1957-1960 Ford F-Series


Ford said its new generation of F-Series trucks had "Boldly Modern Design." There's no denying that they did look modern, and they were certainly bold -- particularly the 1957 Ford F-Series trucks.

While some elements of the new styling kept up with current -- but ultimately passing -- trends, other parts of it would prove to be lasting and influential innovations. In fact, one feature fundamentally altered pickup truck design for the entire industry, a change that persists 50 years later.

In 1957, for the first time, Ford pickup buyers were given a choice of two cargo-box styles. Prior to then, anybody who knew anything about pickup trucks knew this much: They came with a box just wide enough to fit between the rear wheels, which were covered by separate bolt-on fenders. The front half of nearly every pickup had little styling continuity with its all-business back half.

The 1955 Chevrolet Cameo and GMC Suburban began to change that. These 1/2-ton pickups, introduced with the "second-series" lineups released that spring, featured full-length sculptured rear fenders capped by neatly integrated taillamps. The idea was tempting enough to Dodge and Inter­national for them to add similar models in 1957.

How­ever, in all cases, the attractive fenders were attached to conventional cargo boxes, so there was no functional advantage to these trucks, despite the appearance of greater width. Plus, considering that they all came with deluxe appointments as standard equipment, they cost more than the base models. That did nothing to endear them to the farmers, tradesmen, and industries that bought most pickups back then primarily for business use.

Ford successfully addressed all of these issues with the Styleside. From the outside, it appeared to be in step with rivals' custom jobs, sporting a slab-sided cargo box as wide as the cab. A horizontal character line that was stamped into the cab sheetmetal was continued through the box side for a more unified look, front to back.

Simple circular taillight lenses were inset on either side of the tailgate, which had the word "Ford" embossed in it in tall capital letters. (The right-side lens actually was a reflector unless dual taillights were ordered.)

1957 Ford F-Series Styleside pickup truck
1957 Ford F-Series Styleside pickup truck.
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It was inside the box, however, where the Style­side broke new ground. Its cargo bed stretched out as much as 73 inches between the sidewalls, narrowing only in the middle -- to 49 inches -- to make room for internal wheelhouses.

In most models, this created about eight percent more cubic feet of cargo space compared to a con­ventional Flareside pickup, but between short-wheelbase 1/2-tons, the Style­side's advantage was a whopping 24 percent! Stylesides featured welded all-steel construction in their floors, sides, box-style corner posts, and tailgates.

Unlike the other makes whose "beauty" pickups were exclusively deluxe 1/2-tons, Stylesides were available plain or fancy, and in all three light-duty ratings from 1/2 to one ton. Furthermore, they cost the same as comparable Flaresides (though a $16 premium was attached to Style­sides by 1959). That kind of value found a ready audience.

In 1957, Ford pickup buyers preferred the Styleside models to Flaresides by an almost 5-to-1 margin, and Stylesides outsold the Chevy Cameo by 43-to-1. Such success was impossible to ignore.

What innovations did 1958 have in store for the Ford F-Series trucks? Continue to the next page to find out.

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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
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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Changes to the 1957-1960 Ford F-Series

After the initial excitement- (and envy-) inducing introduction of the Styleside bed for Ford F-Series trucks, designers continued to make some changes to the 1957-1960 Ford F-Series -- both inside and out.

1957's roomier F-Series trucks were once again offered in standard and Cus­tom Cab forms. The Custom Cab (avail­able on any closed-cab model) or Cus­tom Panel option cost an extra $68.30.

For that, the buyer received color-keyed tri-tone woven-plastic-and-vinyl upholstery over foam seat cushions; perforated "Therma­coustic" headliner material; bright instrument panel trim; extra sound-deadening insulation; fiberglass insulation behind the dashboard; a left-door armrest; dual sun visors; an illuminated cigar lighter; matching door locks; a bright-metal grille, headlight-shell, parking-lamp, windshield, and backlight trim; and "Custom Cab" script on the doors.

Panel trucks with the Custom package also featured a fully insulated and lined cargo compartment.

An inside look at the Style Tone paint option for 1958 Ford F-Series trucks
Here's an inside look at the Style Tone paint option
for 1958 Ford F-Series trucks.

Another popular option for Styleside pickups was "Style Tone" two-tone paint. A $20 feature (it cost more than twice as much on a panel truck), it involved painting a truck with a primary color plus Corinthian White. The primary color was painted below the character line along the sides of the truck, on the tailgate, inside the cargo bed, on the roof panel, and around the back window.

White paint was applied to the hood, body above the character line, upper door area, the area surrounding the windshield, the band on the forward area of the roof panel, and on the side of the roof panel above the drip molding. When combined with the Custom Cab group, it made for a very attractive pickup.

