Crucial Cars: The Ford F-150

From timeless icons to everyday essentials, Crucial Cars examines the vehicles we can’t live without.

For this first installment, Rural Tales hitches a ride with the workhorse of the ages: The Ford F-150.

 

Ford F-150 232 consecutive years as the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.

37 years as the top-selling truck.

A major redesign for 2015 that has tongues wagging.

Why do so many truck buyers have a love affair with Ford’s F-150 and Ford trucks in general? Perhaps because like most F-150 drivers, these trucks just work. And that’s not to say that other trucks don’t, because I’m certainly not trying to start a war of words among my fellow truck drivers and loyal Ram, Silverado and Tundra enthusiasts.

The Ford F-150 is the workhorse of choice for countless professionals and weekend warriors alike who need dependable towing and hauling power for a reason. Consider the 2000 F-150 as an example. It’s 5.4-liter V-8, 16-valve, fuel-injected engine delivers 205 horsepower at 4,950 RPM and 255 foot pounds of torque at 3,700 RPM, for a maximum towing capacity of 7,500 pounds – more than enough to get most jobs done. Couple that power with its hefty size – a 3,923-pound curb weight and a 5,600-pound gross weight and a nearly 120-inch wheelbase – and you have a towing and hauling machine that can stand up to tough conditions and looks good doing it. Those good looks are courtesy of periodic F-150 body redesigns that refresh its image without losing the iconic body style that makes it instantly recognizable.

Ford’s continuing success with its F-150 can be traced, in part, to its experience designing and building trucks that drivers want. The F-150 wasn’t Ford’s first pickup. That honor falls to Ford’s 1925 Model T and the more than 33,000 Model T “runabouts” it built with a pickup truck body and sold for $281.The F-150 name didn’t arrive on the scene until 1975, following the F-100’s introduction in 1953 and the F-series creation in 1948 with the F-1 half-ton pickup. Those early F-series pickups were available with just two engine options – a 95-horsepower, 226 cubic-inch, inline six or a 100 horsepower, 239 V-8.

Changes in options through the years helped keep Ford’s  F-series fresh, with perhaps one of the biggest changes occurring in 1959 with the availability of four-wheel drive. That’s such an important feature because for many early pickup-truck drivers, they drove a truck for one reason – they had to. Whether they made their livelihood in farming, construction, or some other industry that required hauling or towing, those early trucks were, undoubtedly, work trucks.Ford F-150 1

Contrast that with today’s pickup owners. While many still choose the F-150 for work, countless others drive it because of the convenience and flexibility it offers – a car-like ride and interior with heated seats, 360-degree cameras, power moon roofs and LED lighting that can still haul and tow when needed, and do it in style. Yet another reason many drivers choose the F-150 and tend to hang onto them is that they’re easy to work on, particularly with a little guidance from the pros when you need it, and the continuing availability of parts and accessories for it.

What has people talking about the latest F-150, however, is Ford’s introduction of an all-aluminum cab, front-end, bed and tailgate. This aluminum body, still resting on plenty of high-strength steel in the frame and underbody, helps the F-150 shed 700 lbs. and increase its fuel efficiency. Anticipating truck drivers’ and F-150 lovers’ wariness about aluminum’s perceived strength in a truck that’s supposed to be Ford-tough, Ford’s been positioning the 2015 as being built with “military-grade aluminum alloy and high-strength steel,” and having undergone more than 10 million miles of brutal testing in real-world conditions before the first truck rolled off the assembly line.

The 2015 F-150’s new, 8-inch “productivity screen,” which provides a steady stream of data about the truck’s performance and driving conditions, is a far cry from early truck drivers’ understanding of productivity , but then again, they were more accustomed to throwing wood in their truck bed, instead of polishing it inside an air-conditioned cab.

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150

Rest assured, Ford’s got it right with their new F-150. After all, they have the pickup truck experience as well as the incentive and pressure not to disappoint millions of die-hard Ford fans. No one at Ford really wants to be “that guy” responsible for breaking a 37-year tradition as the top-selling truck, even though there are probably an equal number of loyal Chevy and Dodge fans just waiting for that to happen.

