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The 1973-1979 F-Series

It’s 1973, and President Richard Milhous Nixon is reelected to a second term and suspends offensive action in North Vietnam, ultimately ending the U.S.’s involvement in the Vietnam War. It wouldn’t be long, however, until he is caught in the middle of the infamous Watergate scandal. His presidency would be cut short the following year when he is impeached and removed from office. 

In the musical world, DJ Kool Herc introduces hip hop to the world from Sedgwick Ave. in the Bronx. Elvis Presley’s popularity holds steady, with his televised concert in Hawaii attracting more viewers than the Apollo moon landings, though the event is censored in communist Eastern Bloc countries. Meanwhile, The Godfather wins an Academy Award for Best Picture, but horse head aside, it’s The Exorcist that disturbs audiences like no film before it with the most disgusting display of pea soup to date.

Federal Express begins operations, delivering 186 packages on its inaugural day. We’re guessing that the number of packages they were supposed to deliver was much higher. On a broader scope, rising inflation and the oil crisis take their toll on the economy in big ways, causing layoffs in associated industries.

For Ford trucks, this would also be a year of change. The redesigned F-Series would go through a series of updates and would be the last generation to be based on the 1965 chassis design, although it now rode on a longer wheelbase.

The new F-Series was not as drastic a change as with generations before it, but it was definitely a fresh take on Ford’s popular pickup line, especially with the addition of the crew cab. The dramatic beltline was inverted, or “dented,” to juxtapose against the previous “bump” in the sheetmetal, and surrounding sheetmetal was resculpted, with galvanized steel being used in key places to reduce corrosion. Curved side glass was a new feature, as was slightly tilted rear glass (to minimize rearview reflections at night).

Inside, A/C vents were now an integrated part of the dashboard assembly instead of under-dash add-ons, and there was now room for a larger glovebox thanks to the heater blower being relocated to the engine compartment. Another major change was that the fuel tank was now located under the truck instead of inside the cab.

Two-wheel drive trucks now also came standard with disc brakes, and the rear axle was widened a total of 4 inches to more closely match the front track width. The ’73 model year also saw the introduction of the F-350 V-8, which featured a longer wheelbase and heavier duty suspension. A variation for the F-350, the “Super Camper Special,” added provisions for slide-in campers.

The year 1974 was a big one as well, with the SuperCab (extended cab) F-Series hitting the market, and the ’75 model year trucks could be had as a heavier, heavy-duty F-150. With emissions laws become more stringent, the F-150 put itself in a different weight class, which eased certain restrictions that were mandated on lighter duty F-100s.

All years of the F-Series, up until the ’77 model year, could be had with the 240 or 300 cubic-inch inline sixes, the 302 V-8 Windsor, a 360 or 390 FE V-8, or the large 460 385-series V-8. Choices for ’77-’79 models consisted of the 300 CID I-6, the 302 Windsor, the 351M V-8, 460 385-series V-8, or the 400 CID V-8.

When the ’76 models arrived at dealerships, they featured an updated grille, while ’77s received even more exterior trim updates. Completely redesigned grilles appeared in 1978, both for the Custom trim and the Ranger/Ranger XLT/Ranger Lariat trim levels, which could now be optioned with rectangular headlights. They became standard for 1979.

Over the course of its run, the “dentside” Ford trucks became more refined, while also becoming much tougher in all the right places, making it a bestseller year after year. And, of course, we love how great they look when given a custom touch!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of retrospection on the Ford F-Series over the past few issues and hope to bring more series like this to you in the near future! As always, thanks for the continued support from the Ford Motor Company Archives for providing us with these amazing historical documents and images to share with you!