Ford F-Series (seventh generation)
A 1985 Ford F-250 2WD in October 2006.
Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
General Pacheco, Argentina (Ford Argentina)
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Wayne, Michigan, U.S.
Oakville, Ontario, Canada (Oakville Assembly)
San Jose, California, U.S.
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door pickup
2-door extended-cab pickup
|Engine||300 CID (4.9 L) I6
255 CID (4.2 L) Windsor V8
302 CID (5.0 L) Windsor V8
351 CID (5.8 L) Windsor V8
400 CID (6.6 L) 335 V8
460 CID (7.5 L) 385 V8
6.9 L (420 CID)Navistar(International Harvester) Diesel V8
203 CID (3.3L) Perkins 4.203 4-cylinder Diesel (only for the F-100 assembled in Argentina)
|Wheelbase||Regular cab 8' box: 133 in (3,378 mm)
Regular cab 6.75' box/Flareside: 117 in (2,972 mm)
SuperCab 8' box: 155 in (3,937 mm)
SuperCab 6.75' box: 138.8 in (3,526 mm)
Crew cab: 168.4 in (4,277 mm)
|Length||Regular cab 8' box: 213.3 in (5,418 mm)
Regular cab 6.75' box: 197.1 in (5,006 mm)
SuperCab 8' box: 235.3 in (5,977 mm)
SuperCab 6.75' box: 219.1 in (5,565 mm)
Crew cab: 248.9 in (6,322 mm)
|Width||79 in (2,007 mm)|
|Predecessor||Ford F-Series sixth generation (1972–1979)|
|Successor||Ford F-Series eighth generation (1986–1991)|
The seventh generation of the Ford F-Series is a line of pickup trucks and medium-duty commercial trucks that was produced by Ford from 1979 to 1986. For the first time since 1965, the pickup trucks were based upon a completely new chassis and body. Distinguished by its squarer look, sharper lines and flatter panels, the trucks were designed with improved fuel efficiency in mind; to this end, Ford added its new AOD automatic overdrive (four-speed) transmission as an option on light-duty models. The 4-speed manual and 3-speed C6 automatic transmission were retained from previous years. To increase longevity, Ford increased the use of galvanized body panels to fight corrosion. Pickup trucks were available in three body styles: regular cab, SuperCab extended cab or crew cab with two bed lengths. The crew cab trucks were very large, stretching nearly 20 feet long with an eight-foot bed. These trucks are considered amongst enthusiasts to be the last generation of great trucks built by Ford and are now beginning to become popular amongst restorers as the models have just reached classic car status. They are typically considered to be the last of the "classic" Ford trucks, due to the fact it had features such as glass headlights.
Along with the body and chassis upgrades, Ford made several changes to the branding of the F-Series over this generation. In 1981, the upscale Ranger trim was discontinued to create the nameplate for the company's all-new compact pickup that replaced the Mazda-built Courier. Largely superseded by the F-150, the F-100 was discontinued after the 1983 model year, but the F-100 nameplate remained in Argentina. In Mexico, there is an "F-200" which was introduced in 1976; this variant remained until 1991.
Design History and Features
In 1979, Ford debuted a brand new, redesigned F-Series pickup truck line, with the goal of maintaining utility while getting better fuel economy than its previous generation. However, drastic measures were taken in reducing weight, including cutting large holes in the frame; this severely weakened frame rails on model year 1980-1981 trucks, causing them to bend or buckle under load. This frame is known by enthusiasts as the "Swiss cheese frame". This was remedied by 1981 for the 1982 model year, returning the chassis rigidity to the same toughness and strength as the previous generation. Model year 1980–1981 trucks had a plain grille with "FORD" spelled across the front of the hood in chrome lettering, similar to the 1978-1979 models of the previous generation.
The 1982 model year was marked by a slight but important cosmetic change: 1982–86 models had the "FORD" letters above the grille removed, and a Ford oval placed in the center of the grille, with fewer vertical bars in the grille itself. This made the 1982 the first model year to feature the Blue Oval on the front, a trademark of all Ford pickups since, with the exception of the 2010–present F-150 SVT Raptor. The frame was strengthened and the trucks became heavier for 1982; this frame would underpin the F-Series until the 1997 redesign. Grille options included a full chrome grille, a black grille or the standard flat grey plastic grille. The headlight bezels also came in several color options, ranging from light grey, grey, dark grey, and black; with the latter two being the most common.
