Happy birthday to Ford’s iconic pickup truck

Ford is celebrating 100 years of making pickups today. It was July 27, 1917 that Ford introduced the Model TT pickup. It was based on the hugely popular Model T, but came with a stronger frame built to carry 2,000 pounds in its cargo bed. A meager 209 examples were built that year. Now, a century later, Ford’s F-Series pickups continue the legacy build by Henry Ford with trucks ranging from the half-ton F-150 to the commercial medium-duty F-750 Super Duty. Nearly a million examples sold in 2017, each costing a bit more than the Model TT’s price of $600.

Henry Ford designed the Model TT to accommodate aftermarket beds, allowing the truck to cater to an endless number of industries. Yet, the Model TT used the Model T’s cab and engine, helping cut costs while streamlining Ford’s genius of an assembly line production. Remember, it was Mr. Ford who started producing vehicles on an assembly line with the Model T just nine years prior. Amazingly, this concept hasn’t changed. Ford trucks continue to share parts, like the cab section between the F-150 and the updated-for-2017 Super Duty. Between 1917 and 2017, Ford has built dozens of generations and variations of its pickups, including more unique examples like the car-based Ranchero and the compact Ranger. A more comprehensive list is down below.

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The Model TT lasted 11 years and sold roughly 1.3 million examples before being replaced in 1928. Ford took lessons learned with the TT and applied them to its next truck model – the Model AA. It came with a stronger, 1.5-ton chassis capable of hauling 3,000 pounds in its bed. The AAs design was also more car-like, with actual bodywork that, according to Ford historian Bob Kreipke, “customers could used them on the farm, yet still take them to church on Sunday.” The Model AA also introduced variation to the build, with Ford offering two wheelbase lengths and various engine and axle options.

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1935 Ford Greyhound

Following the naming scheme, the Model BB was introduced in 1933. It didn’t take Ford long to replace the BB, however, as in 1935 the Model 50 was introduced. This new truck ushered in a huge advancement for pickups, as it came powered by the powerful Flathead Ford V-8. Business and production were going well when the outbreak of World War II hit in 1941. Ford had to abandon production of its consumer-grade vehicles when the U.S. Government tasked the automaker with building heavy-duty trucks and Jeeps for the war effort. However, Ford’s expertise in making pickups translated into these fighting machines.

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It was a slow transition back to civilian life after the war ended in 1945, but by 1948, Ford was building pickups again. It was 1948 that saw the introduction of the F-Series name, with the half-ton F-1 through F-8 cab-over truck. The names changed again in 1953 with the introduction of the F-100, F-250, and F-350. Heavier-duty trucks were put into their own segment called the C-Series.

The names stuck until 1975 when Ford introduced the F-150, a higher-capacity truck designed to compete with General Motors’ C/K truck series. It only took two years before Ford started out-selling GM in the segment – a record which still stands today with 40 yeas of being America’s best-selling truck. Of course, Ford keeps the breakdown of F-Series production very secretive, so it’s always been unclear exactly how many F-150s Ford makes compared to the rest of its F-Series lineup.

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1975 Ford F-150 1993 Ford F-150 Lightning 2004 Ford F-150

Ford’s latest generation of F-150 debuted for 2015 – a truck we’ve covered extensively. The high-performance Raptor version came in 2017, along with an all-new Super Duty (F-250 through F-450) based on the F-150 cab design. Ford has also come a long way since its Flathead V-8. Its poster child of power is its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The Raptor’s high-output version even boasts an impressive 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. But Ford’s most powerful engine is its 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel. Available in the Super Duty series, this engine makes 440 horsepower and 825 pound-feet of torque.

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References

2018 Ford F-150 High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Read our full review on the 2018 Ford F-150

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