Ford F-Series 1953-1956

1956 Ford F100 pickup truck

The first restyling of Ford's popular F-series truck included an expanded cab, stylish new grille, and longer hood that flowed into the front fenders. Changes from the first F-series Pickup to the second generation went beyond a face lift. Ford expanded the truck's wheelbase, with longer front and rear leaf springs fitted to improve ride quality while still maintaining hauling ability. The front suspension was set back to allow a tighter turning radius. A new cargo bed, measuring 6 1/2 feet by 20 inches, would be used all the way up into the eighties.

Ford Econoline parts

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Cab improvements on the 1953 Ford F-series included a wider, more comfortable seat, sound deadener in the doors, and a large, one-piece curved windshield. The truck's rear glass was also enlarged. Inside, a redesigned instrument cluster was easier to read. Dash switches were also relocated, bringing them within easier reach.

1953 Ford F100

Ford F100 pickup

Starting in 1953, F-series trucks added "00" to the designations, thus the F-1 became the F-100. Engine choices were the same as last years: buyers could choose either the OHV 215ci six-cylinder or the 239ci flathead V-8. Eight-cylinder trucks were adorned with a chrome V-8 emblem in the center of the grille, while six-cylinder trucks had a chrome three-pointed star.

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Although most early Ford F100's left the factory with a column-shifted, all-synchromesh three-speed transmission, a three-speed manual with overdrive and a four-speed manual with low first gear were also available. Also offered was the "Ford-O-Matic" option, the first time in history a Ford truck was available with an automatic transmission.

To commemorate Ford's Golden Anniversary, all 1953 models had "50th Anniversary 1903-1953" spelled out in small letters around the circumference of the steering wheel horn button. Sales for the 1953 F100 was 116,437.

1954 Ford F100

Updates for 1954 included a redesigned grille, new exterior paint colors, and minor trim changes. Aside from the standard 215-cid straight six, a higher-compression, 115-horsepower 223ci six-cylinder was offered at extra-cost. But the biggest news was the availability of Ford's overhead-valve V-8.

Ford Y-block engine cutaway

After 22 years in production, Ford's venerable flathead V-8 was gone. In its place was a new OHV V-8, already in use in passenger cars. The Y-Block displaced the same 239 cubic-inches as the flathead by way of its 3.50" bore by 3.10" stroke. Power output was 130-horsepower, which was an increase of 15% over the flathead's 106-horsepower. Production total for the second-year, second-generation F-series Ford pickups was 101,202.

Although superior to the flathead in all areas, the early Ford Y-block's weak spot was lack of oil to the rocker shafts. This was due to the path the engine oil traveled: from the pump it went to the crankshaft bearings first, then to the camshaft bearings, then to the rocker shafts. By installing a remote copper line from the oil pressure port on the outside of the engine up to the rocker shafts, the situation was remedied.

1955 Ford F100

Highlights for Ford Motor Company this year included a redesigned car line and the introduction of their new personal-luxury car, the Thunderbird. 1955 saw an industry-wide switch to tubeless tires.

As for trucks, changes were minor, most notably a revised grille and new exterior trim pieces. Power brakes became optional, as did a new custom cab truck option, featuring chrome "Custom Cab" door emblems. Engine combinations remained the same as the previous year. Although Ford truck sales were the highest since 1929, they were still second in sales behind rival Chevrolet.

1956 Ford F100

In an effort to match the sales of the new Chevy Task Force Pickups that had debuted last year, Ford's F-Series trucks were revamped for the 1956 model year. Along with a new grille, the most noticeable change was the "Full Wrap" windshield, which extended over to the door posts, increasing the field of vision. A "Full Wrap" window was also available for the rear window, and today is one of the most sought-after options. 6,200 F100's came equipped with the larger rear window.

By increasing bore to 3.62" and stroke to 3.30", the Y-Block now displaced 272ci. Three versions of the enlarged V-8 were offered: a light-duty with a 2-barrel carb, a heavy-duty with a 2-barrel carb, and a heavy-duty with a 4-barrel producing 167-horsepower.

Vacuum-style windshield wipers were discontinued in favor of the more reliable electric-motor wipers. Another improvement for 1956 Ford trucks was an upgrade from 6 to 12 volt electrical systems.

For 1956, the 223ci six-cylinder became the standard engine. Inside, a restyled dashboard improved driver's visibility. Also new was Ford's "Lifeguard Steering Wheel", whose deep-dish design put a greater distance between the center hub and driver's chest. Other safety items included new door latches and optional seat belts.

Over 137,000 F100s were produced in 1956, the last year of the "fat-fender" Ford trucks.

Ford's early F-series have traditionally been one of the most sought-after classic truck models, by both restorers and hot-rodders alike