To recoup some of the cost of bringing new trucks to market, Ford raised base prices. The 1957 charges ranged from $185 to $225 more than what it asked for similar 1956 models. In the F-100 through -350 lines, production of the 1957s declined by about 107,100 units.

However, the 1956 Ford trucks enjoyed a very long model year; 1957 models weren't introduced until February 1. Still, the light-duties did well enough to help Ford retain second place in overall truck sales behind Chevrolet.

For 1958, appearance changes were slight. The dual headlights and bar grille of 1957 were replaced by quad headlights and an eggcrate grille texture that filled up much of the space between the hood and lower valance panel. Series badges on the hood sides were redesigned, too.

All 1958 F-100 panels got the rear-corner taillight lenses, but they were functional only on those ordered with the Custom Cab package. A panel-door-mounted unit still served base-trim models. Cus­tom Cab upholstery now came only in a brown-and-white houndstooth pattern.

While the standard six-cylinder engine returned unchanged, the optional engine at the start of the 1958 model year was the 181-bhp version of the 272-cid V-8. Halfway through the year, this engine was replaced by the 292-cid V-8 rated at 186 bhp at 4,000 rpm. Although not listed in specifications at the time, some 312-cid V-8s found their way into these trucks to cover short supplies of 292s.

F-Series sales slumped for 1958. The retreat came to more than 12,000 vehicles in the light-duty lines. Whatever disappointment Ford's truck-marketing people might have felt about that had to be tempered somewhat by the fact that 1958 was a recession year and total sales were down for practically all manufacturers.

Fresh new styling and a rebounding economy meant good news for the Ford F-Series in 1959. Get details on the next page.

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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.

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1960 Ford F-Series

Based on their continued popularity, production of F-Series light-duty pickup trucks shot up to near the 205,000 mark for 1959 and would improve by almost 21,500 units in 1960. This hike in 1960 Ford F-Series production came amid many small technical improvements, but few exterior changes.

The 1960 Ford F-Series models featured a new grille design that incorporated a barbell-like up­per portion that linked the more prom­inent headlight bezels. Below this, down to the bumper, was an area of rectangles.

The hood was made to look different, too. The vent area of the 1959s was replaced by a pair of narrow slots that flanked the Ford truck emblem, which returned to the front. A raised strip ran down the center of the hood. Series designators on the hood sides were done in an arrow motif.

1960 Ford F-Series pickup truck interior
1960 Ford F-Series
pickup truck interior

Although they didn't look much different on the outside, the 1960 models bore a number of inner improvements that made them better than the models they replaced.

These included changes in spring rates, rubber door seals, the exhaust system, and electrical wiring. New lining materials helped to increase brake efficiency, and a larger heater added more warmth to the cab.

Ford engineers also improved the distributors and generators on truck engines for better performance. The six-cylinder engine was treated to a higher-capacity oil pump and a more efficient fuel pump.

To make the optional 292-cid V-8 more economical, engineers redesigned the combustion chambers and reduced the size of the intake valves. The carburetor and fuel pump were also reworked to reduce gasoline consumption. These changes lowered the V-8's horsepower rating from 186 to 185.

Four-wheel-drive availability was extended to F-250 stake- and platform-bed models. The panel truck, long a staple of the Ford 1/2-ton line, was offered for the last time in the United States in 1960.

The improvement in sales put a successful cap on this era of Ford trucks. The look that had been "boldly modern" when introduced in 1957 was passing from the scene -- although the styling would persist in some markets outside the United States. When the 1961 model year rolled around, Ford's light-duty F-Series trucks would be new from the ground up.

Get a detailed look at the F-Series trucks produced during this unique era in Ford history when you check the specs on the next page.

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1957-1960 Ford F-Series Specifications

The Ford F-Series pickup trucks produced between 1957 and 1960 were different than what had come before, and although they were produced for only a few years before being redesigned again, they had a lasting impact on pickup truck styling and design for years to come.

1960 Ford F-Series pickup truck
1960 Ford F-Series pickup truck

Get the details on the options these models included and the numbers that were produced with the 1957-1960 Ford F-Series specifications charts that follow.

