the Ford F100, from its development to its ultimate end. Read on to learn more!
Development and Design
The Ford F100 made its debut in 1953 as the second generation of the revered F Series. Its initial model in 1953 featured a fresh new look, while the subsequent 1954 model boasted a powerful V8 engine, marking an essential milestone in the evolution of Ford trucks. During this period, Ford took strides to refine the truck's interiors, making them more akin to car designs, enhancing driver comfort and appeal.
Note: the first year of the F-100 was actually the last year that trucks in the U.S. had a flathead engine before these engines were replaced by the “Power King.”
The third generation of the F100 arrived in 1957, introducing a completely revamped design known as the “Styleside” pickup. Shedding the rounded hood and cab, the F100 adopted a more boxy and distinctive appearance with a flat truck bed, capturing attention with its stylish grille. The “Power King” engine, renowned for its enhanced horsepower, was a notable addition to the lineup during this era.
Over the years, Ford continued to introduce new designs approximately every five years, catering to evolving preferences and needs.
Advancements and Evolution
In 1959, Ford made significant advancements by introducing four-wheel-drive capabilities to the F100 trucks, further enhancing their versatility and performance. The F100 kept pace with the changing times, adapting to various economic and cultural shifts in America.
Throughout the 1970s, Ford focused on augmenting its truck offerings, introducing the super cab and debuting the renowned Ford F-150. The F-150 gradually took the reins from the F100, solidifying its position as Ford's new base truck. Nevertheless, the F100 continued to be produced into the 1980s, as loyal enthusiasts still valued its distinct features and capabilities.
Fourth Generation to Seventh Generation
During its illustrious history, the Ford F100 witnessed several generations. The fourth generation brought about a significant redesign, leaving behind the rounded appearance in favor of a more modern and aerodynamic body style. With the addition of new trim levels and configurations, the F100 gained a dedicated following, becoming one of the best-selling trucks in the market.
In the fifth generation, the Ford F100 saw further upgrades to its front suspension and towing capabilities, making it an ideal choice for heavy-duty tasks. For the very first time, Ford was able to surpass Chevrolet as being number one in truck sales, beating Chevrolet’s sales by over 20,000 units in 1971.
As the automotive industry entered the sixth generation, advancements in technology allowed for the integration of automatic transmission, air conditioning, and enhanced fuel economy, catering to the changing needs of consumers.
The seventh generation marked a remarkable era, as the Ford F100 embraced the new millennium with cutting-edge features, including safety enhancements like seat belts and emission controls, making it a modern and eco-friendly choice.
The End of an Era
In 1977, Ford bolstered the F100's power by introducing two new V8 engines, the 351 and 400-cubic-inch, amplifying its performance even further. However, as the automotive landscape evolved, Ford ceased production of the four-wheel-drive F100 in 1978, and ultimately, the F100 itself was discontinued in 1984, marking the end of a remarkable era for this iconic truck.
From the first generation to the seventh generation, the Ford F100's rich history has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the American automotive landscape.
As part of the legendary F Series of trucks, the F100's development, design, and advancements have catered to truck enthusiasts across generations. Though its production may have ceased, its legacy lives on in the hearts of those who appreciate its classic appeal and the role it played in shaping the landscape of American pickup trucks.
With its iconic design, distinct styleside and flareside body styles, and versatile crew cab configurations, this classic truck remains a symbol of an era where pickup trucks became more than just workhorses; they became beloved companions on off-road adventures and everyday journeys.
The journey of the Ford F100, as well as other F series pickups, stands as a testament to the ingenuity of the Ford Motor Company, reflecting the ever-evolving nature of truck design, engineering, and capabilities.
James Jordan has been a writer and photographer since 1980. He has worked for newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kansas, winning state press association awards for writing, photography and page design. In 1995 he received his master's in Christian education and completed two years of Ancient Greek at the graduate level. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.