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How To Buy A Used Pickup

Posted in Features on January 4, 2011 Comment (0)
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How To Buy A Used Pickup

For Ford pickups, 1967 heralded a new look that captured the essence of 'wheeling in both style and function. Ford continued this solid truck line through the '79 model year, with the '79 F-350 considered the best of the breed. And like GM, standard 6 1/2-foot and 8-foot beds were used in most models, but unlike the GM pickups, the F-100 and F-150 models utilized coil-spring front suspension, with the heavier series staying with the standard leaf-spring design.

Ford lagged behind certain techno-advances, such as the integral power steering system and disc brake front axles, but made up for it with Dana 60 rears in some 1/2-tons and 60 fronts in some F-250s. But the strangest marketing decision had to have been the lack of crew cab and dualie F-350 4x4s. Virtually anything was available in the two-wheel-drive trucks, but even the base F-350 wasn't produced with a front drive axle until the '78-'79 model year.

Models Available The first year of the '67-'72 body style started with a 6 1/2-foot and an 8-foot bed for the F-100, a definite advantage over the previous 9-foot-only style. And while the F-250 only received a longbed, both the 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton pickups came with the regular Styleside or stepside (Flareside) beds. Even with various trim levels, Ford was initially aiming its trucks at the commercial market so creature comforts were at a minimum. But in 1969, the crew cab made its debut, a perfect four-door pickup for the construction gang or the average-size family of the day.

By the time 1973 rolled around, the body style changed slightly, with the side panel bulges going in rather than sticking out. Power options and improved trim levels had increased far beyond the "farmer's truck" and the Camper Special had the power and convenience options to make hauling a camper downright fun. With the smog police on the industries' back, many changes were made to keep performance and eliminate the required add-ons, so the F-150 heavy 1/2-ton was born. This rig had a higher weight rating to sidestep emissions regulations for a few years, allowing technology to catch up with the rules. One last option for regular gas and no cats was the introduction of the first 4x4 F-350 in 1978. While the F-350 used the same body as the lighter rigs, its heavy-duty components and lack of emissions equipment made it a popular pickup. Even the club cab versions of the F-150 and F-250 were made on the heavy frame, which accounts for a leaf-sprung front axle on a 1/2-ton Ford front end.

POWERPLANTS
Year Displacement Type Induction Application
'67-'69 240 I-6 1bbl F-100/250
'67-'75 300 I-6 1bbl F-100/250
'76-'79 300 I-6 1bbl F-150/250
'77-'79 351M V-8 2bbl F-150
'67 352 V-8 2bbl F-100/250
'68-'75 360 V-8 2bbl F-100/250
'76 360 V-8 2bbl F-100/150/250
'77-'79 400M V-8 4bbl All
'74-'76 302 V-8 2bbl F-100/150

Common Problems The extra stress of large tires loads the frame where the steering box mounts. Like the GM trucks, the Ford's frame will crack, but unlike the GM, no one we know of makes a patch kit. In a steering-related problem, the ram-style power-assist units have long been a sore spot for most Fords. The hoses and ram unit leak and are expensive to rebuild, so converting to later-style integral power steering is advised.

Rusted inner fenderwells and tailgate support structures are common, but improvements in rust prevention in the late-'70s helped stem the red plague. The plastic door panel introduced in 1973 is a wrecking yard best-seller, and the hood hinges can stiffen to the point where the hood will bow outward when closed. But the common thought is that there's not much that will go wrong on a Ford pickup.

Engine Options Only two inline six-cylinders were offered, but five different V-8s were available at different times. The 240 six was a thrifty base engine, but the more popular 300 saw duty from 1967 and beyond. Providing gobs of torque at the low end, the 300 six is a time-proven design. For those that desired the V-8 punch, 1967 was the only year of the Y-block 352, which replaced the newer design 360 used until 1977. The 302 powered many light-duty pickups, but emissions constraints finally caused a switch to the 351M engine in the F-150, with the slightly modified 400M as the standard for the heavier pickups.

Tranny Choices Sweet and simple is all one can say about this option list. A three-speed manual was the base transmission for those who didn't need a granny-low First gear. Fortunately, this wasn't offered on the F-100 series with a single-speed transfer case, as this tranny and high axle gears would have relegated this combo to very light 'wheeling. But the true truck tranny was the NP435, a heavy-duty four-speed with a 6.69 First gear, the most popular option throughout this series. The cast-iron-cased tranny is easily identifiable by the aluminum top shifter housing, as opposed to the cast-iron top of the T18 style. In 1975 the C6 automatic transmission was introduced-it was a truly tough unit that was fitted to both full-time and part-time 'cases. The C6 is strong enough to handle any engine swap, but different bellhousing patterns were used between big-block and small-block V-8s, with a weird one or two thrown in for good measure.