1957 Light-Duty F-Series Options and Prices

OptionPrice
air cleaner, heavy duty
$6.00
armrest, left door
$3.60
battery, 70 amp/hour
$7.00
bumper, rear, pickups
$20.40
bumpers, chrome-plated, pickups
$44.50
bumpers, chrome-plated, panel delivery
$23.90
clutch, 11-inch, F-100, F-250
$5.10
Custom Cab equipment
$68.30
engine, V-8
$105.00
Extra Cooling Package, F-350 w/ dual-wheel axle
$4.00
glass, tinted
$20.00
heater, fresh-air
$62.20
heater, recirculating
$40.40
oil filter, six-cylinder engine
$8.60
paint, two-tone, Styleside pickup
$20.00
paint, two-tone, Custom panel delivery
$44.30
radiator, extra-cooling
$15.00
radio, six-tube
$55.00
Safety Package A equipment
$18.20
seat, auxiliary, panel delivery
$38.00
spare tire carrier, sidemount, F-100, F-250
$13.10
spare tire carrier, sidemount F-350
$9.00
springs, two-stage rear, heavy duty, F-100, F-250
$6.60
taillights, dual, panel delivery
$16.00
transmission, automatic
$209.40
transmission, four-speed manual, F-100 (110-inch wb)
$70.00
transmission, four-speed manual, F-100 (118-inch wb), F-250
$80.00
transmission, three-speed manual, heavy duty, F-350
$20.00
transmission, three-speed manual, medium duty, F-100 (110-inch wb)
$65.00
transmission, three-speed manual, medium duty, F-100 (118-inch wb), F-250
$70.00
transmission, three-speed manual, overdrive, F-100
$100.70
turn signals, integral
$23.50
turn signals, fender mounted
$27.80
windshield washers
$11.80
window, rear wraparound
$39.90
windshield wipers, electric
$12.00

1957 Ford F-100 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 97
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 200
cab-and-chassis 60,86*
stake 2,69**
Flareside pickup (110-in. wb)
13,122
Styleside pickup (110-in. wb) 64,050
Flareside pickup (118-in. wb) 2,319
Styleside pickup (118-in. wb) 20,114
panel, standard
6,654
panel, Custom
711

1957 Ford F-250 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 188
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 43
cab-and-chassis 3,017
stake 1,119**
Flareside pickup
4,321
Styleside pickup
10,936

1957 Ford F-350 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 688
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 207
cab-and-chassis 7,339
stake 2,746
platform 1,370
Flareside pickup
--
Styleside pickup
18,69***
1957 Ford F-Series Total
147,465

1958 Ford F-100 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 84
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 30
cab-and-chassis 6,084*
stake 198
Flareside pickup (110-in. wb)
11,818
Styleside pickup (110-in. wb) 56,454
Flareside pickup (118-in. wb) 1,833
Styleside pickup (118-in. wb) 20,928
panel, standard
6,560
panel, Custom
592

1958 Ford F-250 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 176
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 55
cab-and-chassis 2,637
stake 826
Flareside pickup
3,155
Styleside pickup
10,555

1958 Ford F-350 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 598
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 60
cab-and-chassis 7,150
stake 2,548
Flareside pickup
994
Styleside pickup
1,974
1958 Ford F-Series Total
135,309

1959 Ford F-100 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 173
cowl/windshield-and-chassis
4
cab-and-chassis 8,942*
stake 301
Flareside pickup
26,616*
Styleside pickup
112,082*
panel, standard
7,963
panel, Custom
982

1959 Ford F-250 Production

Style
Number built
cowl-and-chassis 195
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 139
cab-and-chassis 4,016
stake 1,093
Flareside pickup
4,827
Styleside pickup
16,491

1959 Ford F-350 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 749
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 150
cab-and-chassis 12,896
stake 3,916
Flareside pickup
1,122
Styleside pickup
2,259
1959 Ford F-Series Total
204,916^

1960 Ford F-100 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 121
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 24
cab-and-chassis 17,601*
stake 245
Flareside pickup
28,347*
Styleside pickup
118,209*
panel, standard
8,543
panel, Custom
947

1960 Ford F-250 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 125
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 21
cab-and-chassis 5,222
stake 1,115
Flareside pickup
7,184
Styleside pickup
17,324

1960 Ford F-350 Production

StyleNumber built
cowl-and-chassis 945
cowl/windshield-and-chassis 175
cab-and-chassis 12,761
stake 4,129
Flareside pickup
1,213
Styleside pickup
2,140
1960 Ford F-Series Total
226,391^^

*Combined production of 110- and 118-inch-wheelbase units. **May include platform-bed models. ***May include Flareside models. ^Includes an unknown number of 118-inch-wheelbase F-100 and F-250 pickups and chassis-cabs with four-wheel drive. ^^Includes 118-inch-wheelbase F-100 and F-250 models with four-wheel drive in the following quantities: F-100 chassis-cab, 442; F-100 Flareside pickup, 964; F-100 Styleside pickup, 4,334; F-250 chassis-cab, 411; F-250 stake/platform, 98; F-250 Styleside pickup, 1,806. Source: Ford Motor Company.

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