Truck Thursday – 1961 Ford F-100

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As I have mentioned in a previous post, cars were part of my life from the day I was born. What I failed to mention is that some of my earliest memories are of my grandpa’s trucks and tractors. Grandpa is a farmer in southwest Missouri, halfway between Conway and Morgan in southwest Laclede County ($10 if you know where that is). He lives in a cozy house on 80 acres, with a few dozen head of cattle right now. When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite places in the world – I could run through the woods, ride my bike, go exploring, run from the bull, and “help” grandpa with his chores. The truck featured here has been on the farm for many, many years, and has made many a run from the barn to the fields, feeding cattle, hauling hay, etc. Let’s take a look at some pictures I took a few years ago.

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F-100 Custom Cab

The F-100 Custom Cab was more than a badge; it was a statement. It told the world that you worked hard, but wanted to do it with a little style. From chrome trim to a rearview mirror to a rear bumper, this truck helped you on the job, but was nice enough to drive to town. This particular truck likely had the 223 c.i. I-6, appropriately named the Mileage Maker.

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Pay no attention to the cow pie in the corner.

I learned to drive a manual transmission with this truck. My brother and I fired this up one day (manual choke, btw), checked the tires, and rolled down the driveway to the road. I don’t know why a 3-speed column shift wasn’t more popular; it was just about perfect for this truck, and I only stalled it a few times on my first try!

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Looking back, it’s not a great shot, but I do love the color of this truck.

As far as I can tell, the truck was originally a single color, although the way the paint has faded and peeled, it looks like a two-tone, with white on top. Either way, this was a great-looking truck in its day.

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This truck came with the large back glass and optional rear bumper.

It’s hard for me to imagine a time when bumpers were optional, but the original buyer of this truck opted for a rear bumper. I believe the Custom Cab option also came with the large rear window. Very stylish, especially with the trim around it.

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The unibody box had greater volume than standard F-100’s.

One of Ford’s selling points for the unibody trucks was the bigger bed. I have read that the bed on a unibody had a 7% greater volume than the standard pickup, since the gap between cab and bed was filled in. I can’t find a source for this, though. Can anyone confirm that figure?

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It seems I was interested in the 5-lug wheels. I do love black steelies.

Can’t say much about this shot, except that the body is still in decent shape after 50 years, and I still love that color.

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Interior is in rough shape, but functional.

I really like the simple dash layout – big speedometer in the middle, oil pressure gauge on one side, and the volt meter on the other.

That’s about it for this post. I hope you like the pictures, and I hope you enjoyed some of my stories. The unibody trucks were ahead of their time, and were discontinued after 1963. However, I think it was a good idea, and one that we would see again in other guises. Grandpa’s truck had none of the chassis issues that some reported (like doors not opening when the truck was loaded, doors flying opening on the road, cracks in the body, etc.), but maybe you know of one that has. Let me know what you think of this truck.

22 Comments

  1. Wasn't there a thread about this a couple of years ago, or was it just a comment in a thread? I sure remember the story. And yes, I love the Unibodies – I get annoyed when I see one turned into a street rod.

    1. When I first came around here a few years ago, I posted one of these pictures in the comments. Is that what you're thinking about?

      1. That's probably it. It seems like there was a mention of trying to get it running again. I wouldn't have remembered except for the memories of my uncle's '62. A cousin of mine (that uncle's son) also owned a '65, the first year for Twin-I-Beam. It was a nice truck, that is until a tree landed on the roof.

  2. Also, my uncle had a '62 F-100, though not a Unibody. He'd been a Ford man since the 1930s, and the ones I remember were the '62 (six-banger and three-on-the-tree), a '73 (360 V8 with C6), and an '84 (302 with AOD).

  3. Air up the tires, gas her up, file the points and away we go! Those old trucks could sit for years and take right off.

  4. Man.
    I've been driving Ford trucks since I was 16 and this is the first I've heard of the F100 Unibody.

    1. Ford built them from 61-63. They were good trucks, but never as popular as the standard pickups. Also, some people had problems. with the chassis flexing under load, causing the door issues I mentioned in the last paragraph.

  5. My 64 (non-unibody) also has the 223 3-on-the-tree. At highway speed limits, which pretty much is at maximum RPMs, the engine noise actually drowns out the rattles.
    "As far as I can tell, the truck was originally a single color, although the way the paint has faded and peeled, it looks like a two-tone, with white on top. Either way, this was a great-looking truck in its day."
    It looks like it was originally white on top, light blue on the bottom, and then later painted in the current darker blue. Note the way the white is all on top of the body crease. The light blue is pretty visible in the fourth picture, where the dark paint peeled away just below the corner of the hood.

  6. Rear bumpers on US market pickups were still optional at least into the '80s. I remember print ads and TV commercials showing pickups with no rear bumpers. I think most of the time the trucks without the bumpers were being used to demonstrate how little one got from the competition compared to the truck being advertized. I definitely remember seeing C10s with no bumpers, so maybe it was Dodge that made bumpers standard first.

    1. Rear bumpers used to be a source of additional dealer revenue. The truck would arrive without a bumper, and for one price you would get a basic steel unit with the dealership's name stamped into the face of it. A little more got the chrome bumper without the step, or the painted step bumper. After that was the chrome step bumper, and then finally, the chrome "cowboy" (brightly polished to blind tailgaters with their own headlights) bumper. I was with someone who bought a new truck in '85, and the dealership was going to charge $300. He found a comparable bumper at a truck accessories store for $100; the salesman admitted their cost was less than that so threw one in at the same price.

  7. My first truck was a 65 F100 long bed, 3 on tree, 6 banger, and it was the best truck I've ever owned.
    However, can't find another like it to restore.
    Dang Longroof, I was going to use Fr. Nugent and claim the prize, but alas, dollar short, day late.
    But who was before Nugent??? Remember???
    horsefarmer

  8. If you do not lay a claim on that magnificent old family heirloom, and make it roadworthy once more, you will be making a huge mistake. Wonderful old truck!

  9. I drive a '65 F250 4×4. I don't think anything I do in life garners more respect from random dudes then driving that thing around. Great trucks, worth keeping around.

  10. I am a south African and are mad about usa vehichles and only fords I own a 1965 mustang 1949 Anglia (English) 1953 customline coupe 2005 ranger 4 liter v6 1982 f350 400 v8 4-wdrive and 1961 f250 .the last time lhd was aloud in our country was 2005.the parts for these veh are hard to come by.jou people are so privilege to even see this pictures that even if I had the money I would have import this kind of ford trucks and cars to keep for my children.i am privelige to still drive lhd veh because it was import before 2005.great fotos and I would have put it back on the road.im so jealos

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