Introduced for 1980 models, an optional resettable trip meter was installed on speedometers and the mileage counter was moved to the top of the speedometer as part of the optional Sport Instrumentation Group. The Sport Instrumentation Group also included the optional tachometer in the center of the cluster, as well as oil and ammeter gauges. In 1984, the body moulding and interior trim were updated. In 1985-1986 models, the upper accent mouldings were moved below the front marker. For 1985, the rear tailgate moulding on XLT models was updated and previewed the design of the 1987 model. This molding has become increasingly rare and fetches a high price. A cargo light was available as an option and was included in the Light Group option package. (A Combination Stop/cargo lamp was not required until September 1, 1993 for the 1994 year model.)
17 different colors were available, along with two-tone options and a choice of clearcoat or non-clearcoat paint.
Various standard equipment included interesting features such as a coat hook on the driver's side, AM radio (AM/FM and AM/FM Cassette were optional), scuff plates and vent windows. The back of the glove compartment door featured coin slots and cup depressions to hold cups and food similar to a food tray on a train. This was a feature only found on this generation and never on later models. It also showed a diagram with lift points as well as other mechanical information. Sliding rear windows were optional as well as cargo lights, under-hood lights, and many others. Ford offered over 150 options for the seventh-generation F-Series.
Special Order Equipment
For 1981,various special order equipment was offered on all F-100, 81 model pickup truck with a V6 motor 250, and 350 models. These are listed below with their respective descriptions.
- Batteries: F-150, 250, and 350 buyers desiring a battery with a higher reserve capacity to meet the electrical demands imposed by add-on electrical accessories or other job-related operating conditions, can choose from Motorcraft 75-amp maintenance-free or Gould 90-amp maintenance free batteries.
- Alternator: To meet all higher-than-normal electrical demands of F-150, 250, and 350 vehicles that would be operated under especially strenuous conditions or equipped with power-draining accessories, special 70- and 100-amp Motorcraft alternators with transistorized regulators can be ordered.
- Radio Interference Suppression, Extended: Recommended when the vehicle is to be equipped with a mobile two-way radio, as it reduces ignition noise for clearer communication. Includes the basic standard components plus accessory circuits.
- Drain Fill Plugs, Magnetic: These special drain plugs contain a permanent magnet which attracts all metal particles that can result from wear during normal operation. These particles can cause severe internal damage or excessive wear. Available for all engine oil drain plugs and selected axle/transmission applications.
- Engine, for LPG Conversion: Customers desiring LPG (Propane) instead of conventional gasoline will want to order this Special Order option which prepares the 4.9L (300-CID) I-6 engine for propane operation. This engine is specifically engineered to burn gaseous fuel and includes numerous special components for that purpose. Installation of an LPG fuel/carburetion system is the buyers responsibility and must be accomplished within 90 days or 500 miles (whichever comes first) or the warranty is voided.
- Hood Release, Inside Locking: This security helps protect against theft by making it difficult for a thief to gain access to the engine compartment. A thief cannot simply reach into the drivers compartment and pop open the hood using the standard inside hood release. The hood release can be activated only after being unlocked with the door key. This item is included in the Security Lock Group which is also available on all F-Series pickup models.
- Windshield Wipers, Interval: Through Special Order, F-Series pickup buyers can take advantage of the convenience of interval windshield wipers without having to order the complete Convenience Group. By Allowing the driver to select an interval from approximately one to 12 seconds for intermittent sweeps of the wipers, interval wipers can be the ideal feature for driving in a light rain or road spray.
- Hand Throttle: Locking and non-locking types are available to allow control of engine rpm from dashboard. Locking type is especially useful when the trucks engine is used to drive an accessory unit with high power demands, such as a winch or compressor. Throttle can be set part-way open while the driver is outside of the cab doing other jobs. Available on all models with the 4.9L and 5.8L engines. Not available with speed control or engine usage indicator.
- Engine Usage Indicator: Hobbs Hour Meter Engine Usage indicator records actual engine hours of operation-whether idling or on road. Essential for construction contractors or fleet operators who base maintenance intervals on running time rather than mileage.
- Mirrors, Dual-Head: An expanded field of vision to the rear and both sides of the truck is available by ordering these dual-head mirrors. Each of the western-type mirror frames holds two 6x6-inch mirrors-a flat one which provides a standard rear view with objects in proper perspective and a convex one which offers a panoramic view to eliminate blind spots. Especially helpful for trailer towing.
