Monday, May 25, 2009

1956 Ford F-100 Pickup

What was it about the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup -- the 1953-1956 Ford pickup, in fact --that brought such instant acceptance and went on to make this a heavy-hitter among fans of classic trucks?

It wasn't power, at least initially. The 1953 Ford F-100 pickup still had the familiar flathead V-8, over two decades old. The bigger lure was style: a tough, solid, ruggedly handsome vehicle, with a new set-back front-axle that gave it a nose-heavy look, as though it were hunkering down.

This 1956 Ford F-100 pickup was among the last of the classic rounded-form pickups and a treasure for it. Note the period-trendy wraparound windshield.

The Y-block V-8 (1954) opened the way to performance. More creature comforts and improved styling (1955) gave the truck a civilized air. As with its cars, Ford emphasized safety in the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup, with such standard features as an energy-absorbing steering wheel and double-grip door latches. Also new was a 12-volt electrical system.

Styling changes introduced with the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup included another new grille, fashionable wraparound windshield, and optional wraparound back window (just $16 extra). The dashboard, with its car-derived hooded instrument panel, was a neat if spartan affair.

The year's major option, as in 1955, was the Custom Cab package comprising 14"luxury" accessories and snazzier trim. The pickup's base price had risen considerably, to $1,580. That sounds like pocket change by today's standards, but customers thought it was expensive in 1956.

The 1956 Ford F-100 pickup also had a new optional V-8, bored and stroked to 272 cid as in Ford cars. Rated at a potent 167 horsepower, it made the 1956 F-100 the most powerful pickup in Ford history.

Sales sagged in 1956 generally, and only 137,581 pickups were built. Still, Ford held a healthy 27 percent of the truck market.

In 1957, a brand new design came along -- lower, sleeker, and available with flush-fender pickup box (Styleside) for the first time. Somehow, it wasn't the same, and countless fans were sorry to see the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup go.

Collectible Pluses of the 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup

Strong collector interest
Reliability
Ready supply of inexpensive replacement parts
A mid-1950s truck with full-length running boards

Collectible Minuses of the 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup

Hard ride
Not as stylish as rival 1956 pickups, but a more-classic truck look

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