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When Did Ford Change F-150 Body Styles?
The Ford F-150 last changed body styles for the 2021 model year. Over the past 44 years, the Ford F-150 has been a maintain in the Ford fleet.
In this article we will discuss all of the generations of the Ford F-150 so you can see just how far this new Ford F-150 has come and hopefully gain a better appreciation for the legacy Ford has build in the truck market.
Let’s dive right in…
A lot changed in the 40s. It started with difficulty due to WWII, but towards the end, things started looking up. As GIs were coming back from overseas, a new demand for utilitarian vehicles started rising as well. This demand gave way for the very first F-Series truck in 1948.
Since then, the famed F-Series has undergone several body changes or generations as some call it. To this day, the mighty F-150 has seen a total of 14 generations. And for the past four decades(43 years to be exact) has been known as America’s best-selling. This is no easy feat, especially nowadays when the truck market is more crowded than ever.
A lot has changed since the very first F-150, and we are here to help shed some light on each generation from the very first to the latest, technology-packed 2021 F-series.
Fourteenth Generation (2021-present)
Ford’s latest generation of the famed F-150 is, from far away at least, looks much like lucky number 13. However, the auto giant claims that over 90% of the new F-150’s parts are redesigned. The only panels left untouched were the cab and the bed.
Sometimes, the most important features are not visible at first glance. This statement also applies to the 14th reiteration of the best-selling truck in America. For the first time, Ford introduced a hybrid powertrain to the lineup, adding an electric motor is the already popular 3.5L V6. If you ask us, it is just a matter of time until a fully electric F-150 comes out.
Of course, designers didn’t want the interior to feel left out, so they made several changes that are almost “mandatory” when updating an old model. These changes include a larger infotainment screen and upgraded materials to provide a more luxurious feel.
What makes the F-150 a gamechanger is the new, fold-flat front seats. Yes, you read that right. The front seats can be folded out to an almost perfectly flat position, making them ideal for sneaking in a quick nap when no one is watching.
Thirteenth Generation (2015-2020)
The 2010s was a decade full of changes. Gone were the days where engines lived by the “bigger is better” motto. The focus was shifting towards smaller, turbocharged alternatives. While this was no doubt a good environmental change, it was a sign that V8’s may soon become a thing of the past. The V8 engine is still available in the F150’s of today, but they are nowhere near a popular as they once were.
In another attempt to have the most fuel-efficient, full-size truck, Ford engineers opted for aluminum panels over the heavy steel ones that were commonplace on trucks for years. In hindsight, using aluminum was more expensive and harder to work with if body repairs were ever needed, but the good news was that the F-series would no longer have that nasty wheel well rust that plagued so many models before them.
Many other firsts were also introduced on the 13th generation of the best-selling truck ever made. Tech features such as adaptive cruise control were never heard of before such a vehicle. By introducing these high-tech features, Ford made sure that the F-150 was no to be dethroned anytime soon.
Twelfth Generation (2009-2014)
Built from 2009 through to 2014, the twelfth generation F-series used much of the parts and designs from the previous generation but now benefits from a fresh, new face. As seen in the past, F-150s can be easily distinguished from its bigger F-250/350 brothers by their grilles and headlights.
Shortly after the introduction, Ford unveiled the now legendary Raptor F-series. While it wasn’t the company’s first try at performance-oriented trucks(think SVT Lightning), it was one of its most successful attempts to reenter the market.
Since then, the Raptor has become a beast in its own right. Following in its footsteps, other major truck manufacturers such as Dodge, GM, and Chevy all have introduced their high-performance versions of the classic, all-American truck.
Eleventh Generation (2004-2008)
The early 2000s were a new, exciting time for truck and automotive design in general. Old, rounded designs were being replaced with sharp, crisp lines. Gone were the times of oval grills and headlights. Instead, the new F-series now featured a modern, in-your-face look.
Starting in 2004, Ford released the F-150 on an all-new platform. Underneath, a fully boxed-in the frame was added in an attempt to increase ride quality as well as reduce wheel hop. Even though you couldn’t initially see this change, you could surely able to feel it.
