Classic Cars A to Z

1948-1952 Ford Pickup Trucks

Article by Mark Trotta

Ford's legendary F-Series began in January of 1948, with eight levels of trucks: F-1 for half-ton pickup, F-2 for three-quarter ton, up to the F-7 and F-8 heavy-duty trucks.

Ford Truck History 1948

Aside from the drivetrain and the 114" wheelbase, Ford's new 'Bonus-Built' trucks were completely different from the car-based trucks they replaced. All-new front sheet metal featured integrated headlights, a one-piece windshield which increased visibility, and wider, longer, and taller cabs.

1948 Ford F1 pickup truck

Increased interior dimensions started with a seven-inch stretch in cab width. By positioning the door hinges three inches farther forward, easier entry was obtained.



The steering wheel was more horizontal and mounted closer to the driver, and a three-person bench seat moved back and forward on roller bearings. To help isolate frame flex, rubber mounts were used between cab and frame.

Base engine was a 226-cid flathead six-cylinder producing 95-horsepower. Optional was Ford's infamous flathead V8, displacing 239 cubic-inches and producing 100 horsepower.

1950 Ford truck six cylinder engine

Ford truck engines were painted red from 1948 through 1951.

A floor-shifted three-speed transmission was standard on the half-ton F1 trucks, with a four-speed transmission standard on bigger trucks, and optional on the half-ton trucks.

1950 Ford F1 pickup truck

Early Ford F1 models had a 6-1/2 foot cargo box with an all-steel floor, giving 45-cubic-feet of load space. Ford F2 and F3 models were fitted with an eight-foot bed. As was common in the day, Ford trucks left the factory with a left-side only taillight.

1949 Ford F1

Second year F-series trucks received only minor changes. Starting late in 1948, the five chrome grille-bars were painted silver. Wheel rims, painted-black last year, were now painted to match the body color.

1950 Ford F1

With the Korean Conflict dominating headlines, there was concern of whether civilian car and truck production would stop, as it had in 1942. Record numbers of buyers hurried to buy available vehicles. Total Ford truck production jumped by more than 100,000 to over 345,000 units. F-1 pickup production alone was over 79,000.

1951 Ford F1

An all-new grille design was the big styling change for 1951. A large horizontal bar spread across the front of the truck supported by three bullet-shaped teeth.

Ford truck history 1951

Front fenders were also restyled, as was the front bumper. The rear window was made larger for better visibility, and a redesigned dashboard featured an ashtray and a glove-box.

1948-1952 Ford truck

Starting in 1951, cargo beds used a hardwood floor rather than steel. Options included dual windshield wipers, dual sun-visors, and a foot-operated windshield washer.

1952 Ford F1

In the last year of the Bonus-Built series, Ford introduced an overhead-valve 215-cid six-cylinder engine, rated at 101 horsepower. The Flathead Ford V8, still at 239-cid, got a bump in compression ratio, increasing output to 106 horsepower. Hood trim was revamped, and front grille color was changed from silver to white.



With the following year being Ford Motor Company's 50th Anniversary, 1953 Ford Trucks were completely restyled, with an expanded cab, new grille, and larger cargo bed.

1948 Ford F series pickup


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