Born out of necessity and need for a light and capable work vehicle, pickups are the world’s most versatile vehicle class. It isn’t really clear who made the first pick up and when, but it must have been some form of an ordinary sedan with a truck bed in the back, built by somebody’s shop in the early 20th century. Even though we cannot determine who built the first pick up, we can definitely determine who perfected it, and America can be called the birthplace of the pickup class we all know and love. Simply, this was the perfect vehicle for the vast American countryside, very practical and durable. Since the early days of motoring, pickups have dominated the American roads and became one of the symbols of the country. Among the numerous models produced in this country, there is one name which has been a symbol of quality, versatility, and durability for almost 80 years and that is the Ford F-Series pickup truck. Produced in thirteen generations, tens of millions examples and hundreds of different variants, F-Series is the definitive US pickup truck. Over the years it evolved from a basic workhorse to a lifestyle truck and even a performance vehicle, but it still retained the title of the best-selling and one of the best US vehicles of all times. So, let’s see how the Ford F-Series has changed over time and how it has conquered America.
Ford F-1 (1947-1952)
Coming out of the Second World War, America’s economy was booming and millions of workers across the country needed a work vehicle. Ford understood that and presented a fresh and new pickup in late 1947 in form of the Ford F-1. It was a newly designed vehicle with a wide choice of engines, chassis lengths, and body styles. Compared to other models on the market which only had a few options, Ford offered numerous alternatives to its customers. There were 7 engines and three transmissions to choose from, two body styles, two drivetrains including all-wheel drive option, and you could even get a naked chassis for commercial buyers. In a few words, F-1 had it all, and it soon became very successful and loved among the buyers all over America.
Ford F-100 (1952-1956)
The success of the F-1 showed Ford the way and the next model, called F-100 further developed the concept of the all-around truck. Pretty much everything was improved and a new body style with a classic design was introduced, and it is still pretty almost 60 years later. The engine line-up was new and it featured more powerful six and eight cylinder engines. Interestingly, this truck was the first one equipped with an automatic gearbox which was an advanced component for the time. As before, buyers could get many options considering payload and drivetrain. With all that technology, signature quality, and fresh design, F-100 was even more popular and Ford sold many of them, not only on the domestic market, but in various export markets all over the world too. In fact,for the South American market, this F-100 was even assembled in Brazil.
Ford F-100 (1957-1960)
The third generation of Ford`s F-Series was introduced in the late ’50s and it marked further advances in design and technology. Gone were separate fenders and classic styling, and this model had flat sides, squared front end and more modern look. Underneath the metal, there were substantial improvements in chassis construction, engines and drivetrain and the new F-100 could be had with five engines (straight six and V8) and even with a diesel engine for foreign markets. Besides the regular single cab F-100, buyers could get a double cab model, as well as F-250 and F-350 models with longer chassis and bigger payloads. The sales grew and Ford successfully exported this model, also establishing production lines in Brazil and Argentina.
Ford F-100 (1960-1966)
The fourth generation of Ford`s best-selling F-Series truck was introduced in 1960 and continued to be a market leader not only in sales numbers, but in a number of mechanical improvements. First, the new generation was constructed as a unibody, which meant that the classic ladder type chassis was gone in favor of a more modern approach. This not only reduced the weight of the vehicle, but also influenced new technologies of pressing steal for bodies. The overall design was bigger and with more chrome, making the fourth generation F-Series a pretty nice-looking vehicle. As expected, Ford offered a host of options, body styles and engine choices varying from small six cylinders to big V8 power plants. All-wheel-drive was an option as well as crew cab configuration. The bigger F-250 and F-350 versions were retained, and this model continued with great sales results, selling in North America as well as globally.
Ford F-100 (1967-1972)
The fifth generation was more of an aesthetic change than a totally new model and it introduced a fresh design with more space and elegant lines as well better engine choices. The new 1967 F-100 had three trim levels (Base, Custom, and Ranger) and several new and modern V8 engines directly from Ford`s passenger car lineup. Of course, the popular crew cab option was retained as well as all-wheel drive model. During this generation, Ford offered a lot of convenience options in terms of creature comforts, paint and details, making the F-Series not only a work tool but somewhat of a lifestyle or camping vehicle as well. The sales numbers were high, and this model was produced not only in North and South America, but also in Australia.
Ford F Series (1972-1979)
Despite being just another redesign of the older platform, the sixth generation introduced many improvements, an even bigger options list and engine choices. This generation was important since it presented the F-150 model which proved so popular that the name stuck for the whole series. The F-150 was a mid-level trim with more payload and better engines. The combination of trim levels with proven and powerful Ford`s engines and a long list of options proved very successful and F-Series trucks stayed on top of the sales game. Besides the F-150, Ford offered the F-250 and F-350 bigger chassis with dual rear wheels as well, and the biggest engines for commercial users and construction workers. This generation was also exported to various markets all over the world, as well as being assembled in Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, and Argentina.