As the new millennium came around, a change in customer demands was prevalent. In response, Ford stepped up to the plate with several innovations for the eleventh generation. The 5.4L V8 engine that was used in past generations now featured three valves per cylinder, instead of the two valves found on past F-series. Other small improvements such as vacuum-operated front wheel hubs all added up to make a much more fuel-efficient truck.
The US was slowly pulling itself together from the early 2000s recession and the economy was on the rise. This meant that customers wanted a luxury truck, or so Ford thought. The company didn’t seem to learn its lesson from the failed Lincoln Blackwood lineup, so they tried their luck again with the Mark LT, which was sold under the Lincoln brand.
While it seemed like a good idea on paper, the luxury version of America’s best-selling truck was only on the market for three years, from 2005-2008. Although a total of only 10,000 units of the Mark LT were ever sold, a second generation was introduced in 2009-2014.
Tenth Generation (1997-2004)
Before this, most trucks were square-looking, purpose-built vehicles. However, the boomer generation was coming of age and wanted something with multiple uses. Around the same time, SUVs were becoming more popular and this popularity started spilling over to the truck market.
The F-series specifically, saw a huge visual redesign as their pickup trucks stayed virtually unchanged for the past 17 years. Underneath it all, Ford also did a lot of work. Independent front suspension replaced the twin, I-beam solid axels of yesteryear.
The SupeCab lineup received the fourth door in 1999 and became the first ½-ton truck to come with a crew cab. So, you can thank Ford for making the crew cab setup as popular as it is today.
Not to be outdone, a total of three new engines were introduced on the tenth generation; starting in 1997 with a 4.2L V6, and going all the way up to a 5.4L V8. Most engines were borrowed from the Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis lineup, making the Triton V8 the first-ever overhead cam engine to be installed in a full-size pickup.
Ninth Generation (1992-1997)
Introduced in 1992, the ninth generation was Ford’s second time revamping the classic 1980s F-series design. Currently, it is one of the most sought-after classic F-series as everyone young and old is looking for a project to relive their childhood memories.
This generation also saw the reintroduction of the Flare-Side bed. While it wasn’t as functional as its full-sized alternative, we think it looked much better. Luckily, so did the younger generation at that time, since they were the main customers of the Flare-Side variant.
1992 was also coincidentally the 75th anniversary of the F-series truck. The famed automaker wanted to make sure everyone knew it by fitting the F-150 with a special stripe package, different colored step bumpers, and, of course, 75th-anniversary badges.
If you were into trucks back in the 90s, you are sure to remember the 454 SS Chevy truck. In response to this, Ford gave the world what it wanted. For the first time, the SVT Lightning was available for purchase. The super-truck came with a 5.8L V8 engine pumping out 240 horsepower. By today’s standards, these numbers are tiny, but back then, you could take on most sports cars it.
Eighth Generation (1987-1991)
The eighth-generation didn’t stick around for long. It was only around for four years, but in that timeframe, it did many things that would change the F-series forever.
In terms of visual changes, the outdated front end was updated with a new grille and modern-looking headlights. The interior had also gone under the knife, with the result being a much more modern and comfortable-looking cabin.
Right before the eighth generation was released in 1986, the 5.0L V8 was swapped over to fuel injection. Soon after in 1987, the 4.9L inline-six joined the party as 5.8L and the 7.5L in 1988. To keep up with the “World’s First” tradition, the F-series became the first American truck lineup that was sold without carburated engines.
Seventh Generation (1980-1986)
Ah, the 80s. What a time to be alive. And what a time it was for the Ford F-series. As the decade got underway, so did the seventh generation of arguably the most iconic truck in the world. At first glance, it looks similar to the previous model but put them side by side, and the changes are obvious.
Ford claims that the F-series underwent its first ground-up redesign in 15 years. Underneath the new skin, the truck got a brand new chassis. Additionally, the body was all-new, from the cab to the bed, and even the tailgate. All the changes were done in an effort to build a more fuel-efficient workhorse.
