The History of the 1948-79 Ford Pickup
Promoted as a “Bonus Built” truck, the release of the new F-Series line in 1948 was the first new design from Ford since returning to civilian vehicle production after WWII. A number that designated the load capacity of the truck followed the “F” prefix. The F1was rated at ½ ton capacity, the F2 at ¾ ton, and the F3 rated as a 1 ton pickup. The series continued up through F8 for Ford’s heavy-duty trucks.
In an effort to gain some ground on the light truck sales leader, Chevrolet, Ford invested a significant amount of resources, both in designers and dollars, toward the creation of their new pickups. Particular attention was given to the one place where the driver spends the most time, the cab. Ford advertised “living room comfort” for a new cab that was taller and more spacious than any Ford had previously released. The wide cab, furnished with a comfortably upholstered coil spring bench seat, had sufficient room for a driver and two passengers. The focus on driver comfort was even extended to the way the cab was mounted upon the frame. Various rubber pads, bushings, and rubber insulated bolts were used in an effort to reduce cab noise and soften the pickup’s ride.
The interior of the cab featured more trim items than usual for period pickup trucks including sun visors, an ashtray, and an instrument panel designed with accessibility in mind. The clearly visible gauges were complemented by the expansive view from behind the wheel, as the driver looked over the hood through a wide single-paned windshield.
One Giant Leap
When Bob Chandler modified his F250 4x4 in the mid-1970’s, equipping the truck with front and rear steering, heavy-duty axles, and tall tires, it’s unlikely he could have predicted what the future held for the “monster” he had created. Perhaps the world’s most recognizable Ford truck, “Bigfoot” is regarded not only as the first “monster truck,” but also the truck responsible for inspiring a racing series that continues to this day.
The body of the new F-Series saw its share of restyling as well. The front fenders featured a wraparound appearance, coming together around a five-bar horizontal grille. Headlights were nestled on either side of the grille rather than placed into the front fenders as was previously done. The large triangular hood drew back to the broad windshield and under the hood, the buyer could opt for a 226 CID, 95 HP, 6-cylinder engine or the 239 CID, 100 HP, Flathead V8.
A 3-speed floor shift transmission was standard for the F1 and F2 pickups, and the F3 1 ton pickup was offered with a 4-speed transmission as standard.
By the end of 1948 it was clear that the effort Ford put into designing the F-Series was worth it. Ford’s sales were hitting record numbers and the company celebrated its best production year for trucks since 1929.
Not wanting to tamper with success, Ford changed little in the F-Series design for the next four years. A significant engine change occurred in 1952 with the introduction of the overhead valve, 215CID 6-cylinder engine. Rated at 101 HP, the 6-cylinder was only 5 horses behind the Flathead V8’s 106 HP.