The Birth of the F-Series
Imagine that it’s just a few short years after World War II. Even with the devastation of 300,000 American deaths, the United States’ economy emerged better than any other in the world. More than 12 million soldiers returned home, and a newly optimistic middle class now flourished while others doubled down on fighting for their rights and equality. Life in America, though challenging for many, was at the very least improving.
Of course, this is a simplified view of what really happened, but US citizens were ready to move on with post-war life, which made sense considering that the world was a much different place. Rationing was over, consumerism was in full swing and new technologies gleaned from the war efforts helped bring some pretty amazing things to everyday life. Everything from freeze-dried coffee to commercial airplane cabin pressurization helped make life easier and more enjoyable. And, in a sprawling design center in Dearborn, Michigan, some new ideas were brewing that would transform the way trucks were made.
The 1948 Ford F-1 (dubbed the “Bonus Built Line”), which was officially introduced to the world through advertisements in late 1947, marked the beginning of a new era for the manufacturer. No longer would Ford trucks share the same basic chassis design as passenger cars, as a new truck-specific frame was put under the freshly designed cab and bed. This allowed for higher payloads, while also improving driver comfort. In total, there would be eight different chassis configurations depending on their capacity, which would designate the truck model from F-1 to F-8. Engine choices would be anything from a 226 cubic-inch flathead six to a 337 cubic-inch flathead V-8.
Finally, on the morning of Jan. 16, 1948, Ford dealerships nationwide opened their doors to eager customers who had been waiting to get their hands on this now-iconic truck, and they came in droves. The F-1, by far the most popular choice, accounted for 108,006 sales that year, making it Ford’s best sales year for trucks since 1929.
Let’s take a nostalgic look at the ’48 Ford trucks—the first of the F-Series that we know and love—courtesy of our friends at the Ford Motor Company archives, which provided these images to us. We’ve also included a copy of the original Ford press release from the Ford News Bureau for you to geek out on!!