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The History of Ford’s F-150

A chronological look at Blue Oval’s best-selling fullsize pickup, from its beginning to today.

KJ JonesAuthor

On Thursday June 25, 2021, Ford Motor Company introduced its redesigned F-150: a pickup truck that company officials say is "purpose-built to be the toughest, most productive F-150 ever, and targeted to be the most powerful truck in its class."

This newest generation joins a long legacy of full-size Ford rigs that includes: F-1, the truck that launched the F-Series in 1948; F-100, "Power King" of the 1950s; heavy-duty F-250 (1965) and F-350 (1979). However, the half-ton F-150's formal introduction (by badge designation) came in 1975.

As legend goes, and with the truck rolling out just as the U.S. was recovering from a major fuel crisis, F-150—with a GVWR of 6,050 pounds—was positioned between F-100 (4,700 to 5,650 pounds, depending on wheelbase) and F-250 in order to somehow circumvent emissions restrictions by being categorized in the heavy-duty truck class with less stringent rules.

The play proved to be successful, as F-150s didn't need to have catalytic converters, smog pumps, or other parts, and they could still burn "regular" leaded gasoline, while F-100 was relegated to using only unleaded fuel.

Although the two trucks were theoretically FlareSide or StyleSide "twins" during their simultaneous production years (F-100 was finally discontinued in 1983), F-150's heavier suspension made it about 1 inch taller. And, while a regular cab, shortbed first-generation F-150 is highly coveted, the numbers are extremely limited. For whatever reason, not long after F-150's debut, Ford required shortbed models be built as SuperCabs. Thankfully, that configuration restriction was lifted in later years and the standard cab/shortbox setup is still available today.

To date, the iconic truck has experienced a 46-year production term that has seen many styling changes—rounding the body in 1997 to mimic Super Duty and pioneering the use of all-aluminum exterior panels in 2015 are probably the most notable—as well as engine improvements (the advent of 4.6L, 5.4L modular, 5.0L Coyote V-8, 3.0L diesel, and 3.5L EcoBoost and hybrid V-6 engines), special editions (50th Anniversary NASCAR, Harley-Davidson, SVT Lightning and Raptor), different trim levels (XL, XLT, Lariat, FX2, FX4 etc. ), and a host of accessories and option packages.

With inclusion of the F-1, F-2, F-3, and F-100 that precede F-150, the trucks are now in their 13th generation. However, from a pure F-150 perspective, the 2021 rig is the latest flagship of Gen 8. Here is a pictorial look at F-150 from 1948 to now, including mention of notable changes and updates to the platform through the years.

Generations

1948 to 1952 (1st gen F-Series)

1948 F-1

 

1953 to 1956 (2nd gen F-Series)

1955 F-100

Notable Changes

Complete redesign

Chassis update

239 V-8 (1953)

279 and 317 V-8 (1954)

Full wrap-around front windshield (1956 only)

Optional power steering, seat belts, radio, cigarette lighter and dome light

F-1 renamed F-100 (F-2 and F-3 renamed F-250, F-4 renamed F-350)

 

 

1957 to 1960 (3rd gen F-Series)

1960 F-100

Notable Changes

Clamshell front end

Four-wheel drive (1959)

 

1961 to 1966 (4th gen F-Series)

1963 F-100

Notable Changes

Twin I-Beam front suspension (1965)

"Ranger" trim level introduced (1965)

4.9L I-6 engine (1965)

 

1967 to 1972 (5th gen F-Series)

1968 F-100

Notable Changes

Updated frame

Factory-installed air conditioning

302 V-8 engine (1969)

Camper Special introduced (1972)

High-line XLT introduced

Optional AM/FM radio

 

1973 to 1979 (6th gen F-Series, 1st gen F-150)

1973 F-150 Ranger

Notable Changes

Front disc brakes

Four-wheel-drive for SuperCab

Additional galvanized steel

460ci engine discontinued

 

1980 to 1986 (7th gen F-Series, 2nd gen F-150)

1981 F-150

Notable Changes

First full interior/exterior redesign in 25 years

High-output 5.8L V-8 engine (1984)

Fuel-injected 5.0L V-8 (1985)

Three-speed manual transmission discontinued (1986)

Power windows, door locks, mirrors, inside locking hood release, and other options available

 

1987 to 1991 (8th gen F-Series, 3rd gen F-150)

1990 F-150

Notable Changes

Improved aerodynamics featuring rounded front fascia and bed

All-new interior

Fuel injection for 4.9L I-6 engine (1987)

Five-speed manual overdrive transmission (1987)

FlareSide bed discontinued (1987)

E4OD Four-speed automatic transmission (1989)

 

1992 to 1996 (9th gen F-Series, 4th gen F-150)

1995 F-150 Extended Cab

Notable Changes

Complete facelift (fenders, grille, lower hood)

FlareSide bed reintroduced

Interior upgrades (dashboard, airbag)

Cab-mounted third brake light

Remote keyless entry, passive alarm, power driver's seat, CD player available

SVT Lightning introduced (1993)

SVT Lightning discontinued (1995)

 

1997 to 2003 (10th gen F-Series, 5th gen F-150)

1997 F-150

Notable Changes

Body streamlined/improved aerodynamics improved ride quality and fuel economy

4.9L I-6 engine replaced by V-6

SVT Lightning re-introduced (1999)

Harley-Davidson Edition introduced (2000)

 

2004 to 2008 (11th gen F-Series, 6th gen F-150)

1998 F-150 50th Anniversary

Notable Changes

New chassis

Four-doors

SVT Lightning discontinued Again (2004)

Flex-fuel 5.4L 3-valve Triton V-8 engine (2006)

Optional navigation system (2006)

 

2009 to 2014 (12th gen F-Series, 7th gen F-150)

2013 F-150 FX4 SuperCab

Notable Changes

5.0L Coyote and 6.2L V-8 engines

Three-bar grille

SVT Raptor (2010)

Twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 engine (2011)

6R80 six-speed automatic transmission

Bigger interior

Electric power-assisted steering

 

2015 to 2021 (13th gen F-Series, 8th gen F-150)

2021 F-150

Notable Changes

All-aluminum body (2015)

Super Duty-style exterior treatments (lights, grille)

Adaptive Cruise Control

Start-stop feature

3.0L turbodiesel engine

Twin-Turbocharged 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 engine

Ten-speed automatic transmission

Source

Ford Motor Company
(800) 392-3673
https://www.ford.com