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The Ford F-100 is the second generation model of the first Ford F-Series truck ever built. Although the F-100 is no longer available, its successor, the F-150, became one of the most popular vehicles in automotive history. Today, the incredibly versatile F-Series trucks can be found everywhere from remote farms, to busy urban highways, to wide suburban streets.
The Ford F-Series is a line of full-size pickup trucks that includes one of the most well-known and popular motor vehicles of all time: the F-150. However, for years, the lightest member of the F-Series line was not the F-150, but the F-100. The F-100 started all the way back in 1948 as the F-1, a ½ ton truck with either a 3.7-liter six-cylinder or a 3.9-liter V-8 engine. It was one vehicle in a wide range of trucks, going all the way from the F-1 to the two-ton F-8. In 1953, the names were changed, and the F-1 became the F100, the F-2 became the F-250, and the F-3 became the F-350. The F-100 remained unchallenged until the sixth generation of F-Series trucks, when the 1975 F-150 was introduced, a new ½ truck with a bigger maximum payload than the F-100. This would signal the demise of the F-100, which was phased out completely in 1978.
The 1978 Ford F-100 experienced a fairly significant exterior redesign from earlier models, with a larger grille that did not house the headlights and turn signals within it, like earlier versions. The engine most commonly found in the Ford F-100 was a 5.8-liter V-8, which generated 220 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque. This engine was linked to either a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission. The 1978 Ford F-100 was only available in rear-wheel drive. Due to its greater payload capacity, the Ford F-100 was replaced by the Ford F-150, which Ford had already begun manufacturing in 1975.
The Ford F-Series line of full-sized pick-up trucks were sold over the course of six decades – an unprecedented run in the automobile world. The following segment goes into great detail describing the features of each model produced during this six-decade run, but some features of the final F-100 model can be described here. For example, the F-100 underwent a major grill redesign in 1977, and rectangular headlights replaced the outdated round headlights the following year. Front disc brakes were made available, the front suspension was now fitted with coil springs on half-ton models, and the cab was lengthened by three inches. The F-150 was introduced to the market in 1975, and would eventually replace the F-100 as the frontrunner of the F-Series lineup.
The first generation of F-Series truck was manufactured from 1948 to 1952. This model had a much wider range of automobiles, from a ½ ton pick-up all the way to conventional truck and school bus styles. The lightest version, the ½ ton, was labeled the F-1, which would eventually become the F-100. The F-1s had a 6.5-foot bed and served as both commercial and fleet vehicles. They featured either a 3.7-liter Flathead six-cylinder engine that generated 95 horsepower, or a 3.9-liter V-8 that produced 100 horsepower. The engines were linked to a three-speed light duty, three-speed heavy duty, or four-speed spur gear manual transmission.
The F-1 officially became the F-100 in 1953, and it remained the premier light pickup truck of the line until 1956. Automatic transmissions first became available on the second-generation F-Series, and were known as the "Ford-O-Matic." The 1953 model of F-100 was the final year for the 3.9-liter Flathead V-8 engine; it was replaced with a Y-Block "Power King" V-8, which generated more horsepower. The 1956 version of the engine grew to 4.5-liters and added even more horses, for a total of 173 hp. 1956 was a unique year for the F-100, as it introduced a new body style that was phased out just as quickly as the new generation of F-Series trucks came off the line the following year. The 1956 F-100 featured a wraparound windshield and vertical windshield pillars.
Generation three of the F-100 was manufactured from 1957 to 1960, and featured the addition of an all-wheel-drive model. All F-Series trucks enjoyed a new design with a chrome grill and a hood that was flush with the fenders.
The fourth-generation F-Series (produced from 1961 to 1966) would see a number of changes to the F-100 and the other F-Series trucks. Specifically, unibody constructed trucks were introduced, with the cab and box as a single unit. However, the unibody versions proved unpopular and were discontinued by 1964. The 1965 F-100 featured a new chassis which would remain the standard for the F-100 for the rest of its run. The new design of the F-100 included a Twin I-Beam front suspension.
For the fifth generation of the F-100 (1969-1972), three trim levels were available: the base trim, the Ranger trim, and the Custom Cab trim. This generation of F-Series trucks came with six available engines, including a 6.4-liter V-8. Other special optional packages included the Camper Special, the Explorer Special, the Contractor's Special, the Farm and Ranch Special, and the Heavy-Duty Special.
The sixth generation of the F-100 would be the last version of this classic truck, due to the introduction of the F-150 in 1975. The F-150 was created with a heavier payload capacity and was designed to circumvent forthcoming emissions standards. The two ½ tons were produced side by side in 1975, with the F-150 being referred to as the "heavy" half-ton in order to distinguish it from the original ½ ton, the F-100. 1978 would mark the final year for the F-100, as the incredible popularity of the F-150 superseded the dated F-100, resulting it its removal from the automobile market.