Even before the arrival of aluminum body panels, Ford was thinking about saving the planet. In reality, it was likely the gas shortage of the 70s which prompted a more, fuel-efficient truck, but the latter sounds much better.
Further proof was shown in the phasing out of some of its bigger engines, such as the 7.5L and the 6.6L. This proved to a bad move for the company, be as customers didn’t bite and the smaller, less powerful engines were all but completely ignored. In later years, after the dust settled, the bigger engines were reintroduced to the F-series lineup.
Sixth Generation (1973-1979)
Not much was new in terms of the sixth generation F-series. The series as a whole was based on old technology. To be exact, the whole truck was loosely based on the fourth generation from 1965.
However, times were evolving and the truck market needed to change as well. Improvements in driver comfort were added such as a modern, updated interior and a bigger cabin.
Safety was also an important factor. The brakes were now upgraded from drums to discs, significantly improving braking distance and overall protection
Most notably, the sixth generation was the first time one would see the now-famous F-150 designation. It was seen as the perfect middle-of-the-road truck between the F-100 and F-250. Its creation came about mostly due to necessity, as the F-150 was used to circumvent certain emissions restrictions.
Fifth Generation (1976-1972)
Much like the sixth generation, the fifth version of the F-series is also heavily based on its previous generation. Unlike its past models, however, the body styling was significantly changed to keep up with the times.
On top of that, overall dimensions were also increased. The glass and cabin were now larger and better equipped to fit three people more comfortably.
Underneath it all, the fifth generation was left very much alone. The only significant change was the availability of more engines.
Over its six-year run, several trim levels were introduced, each fancier and more high-end than the last. It was becoming clear that truck owners wanted some of the same creature comforts found in normal passenger cars of that era.
Fourth Generation (1961-1966)
This generation proved to be one of the most iconic and significant F-series. Unlike the third generation’s utilitarian design and look, the new F-series was now longer and lower. And if you ask us, it looked much better.
Its unibody design meant that the frame and body of the truck were a one-piece design, allowing for a more compact package. However, the traditional cab-over layout was still offered alongside the new body styles for those who needed extra durability.
In 1965, Ford unknowingly made one of the most significant changes to the front suspension by upgrading the front to a twin “I-beam” design. This was used for over 30 years on the F-150, until 1996.
Third Generation (1957-1960)
This generation, although short-lived, brought on a new, modern design that would serve as a guide for numerous future models. Body panels such as the fenders and bed now became one with the body.
The overall appearance of the truck was intended to look sleeker and smoother, much like past generations. No longer did the F-series looked like a “Lego” truck.
By this time, the cab-over design that so many hard-working Americans became familiar with was no longer an option for the Ford F-series. It was replaced with the C-series which was first introduced in 1948.
Right before the 60s began, demand for capable off-road trucks was steadily on the rise. As an answer to this, Ford began producing 4×4 pickups in-house. This proved to be extremely popular and is arguably one of the most important features of modern pickups.
Second Generation (1953-1956)
The jet era was an amazing time in American history. Everything from kid’s toys, to full-sized pickups, were influenced by this new technology in terms of looks.
Many of the design cues were taken over from the first generation, but subtle changes brought on by this period can be spotted. This is also the first time customers would see Ford use the F-series nomenclature to distinguish models from one another.
First off, the F-1 became the F-100, which later became the F-150 we all know and love nowadays. Additionally, the F-2 and F-3 were used for the 3/4 -ton chassis, or F-250. And finally, the F-4 became the one-ton, full-sized behemoth that so many of us lust after now.
First Generation (1948-1952)
Yes, there were trucks before ’48. However, in 1948, Ford introduced the very first F-Series to the world. Back then, it was called the Bonus-Build.
The mighty F-series could be specced in a total of eight different weight ratings. Even back then, Ford knew that customers wanted choices. Clients could choose from a panel truck, conventional truck, school bus, and a few other configurations.
Over time, each one of the configurations noted above would break off and form their very own lineups. These included the modern F-150, F-450/550, Ford vans, etc.