Ford Celebrates 100 Years of Trucks

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6425 II

By Aaron Bragman

Ford Motor Co. is celebrating the 100th birthday of its truck efforts, citing July 27, 1917, as the first time a Ford truck rolled out of the factory at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Highland Park, Mich., a Detroit neighborhood. That first truck was what we today would call a cab-chassis model, based on the popular Model T.

Back in the day, trucks were generally made by coachbuilders that modified car platforms by stretching them and adding unique bodywork. Henry Ford figured that Ford could do it better, making a dedicated chassis from the Model T that was stronger and beefier called the TT. Those rolling, functional chassis would then go to coachbuilders that would supply a body — Ford didn't offer its own body on the chassis until 1924.

Ford marked the milestone by inviting the media to its world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., to take some hot laps of the parking lot in a 1921 TT driven by a volunteer from Ford's Piquette plant, now a dedicated museum and event space. The '21 TT is mechanically identical to the original '17 TT, with a heavier duty frame and a load capacity of 1 ton. Top speed was limited to just 25 mph, but trust me: After getting a ride around the parking lot in the minuscule cabin that was built by an upfitter in Owosso, Mich., you wouldn't want to be going even that fast.

Henry Ford envisioned these trucks to go to rural areas, assisting farmers and laborers alongside the Fordson tractors that the company also produced. The first year of production in 1917, Ford sold just 209 units at a cost of $600 each — by 1928, however, Ford had sold a total of 1.3 million TT trucks before replacing it with the Model AA.

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6429 II

While Ford took a hiatus in producing consumer trucks during World War II when it needed to make war materiel, it returned to the market in 1947 with the red truck seen here and the birth of the F-Series. This truck is a 1950 F-1 model, and it's really the start of the true Ford pickup phenomenon. The one here is a half-ton model, with the F-2 through F-4 comprising the traditional pickup chassis with increasingly capable load limits. F-5 and above were more commercial vehicles, featuring cab-over chassis.

This one I did get to take a spin in — through the Ford headquarters parking lot, at least. Climb into the spartan cab and you'll see just what extraordinary changes have taken place in pickup trucks over the last 67 years: There's no sound deadening insulation. No adjustable seat. No automatic transmission, no power steering, no power windows or locks. There is a radio, room for two and an upgraded heater unit, as well. This model had both driver and optional passenger-side windshield wipers, so it was at least a little fancy. Power came from a 239-cubic-inch (3.9-liter) flathead V-8 engine, mated to a three-speed manual transmission that has no 1st-gear synchromesh — meaning you need to come to a dead stop to put it in 1st or Reverse or you're gonna grind 'em. And the MSRP when new? Just a little more than $1,100.

Ford just acquired this F-1 and plans to use it in promotional events around the country as it launches the 2018 F-Series later this summer. Look for more of it here soon; we hope to get a longer test drive and some more history of this iconic work vehicle. photos by Aaron Bragman


Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6431 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6432 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6440 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6437 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6428 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6426 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6443 II

Ford 100 Birthday TT & F-1 IMG_6427 II



And 100 years later they still can't build a good looking truck.

And 100 years later they still build a good looking truck.

I wonder if this burns as good as the new trucks?

Awesome milestone, being number 1 and 100 years of excellence, nice job Ford!

I guess I will need to defend GM even more now.

that black truck might be a spy shot of the next Ford Ranger

I read that Henry Ford was the one to coin the term "pickup".


I like the original '21! The box is very functional and longer than many of today's boxes. I found this for dimensions:

the '25 and the Improved Car '26 and later '26-'27 beds would be approx the same box dimensions, 56" long, 45 3/4" wide, 13" deep.

I'm guessing they didn't have 4'x8' sheets of wood, sheetrock back then.

No big front end either. Quite compact. Not sure when we were sold on "big front ends" are cool. Maybe when the V8's came around. I bet long front end perception equated to more luxurious, ie, expensive, and has stuck to this day. Big 3 need to get back to the roots of what a truck is. :-)

They been building junk trucks for 100 years? They sure fooled a lot of dumb over them 100 years HAHAHA!

Maybe ford should fix the problems they have before celebrating 100 years of garbage.
This one is going to cost them.

They been building junk trucks for 100 years? They sure fooled a lot of dumb over them 100 years HAHAHA!

Posted by: johnny doe | Jul 28, 2017 4:25:06 PM

@johnny dumb dumb; wrong, you're part of the minority idiots that support shaky GOVT motor trucks...HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

For the record, Ford was not part of the top 10 list of worst fuel economy-variance performers...

At least they could make a good looking truck back then. The red one looks like a Dodge.

100 years of polluting the landscape with all their truck junk. Fixed Or Repaired Daily AKA The Fecal Matter Cumpany has such a nice ring to it wouldn't you agree Fecal female fans?

Nothing but moronic fanboys on this site! Particularly Johnny doe boy. Time for to disable comments.

When I was working near Seattle early this year I came close to buying a Model T Coupe. It looked really nice.

I didn't know enough about the vehicle to be willing to part with the 20k asking price.

If anyone hadn't noticed, the first two pickup are real working vehicles, not some pimped up daily driving hairdresser chariot.

You can see how the US has stylised and are trying to create some nostalgic view, a false inner sense when driving one of these new family car alternatives.

This is good for Ford, but are we projecting the truth?

What is a pickup and what should a pickup be?

Should it be what 75% are used for? Hauling air and towing less?

Oshkosh Truck has been making trucks longer, actually 4wd trucks longer!

I do know even Benz were making trucks in the 19th Century. An now they are coming up with the X Class.

Don't worry it is not a Toyota challenger.

Only see 1 blue egg, on the building

At least the Tin Lizzie wasn't actually made of an inferior metal. Heinrich Ford would have declared it verboten.


100 years, 0 bankruptcies, best selling truck in the US the 40 years in a row, On the top 10 list of best selling vehicles in the world of all time, the only highspeed off road truck from the factory, NOBODY else can claim any of those FACTS.

I wonder if that is the actual truck used to transport the goons Ford hired to shoot his own workers when they wanted to be treated humanely.

Why would they use a F1 and not the F100, the most beautiful truck ever made?

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