Ford Pops Champagne To Celebrate 100 Years Of Truck History
27 July 2017 - motor1
Join us for a retrospective of Ford pickup trucks through the years.
As Mercedes-Benz launches is first ever X-Class pickup truck, Ford wants the world to know that its pickup truck came first. To be more specific, the Blue Oval's truck launch date was July 27, 1917 – exactly 100 years ago today.
Actually, we suspect Ford would be blowing the horn on this anniversary regardless of the all-new X-Class. This is a big deal, and not just because of the overall legacy of the pickup truck in the United States. Ford's F-Series was the second-best selling vehicle in the world last year after the Toyota Corolla, which is quite an achievement considering F-Series sales are predominately in North America as opposed to the Corolla's broader market.
Ford has sold over 26 million pickups in the United States since 1977, which is also the same year it became the nation's best-selling truck. Five years after that it became America's best-selling vehicle overall, and it's been that way ever since. Whether you love it or hate it, there's something to be said for a 40-year reign at the top of the pyramid.
Before we get to the F-Series, however, we need revisit 1917 to see how it all began.
Called the Model TT, Ford's first pickup truck was directly related to the Model T. It retained the cab and engine, but offered a heavier-duty frame that could support a one-ton payload. The original sticker price was $600, and the automaker would ultimately sell 1.3 million by 1928 before replacing it with – you guessed it – the Model AA that offered a 1.5-ton chassis.
"Model AA trucks in particular had a certain class to them," said Ford Historian Bob Kreipke. "Customers could use them on the farm, yet still take them to church on Sunday."
Ford soon followed up the AA with the BB in 1933, then unveiled the Model 50 pickup in 1935 with a flathead V8 engine. Over 4 million Ford pickups had found new owners by the time America entered World War II in 1941, which of course saw civilian production halted to support the war effort. It was a few years after the end of hostilities when the first F-Series – the F-1 – was born for 1948.
"After the war, a lot of rural Americans moved to urban and suburban centers looking for work, and many took their Ford pickups with them," said Kreipke. "Ford saw this as an opportunity, and began work on the next generation of trucks for 1948, what came to be known as F-Series Bonus Built trucks."
The rest, as they say, is history. Among the milestones to follow would be the rebranding of the series in 1953 with names more familiar to today's buyers – the F-100, F-250 and F-350. The company's twin I-bean front suspension appeared in 1961 and would remain a staple of F-Series trucks for decades. The first SuperCab model appeared in 1974, followed just a year later by the truck most people associate with Ford today, the F-150.
It's been quite a ride since 1917. Ford pickups are a tad more expensive nowadays – a fully-loaded F-150 easily tops $60,000 – but there's no denying the Blue Oval's dominance in this segment for 40 years running.
To that we can only say one thing: Happy anniversary, Ford.