The Rearview Mirror: The Start of a Ford Icon

An illustration of the primary Ford pickup truck, the 1917 Mannequin TT.

It could appear that Ford has all the time constructed pickups because it builds the bestselling pickup on the planet.

Nevertheless it didn’t all the time. 

The truth is, it took 12 years earlier than the corporate launched its first pickup. However this week in 1948, Ford unknowingly gave beginning to a dynasty with the introduction of the F-1 pickup truck, the primary F-Sequence truck.

Truck ancestors

For almost a decade after the introduction of the Ford Mannequin T, clients requested a automobile that had extra utility and the power to haul heavier cargo. Ford responded with the Mannequin TT in 1917, mainly a Mannequin T cab and engine with a heavier-gauge metal body able to carrying 1 ton of payload at a worth of $600 and made to accommodate third-party physique configurations. Nevertheless it was a tough rider as solely entrance shocks had been provided and so they had been optionally available. However, by the point manufacturing resulted in 1928, Ford had offered 1.3 million Mannequin TTs. 

Till the F-1, Ford pickups had been largely derived from passenger automotive platforms, and seemed it. Above, a good-looking 1935 Mannequin 50.

It was changed by the 1.5-ton Mannequin AA, provided solely as a chassis cab in two lengths. Following it was the Mannequin BB in 1933. The all-new Mannequin 50 in 1935, powered by a Ford Flathead V-8 and looking out very like Ford’s automotive line. By the point manufacturing ends in 1941, Ford has offered greater than 4 million pickups.

As Ford switches to wartime manufacturing, one among its main assignments was to assist provide the battle effort with Jeeps, a navy automobile designed by Willys-Overland primarily based on a design originated by American Bantam. Ford’s expertise in constructing the Jeep would assist them as soon as growth work started on their new pickup truck.

However the firm struggled throughout World Struggle II, significantly after the demise of Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, in 1943. Now in his 70s, Henry Ford tried to run the privately held firm. However its more and more perilous monetary situation led to Henry Ford II to imagine management by 1945.

When he did, his one purpose was to beat Chevrolet in gross sales, together with within the truck market, the place Chevrolet had loved an enormous lead because the Thirties. 

A brand new Ford on the helm

Henry Ford with Henry Ford II, his oldest grandson.

With Henry Ford II in cost, the corporate went about redesigning its automobiles even because it constructed marginally facelifted variations of its prewar fashions to fulfill a booming postwar sellers’ market as customers snapped the primary new vehicles obtainable since 1942. Because it seems, the all-new Ford F-1 was the automaker’s first new postwar product. It got here out first merely as a result of pickups took much less time to develop than vehicles. 

“After the battle, numerous rural People moved to city and suburban facilities searching for work, and lots of took their Ford pickups with them,” mentioned Henry Ford marketed his early vans closely in rural areas, in keeping with Ford Historian Bob Kreipke. “Ford noticed this as a possibility, and commenced work on the subsequent era of vans for 1948, what got here to be referred to as F-Sequence Bonus Constructed vans.”

Launched Jan. 19, 1948 beginning at $900, the F-1 was obtainable in each dimension from the rom the half-ton F-1 to the three-ton F-8, it was an enormous enchancment from earlier Ford work vans. Notably, it was the primary Ford pickup truck engineered with a particular truck body and chassis; earlier Ford gentle vans had been primarily based on passenger automotive platforms and used entrance and rear transverse springs, which Henry Ford favored. As a substitute, the brand new F-1 had parallel leaf springs, double-acting tubular shock absorbers, an open driveshaft and Hotchkiss drive. 

Styling noticed an extended, wider and taller truck, one which featured a one-piece windshield. Chrome trim may very well be added to the hood and grille for $10. Ford designers paid explicit consideration to the inside, which it marketed because the “Million Greenback Cab.” Seven inches wider than earlier than, it included a full set of gauges and the luxurious of contemporary air warmth, solar visors, armrests, an ashtray, door-mounted vent home windows and a column-mounted 3-speed handbook shifter, permitting for extra passenger area

New decisions below the hood

The long-lasting F-1 pickup, starting the F-Sequence legacy of robust vans.

Engines had been new as effectively, because the F-1’s energy got here from a typical Rouge Six, a 3.7-liter L-head inline-6 launched in 1941 and rated at 95 horsepower. A 3.9-liter Flathead V-8 was obtainable, and rated at 100 hp. Bigger F-series vans may very well be fitted with a brand new 5.5-liter flathead V-8 that will later be used within the redesigned 1949 Lincoln. Via 1954, Ford was the one firm to supply V-8s in its pickups. 

And it might haul, due to a 6.5-foot-long pickup field with an all-steel flooring with pressed-in skid strips and a hardwood subfloor. A bolstered tailgate, stake pockets, and 45 cubic ft of load area. In case you needed an 8-foot mattress and 160.3 cubic ft of cargo area, you needed to go for the F-2 or F-3 pickup.

The Ford F-1 was additionally provided in Canada because the Mercury M-1, as many cities in Canada didn’t have each a Ford and Lincoln Mercury supplier.

The F-1 was restyled for 1951 and soldiered on one other 12 months earlier than the arrival of its alternative, the 1953 F-100.

Fourteen generations later, the F-1’s descendants reign as America’s hottest automobile for greater than 4 a long time. And it began on this week, 75 years in the past. 


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