- Windshield, Tinted: With this Special Order option, tinted glass can be ordered for the windshield only, instead of all the vehicles windows. The tinted windshield offers the benefit of reduced glare for the driver on bright, sunny days, plus it costs less than Tinted Glass, Complete option-especially on crew cab or SuperCab models.
- Cargo Lamp: Illuminates area for more convenient nighttime loading and unloading. Included with Light Group.
- Stabilizer Bar, Front: Offers improved handling on F-250/350 4x2 models. Exerts stress between the front wheels to increase vehicle stability and minimize sway, especially under heavy loads or rough terrain. Available with gasoline engines only.
- Gas Cap, Locking: This Special Order option is offered specifically for the buyer who would like to order an F-Series pickup equipped with a locking gas cap to help safeguard the vehicles fuel tank, but does not wish to spend the extra money needed to purchase the entire Security Lock Group. This option allows him to order it with the vehicle, rather than having to go out and buy one separately after the vehicle is in service.
- Axles, Rear: 8200-Pound Limited Slip; Offers the F-350 Dual-Rear Wheel Regular Chassis Cab 4x2 buyer with improved traction characteristics of a Limited-Slip differential. The Limited-Slip differential automatically transfers most of the driving power from the drive wheel with the least traction to the drive wheel with the most traction. Helps prevent vehicle from becoming stuck in mud, sand, ice and snow. This axle can be ordered with a 3.54, 3.73 or 4.10 ratio. Wide Track-approximately seven to nine inches wider than the standard axle, this special axle allows F-350 dual-rear-wheel Chassis Cab buyers to install special bodies (such as the popular rescue wagon) that are significantly larger than would otherwise be possible.
This generation saw two different sets of trim levels:
For 1980 and 1981, there was:
- Custom- Base model, usually equipped with manual locks/windows, color-keyed vinyl seat and dashboard, and black rubber floor mat. However, a Custom trim truck could still share some of the same options as the higher-trim trucks. A steering wheel cover and Ford logo above the radio was optional. Chrome door handles outside the cab to hoist the driver up and into the cab were also optional. On trucks without air conditioning, vents were not installed into the dashboard, giving the driver only two choices for air direction: "Defrost" and "Heat", with "Heat" on a non-A/C truck being the equivalent of "Floor" on a truck with A/C. The lack of vents on the dashboard does have an advantage, as it leaves room for the installation of aftermarket gauges.
- Ranger- Intermediate trim that added a color-keyed floor mat, chrome trim on the door panels,and Rosewood dash and horn pad trim.
- Ranger XLT- A step up from the Ranger that added unique seat trim, a color-keyed headliner, color-keyed carpeting, aluminum tailgate trim and full floor to roof trim moldings behind the seat. Also included pinstriping if ordered, synthetic wood, cloth seats and various other interior options.
- Ranger Lariat- a step above the Ranger XLT that added a plusher interior, and Rosewood Trim on the door panels that matched the Rosewood trim on the dash. Ranger Lariats also featured special "Lariat" emblems on the cab, as well as special Ranger Lariat script above the radio.
- Explorer- a limited edition options and trim group with year-specific stripes unique to the Explorer. offered as Explorer Package A, B, C, or D. Explorer Package A was the most basic, similar to the Custom, while the Explorer Package D was the highest level, much like the Ranger Lariat.
- Base – Similar to the Custom of the previous years.
- XL – replaced the intermediate Ranger trim for the 1982 model year, as the Ranger name would be used for Ford's new compact truck.
- XLS- a new trim level that featured a blacked-out grille, bumpers, headlight bezels, and windshield trim. It also featured a stripe graphics package and black and silver dash trim. Available exterior colors were red, silver, and black.
- XLT Lariat- featured floor carpeting, color-keyed headliner, a standard chrome grille, and optional power windows/door locks. Woodgrain trim on the door panels was phased after the 1984 model year, as 1985–1986 models had a carpeted section applied to the door panels. For 1985 models, the tailgate trim was changed to a "flat" full width aluminum with a red "reflector" towards the bottom with chrome FORD letters.
- Explorer a limited edition options and trim group with optional year specific stripes unique to the Explorer– The Explorer trim line (1968–1986) was dropped for the 1987 models. Explorer packages changed every year,and were only offered for a limited time each model year.
- Eddie Bauer-introduced for 1985, an outdoors-themed interior trim package with two-tone exterior paint. Originally only offered on the Bronco and Bronco II, the Eddie Bauer trim would eventually make its way to the F-Series line-up by the end of 1994 (1995 model year).
