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Ford F-150 Through The Years

Chris Kaiser

Ford F-150 Overview

The Ford F-150 has completely dominated sales since its 1975 creation. In fact, the F-series has been the best-selling brand of trucks for the last 42 years! That’s including a record 909,330 F-Series sold worldwide in 2018. Today, we’re digging into the evolution of the Ford F-150 through the years, the uber-popular half-ton installment in the F-series lineup. Ford has been setting the bar for American pickup trucks for as long as most of us can remember. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see how this half-ton truck’s legacy began.

Ford F-150 Through the Years

1st Generation (1948 – 1952)

1950 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
1950 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
  • While the F-150 didn’t technically exist until 1975, the first 5 generations of Ford’s half-ton truck were called the F-1 and F-100. The first generation would be the F-1 though the F-8. These included a half-ton pickup, COE (cab over engine), and even a school bus chassis.
  • Ford spent over $1,000,000 dollars designing the cab for their new truck series. Among the additions, a “Spiralounge Seat” featuring a weight adjustable shock absorber.
  • The Ford F-series engines ranged from an inline 6-cylinder producing about 95 hp to a V8 producing around 100 hp.

2nd Generation (1953 – 1956)

1954 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
1954 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
  • The Ford F-1 became the Ford F-100 in 1953.
  • F-series trucks got some new styling with rounded sculpting, low-set grilles, and large fender flares.
  • The windshield was expanded to a wraparound to grant more visibility.
  • The new “Ford-O-Matic” automatic transmission was introduced.
  • Engines in the F-Series kept getting bigger. The V-8 jumped up to 130hp in 1954 and ended the generation at 173hp in 1956.
  • Seatbelts also became an option in 1956.

3rd Generation (1957 – 1960)

1959 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
1959 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
  • In 1957, the series underwent major redesign, with fenders now integrated into the body, and the truck received new, squared look that would influence F-Series design for decades to come.
  • In 1959, Ford started offering four-wheel drive as an option.
  • The COE (cab over engine) F-Series was discontinued and replaced by the Ford C-Series, the first tilt-cab COE of its kind.

4th Generation (1961 – 1966)

1964 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
1964 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
  • Another generation, another significant redesign. This time the F-Series got a bit longer and a bit lower. The headlights were incorporated into the grillwork. And from ’61-’63, Ford offered the F-Series in a unibody design with the cab and bed fully integrated.
  • In 1965, Ford introduced a twin I-beam construction to the front suspension, something that would remain in F-150s all the way to 1996.
  • An F-250 four-door crew cab was also offered beginning in 1965.
  • In ’66, the “Ranger” name was first used as an F-Series trim featuring carpeting, power steering, and air conditioning.

5th Generation (1967 – 1972)

1970 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
1970 Ford F-100 on Carsforsale.com
  • A less radical updating of the F-Series design for this go-around.
  • “Ford,” in big, bold lettering appeared emblazoned across the front lip of the hood on the F-Series.
  • With a wider, more spacious interior than previous generations, the F-Series cab continued to become more livable.
  • Air-conditioning was no longer a dealer add-on but instead installed at the factory.
  • In ’69 another update to the grill was added along with the 302 Windsor V-8, a nearly identical 302 to the one being used in the Ford Mustang.

6th Generation (1973 – 1979)

1974 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
1974 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
  • 1974 saw the debut of the Super cab which gave the F-Series a backseat available with either center-facing jump seats or a bench.
  • In 1975, Ford created a half-ton Ford F-150 that split the difference in performance and emissions between the F-100 and F-250. And thus, the F-150 nameplate was born.
  • The gas tank was moved from outside the cab to under the bed.
  • AC and heaters were dramatically improved.
  • 1979 was the final year a 460 big block engine was available in Ford’s half ton trucks.
  • In 1978, square headlights were first offered on higher trim levels and would go on to replaced rounded headlights in ‘79.

7th Generation (1980 – 1986)

1980 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
1980 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
  • 1980 saw the first major chassis update since 1965. The body got a new look, with improved aerodynamics and a centered blue oval in the grill.
  • Ford officially discontinued the F-100 in 1983, making the F-150 the lightest Ford truck available.
  • The Ranger trim level was dropped from the F-Series and shifted to a new light-duty pickup.
  • Ford began marketing the F-Series as both a work truck and a family vehicle with promotions highlighting an outdoorsy lifestyle.
  • This was the last generation available with a 3-speed manual gearbox.

