The earliest Ford pickup wasn’t an F-series. Although Ford offered delivery-bodied cars sporadically since 1905 and one-ton trucks since 1917, its first factory-assembled pickup truck was built on April 15, 1925. The 33,795 produced 1925 model-T runabouts which had a pickup style body, sold for $281. The Ford F-Series was introduced in 1976 and became a huge success for the Ford Motor Company.
First, what made Ford call these pickups F-150? The earliest use of the F-series name dates back to the 1948 Ford truck, with the half ton model named the F-1. Ford renamed that to F-100 in 1953, but the F-150 classification did not come about until 1976, why? This was a model that debuted to evade emissions requirements, as it was essentially a “heavy half” pickup rated at just over 6,000 pounds gross weight, which was the specification by the EPA at the time. This model required catalytic converters and subsequently unleaded gasoline. International Harvester also did this for 1975 in its final year of pickup production, making all half-ton 100 models 150’s, to avoid installing catalytic converters. The final year of the F-100 was 1983, by which time leaded vs. unleaded was a moot point. The 100 or 150 indicated the nominal axle loading 100 = 1000 lbs, 1/2 ton, 150 = 1500 lbs 3/4 Ton. It had nothing to do with environmental requirements. It may be that the gross weight of the truck was increased in response to the 6000 lb marker, but the F-150s had been made for some time.
The F-150 debuted for 1975. A half-ton pickup, the F-150 filled the gap between the F-100 and F-250 as it was a bit more “heavy duty” than an F-100 though considerably less so than the F-250. In that year, more than one-third of F-Series sales were comprised of the new F-150. The Ford F-Series are classified as full- size trucks. Some trim options, depending on the year models, include the XL, XLT, and XLT Lariat. Harley-Davidson, King Ranch, Lightning, and Super Crew versions are also available. The Ford F-Series also has heavy duty models available as the F-250 and F-350. The longest-running component that was constantly used on every single pickup and remained unchanged during the F-series era was the front bumper from 1959 to 1979.
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and one of the richest men in America, drove a 1964 Ford Pickup until approximately 1988 and then he bought a 1979 F-150 Custom 4×4 to drive to work every day until he died in 1992. When asked why in an interview, he stated “What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?” Today it can be seen enshrined in the company’s visitor’s center / museum in Bentonville, Ark.
When introduced for 1948, The F-1 was built at all 16 U.S. assembly plants that also built Ford cars. In 1956, with trucks becoming more specialized along with the opening of the Detroit Truck Plant, Ford started consolidating truck production to fewer plants.
Beginning in the late 1970’s, Ford split its North American assembly groups into car and truck. Today, only two plants build all F-150’s globally – the Kansas City Assembly Plant in suburban Claycomo, Missouri, and the Dearborn Truck Plant near Dearborn, Michigan. Ford went from 16 production plants nationwide and now there are only two. I personally visited the Detroit truck plant, which my wife arranged for me as a birthday gift one year. I was in awe and I highly recommend you go there if you are a Ford truck lover like me, or just to experience the start-to-finish production of a pickup truck.