The Ford F-Series, aka Ford Bonus-Built trucks, is a series of light and medium-duty trucks initially introduced in 1948 as Ford’s first post-war vehicle.
The Early Generations of the F-Series
The first-generation’s body type included chassis cab trucks, full-size pickup trucks, and commercial vehicles. Their nameplates ran from F1 through F8, based on their weight ratings.
The second generation had an upgraded engine, bigger dimensions, and a new chassis. The half-ton F1 was renamed F-100, while F2 and F3 were combined to become the ¾-ton F-250. The F4 is what you’d call the 1-ton F-350 now.
F-Series Enters Australia via the Grey Market
The second-generation 1955 F-Series arrived in the country via the grey market. Thanks to the likes of Harrison Motoring Group who imported, converted to RHD, and made these Ford trucks available to Australians.
Due to import restrictions at the time, this was the only route for Aussie buyers because the F-Series only became officially available for them in 1973.
Extensive Modifications Over the Generations
Over the years, the Ford F-Series has improved its variety, offering Class 3-to-5 Super Duty and Class 6-to-8 Super Duty trucks, all designed as a cross between Ford's pickup and medium-duty vehicles.
The production of the F-Series line-up entailed constant modifications on the exterior and interior designs all through the five generations before the Ford F-Series appeared in Ford Australia’s showrooms.
These modifications included engine upgrades, chassis updates, redesigned windows, new bed styles (StyleSide and FlareSide), and cab style options (standard and crew cab), which included a unibody that combined the cab to the bed in the fourth generation.
Some of the Ford F-Series trucks also got the four-wheel-drive layout, and the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) for the Ford F-Series kept increasing over the years.
1973-1979 (6th Generation) – Introduction of the Ford F-Series in Australia
The first Ford F-Series to be assembled and sold in Australia were the sixth-generation models, which Ford launched in 1973. They were marketed as the F-100, F-150, F-250, and F-350 models. They featured full double-wall bed construction, front brakes, bigger cabin dimensions, and increased the use of galvanized steel on the body.
Other exterior redesigns of the sixth generation included square headlights. Of course, let’s not overlook the stylish dent along the truck’s length on both sides that earned it the nickname Dentside Ford.
Also, Ford ditched the FE engine series in favour of the 335 and 385 series engines and introduced the Lariat and Ranger trim models.
In 1975, this generation introduced the F-150, which slotted between the F-100 and F-250, in compliance with emission control restrictions at the time. Ford also came out with the SuperCab extended-cab body in the same year.
Back in its homeland and Canada, the Ford F-Series became the best-selling truck in 1977, and it continues to be a highly favoured truck to this day.
The sixth-generation Ford F-Series trucks assembled in Australia came as right-hand drive trucks with locally-sourced engines. All models in the series had a base trim called Custom, while the F-100 had a higher-spec trim known as the XLT.
Initially, Ford F-Series trucks came with the US-sourced 240 and 300 CID straight-6 engines. Later, a 250 CID straight-6 (79 kW, 258 Nm) replaced the 240 CID engine, while a 302 CID Cleveland V8 (97 kW, 304 Nm) supplanted the 300 CID straight-6.
The Ford F-100 with the Cleveland V8 became the first 6th generation F-Series truck to come with an automatic transmission as an option. The large F-250 and the F-350, as well as the 6-cyl models, received 4-speed manual transmissions.
During this period, the choices included the 4x4 F-250 Canadian variant in 1975 fitted with the 300 CID straight-6 engine.
The engine options for the F-Series trucks during this time included the following.
- 1973 - 4.1L petrol, 3-speed auto
- 1974 and 1975 - 4.9L petrol 3-speed auto
- 1974, 1974, and 1975 - 4.9L petrol 4-speed auto
- 5.8L petrol 5-speed manual, maximum power of 162 kW and 429 Nm torque
- 4.1L petrol 4-speed manual, maximum power of 92 kW and torque of 288 Nm
The F-Series made engine upgrades to comply with Australian government regulations for emission reduction while also increasing engine power output. This series brought about the introduction of the crossflow head to the 250 CID straight-6 engine. In 1976 the F-100's Gross Vehicle Mass was increased from 2,586 kg to 2,770 kg. In 1977, a 4x4 F-100 was launched with Australian-built engines. The engine option for this period included the following:
F-100 maintained its engine option for standard base models but had a 4.9L petrol 4-speed manual for its 4x4 version in 1977. The 1975, F-100 retained the same engine features, such as the 4942cc capacity and V8 cylinder.
