Ford L-Series Trucks

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Ford L-Series Trucks
1989 Ford LN8000 Diesel dump truck, red.jpg
1989 Ford LN8000 single-axle dump truck
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1970 - 1998
Assembly Kentucky Truck Assembly, Louisville, Kentucky
Body and chassis
Class heavy-duty truck
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Chronology
Predecessor Ford N-Series
Successor Sterling Trucks: A-Line, L-Line, Acterra

The Ford L-Series trucks are a range of heavy-duty trucks built by Ford Motor Company between 1970 and 1998. The first dedicated Class 8 truck produced by the company, the L-Series range replaced the N-Series short conventional (derived from the F-Series). The Louisville Line encompassed a wide range of models through the Class 7-8 GVWR ratings and for medium-duty, severe-service, and vocational applications; many were produced as semitractors. The line would become one of the most popular series of trucks Ford ever produced.[1] The Aeromax L9000 was one of the most aerodynamic trucks in North America upon its introduction in 1988.

The L-Series was produced in the Kentucky Truck Plant near Louisville, Kentucky, which eventually gave rise to the nickname "Ford Louisville Line" trucks.[1] Due to the 1996 sale of the Ford heavy-truck line, the L-Series was discontinued, although the vehicles themselves would be produced until 2009 by Freightliner under the Sterling brand name.

Background[edit]

In 1963, Ford produced its first Class 8 conventional with the introduction of the N-Series Super Duty, replacing the Super Duty models of the F-Series. While the N-Series still retained the cab of the F-Series, an all-new chassis design placed the cab much higher with a shortened hood; it shared its grille with the H-Series cabover.

By the end of the 1960s, Ford sought to modernize and streamline its heavy-truck line. Rather than adapt a light-truck architecture into a heavier-duty vehicle, a heavy-duty truck was designed from the ground up. In replacing the N-Series and the heaviest-duty models of the F-Series, Ford would introduce the L-Series range of trucks for 1970. With an all-new heavier-duty chassis, the L-Series boasted a larger cab; to improve serviceability, all models had a front-hinged hood.

First generation (1970-1995)[edit]

1981 Ford LTS 9000 cement mixer

For 1970, the L-Series was introduced in 4 size ranges, two hood lengths and grille styles, and with single or tandem rear axles. Powertrains included a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines, based

First generation (1970-1995)
1993 Ford LTS 9000.jpg
1993 Ford LTS9000 dump truck
Overview
Type Medium-duty truck
Heavy-duty truck
Model years 1970-1995
Body and chassis
Class Class 6-8 Truck
Related Ford LTL-9000
Ford AeroMax

on GVWR.

In 1971, Ford introduced a set-back front axle configuration. For the rest of the 1970s, the L-Series saw few major changes. In 1976, the LTL-9000 was introduced. Designed as a truck for long-haul drivers, the LTL-9000 was a competitor to the GMC General, Kenworth W900, Mack Super-Liner, and Peterbilt 359. Fitted with a set-forward front axle and a longer hood, this version had more room for larger powertrains. In 1978, Ford gave the LTL-9000 its own grille and headlight styling, including one of the first uses of the Ford Blue Oval in North America.

Although the L-Series would see few revisions throughout its production, elements of its design would see use in other Ford vehicles. In 1974, the W-Series cabover received a larger grille similar to the chrome version on the L-Series. For 1978, the F-Series/Bronco grille was given a similar eggcrate grille pattern. In the 1980 redesign of the medium-duty F-Series, the hexagonal shape of the grille was carried over; it is a theme used in all Super Duty trucks since their 1999 introduction.

In 1984, the rest of the L-Series became one of the last North American Fords to adopt the Ford Blue Oval; as with the LTL-9000, it was placed above the grille. In 1988, the L-Series changed its grille design from an eggcrate design to that of horizontal chrome bars; the Ford Blue Oval became centered. In addition, rectangular headlights became standard.

Aeromax (1988-1995)[edit]

1995 Ford Aeromax dump truck

As a response to the aerodynamic Kenworth T600, for 1988, Ford introduced its own aerodynamic semitractor. Named AeroMax L9000, the new design was an extensive upgrade of the LTL-9000. While sharing the same cab and the hood of the L-9000, the Aeromax used a set-back front axle to add a form-fitting front bumper with swept front fenders. For the first time in a North American truck, automotive-style composite headlights were used. Other aerodynamic enhancements included skirted fuel tanks and a specially designed "Aero Bullet" sleeper unit.[2]

Following its introduction as a semitractor, the AeroMax line expanded into the vocational truck lineup alongside the rest of the Ford L-Series.

Models and designations[edit]

Ford LTL9000 dump truck

The L-Series came in a total of four size ranges, designated by GVWR. As with previous Ford heavy-truck tradition, gasoline-engine trucks received a three-digit model number while diesel-engine trucks were given a four-digit model number. L-600/L-6000 and L-700/L-7000 series were Class 6/7 medium-duty trucks, typically sold as straight trucks. L-800/L-8000 trucks were Class 8 trucks, typically sold in severe-service configurations. L-900/L-9000 chassis were available in all axle configurations, but were typically sold as semitractors; the LTL-9000 was only sold with a diesel engine.

Designation Configuration Notes
L 4x2 Standard model
LT 6x4 Tandem axle
LN 4x2 Short wheelbase/hood

Same wheelbase as LS

LNT 6x4 Short wheelbase/hood

Tandem axle

LS 4x2 Set-back front axle

Shorter wheelbase

LTS 6x4 Set-back front axle

Tandem axle

LTL-9000 6x4 Extended hood
AeroMax 4x2

6x4

Aerodynamically-enhanced lower body

Set-back front axle

Second generation (1996-1998)[edit]

1996-1998 Ford Louisville in Poland
Second generation (1996-1998)
Ford LT 9513 Truck - Flickr - Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden.jpg
Ford Aeromax 9500 in Europe
Overview
Type Heavy truck
Model years 1996-1998
Body and chassis
Class Class 8 truck

For 1996, the Ford heavy-truck lines were redesigned. The L-Series nomenclature was largely dropped, with Louisville switching from a nickname to an official Ford nameplate on vocational and severe-service models. For semitractors, the newly renamed Aeromax 9500 made its return. Both series featured a much larger cab with a sloping windshield; along with its previous aerodynamic enhancements, the Aeromax gained a sloping hoodline.

Discontinuation[edit]

At the end of 1996, Ford completed the sale of its heavy-truck operations, selling the rights to the Louisville, Aeromax, and Cargo to Freightliner. Ford would end production of the Louisville/Aeromax in 1998; the truck lines would re-enter production as Sterling Trucks from 1997 to 2009; both lines were produced concurrently by Ford and Freightliner during 1998.

Resources[edit]

  • American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide: 1920-1985, by Tad Burness.
  • Ford Trucks Since 1905, by James K. Wagner.
  • Ford Heavy Duty Trucks 1948-1998, by Paul G. McLaughlin.
  • Ford Truck Chronicles: by the Auto Editors of Consumers Guide.

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]