There is no doubting that Ford’s F series trucks dominate the light truck market segment.
But Ford has not always been the market leader. Back in the 1940s it was a poor second to GM.
That all changed in 1948 however when Ford in the USA released its new range of “F” series trucks.
They were Ford’s first all-new post World War II vehicle designs.
The different carrying capacities were clearly spelt out for buyers: F-1 for the half-ton model, right up to F8 for the bigger three-ton rigs.
‘F’ meant nothing more than ‘Ford’ but the system made it very easy for buyers and users to quickly choose a truck for their needs.
Ford’s objective was to beat Chevrolet, which was the then the industry leader in light and medium duty trucks.
The folks at Ford also wanted to make some much needed money for the financially impaired company.
Sales brouchure said the trucks had a ‘million dollar cab’, referencing the money Ford spent on making the cab a more hospitable place for the driver.
It was significantly wider than previous models, which allowed room for the driver and two passengers.
Interior appointments included full interior trim, sun visors and an ashtray.
It does not seem a big deal now, but in 1948 this was truck-luxury!
Ford found that it had a real success on its hands and pushed hard for every sale.
By the time 1953 rolled around Ford was well on the way to besting Chevrolet with a redesign that set a benchmark.
These trucks looked like trucks. They boasted a purposeful-looking “dropped nose”, yet were handsome and even more car-like inside.
The sales blurb called it ”driverized”.
The demand of a multi-purpose “pick-up” was well and truly growing and Ford would ride this surging wave of demand for decades to come.
Ford labelled the 1953 models F100, F250 , F350 etc, and established an industry naming trend.
The 1953s debuted with the old flat head V8, but in 1954 the trucks got the latest OHV engines producing 130hp. Later versions of the V8 were even more powerful with up to 175hp in the offing.
The 54s came with a huge chrome V8 badge right in the centre of the white painted grille. No mistaking that it sported a new motor.
The 1953 to 1956 Ford trucks are the most coveted by collectors and the 1956 model, in particular, with its wrap around windscreen, is the one everyone aims for.
By the mid 1970s Fords ‘F’ range was the sales leader and immensely profitable for the company.
And it still is 70 years later.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au
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