F-250 maintained its engine option, with 5766cc engine capacity, V8 cylinder, and a maximum power output of 162 kW and 429 Nm torque.
F-350 engine option was maintained, which had a 4089cc capacity, 6 cylinders, with a maximum power output of 92 kW and torque of 288 Nm.
During this time in the sixth generation, the 351 Cleveland V8 engine replaced the 302 Cleveland V8 engine for the F-250 and F-350 F-Series models. In Australia, the F-250 and the F-350 came with an optional automatic gearbox for the V8 engines.
The engine options for the sixth generation Australian F-Series at this period included:
- 5.8L petrol engine, 3-speed automatic, 4-speed manual, and 4-speed manual 4x4 drivetrain (1978)
- 5.8L petrol, 3-speed automatic, 4-speed manual 4x4, and 3-speed automatic 4x4 options
The engines had 5766cc capacity and V8 cylinders that produced 162 kW maximum power and 410 Nm torque and 429 Nm torque for the 4x4 driveline.
- 4.1L petrol engine, 3-speed automatic in 1979, which featured 4089cc, six cylinders with peak power of 92 kW and a torque of 288 Nm.
- 4.1L petrol engine, 4-speed auto with 4089cc capacity, six cylinders that produced a peak power of 92 kW and torque of 288 Nm.
1980-1986 (7th Generation)
The F-Series 7th generation debuted in 1979 and marked the first complete redesign since the fourth generation, coming out with a new chassis, a squared off body with less curved panels. It was also this generation that first used the blue oval emblem on the grille, replacing the bold FORD letters.
Ford Australia was one of only two facilities outside of North America that assembled the 7th generation.
The powertrains available for Australia were:
- 4.1L 240 CID, petrol I-6 Ford Truck Six, 86 kW / 305 Nm,
- 5.8L 351 CID, petrol V8 Ford Cleveland
1987-1991 (8th Generation)
This generation featured a more streamlined exterior, circular fenders, and other aerodynamic front-end assembly.
The F-Series 8th generation models include:
- F-150 – ½ ton
- F-250 – ¾ ton light duty
- F-350 – 1 ton Class 2 or 3 truck
- F-Super Duty – Class 4 truck
Buyers saw the last of the Flareside-style truck bed because all the new models featured Styleside beds. They also bade goodbye to the Aussie-built F-Series with this generation since Ford already started shutting down its factory operations in the country.
2001-2007 (10th & 11th Generations) - Imported Ford F-Series
Even with the closing of the Ford factory in 1994, F-Series enthusiasts could still buy their favourite truck from 2001-2007 from Ford Australia showrooms.
What happened was that US-spec F-Series trucks were converted to RHD in Brazil and exported to Australia. However, importation restrictions, unfavourable foreign exchange rates, and the added cost of RHD-conversion and import duties all conspired to end this program. It was simply not feasible.
Ford F-Series in Australia Today
So where do the new F-Series models that you see in Australia today come from?
The same way that the Ford F-Series came to Australia for the first time – through the grey market. Except that today, it’s so much easier, and both the production and market ends are now well established.
Conversion specialists, like the Performax International, have been producing Aussie-tuned, RHD-converted F-Series trucks for years now. It continues to whet the market demand for these high-performance American trucks, and hopefully, we’ll see the 14th generation soon.
The models available through Performax and its independent dealers are the top-level grade of Super Duty F-250, which comes with a 6.7L turbodiesel V8 (294 kW, 1084 Nm) paired with a 6-speed AT.
What makes this model sell like pancakes? A lot of reasons, but just to give you an idea, it can tow 5 times more than what the Toyota HiLux can. That means a massive 5-tonne towing capacity!
Is It the Same Grey Market Route for the Ford F-Series?
While this looks like the same route that F-Series took to arrive in the country decades ago, there’s one glaring difference.
The Federal Government has now granted Performax an approval to convert the F-Series to Australian standards and make it compliant with the road laws in all states and territories. This and Performax’s 5-year warranty make the Ford F-Series a great value proposition once again.
1. How many F-series generations are there?
The Ford F-Series truck has evolved through 14 generations (including the current), but not all these generations were released in Australia. We're awaiting the 14th generation to make its grand landing.
2. What does F stand for in F-series?
The F in this truck’s nameplate stands for Full-size truck.
3. Which model year is F-150 best?
The Ford F-150 was best in model years 1993-1998, 2001-2003, 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2018.
4. Which model year of F-150 is worst?
According to the US NHTSA, these models received the greatest number of complaints: 2002, 2010, 2011, 2004-2006, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2011.
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