The Ford F-100 is the smallest of the American automaker’s F-Series line of full-size utes. The F-Series has been sold for more than six decades, although production of the F-100 ended in the seventh generation of the series. The entire F-Series was introduced with the F-1, F-2, and F-3 models in 1948. However, it got a redesign in 1953, and this second generation of the F-Series marked the introduction of the F-100 when the nomenclature was changed along with the design.
The F-100 is a half-ton truck that is rated to carry up to 5000kg, and this rating has been consistent throughout its six generations. The F-Series, with the F-100 and its other bigger siblings, was the best-selling vehicle in the US for more than two decades.
The second generation of the Ford F-100 saw the discontinuation of the cab-over series and the introduction of two cargo trays. The first was called the Flareside, which had a traditional body with a separate fender. The second was called Styleside, and it had a smoother shape than the former. In later years, the Ford F-100 would arrive with a new uni-body style that integrates the cab with the cargo tray. This uni-body construction would continue until 1963. A new Twin L-beam front suspension was the next big feature for the Ford F-100 when it was introduced in 1965.
In 1977, the Ford F-100 got a few cosmetic changes that included a new grille design. The round headlights were replaced by rectangular ones as well the next year. Other big changes included the introduction of front disc brakes and coil springs on the suspension, along with an increase in the cab length for greater passenger room. By 1975, a new half-ton model called the F-150 was introduced into the F-Series. This model began to increase in popularity over the years and cut into the sales of the Ford F-100.
The final generation of the Ford F-100 was introduced in 1980 with a completely new chassis and larger body than before. This turned out to be the first complete redesign from the ground up since 1965. The ute got a more aerodynamic exterior design for better looks and fuel economy. In 1982, the famous ‘Blue Oval’ logo of Ford was added to the centre of the Ford F-100 grille. The next year proved to be the last for the half-ton ute as the F-150 superseded it. The 1983 model year was the last for the Ford F-100.
The first generation of the Ford F-100 had a standard straight-6 engine that delivered 75kW of power. It had a more powerful Y-block V8 engine from 1954 to 1955 that delivered 97kW of power. In 1956, this engine delivered a total of 129kW of power. The second-generation Ford F-100 also had the same straight-6 engine as standard and V8 engine as an option. The third generation of the ute saw an increase in the engine’s performance figures. The 262 CID straight-6 engine delivered 98kW of power, and this was the standard engine from 1961 to 1964.
The optional V8 engine delivered 130kW of power. Post 1964, the standard I6 engine delivered 110kW of power while the V8 engine, now with fuel injection, delivered 155kW of power. The V8 engine got another increase in its output in 1968 with a new rating of 160kW of power. The year 1969 saw the introduction of a new Windsor V8 engine that delivered 153kW. In 1973, its power came down to 97kW, and the V8 engine also had a reduced output of 107kW.
Through the years, the standard 6-cylinder engine proved to be powerful enough to get the ute going from a standstill and overtake traffic on open roads when required. It could also handle a fully loaded Ford F-100, although with a little difficulty. The V8 engines, however, offered a huge boost in acceleration and performance, and this was great for those who wanted a more exciting ride even when hauling lots of cargo on the Ford F-100’s cargo tray. Both engines were noisy, but the V8 would be a little bit more refined.
Stability was an issue for most of the half-ton ute’s production life. Crosswinds would easily take the vehicle off track, and the steering was a little loose. However, the 1980 redesign not only made the truck more refined but also made steering tighter and more responsive.
The Ford F-100 was the smallest of the F-Series, and, as such, it had a more utilitarian cabin than most of its siblings. Early models lacked most basic features and had cheap plastics in most places. However, the interior design got better over generations, and the ute got basic features like radio/cassette audio system, air-conditioning, and much more. Plastics were always present, but their quality got better with each generation. Legroom and headroom are ample for the driver and passenger sitting at the extreme end. The middle passenger, however, had to sacrifice some legroom because of the transmission tunnel that ran right through middle of the Ford F-100 cabin.
The Ford F-100 lacked much competition during its earlier years, but from 1971, the ute competed with Nissan’s B120. This vehicle had a 1.2L, 4-cylinder A12 engine that delivered 62kW of power at 6400rpm and offered class-leading mileage of 4.8L/100km. However, it lacked the cargo capacity of the half-ton F-100 as well as the performance figures of the standard 6-cylinder engine or the optional V8 engine.