Ford F-150 (1980-1986)
The beginning of the ’80s marked a big change with the introduction of a brand new platform for all F-Series trucks. The new construction of the truck meant improved driving dynamics, better fuel economy and a bigger payload, all of which was important for customers and market needs in the early ’80s. The design was fresh and contemporary looking without excessive use of chrome. Ford offered different cab configurations as well as different lengths of truck bed, making the new F Series into a very practical truck. Besides that, customers could option for many interesting components Ford offered on top of the regular options list. For example, you could get LPG conversion for engines, heavy-duty battery, a front stabilizer bar etc. For the first time, the V6 engine could be found underneath the hood of the F-150, but the majority of engines still were reliable V8 units. Ford offered an amazing choice of 15 different engines for F-150, F-250 and F-350 models in 5 trim levels. As expected, this generation continued the success and it was built in Mexico, Canada, and Argentina.
Ford F-150 (1987-1991)
The eight generation was introduced in 1987 and continued on the previous model platform, although with further improvements and modifications. The most visible one was styling and the 1987 model had a more aerodynamic look with a plastic grille and different front bumpers. Big news for this generation was ABS system as standard and a couple of inches more of interior room. The engine and trim offerings were more or less unchanged, and crew cab option continued being offered. For bigger models such as F-250 and F-350, buyers could get a diesel engine option. Despite being in production for just four years, this generation was still a sales success, exported and built worldwide.
Ford F-150 (1991-1997)
New design, improved engines, and an interesting version marked the introduction of the ninth generation of F-150 since it was still being built on an old platform dating to the early ’80s. The grill was new as well as some exterior details, but there were a lot of parts that were interchangeable with previous two generations. Ford made a big change by dividing the F-Series into F-150 for regular trucks and F-250 and F-350 to Super Duty segment. The interior was improved with standard airbags and climate control, as well as better materials. The customers had a choice between seven engines including turbo diesel V8 and seven trim levels. For the first time, F-150 could be had in luxurious Eddie Bauer trim which marked the F-150’s move from being a modest work vehicle to a more upscale market. Other interesting and influential model was the F-150 SVT Lightning which was the first true performance truck. It had a powerful 5.4-liter engine, special color combinations and pretty quick acceleration times. It was more expensive than the regular F-150 and it was built in limited numbers, but it still is one of the most interesting Ford F-Series trucks ever made.
Ford F-150 (1997-2004)
The tenth generation was a very important one since it featured a complete restyling and a brand new platform, design and engines. This was the first truly modern F-150 in ages and it was also well received by both the buyers and the automotive press. The idea behind the 10th generation was to offer its buyers a really modern truck with advanced features and look, that still retains the classic usability, practicality, and durability. Almost every component was new or improved, and Ford offered a wide arrange of options and body styles. The F-150 series was completely removed from the bigger F-250 and F-350 trucks, despite sharing the same design and some engines. A long options list, powerful engines, crew cab options as well as upscale trim levels allowed demanding customers to spec the F-150 as a very luxurious vehicle with leather interior and wood on the dash. This showed that a pickup is no longer considered a tool for the job, but also as a lifestyle choice which could be optioned to become a true luxury cruiser. The interesting SVT Lightning performance truck returned with 380hp supercharged V8 engine and blisteringly fast acceleration figures.
Ford F-150 (2004-2008)
Introduced in 2004, the eleventh generation F-150 continued with introducing a new platform several different engines and complete interior and exterior redesign. Ford’s competitors like Chevrolet and Dodge as well as Toyota and Nissan have repeated the F-150`s winning formula so Ford had to fight back with a fresh new model. As expected, there were a couple of V6 and V8 engines under the hood and Ford prepared a long list of options. Interestingly, every F-150 came with four doors even if you optioned for a single cab. Rear doors just opened differently from the front, and were small units which helped access to the back of the cab. On the other hand, cool looking SVT Lightning was gone, but Ford did offer a couple of special versions like Harley Davidson F-150.
Ford F-150 (2008-2014)
With the success of the previous generation of the F-150, Ford presented the new model in late 2008. It was basically just a redesign on the existing platform with a new front end, interior and details. However, under the hood, the biggest news was the introduction of the EcoBoost turbo V6 engine. With the recession and rising prices of fuel, Ford invested in a line of smaller turbocharged engines which proved popular as well as economical and powerful. As always, the options list was quite a long one with versions for just about everyone. The SVT Lightning wasn`t revived but Ford introduced the Raptor, a factory prepared off-road racing truck with a warranty.
Ford F-150 (2014- )
Just when you thought that pickups as a vehicle class came to the end of development and nothing new could be introduced, Ford amazed the automotive world with the 13th generation F-150. It wasn’t just a new model and platform, it was a completely new approach, and the new F-150 is fully built out of aluminum. This radical move completely caught competitors off guard and proved why Ford is the best pickup company in the world. The advantages of aluminum use are better fuel economy, bigger towing power and payload, as well as better performance. The engine lineup contains both naturally aspirated V6 andEcoBoost turbocharged V6 engines. On the top of the list is a well proven 5.0 V8 gasoline unit. The options list is very long and there are six trim levels. The off-road model, Raptor has returned as 2017 model year and it is once again the fastest thing for desert driving you can put license plates on.