The seventh-generation F-Series marked a major transition in the powertrains used by the pickup line. As before, the standard engine was a carbureted 300 cubic-inch inline-6. For 1982, this was supplemented by a 3.8 L V6 borrowed from the Fox platform; it was dropped after 1983 as the result of slow sales. The standard V8 remained the 302 Windsor V8. To further boost fuel efficiency, a downsized 255 cubic-inch version of the 302 Windsor V8 was made an option; it proved unpopular and was dropped after 1983. As Ford streamlined its small-block V8 engine lineup, the 351M was replaced by the 351 Windsor. Initially, the largest engine offered was the 400 V8 carried over from the previous generation; it was available only in F-350 and certain F-250 models. As similar-size engines were discontinued by General Motors and Chrysler during the late 1970s, the 400 was discontinued after 1982.
In 1982, the 460 V8 made its return as the replacement for the 400 on 1983 models. Coinciding with the reintroduction of the big-block 460, Ford introduced another engine offering for buyers seeking higher-output engines. Largely a response to General Motors, who had offered diesel-engined pickups since 1977, Ford produced their first North American diesel F-Series in 1982, while in Argentina the F-100 carried over the same 3.3L Perkins 4.203 available since the 3rd generation F-series. Rather than develop its own engine (as GM had), the 6.9 L IDI V8 was the product of a joint venture with International Harvester. From 1982 to present, the heavier duty f-series trucks (F-250 and above) have usually been equipped with the diesel engines as standard horsepower. The 460 was first offered in 4x4's in 1983 as an option on 1984 models. Up until that point, it was never offered in 4WD models.
In 1984, the 302 Windsor was available with electronic fuel injection as an option on 1985 models; a year later, it became standard (an industry first for full-size pickups). Trucks equipped with the 3-speed manual transmission was the second to last American vehicle to have a column-shifted manual transmission; it was discontinued after 1986. (The last being the Chevy/GMC models which was discontinued in 1987)
The heavy duty Ford C6 3-speed automatic transmission, marketed as the "Select-Shift" automatic, was the standard automatic transmission all years and came paired with most engine options if ordered. Various transfer cases were used, most built by New Process Gear. NP205 and NP208F cases were most common. Each feature a stick-shift 4WD engagement, with 4 speeds: 4 Low, 4 High, Neutral and 2 High. Various Borg-Warner transfer cases were also used.
|232 CID Essex V6||1982–83||110 hp (82 kW)||183 lb·ft (248 N·m)|
|255 CID Windsor V8||1980–81||115 hp (86 kW)||206 lb·ft (279 N·m)||2bbl|
|300 CID Straight-6||1980||117 hp (87 kW)||227 lb·ft (308 N·m)||1bbl|
|300 CID Straight-6 †||1980||120 hp (89 kW)||229 lb·ft (310 N·m)||1bbl|
|300 CID Straight-6||1981–86||125 hp (93 kW)||250 lb·ft (339 N·m)||1bbl/EFI|
|302 CID Windsor V8||1980–85||133 hp (99 kW)||233 lb·ft (316 N·m)||2bbl|
|302 CID Windsor V8||1985–86||190 hp (140 kW)||285 lb·ft (386 N·m)||EFI|
|351 CID 351M V8||1980–82||136 hp (101 kW)||262 lb·ft (355 N·m)||2bbl|
|351 CID Windsor V8||1980–82||136 hp (101 kW)||262 lb·ft (355 N·m)||2bbl|
|351 CID Windsor V8||1983–86||150 hp (110 kW)||280 lb·ft (380 N·m)||2bbl/EFI|
|351 CID HO Windsor V8 ††||1984–86||210 hp (160 kW)||305 lb·ft (414 N·m)||4bbl/EFI|
|400 CID 400 V8 †||1980–82||153 hp (114 kW)||309 lb·ft (419 N·m)||2bbl|
|420 CID International Harvester IDI diesel V8 †||1983–86||150 hp (110 kW)||285 lb·ft (386 N·m)||IDI|
|420 CID International Harvester IDI diesel V8 †||1983–86||170 hp (130 kW)||315 lb·ft (427 N·m)||IDI|
|460 CID 385 V8 †||1983–86||245 hp (183 kW)||380 lb·ft (515 N·m)||4bbl/EFI|
† Only available F-250 HD and F-350
†† 1984–85 only available on HD F-250 and F-350 models, 1986 available all models
Axles, Differentials, and Suspension
