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Ford F-150 dominates the light truck market

Ford F-150 dominates the light truck market

Posted by Dale Edward Johnson on Apr 4th 2023

The Ford F-Series of light duty trucks has a long record of market domination. For more than half a century the F-150 and its predecessors have been the top-selling vehicle in North America. It was 75 years ago – in 1948 – that Ford brought out the F-1, which is the basis of today’s F-150.

When the new models were introduced after the Second World War, the truck market was essentially limited to farmers and small business owners who needed hauling capacity. City people drove cars – coupes and sedans – not pickups. Over the years that has dramatically changed to the point that sedans and coupes are hard to find, while there are more choices than ever for trucks, SUVs and crossovers. And at the top of the sales race is the Ford F-150 pickup.

The Ford Motor Company, which was on a very shaky financial footing during the war, started a dramatic turnaround when Henry Ford II was named president of the family firm in 1945. He brought in the so-called “Whiz Kids” – a group of highly educated men with military experience – to turn around the fortunes of the troubled organization. The first project was the new line of light-duty trucks that were introduced in 1948.

Ford Series

Called the F-Series, they were all-new and modern looking. A far wider range of models was offered than ever before. Interiors were made larger and more comfortable. Ford had its best year for truck sales since 1929. A restyled grill was part of the updated 1951 models. Interiors continued to be improved, with such creature comforts available as more foam padding, twin sun visors and armrests, a dome light, a cigar lighter, more sound deadener and more chrome trim.

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For 1953 the new F-100 was introduced. It was significantly more modern and more spacious with advertisements promoting “living room comfort” in the cabs.

For 1957 the F-Series was re-designed from the ground up, with a more stylish body that was lower, wider and flatter than the previous generation. Although basic work models were still the volume sellers, more chrome trim and more color choices were also offered. As well, Ford began offering four-wheel-drive models.

Ford Custom Cab

Mr.choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The next major restyling came for thew 1961 model year. During the prosperity of the 1960s more people began buying trucks for other than just work-related hauling capacity. For many, a truck became a second car. That meant there was demand for even more luxury touches previously found only on cars, such as air conditioning, stereos and power equipment. The variety of models continued to expand, offering more choices for traditional truck buyers, as well as for urbanites entering the truck market. Crew cabs with a rear seat, also appeared in the 1960s, making trucks appealing to families. Ford truck sales increased every year from 1962 to 1966.


Mr.choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

That trend of more luxury, more style and more choices continued throughout the 1970s, ‘80s and ’90s and into the 21 st century. There were also high-performance versions of the F-150, including the Lightning and Raptor.

Ford trucks from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s are especially attractive to collectors.

Ford F150

Mr.choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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For those who want an F-150 but also want something a little different, there are plenty of choices. For example, in Canada from 1948 to 1968 there were Mercury half-ton trucks. They were essentially Ford trucks with different trim plates and labelling to provide Mercury dealers with a truck line. Lincoln later offered dressed up versions of the F-150 called the Blackwood in 2002 and later the Mark LT from 2006-2008.

Today’s F-150s offer choices in drivetrains, and it’s now possible to get a hybrid F-150 with a gasoline engine and an electric motor. There’s also the all-electric F-150 called the Lightning. With these newest power sources, all indications are the F-150 will continue to be an extremely popular vehicle for a very wide range of buyers, as it has been for half a century.

(top photo credit: inkknife_2000 (7.5 million views +), CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)