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17 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About the Ford F-150

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In It for the Long Haul

Ford Motor Co. delivered a new Mustang and a long-awaited Bronco this year, but what people were most anticipating was the first new-generation F-150 since 2015. And you'd almost have to have been living under a rock lately to avoid any media mentions of the F-150 Lightning, the company's new all-electric version of its iconic truck. The rugged, reliable, and familiar F-150 is the bestselling truck in America and has been since the White House was occupied by a man named, well, Ford. For decades, in fact, it’s been America’s bestselling vehicle year after year, even when you count cars, SUVs, and anything else on wheels.

Related: 32 Most Reliable Trucks of All Time

1925 Model TT Truck
1925 Model TT Truck by Geni (CC BY-SA)

The Ford F-Series Has Roots Dating Back to 1917

In 1917, just nine years after Henry Ford’s Model T put mainstream America on the road, Ford created its first truck. Called the Model TT, it was available in several configurations and could tow a full ton of cargo. It wasn’t, however, a truck in the modern sense. The TT was built on the chassis of a car.

Related: 17 Incredible Feats of American Ingenuity

1950 Ford F-3
1950 Ford F-3 by Gordonrox24 (None)

The F-Series Changed Everything

Ford shut down automotive production during World War II to configure its factories to contribute to the war effort. In 1948, however, the post-war boom was on, and Ford unveiled the F-Series of trucks. They would prove to be game-changers for the future of the American automobile. Unlike earlier incarnations, they were built on dedicated truck platforms, not car chassis.

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1953 F-100
1953 F-100 by Mister Falcon (CC BY-SA)

The F-Series Was the First Modern Truck Lineup

There were eight different models available in the first generation of F-Series trucks, which ran from 1948-1952. They had different towing capacities, payload capacities, and different body styles. Named in sequence from F-1 through F-8, it represented the first modern lineup of options in a model series of trucks. 

 33 Greatest American Trucks of All Time

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Ford F150

The ‘150’ Deals With Payload Capacity

Eventually, the numbering scheme changed to reflect the payload capacity for each truck in the F-Series line according to tonnage. An F-100 could tolerate a half-ton (1,000 pounds). An F-200 has a payload capacity of one ton (2,000 pounds). The vaunted F-150 is in the middle with 1½ tons (1,500 pounds).

Related: The 2020 Ford F-350 Can Handle Any Road Condition or Cargo Job

1979 F-250 Ranger
1979 F-250 Ranger by IFCAR (None)

It’s Been America’s Bestselling Truck for Decades

In 1975, when the F-Series was in its sixth generation, the world met the F-150, which quickly jumped the F-100 as the most popular truck in the F-Series. Within just a year or two, the F-150 became the bestselling pickup truck in America and has held that title ever since. It has remained at the top of the throne uncontested for an astonishing 43 years straight through 2019. It would soon become America’s favorite vehicle — period.

Related: Why Ford Pickup Drivers Wouldn't Be Caught Dead in a Chevy

1999–2001 Ford F-250 SuperCab
Wikimedia Commons

In 1998, The F-150 Slimmed Down

For generations, the F-Series has been a mainstay on construction sites, farms, quarries, and tough, demanding job sites of all stripes. To differentiate between work trucks and consumer trucks, Ford introduced in 1998 the Super Duty line of medium-duty trucks for commercial use. The F-150 was aligned for light-duty use.

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2015 Ford F-150 Snow Plow
The Ford Motor Company

The F-150 Remained a Working Truck

The Super Duty is the truck of choice for huge majorities of workers in the waste management, government, and highway and street construction industries. But the arrival of the medium-duty commercial truck did not spell the end for the F-150 as the hard-hat, lunch-pail truck of choice. According to Ford figures from 2015, 72.7% of electric services workers, 61.2% of water, sewer and pipeline construction workers, and 56.3% of crude petroleum and natural gas workers use Ford F-150 trucks.

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2020 Ford F-150 Raptor
The Ford Motor Company

An F-150 Shares a Shop With Supercars

The Ford Performance Division is responsible for the brand’s supercars and racing cars such as the Ford GT and GT MK II, as well as the storied Shelby Mustang lineup. In the mix in that elite shop and racing team is the F-150 Raptor, a powerful beast of a truck. Its 24-valve, 3.5-liter twin-turbo engine is good for a roaring 450 horsepower.

