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.
Back when Lariat was king of the hill…nice article!
Nice choice of vehicles for an article. I wonder how many 2018 SuperCrew Platinum 4×4 F-150s will be shown at car shows in 38 years? Truck survival rates used to be pretty low because they were actually work trucks and worked to death, but now so many are more luxurious than any Lincoln Town Car from 1980, and hence are likely to lead a more sedate and refined life. On the other hand, they have gotten to big and complicated, they may not survive as long as a 2nd or 3rd vehicle for taking lawn waste to the dump, etc., and if something breaks are going to be a lot less DIY friendly for cheap repairs.
The high end trucks only stay in their first owners’ hands long enough to take advantage of the Section 179 tax deduction for depreciation. Then they spend time in the hands of people who either want to pose as wealthy business owners, are kitted out as brodozers, or are actually put to work. Eventually, the survivors are almost all put to work. Are the fancy Detroit trucks holding up? There’s already a giant vacuum that should be filled with six to twelve year old trucks.
Back when trucks were TRUCKS – for better and for worse. Better, in that they focused on utility – not faux utility, with the longest frame, the highest cab, the loudest exhaust that can be gotten away with. Not a 28-foot truck with a five-foot bed, that requires a lift to reach into. Not a diesel dooley without a scratch in the bed – aside from the holes cut for twin stacks.
No, these were work vehicles. And raised on work vehicles – my old man drove a SJ Wagoneer; see-dans were for girlies – I always related. I didn’t need bulk or size or the biggest V8; but I always appreciated spartan trim and the easy-care of rubber floor linings.
That 300 cid six, may have been a huge weight, but it was bulletproof. The likes of such, we’ll not again see…
That 300CID 6 was sweet. My uncle had one with a 5-speed overdrive manual, and it had torque for days.
The bare bones truck is the one I can readily identify as Ford truck, as they were around when I grew up. Our XLT and Lariat didn’t have as much gingerbread as the truck above.
Another thing I remember about these is that it seems that the early ones used 9″ diffs moving into the 8.8″ diffs when the logo moved to the grille.
The other day I was at the gas station and a mid 80s Ford pickup pulled up next to me. I realized that the truck was actually a little bit shorter than I am (I’m 5’10”). Why oh why can’t we buy normal sized full sized pickups today? I mean, let the doofi of the world have their giant ridiculous bro-dozers, fine, but can’t we have an “old fart” option that gives you a single cab, eight foot bed, and deletes all the stupid lift?
Ah, memories. My Mom’s first daily driver was a two tone, brown-on-umber 1980 F150 XL with the carb’d 302 2WD. I always thought it was neat, because I got to sit up high, in the front and stand on the seat with my hands on the dash to see out.
It was a very basic truck–the only three options options were 3-speed automatic, A/C, and Cruise, and the cruise stopped working in about 1986. When it rained hard enough, it would leak into the passenger floorboard.
We ended-up selling it to mom’s baby brother and he drove it for another 20 years. The thing just wouldn’t break in any fundamental way.
I have a 1990 Chevy work truck C1500 that does everything those F-150s do, and it rides a lot nicer while doing it. Just sayin’…