This generation was the first time Ford used Independent suspension on their full size 4x4 trucks, as well as being the first time any of the Big Three (automobile manufacturers) made a 4x4 full size truck without a solid front axle. Ford and Dana Holding Corporation called this the Twin Traction Beam or TTB and used many of Dana Spicer parts. The F-150 used a light duty Dana 44 TTB. From 1979-1984, the rear axle was typically a Ford 9-inch axle, with the Ford 8.8 axle being phased gradually until the 9" was finally phased out before the 1987 model year. The F-250 used an 8 lug version of the Dana 44 TTB called the Dana 44 TTBHD with the Dana 50 TTB being an option. The rear was a Dana 60 until mid 1985 when Ford phased out that axle for their own Sterling 10.25. Dana 60s could be either full float or semi float and came with a range of gear ratios. Semi float Dana 60s were either c-clip style, which utilize c-clips to hold the axle shafts in, or pressed in bearings which held the axles in with a special wheel bearing that bolted to the outer axle housing inside the brake drum. These were typically used in lighter duty trucks. Up until then, early 1985 models were built with left over 1984 materials, making some parts tough to find. The F-350 used the Dana 50 TTB in front until a mid-year change in 1985, when the F-350 was fitted with the Dana 60 solid front axle. F-250s could be ordered with a Dana 50 TTB if it was a heavier duty model; all other F-250's were equipped with a Dana 44 TTB. These trucks were leaf sprung and used a single gas shock with no coil springs and radius arms like on the F-150. For the rear axle the F-350 trucks used a Dana 60 for the single rear wheel trucks and a Dana 70 for the dual rear wheel trucks until 1985 when Ford once again phased in their own Sterling axle. Factory lifts used 2" blocks on the rear suspension, or 2" front and 4" rear on HD trucks, usually on F250s and higher trims. Heavier duty F150s could be ordered with 2" blocks.
For the first time since 1967, the medium-duty version of the F-Series (F-600 and above) were completely redesigned. Again sharing a common cab and interior with the pickup trucks, the medium-duty trucks were distinguished by separate bodywork ahead of the firewall. For the first time since the 1957 "Big Job" trucks, the fenders were separate from the hood; although a traditional rear-hinged hood was standard, the optional forward-tilting hood (in the style of the larger L-Series trucks) quickly overtook it in popularity. Alongside the standard two-door cab, the medium-duty F-Series was available with a four-door crew cab.
Sharing exterior styling derived from the larger L-Series trucks, the medium-duty F-Series saw few changes through the 1980s. As a running change during 1983, the truck adapted the Ford Blue Oval for the 1984 model year, becoming the last Ford vehicle to do so. After that change, the medium-duty F-Series would not see any exterior change (aside from engine badging) until its 1995 facelift (consisting of a new hood, fenders, and headlights). Although the cab itself was shared with F-Series pickup trucks produced afterward, the MY 1980-1986 interior of the medium-duty F-Series was carried over entirely and used until the medium-duty F-Series was discontinued in 1998.
The medium-duty F-Series was initially produced with several engines. Two gasoline V8 engines were available, a 370 cubic-inch V8 and a 429 cubic-inch V8; both engines were versions of the 460 V8. In 1991, the 370 was discontinued, with the 7.0L V8 (429) becoming standard. At its launch, two diesels were offered: the Detroit Diesel 8.2L "Fuel Pincher" V8 was offered alongside the Caterpillar 3208 V8; Caterpillar-powered vehicles were re-designated Ford "F-8000" (adding an extra "0" to the model name). During the late 1980s, the Caterpillar and Detroit Diesel engines are replaced by 6.6L and 7.8L inline-6 diesels produced in a joint venture between Ford and New Holland in Brazil. In 1992, the Ford-New Holland engines are both replaced by a Cummins 5.9L inline-6 diesel.
- Photo of an early model at HowStuffWorks.com
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards #108: S18.104.22.168
- 1981 F-series Explorer Brochure
|SUV||Compact||Bronco II||Bronco II|
|Pickup truck||Coupé utility||Durango|
|Mid-size||Explorer Sport Trac||Explorer Sport Trac|
|Full-size||F-Series (all)||F-Series (all)||F-Series (all)||F-150/F-250||F-150||F-150||F-150|
|SVT Lightning||SVT Lightning||SVT Raptor||Raptor|
|Super Duty||Super Duty||Super Duty||Super Duty|
|Van||Compact MPV||Transit Connect||Transit Connect|