Related: 15 Ford Muscle Cars That Defined a Generation

2015 Ford F-150
The Ford Motor Company

The F-Series Is in Its 14th Generation

The F-Series has evolved plenty since those blocky earliest versions rolled off the production line. The seventh-generation (1980-1986) saw the elimination of the F-100, which made the F-150 the lightest pickup truck on the market. The previous generation in 2015 saw a change from steel to an all-aluminum body, which allowed the F-150 to shed 750 extra pounds. This was a significant accomplishment, especially considering that the frame is still made from high-strength steel, which allows it to retain its durability.

Related: 20 Cars and Trucks You Can Keep for More Than a Decade

2020 Ford F-150 Pickup

It Is the Lifeblood of Ford

All of Detroit’s Big Three automakers depend on pickup trucks, which they sell in numbers that, according to Auto Week are “figures so staggering they’re difficult to believe” — but none more than Ford. Ford sells 2,452 F-Series trucks every single day. That’s 102 trucks an hour, which means that nearly two people buy an F-150 every minute of every day, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

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Ford F-Series
The Ford Motor Company

Ford Sold More Than 900,000 F-Series Units Four Times

In 2019, the F-Series sold an incredible 896,526 units. (A coronavirus pandemic makes 2020 figures potentially less meaningful.) For context, the bestselling car of the year (and every year, it seems), the Toyota Camry, sold 336,978 — but even that wasn’t the lineup’s record. The year before in 2018, Ford sold 909,300 F-series trucks. In fact, the F-series broke the 900,000 mark four times, including in 2004, when it sold an astonishing 939,511 units.

Related: Car Buyers Could Score a Deal on These Models Thanks to COVID-19

2020 Ford F-450
The Ford Motor Company
1993 Ford SVT Lightning
1993 Ford SVT Lightning by Rurik (None)

There Have Been Several Special Editions

Capitalizing on the F-150’s popularity, Ford released several awesome special editions. In 2000, the automaker partnered with Harley-Davidson to make a special truck in homage to the legendary U.S. motorcycle brand. In 1991, the blacked-out F150 Nite made its debut. The single-cab, short-box SVT F-150 Lightning ran between 1993-1996 and in 1998, the F-150 NASCAR special edition featured special race car rims. 

Related: 50 of the Biggest Cars Ever Made

2020 FORD F-150
The Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Model Starts Under $29,000

Part of the F-150’s unrivaled popularity is due to the fact that it’s affordable for a big, powerful, reliable, full-size truck. The 2021 model starts at $28,940. There are six models, however, including the Raptor, with trim packages that increase in price all the way up to $71,920 for the Limited edition.

Related: 14 Reasons to Buy a Truck Instead of a Car

2020 Ford F-150 Super Duty
The Ford Motor Company
Bigfoot #1, with Jim Kramer. May 12, 2009
Bigfoot #1, with Jim Kramer. May 12, 2009 by BigfootFan (CC BY-SA)

The First Monster Truck Was an F-Series

In the 1970s, truck aficionado Bob Chandler made history when he built the world’s first monster truck. He obsessively modified his truck to become bigger, badder, and louder than any other civilian truck on Earth. Chandler’s nickname was Bigfoot, which he painted on the side of his outsized Franken-vehicle. Bigfoot remains the first and most famous monster truck of all time. The truck he built it on was a regular 1974 Ford F-250.

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Ford F-150 All-Electric Lightning
Bill Pugliano/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

The Electric F-150 Could Shift Automobile Paradigms

On May 19, Ford debuted the all-electric version of the F-150, and the media coverage was lavish, to say the least. President Joe Biden even made an unscheduled stop at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center the day before to test drive one, remarking, "This sucker's quick." Given the historical popularity of the F-150, some pundits are theorizing that its electric truck could change the game in much the same way — and even beyond — the Model T did in the early 20th century. "Ford has a lot at stake in the new vehicle’s success," wrote The New York Times the same day the truck was unveiled. "If it can turn the F-150 Lightning into a big seller, it could accelerate the move toward electric vehicles, which scholars say is critical for the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change."

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