1958 Ford F-Series
By early 1958, Chevrolet and GMC dropped the Cameo and Suburban in favor of cheaper wide-bed pickups. Dodge and International followed suit in 1959, and Studebaker joined the club in 1961.
The demand for fenderside pickups winnowed away to next to nothing over the next three decades (although the look later enjoyed a little bit of a rebirth, ironically as a "retro" styling cue for some expensive sport pickups).
Meanwhile, the configuration pioneered by the Styleside Ford F-Series and on full display for the 1958 Ford F-Series trucks became the paradigm for the tens of millions of pickup trucks sold in the USA since.
1958 Styleside Ford F-Series pickup truck
The Flareside -- a name coined for 1957 -- was available in the same three bed lengths found on Styleside pickup trucks. A 1/2-ton F-100 could be had with a 6.5- or eight-foot-long bed. The 3/4-ton F-250 series also used eight-foot beds. One-ton F-350 pickups had nine-foot cargo boxes.
The 6.5-foot Flareside bed was 49 inches wide between the sidewalls. The eight- and nine-foot beds were 54 inches wide, enough so that small wheelhouses with 48.4 inches of floor space between them were required to accommodate the rear wheels.
Sidewalls of the long Flaresides were almost two inches taller than those on the short-bed model, too. Flareside beds still used wooden floors protected by metal skid strips, and they featured different tailgates than the Stylesides. A freestanding taillamp shaped in the silhouette of the Ford crest was mounted at the lower left of the cargo box; a matching right-hand lamp cost extra.
The 1957 F-Series' new cab featured lower, flatter, and wider styling that was in marked contrast to the "big-fendered" look of previous Ford trucks. Three-and-a-half inches lower and two inches wider than their predecessors, they featured a broad hood with a raised and ribbed section stamped into the middle for strengthening purposes.
The hood was now stretched fully across the fendertops, a design feature that would persist on Ford trucks well into the Eighties, and would be widely imitated by competing makes. The wider cab meant Ford could do away with external running boards, replacing them with steps integrated with the cab floor.
A line that started as the fendertop was continued straight back across the upper cowl, doors, and cab back panel in an effort to get away from a "too-flat" look. Another shorter horizontal line was pressed into the hood sides, and a large lip flared out over the front wheel opening. (This latter feature was reprised over the rear wheels of panel trucks and Styleside pickups.)
Where the 1956 Ford trucks featured a wraparound windshield with a vertical A-pillar, the 1957s sported a forward-leaning roof post that played off a styling fad seen on many passenger cars of the day. A stout, slotted grille bar ran between the square-topped headlamp bezels mounted at the far ends of the fenders. Round parking lights sat just below the headlights.
Pickups weren't the only F-Series light-duty models available in 1957. Each series listed platform and stake-bed variants, plus cowl-and-chassis, cowl/windshield-and-chassis, and full cab-and-chassis units. The last three types were intended for commercial customers who then had specialized aftermarket bodies mounted on the chassis.
Bed lengths for platforms and stakes were 6.5 feet in the F-100 series, 7.5 feet for F-250s, and nine feet on F-350s. The F-100 series also contained a panel truck. The panel featured a "split-level" roof over the cargo area, which helped open up 158 cubic feet of cargo space, 2.2 more cubic feet than in the previous panel body.
The panel had a floor of chemically treated plywood and vertical rear doors that could be propped open at half- or fully open positions. A single taillight mounted in the left cargo door was standard, but when dual taillights were ordered, the lamps were mounted at the corners of the body just above the midbody character line.
All F-100 styles were set on a 110-inch wheelbase, but the pickups and the full chassis-cab in the 1/2-ton series were also offered on a 118-inch wheelbase. The latter dimension served the F-250 line as well. Wheelbase for F-350 models was 130 inches; they could be had with a choice of single- or dual-wheel rear axles except for the pickups, which came single wheel only.
Ford's light-duty F-Series trucks for 1957 featured a number of improvements under the skin, too. They included more-powerful engines, stronger frames and axles, revised rates for the front and rear leaf springs, suspended pedals, hydraulic clutch, improved brakes, "Hi-Dri" ventilation, and more.
The base engine was the 223-cid "Mileage Maker" six, rated at 139 bhp at 4,200 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,800-2,700 rpm. The optional engine was a 272-cid "Y-block" V-8 engine that developed 171 bhp at 4,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet at 2,100-2,600 revs, although the V-8 in dual-wheel-axle F-350s came in at 181 horsepower and two more pound-feet of torque.
The compression ratio for all light-duty engines was 8.3:1. A three-speed manual transmission was standard in F-100s and 250s, while F-350s came with a four-speed stickshift. Drive options included a medium-duty three-speed or the four-speed for 1/2- and 3/4-ton models, a heavy-duty three-speed available in the F-350, overdrive for F-100s, and Fordomatic automatic for all.
Learn more about the styling changes that made 1957-1960 Ford F-Series pickup trucks unique -- and trend-setting for years to come -- on the next page.
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