8th Generation (1987 – 1991)

1988 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
1988 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
  • 1980 saw the first major chassis update since 1965. The body got a new look, with improved aerodynamics and a centered blue oval in the grill.
  • Ford officially discontinued the F-100 in 1983, making the F-150 the lightest Ford truck available.
  • The Ranger trim level was dropped from the F-Series and shifted to a new light-duty pickup.
  • Ford began marketing the F-Series as both a work truck and a family vehicle with promotions highlighting an outdoorsy lifestyle.
  • This was the last generation available with a 3-speed manual gearbox.

9th Generation (1992 – 1996)

1995 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
1995 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
  • Ford built upon the 8th generation’s simplified look by smoothing out the lines on the F-Series. The turn signals were moved under the headlights and the grill was again re-worked. This produced both a more modern look and further improved aerodynamics.
  • F-series interiors also received another complete redesign. This included the addition of a driver’s side airbag.
  • In ’95, the F-150 became the best-selling vehicle, besting the Volkswagen Beetle for the title (the Beetle retained bragging rights for passenger cars).

10th Generation (1997 – 2003)

2000 Ford F-150 SVT Lightening on Carsforsale.com
2000 Ford F-150 SVT Lightening on Carsforsale.com
  • Time marches on and the F-150 keeps getting a little rounder (just like the rest of us, eh?)
  • A V6 engine came standard, replacing the 4.9L inline 6-cylinder.
  • The racing inspired F-150 SVT Lightning debuted in 1993 with a 5.7-liter V8 bosting 240phs. It was discontinued in 1995.
  • In 1999, the Lightning re-emerged with a 5.4-liter Triton V8 posting 360hps and 440 lbs. of torque. After a brief stint through 2004, the Lightning trim was again dropped.

11th Generation (2004 – 2008)

2007 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
2007 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
  • The F-150 received a complete redesign in 2004 including an all-new platform. Still bigger yet, the design shifted back to a boxier, more muscular look as all those rounded edges got sharpened.
  • The interior was reworked, too, with the addition of more modern tech and improved ergonomics.
  • Lincoln-Mercury dealers briefly sold a Lincoln Mark LT, which was a version of the Ford F-150.

12th Generation (2009 – 2014)

2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor on Carsforsale.com
2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor on Carsforsale.com
  • Post Great Recession, the F-150 got a new, three bar grill and an even more voluminous interior.
  • The Lincoln Mark LT was replaced by the Ford F-150 Platinum.
  • The Ford SVT Raptor, a dedicated off-road pickup, debuted in 2010.
  • The V-8 was made the base engine for the F-150.
  • In 2011, the F-150 gained a base 3.7L V6 engine, but more importantly, there was the optional twin-turbo 3.5L V6 EcoBoost. The direct-injection turbocharging EcoBoost technology would go on to inhabit engines in all sorts of Fords. It’s in everything from the Focus to the Transit Van and from the Explorer to the F-150 to even the 2017 Ford GT. Oh, and it’s in a whole slew of Lincolns, too.
  • Manual transmissions were eliminated entirely.

13th Generation (2015 – Present)

2020 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
2020 Ford F-150 on Carsforsale.com
  • The F-150 slimmed down when Ford reduced its curb weight by around 750 lbs. How did the F-150 manage to drop so much weight? Ford switched out steel for an aluminum body.
  • The F-150 became the first pickup to earn a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA.
  • A 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 was added for even greater fuel efficiency.
  • The F-150 became the first truck with adaptive cruise control.
  • Ford introduced Pro Trailer Backup Assist in 2016.
  • The Ford F-150 Limited adds features like massaging seats, 360° camera, and remote power tailgate.

Similar Competitive Models

Want your own Ford F-150? Search F-150s on Carsforsale.com to find the best deals near you.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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1 Comment

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    Mark May 23, 2020

    The F150 SVT Lightning never came with a v6 or a supercharged v6. It did have a supercharged v8. The EcoBoost is a turbocharged v6, but was never an option for the Lightning.

    Reply

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