Ford L-Series Trucks

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Ford L-Series Trucks
UNION CARBIDE FERRO-ALLOY PLANT. SMOKE FROM THE FURNACES PASSES THROUGH THE TALL COOLING TOWERS IN THE CENTER BEFORE... - NARA - 557385.jpg
A Ford L-Series truck at the Union Carbide Ferro-Alloy plant in West Virginia.
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

Ford L-Series trucks was a long-running series of heavy-duty trucks built by Ford Motor Company between 1970 and 1998. It was distinctively styled with a bold hexagonal grille at its introduction. It was built in a new plant which was called the Kentucky Truck Plant, but its location near Louisville, Kentucky gave rise to the popular name of Ford Louisville line trucks, as well as the "Louisville Plant" [1]

These heavy-duty Ford trucks replaced the short conventional N-Series, along with the heavy-duty F-Series trucks (but not the medium-duty F-Series trucks; which have soldiered on through production, and are still being produced to this day), and related tandem-axle T-Series. The Louisville Line encompassed a wide range of models serving the medium-, heavy-, and extra-heavy-duty truck ranks. The line would become one of the most popular series of trucks Ford ever produced.[1]

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 enhancments 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]

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]