Soon after Ford’s Model T car became wildly successful in the teens, aftermarket companies devised numerous truck conversions to be applied to the car’s chassis. It wasn’t until 1917 when the factory came out with a new Ford truck that boasted a chassis, suspension, drive-train and wheels that were specially engineered for tough work. Clearly Ford’s new truck enterprise had nowhere to go but up. From the book Ford Tough: 100 Years of Ford Trucks is a quick photo tour of the evolution of all kinds of Ford trucks, from pickups, to semis, dump trucks, and today’s Ford Explorers.
This 1915 Model T is a roadster fitted with a slip-on pickup body. Made of steel construction with sturdy flare boards and a double-panel tailgate, this appears to be a high-quality body.
Working as a truck driver in the early days of motor trucks was an extremely difficult job. Because of the high cost of enclosed bodies, most trucks in the pre-1920s had cabs that left the driver exposed to the elements. In severe winter areas a canvas enclosure could be added to hold back the elements, as shown on this 1918 model. Even so, many trucks lacked heaters, so although the driver was protected from wind and snow, he was still very cold.
An example of a fairly typical Ford delivery truck is this 1924 Model T fitted with an enclosed body and cab used by the Century Floral Shop in downtown Detroit for flower delivery. The sliding-door body and cab were probably made by Martin-Parry. Notice the higher hood line on this truck, a styling feature introduced this year.
Vernor’s is a soda company that originated in the Detroit area and happily is still in business all these years later. Famous for its delicious ginger ale, Vernors’s management seems to have long favored Ford trucks. Shown here is a 1936 stake truck.
For 1941 the Ford COE (cab-over-engine) trucks finally changed their 1938-type styling to that of the other truck lines, giving them a more familial look. These tough trucks were used by thousands of companies that needed a rugged vehicle that was easy to drive in tight city spaces.
The day after the ruthless bombing of Pearl Harbor, America declared war. As the nation began building up its might, the Ford Motor Company was asked to produce heavy-duty cargo trucks, such as the one shown here, for the military and for certain civilian contractors deemed vital to the war effort.
The biggest Fords were reserved for the biggest jobs, such as this Ford tractor pulling a cattle trailer. This 1950 model was one of about 175 distinct models the company fielded that year.
A heavy-duty Ford F-5 stake truck on the test track. Notice the massive front wheels and dual rear wheels, sure indicators that this truck was built for work, not pleasure. The uneven surface it’s being driven over tests how well the frame and chassis react to twisting.
Although Ford offered nearly five hundred distinct variations of trucks for 1960, the F-100 was its bread-and-butter model. And is it any wonder? The bold, rugged styling and solid engineering were a strong attraction. The two-tone paint on this Custom Cab model is especially striking.
A great example of what might be termed a “family truck” in the 1960s would be an F-100 Ranger, such as the 1968 model shown here. Colorful paint, bright trim around the windshield, a bright grille, and chrome front and rear bumpers are a good start, but the full wheel covers and whitewall tires really finish it off. It wasn’t too many years earlier when the thought of putting whitewalls on a truck would have been considered odd.
During the 1979 model year, Ford introduced a new advertising slogan that was destined to last: “Built Ford Tough.” It proved very popular with buyers and was used in various forms for years. Rectangular headlamps became standard equipment on F-series trucks this year. The pretty truck shown here is a 1979 F-150 Lariat.
Ford’s popular LN-700 series was a heavy-duty truck designed for hard work. The 1983 model seen here would be a fairly typical example.
A 1992 F-150, this one is a Lariat XLY equipped with the Nite package, alloy wheels, and raised white letters on the tires. By this point, style and sporty accessories were among the predominant features buyers looked for in pickups. Although many bare-bones work trucks were still being sold, they tended to go mostly to commercial buyers.
Sports trucks were increasingly popular, and Ford decided to bring a new one to market that had guts and power to go with its great styling. The result was this 2001 F-150 SVT Lightning, with a SOHC 330-cid supercharged V-8 that pumped out 380 horsepower and a whopping 450 lb-ft of torque, obviously not for the faint of heart. Unlike many other sports trucks, the SVT also got a revised suspension for better handling and cornering.
Here’s the Ford Expedition for 2017, part of the hottest-selling line of trucks in America. Note the massive alloy wheels and abundance of bright trim.
Get Fords complete story in Ford Tough: 100 Years of Ford Trucks and see why they’ve dominated the truck market, selling 1.5 million trucks every year in the US alone.
In July 1917 Ford Motor Company introduced a one-ton chassis for commercial trucks, marking what many historians feel was its official entry into the dedicated truck business. Sure, after-market pickup beds could be added to a Model T car to convert it to a pickup, but with the debut of the rugged Model TT truck chassis, Ford was firmly in the truck market.
Eight years later, Ford introduced its first factory-produced pickup, a sturdy half-ton job the public loved. During the century that has passed since that first Ford truck chassis, the F-series has become the best-selling truck in the world, and the best-selling vehicle of any type in America.
Ford Tough: 100 Years of Ford Trucks tells the entire Ford truck story from the very beginning, when Ford got its start in truck production. This book provides the history of the wide array of models Ford has built over the past century, including the Model A roadster pick-up, stylish 81C pickups, legendary 1948 F-1, Bronco, Courier, Ranchero, and Econoline.