The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Ford Trucks Mark 85th Anniversary

July 30, 2002

Ford announced on July 27 that it is celebrating the 85th anniversary of Ford Trucks. According to the company, on July 27, 1917, Ford introduced the Model T One Ton Truck Chassis, the company's first truck. It was called Model TT and was basically a chassis, engine and running gear. The owner would add the appropriate body or cargo bed later to make it a fully functional delivery truck, closed van or police "paddy wagon." Many of the first trucks were sold to the government, where they were specially equipped for military use. In 1925, Henry Ford debuted what he called the "Model T Runabout with pickup body." It was the company's first complete pickup truck and sold for $281. The Runabout featured heavy-duty rear brakes and springs, an adjustable tailgate and cargo box. A total of 34,000 units were sold that year. Model A replaced Model T in 1928 and became the first closed-cab pickup. It featured in-novations like a safety glass windshield, roll-up side windows and three-speed transmission. The four-cylinder engine was capable of 40 horsepower. The V-8 engine was first offered as an option on Ford trucks in 1932. The flathead engine could produce 65 horsepower. By 1936, the company had produced 3 million trucks. In 1948, the stage was set for F-Series. Ford rolled out a lineup of vehicles from the half ton F-1 to the three-ton F-8. In 1953, the numbering system changed from single digits to hundreds and the F-1 became the F-100, F-2 and F-3 merged to become F-250 and so on. Ford introduced the first factory built four-wheel drive F-Series trucks in 1959. During the 1950s, trucks gradually became more car-like in style and comfort. In the 1960s, more and more pickup owners were using their trucks for work and play. "There was a period where, if you didn't need to haul heavy stuff and you didn't have a farm or some other work environment, you didn't use a truck," said Gene Brown, marketing manager, Ford Trucks. "If you look around today, particularly into the compacts like Ranger, trucks are used for all kinds of things." By the mid-1960s, nearly two out of three pickup owners were using their trucks for recreation. Ford introduced Camper Specials in 1965, an industry first, and buyers could special-order a crew cab pickup to carry extra passengers. Also in 1965, Ford introduced its Twin I-Beam suspension. Total sales of full-size pickup trucks reached 1.2 million in 1970 and Ford F-Series commanded a 42 percent share of the segment. According to Ford, in 1973, F-Series was the No. 3 best-selling vehicle in the United States behind Chevrolet and Ford full-size cars. Ford introduced the larger SuperCab in 1974. The popular F-150 made its debut in 1975. In 1978, F-Series sales topped 864,000. The com-pact Ranger truck was unveiled in 1982 and Ford rolled out the Super Duty F-Series in 1998. Ford claims it raised the bar again in 2000 with the F-150 Super Crew, the only full-size pickup in its class to offer a full rear seat and front-hinged rear doors. In 2001, F-Series sales topped 911,000, an industry record. The 2003 model year brings an F-150 Heritage Edition and a complete lineup of FX4 off road trucks.
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