Which truck do you use?

Are you an F-150 fan? Or, do you drive a Ram, Silverado or Tundra? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Editor’s note: You can lighten your load by shopping Advance Auto Parts for your Ford F-150 needs.  Choose parts, accessories and more—all at a superior value. Get your order fast—buy online, pick up in-store, in 30 minutes.

Comments

  1. Love my 2005 F-150.
    Actually did my own custom exhaust with parts from Advance Auto.
    My truck has never let me down, and I doubt it will anytime soon. I will not own any other truck but a Ford truck all the way up til the day I’m pushing daisies.

  2. I just bought 1997 for 6 cyl needs a little work but it runs great I retired from ford and wouldn’t drive any other truck

  3. I don’t understand why these surveys will not total the numbers for Chevrolet & GMC trucks when considering how is number 1? After all (as I understand it) the Chevrolet & GMC trucks are assembled at the same plan. And on most of them, the only real difference is the emblem! I am not knocking Ford. They have had a good product except for the International Harvester Diesel engine they used for several years.

    • Exactly. If Chevrolet and GMC numbers were combined, it would be a totally different outcome. Also, Ford financing plays a big role in this. Ford financing has long been providing financing for buyers that can’t get approved at other dealers. If someone can’t get financing on a Ford product, they can’t get it anywhere. Zero down, financing for up to 10 years? Try getting that at GM or Chrysler!

  4. I’m still running my 1993 F-150. If FORD does not build a smaller truck, my next truck will be a Toyota. Why should I have to use a ladder to get into the bed of the truck?

  5. 1996 F150 with 220,000 miles. Not ready for a new one yet

  6. Charlie Williams says:

    Gmc stands 4 gotta mechanic coming. Ford stands 4 found on road dead and ford spelled backwards stands 4 driver returns on foot.

  7. I love my 1993 F150 and my 2003 F150. The newer ones I don’t like because the
    bed is too high. I am short and I cant even reach over the sides of the newer ones.
    Also, I used my 1993 F150 {235000 miles} as a work truck {with camper top}.
    I used the tailgate as a workbench. The newer trucks are much too high. I could climb up in my 1993 from the ground, but I would have to have a ladder to get in these newer ones.

  8. I would not own another ford in my lifetime. The only people who own them are the rich and old who think because they are the best selling truck for 37 years they should own one. Ask a real country boy what the better truck is. Chevrolet!!!

  9. I have owned one 5.4 and two 4.6 f-150 they have all three been exceptional vehicles. My father now owns a 5.4 we pull a 32 foot bumper hitch travel trailer with it. I have never experienced any major issues with any of these trucks. Dang good rigs honestly.

  10. I love my 1990 f-150 pickup with the 5.0 v8. All my friends have Dodge or Chevy trucks and I’m still the one with the most reliable truck. Even though theirs are 10 years newer than mine.

  11. First Ford pick up was a 68′ F-100, purchased used in 1975. Next was the 98′ F-1`50 purchased new (still have it) and then we bought a 2010 F-250 diesel (still driving it too). Also had a 96′ Clubwagon van (F-350, sold to buy the F-250 XLT pick up). The 98′ F-150 is leaking a little bit of oil from on top of the motor somewhere, other than that, no problems with it, but we don’t put a lot of miles on it each year as it has about 140 K miles on it now…have had to rebuild the front brakes (new rotors), the front end was replaced at 90 K miles…air conditioning compressor once, condenser twice. Oh!, and the rear window frame leaked from new, but we always kept it in the garage, then when we bought a new 31 HP diesel Kubota ZTR mower, the 98′ F-150 got kicked out of the garage and has sat in the driveway, that’s when we needed to replace the rear window. Of course, running it for 18 years, we’ve gone through two batteries, the last one recently. All in all, it has been a good truck. The 2015 F-150 looks to be a good truck, but we’ll keep on keeping on with our 98’=:-)

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