Arriving in the 1997 Ford trucks lineup was a completely redesigned full-size truck that featured the most radical changes yet seen from one generation of Ford pickups to the next. Introduced early in the 1996 calendar year, only certain models of the new F-Series trucks were offered at first, so some versions of the 1996-style trucks continued to be sold alongside them.
Among others, these included all the heavy-duty pickups (Ford F-250 HD and F-350), which wouldn't be redesigned until the 1999 model year. Among the Ford F-Series' many early accolades was the coveted Truck of the Year award from Motor Trend magazine.
This year also marked the end of the full-size two-door Ford Bronco SUV after a 30-year run. In its place came the even larger four-door Expedition, which was based on the new-for-1997 F-Series trucks, and offered more interior room and more options than Bronco ever did.
Added to the Ford Explorer's powertrain roster for 1997 was a 205-horsepower 4.0-liter overhead-cam V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. Still offered was the previous 160-hp 4.0-liter overhead-valve V-6 -- now also mated to the new five-speed automatic -- plus the 210-hp 5.0-liter overhead-valve V-8 with four-speed automatic. Starting in 1996, Ford's sister division, Mercury, began selling a near clone of the Explorer as the Mountaineer.
In its most radical change since 1980, the F-Series was redesigned for 1997. At first offered only in F-150 form -- and even then with a limited lineup -- it arrived early in the 1996 calendar year and was sold alongside the 1996 models. Both Flareside (shown here) and Styleside beds were available.
Early production focused on SuperCab (extended cab) versions, which featured a rear-hinged back door on the passenger side. These were sometimes called "half doors," as they were smaller than conventional ones. Also, they hinged at the rear and could only be opened after the corresponding front door was opened.
As production ramped up, regular-cab versions of the Ford F-150 truck became more plentiful. Grilles came in either body color (as shown here) or chrome, depending on trim level. Power came from a trio of new engines: a 4.2-liter overhead-valve V-6, and overhead cam V-8s of 4.6 and 5.4 liters. All produced more horsepower than the larger engines they replaced.
Ford didn't waste any time entering the sleek new F-150 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
The AeroMax 9500 had become Ford's top-of-the-line truck when introduced for 1996, and this Ford truck changed little for 1997. Its aerodynamic front end incorporated flush-mounted wraparound headlights and vertical "nostrils" flanking the upper half of the grille.
A major anniversary and an electric-powered vehicle were among Ford's truck highlights for 1998. Continue to the next page for more details.
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