Few vehicle series can claim they've been in continuous production for 65 years, but the Ford F-Series can take that title, with the original F-1 launching this day in 1948. Since the postwar introduction of Ford's truck icon, more than 32 million F-Series have been sold. That makes the F-Series one of the best-selling vehicles of all time, surpassing even the VW Beetle, which sold an estimated 21 million units from its worldwide production from 1938 to 2006.
Although we think of today's F-Series as a "full-size" truck, either in F-150 or Super Duty form, the original F-1 was considerably smaller than today's trucks. Wheelbase on the 1948 F-1 was 114 inches, with an overall length of 188.8 inches, and a width of 75.94 inches. A 2013-model regular-cab, short-bed F-150 has a 125.9-inch wheelbase, an overall length of 213.2, and a width of 79.2 inches.
But the F-1 fares well in bed dimensions compared with its modern-day progeny. The F-1 had a bed load length of 77.95 inches, load width of 49 inches, and a bed depth of 20.1 inches. The 2013 F-150 with the 6.5-ft bed has a length of 78.8 inches, width between wheel wells of 50 inches, and a depth of 22.4 inches.
However, the new F-150 blows away its ancestor in the power department. Ironically sharing the same displacement of 226 cubic inches, the F-1's flathead inline-six engine made 95 hp in 1948. The base 3.7-liter V-6 in the 2013 F-150 produces 302 hp, more than triple the amount of power. A slightly larger 239 cubic-inch flathead V-8 was optional, producing 100 hp. The base GVWR of the modern F-150 is also substantially higher than the F-1 at 6450 pounds, compared with the F-1's 4700 pounds.
And while the 2013 F-150 is offered in a variety of plush and luxurious trim levels, including the King Ranch, Limited and Lariat models, the F-1 was decidedly Spartan, with even the passenger-side windshield wiper being optional! Today's F-Series may be a lot more advanced, efficient and powerful than its ancestor, but the core mission remains the same, to deliver reliable, durable performance for those who rely on their trucks.