TRANSMISSIONS
Year Engine Model/Type Ratios (First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth; Reverse)
'67-'79 All NP435 6.69, 3.34, 1.66, 1.0; Reverse 8.26:1
four-speed manual
'67-'73 All Three-speed manual N/A
'75-'79 All C6
three-speed auto N/A

Differentials The 1/2-ton Ford pickup is best known for its rear axle, the ever popular 9-inch. This integral-carrier-style diff was introduced back in the late-'50s and was the mainstay of the light-truck line. The extra pinion bearing support and dropout centersection made the unit super strong yet simple to work on. But for owners who needed something stronger, the Dana 60-2 flanged rear axle was an option for the F-100 from 1967 to 1969, although some may have been found in later-model trucks. The front axles were the standard Dana 44-F with the differential on the driver side. The F-100/F-150 coil-sprung front suspension was alone in the 4x4 arena.

The heavier F-250 received a full-floating Dana 60 rear and 44-F front end for standard duty. But again an optional Dana 60 front was available in the heavy-duty rating and the crew cab model. But the toughest truck that Ford produced was the F-350, with a 60 front and 70 rear as standard equipment. Of particular interest are the reverse rotation front Dana 44 and 60 axles that have the pinion shaft entering the housing above the axle centerline, which allows a better driveline angle and a lowered-vehicle silhouette for easy entry.

AXLES AND RATIOS
Year Model Axle Style Front End Rear End Available Ratios
'67-'75 F-100 closed, open Dana 44 9-inch 3.73, 3.50, 4.10
in '70
'67-'79 F-250 closed, open Dana 44 60 3.54, 4.10,
in '70 4.56, 4.73
'67-'69 F-100 closed knuckle Dana 44 60 3.50, 3.73, 4.10
'76-'79 F-150 open knuckle Dana 44 9-inch 3.50, 3.73, 4.10
'78-'79 F-350 open knuckle Dana 60 70 4.10, 4.56
'74-'75 F-250 closed knuckle Dana 60F on N/A N/A
heavy-duty
'76-'77 F-250 open knuckle Dana 60F on Crew N/A N/A
Cab and snow fighter

T-Case Tips Most 'wheelers think all 4x4s have a transfer case with a low-range position, but early 1/2-ton Fords used a cast-iron Dana 21 'case without low range. While this option seems odd today, many truck users had little need for low range if they had a granny-gear four-speed. For heavy use, the F-250 came with the Dana 24 'case, a small, strong box with a 1.86:1 low-range ratio. Though the 'case looked somewhat unchanged, the extra position on the shifter handle clearly identified what it was capable of.

With the major change in body style came the advent of the New Process 'cases. The NP203 is a chaindrive full-time 'case identifiable by the three separate sections of the T-case. Though the NP203 is a strong box that's easily converted to part-time status, most hard-core 'wheelers opted for the NP205. This is the same heavy-duty cast-iron T-case that Chevy and Dodge used, but Ford's had the front output exiting on the driver side to match the front axles. This was the hard-core choice, as it is virtually indestructible if kept full of oil. The 'case has a centershaft with a nut on one end and a three-bolt retainer on the other.

TRANSFER CASES
Year Model Type Drive Low Ratio Application Engine/Transmission
'67-'72 Dana 21 Part-time Gear None F-100 All w/ four-speed
'73 Dana 21 Part-time Gear None F-100 Six-cylinder only
w/ four-speed
'67-'73 Dana 24 Part-time Gear 1.86 F-250 All
'74-'75 Dana 24 Part-time Gear 1.86 F-250 Six-cylinder only
'73-'75 Dana 24 Part-time Gear 1.86 F-150 Six-cylinder only
'74-'75 NP203 Full-time Chain 2.01 F-150/250 V-8 and auto
'76-'79 NP203 Full-time Chain 2.01 F-150/250 All w/out NP205
'76-'79 NP205 Part-time Gear 1.94 F-150/250 All w/out NP203

The Best Year Many feel that the '79 F-350 is the best-built Ford with the strongest components, and that's a hard point to argue. Equipped with a 60 and 70 axle, a 205 'case, and a C6, this is one tough truck. But the lack of a 460 engine or an earlier 360 causes one to think. A '77 F-250 came with 60s front and rear, and the truck came with the same drivetrain and disc brakes as the '79 but had a 360 engine. The only drawback would be the ram-style power steering, but a steering swap is usually cheaper and easier than an engine swap. Stylewise, the '72-and-earlier body style is more vintage, and the later design is stronger, lighter, and holds up to rust and corrosion better. As with any truck, building your own design out of available components will satisfy your needs for the "best" truck.

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