Ford pickups have been the top selling full size truck for years, starting in the late 1970s. Why? Mass appeal. Just like the Chevrolet pickups, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Dodge/Ram pickups, they offer variety. Plain or fancy, two- or four-wheel drive, and more recently, two- or four door, you can, much like the original Ford Mustang, equip them as basic or as loaded as you please.
For 1980, all F-Series pickups were redesigned and very modern-looking, considering the Dodge D-Series dated to ’72 (albeit with a couple of refreshes) and the Chevy/GMC pickups were last redesigned in 1973, although a more square-rigged facelift was only a year away for the GM trucks.
Today’s flossier pickups are not a new idea, as these F150s could be loaded up with all sorts of stuff. Top of the line was the Ranger Lariat, with aluminum alloy wheels, two-tone paint, lots of extra chrome, and plush seating inside, along with ample woodgrain trim.
The difference between 1980 F150s and the current 2019s arriving at Ford dealerships as we speak was you didn’t need a step built in to the tailgate to get into the bed and you could reach over the side to place items into it without a boost, or steps built into the rear bumper, or a power tailgate (seriously?), or a retractable handle to heave yourself up. But I digress.
Perhaps the biggest change was inside, where a much more car-like instrument panel was prominent. In flossier Ranger Lariat models, it was awfully nice for a pickup, almost LTD-like. Remember, at this time, most trucks were still used as trucks, not as daily drivers or commuters.
F150s came standard with the 300 CID (4.9L) straight six, but the usual range of V8s were available. The Twin I-Beam front suspension was still in place, and would remain through 1996 on F150s.
F150 pickups were (and still are) highly customizable, much like the original 1965 Mustang. You could get it as plain or as fancy as you wanted. Regular cab, SuperCab, single- or two-tone, six- or eight-cylinder power, single or dual rear wheels (as an F350, ’80 was the first year for them and they called them ‘six-wheelers’. not duallys), power everything – it was all available.
1980-81 F150s could be identified by their unadorned eggcrate grille and chrome F-O-R-D lettering on the leading edge of the hood, as seen on the ’80 two tone gold and brown Lariat, spotted at one of the annual Maple City Cruise Nights in Monmouth a few years ago. It was essentially in showroom condition. A real rarity, especially in the top trim level.
The more basic silver pickup, seen at a small used car lot in West Davenport in 2012 or so, is at least an ’82, when the blue oval Ford logo was reintroduced on most every grille in the Ford lineup, from F150 to Escort to LTD.
While the silver truck is rather basic, it is spruced up somewhat with a sport stripe, aluminum running boards, and a red interior. It is remarkably rust-free and clean, considering its age.
As long as the tin worm is kept at bay, this F150 would be a great work truck for somebody. Or just a fun daily driver or summer cruiser for those who don’t subscribe to the Broughamed-out modern pickup. A little worn, a little rusty, a little faded, but with a lot of life yet left in it!
With only minor refinements, the ’80 redesign lasted through 1986. In 1987 it was given a new nose and revised interior, though visually it was much the same. But work horse or show horse, they sold, they worked, and they took their owners out on a night on the town, serving faithfully, no matter how loaded or spartan.