Friday, June 17, 2016

The rarest of the most common vehicle in America

Somewhere in the East Village I stumbled upon the most charmingly out of place farm implement:
This is a 1961 Ford F-100 pickup truck in Torch Red. To me it looks pretty damn happy too!
The F-Series was introduced in 1948 and continues on through the present day. The standard F-150 has been the best selling vehicle in the U.S. since 1981. Let that sink in for a minute; out of every vehicle available for sale in this country for the past 35 years the descendant of this humble little workhorse has outsold them all.
This is the direct evolution of the truck used in Sanford and Son. Just because it's one of the greatest shows to grace a television I'm linking it right here; Desmond Wilson is at the wheel starting at 20 seconds (though the TV truck is a 1951).
*Interestingly the original TV truck ended up in the hands of a real-life junk man who loved it. His survivors sold it a couple years ago for $28,000 looking just like it did on TV.
The list of options from the factory was pages long for this rig when it was new, but this seems to have almost none of them. The white painted bumper and grill up front instead of chrome, and lack side trim all speak to a truck ordered for work. There is an antenna, a passenger side mirror, and a rear bumper though, all of which I believe are options. Funny to think of having the choice of denying a rear bumper these days but back then you could even get a vehicle without a heater if you wanted to say a few bucks.
This is a rare model though because it is a unibody truck. The bed and the cab are actually welded together as one piece as opposed to having the bed be separated. This was only available for 1961-1962 along side with the traditional separate cab & bed models. To see one now is pretty neat.
The wide white walls are alright I suppose if only because the trim is all white.
Get a load of that tailgate! It is as basic as can be. There is zero mystery as to how things work; there are the "hinges" which are basically a round peg at the lower corner of the gate going into a hole. There's a latch on each side as plain as a door handle. A small chain would hold up each side of the gate when down.
There is plenty of style sprinkled around this little beauty though. Dig the rear edge of the roof, the fender flares, and those subtle precursor to fins emerging from the front to the back of the bed.
That trailer hitch is the wimpiest I've ever seen! Maybe you could tow a canoe or tiny trailer.
I do love the spare tire mount. On the step-side version of the bed it would be in the same place but on the outside of the bed.
The priorities of the original owner are on display here; basic three-on-the-tree manual transmission, no gauges except the included speedometer, and yet there is a radio! The 2 blank circles on the dash would have contained additional gauges if ordered. The white painted background would be chrome too if a higher trim level. The 2 knobs on this side of the dash are lights and wipers, and on the other side is a choke and fan controls (which tells us that this does have a heater after all).
At some point in its long history the seat was recovered in that white vinyl. Mexican blanket treatment is always a great option! Note the complete lack of door panels.
If you're looking for the gas cap just follow the line of ruined paint up the side.
On really deluxe models the roof could be painted a different color starting at that curved line behind the door window. From here we can see the unibody as the door is the only break in the lines.
This emblem tells us that this truck was built with the basic inline-6 cylinder engine. A classic V with the 8 above it would be here if it were indeed a V8. Still it's so cool though; a lightning bolt and a gear for your lower end model? Awesome!
Well we'll leave this little punk here in the spot where there hasn't been a farm since the late 1700s. This truck is the perfect embodiment of a Ford as it is a reliable vehicle built for a purpose and within reach of the common man. With an oilcan, a rag with some soapy water, some gas, and a battery you could probably drive this thing for the next 200 years. I was just happy to see one in Manhattan!

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