Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1957-1960 Ford F-Series


1959 Ford F-Series

After a recession-induced sales slump in 1958, demand for the Ford F-Series rebounded vigorously in 1959, a year in which Ford's marketing group came up with a clever play on words for its promotional campaign. Truck customers were urged to "Go Ford-ward" for savings, styling, economy, etc.

Stylists made noticeable changes to make the 1959 Ford F-Series pickup trucks look fresher. The most significant was a restyled hood. While the ribs of 1957-1958 trucks were eliminated, a raised panel remained, framed by parallel character lines that ran down the front of the hood to encompass a front vent panel with a mesh background.

1959 Ford F-Series pickup truck
1959 Ford F-Series pickup truck

On this background were individual block letters that spelled out Ford. The leading edge of the hood dipped in the center, paralleling the countours of the grille. The Ford truck gear-and-lightning-bolt shield logo, formerly at the center of the hood, was now integrated into ID badges on the sides.

The 1958 grille contour was retained, but three thick horizontal bars replaced the eggcrate surface between the headlamps. Reshaped louvers were punched into the restyled lower panel located behind the front bumper. The bumper itself was redesigned and raised, which Ford pointed out improved approach angles to steep ramps and grades. Parking lamps were now rectangular in shape.

Custom Cab features were modified again for a more upscale look. Two-tone paint was added to instrument panels and interior door surfaces. The package also added a white steering wheel with a chrome horn ring (in place of the black wheel with horn button found on standard models). A more colorful "candy-stripe" nylon fabric was used on the seat covers.

The biggest news for F-Series light-duty trucks in 1959 concerned the addition of Ford-built four-wheel-drive pickups and chassis-cabs in the F-100 and F-250 lines. Prior to 1959, if a customer wanted four-wheel drive on a Ford truck, he had to go to an outside contractor, such as Marmon-Herrington, which had been equipping Fords with its famous "All-Wheel-Drive" conversions since 1935.

With a growing interest in four-wheel-drive trucks, all of Ford's major competitors started offering factory-built 434s in the late 1950s, so it had to follow suit.

Ford's four-wheelers used a two-speed transfer case with a direct-drive high range for both front and rear axles, and a low range for the front axle. The transfer case also featured two power-takeoff openings. The shifter lever included four range positions marked 4L (four-wheel low), N (neutral), 2H (two-wheel high), and 4H (four-wheel high).

A driver could shift from two-wheel to four-wheel direct drive in the high positions without having to come to a stop or use the clutch. Tough carden universal joints were used on the ends of the front axle to provide an even flow of power to both front wheels under all driving situations.

Ford pushed fuel economy this year in some of its print advertising for six-cylinder-powered F-100 pickups. They were said to produce economy numbers that were 25 percent better than competitors' similar trucks. Ford cited an "Economy Showdown USA" test program conducted by an independent testing laboratory and made the report available to prospective customers.

F-250s and F-350s ordered with automatic transmission got a new heavy-duty three-speed Cruise-O-Matic unit. The lighter-duty Fordomatic was retained for use in F-100 trucks.

Learn what 1960's Ford F-Series trucks had to offer on the next page.

For more information on all kinds of cars: