This particular red pickup truck may be the quintessential internal-combustion powered American vehicle of all time. It is a 1977 vintage Ford F100 owned by Ray, the gentleman in the picture. I loved this truck so much when I saw Ray driving it that I followed him for almost 10 miles so I could make these photos.
I was a couple hundred yards behind Ray in traffic when I spotted the white painted bumper and the really skinny tires on Ray's truck. When I pulled up next to him at a light and rolled past the camper/cap with brown embossed vinyl panels on the sides and wood paneled interior, I recognized it as a classic example of the American pickup truck. Ray's truck is in beautiful, original condition.
Introduced in 1948, the F series was born a cash cow for the Ford Motor Company and remains so to this day. It was the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 23 years, and has been the best-selling truck for 31 years. Ford has sold some 32,000,000 instances of the F-Series pickups.
I say that this might just be the quintessential vehicle because Ray has used his pickup for nothing more than personal transportation and hauling that proverbial 4x8 sheet of plywood. The bed is even wood-paneled and carpeted – just like my family’s rec room.
In this way, Ray was astride the wave of Americans who discovered that the high riding position of a pickup gave one a feeling of security and power which they absolutely loved. They were even willing to trade passenger capacity (2-3 vs. 5-6 for a “family” car”) for the experience. The 8’ bed was seldom used, but eminently useful when it was.
Of course the "pickup" truck now commonly seats four (at the expense of the 8’ bed) and it wasn’t until 1984 that the Jeep Cherokee mutated into what we now call an SUV – a “family truck”.
A few years back, I hired a contractor to finish off my basement. One day he and I were chatting and he was bemoaning the loss of the basic pickup. “You know, us guys in the trades used to walk in and order a truck with nothing on it. Vinyl bench seat, manual transmission, no radio. You want hub caps to keep the lugs from rusting, but you could even delete those if you wanted to. Now, pickups come “standard” with air, leather, alloy wheels, audiophile systems (this was prior to GPSs and DVDs,)…. It cost me $35,000 for a truck! I’m afraid to get a scratch on the dang thing”
As you can see, Ray’s truck is quite free of scratches, and it hibernates away the long Wisconsin winters in Ray’s garage.
Ray bought his truck in 1978, when it had less than 10,000 miles on it. He has driven it just about 100,000 miles since then, and does all his own maintenance, which he describes as “not much”.
Ray’s F100 has a “three-in-the-tree” (three speed stick shift on the steering column), crank windows, a vinyl bench seat, no power brakes or steering and no air conditioning.
Born in Detroit.
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