Sunday, July 02, 2017

Ford Tough: 100 Years of Ford Trucks, book review

by the numbers

202 pages
9 generations of trucks
lots of photos

1st impression, this author is a research machine. How the world he didn't lose interest when simply remarking on each upgrade, each year, is a mystery.

This is by far the most encyclopedic book on vehicles I've read, and is a must for a research library for trucks, or Fords. But, this is not what I'd recommend you read for fun. It's a sure bet you'll fall asleep.

100 years ago, in July 2017, the truck began production at Ford, and never stopped. It's more expensive than Ford cars, and more profitable, and kept Ford from going bankrupt during the 2008-9 Great Recession when GM and Chrysler went to the US Govt for a bailout.

look at this wonderful early dump truck, with the spare on the roof; 1918 Model TT

here's a good look at the variety of designs of what a truck can be

And this book covers them all. The typical, the 1937 Coupe-Express,  the disco sticker appearance package late 70's, the industrial long haul trucking, the grocery getter, and the offroad racing Raptor. It even includes the van cab Falcon truck, and the Ranchero.

To see if the all-new aluminum F-150 pickup is as tough as it has to be, Ford disguised six prototypes as conventional steel models and asked unknowing customers to beat the crap out of them for two and a half years.

Switching from steel to lighter, stronger aluminum allowed Ford to cut 700 pounds from the F-150, (and 350 from the Super Duty) improving fuel economy while making it stronger

Ford’s engineering team decided to test the aluminum design in the real world. The decision to send a next-generation product into the wild so far ahead of its debut is unprecedented. "It's unique as far as I know," said Larry Queener, program manager for the 2015 F-150.

Ford had to be damn sure the cargo box on one of the world’s hardest-working trucks could take the abuse meted out by contractors and construction workers, ranchers and roughnecks. So in late 2011, Ford bolted aluminum cargo boxes to half a dozen 2011 F-150s and sent them to three of Ford's best industrial customers.

It provided the trucks for free, explained that it was testing new materials and new methods, and asked the clients to treat them like they would any other truck. For two and a half years, the trucks trundled into gold mines, covering hundreds of miles each day. They worked on the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Pennsylvania and a highway interchange in Alabama. They carried energy company crews along overgrown paths and up steep mountain roads in North Carolina.

 "We go to extreme areas and do extreme work," said Art Golembiewski, regional equipment manager for Walsh Construction. "We're hard on all our equipment, we expect to get 110 percent out of it every day, and that's how we operate. We were told to run it like we wanted to break it, and that's what we're doing to 'em."

you can find a fast and easy to read version of Ford trucks on many websites, like  and get a quick look at the changes and improvements. But you can't get the thoroughness of the research put into this book.

It's a good book, as you'll agree, but from the perspective of research, not emotional stories, stunning photos, or imaginative writing. This isn't a coffee table conversation piece, unless that table is in the offices of Ford manufacturing. It's undiluted history.

Things I learned that I did not know:

Union City Body Company of Indiana once made bodies for Duesenburg, but after the luxury cars demise, but by 1940 were making bodies for Ford's transit bus

Ford made things called mobile field kitchens and bomb service vehicles during WW2

in 1937 only, Ford made Coupe Express trucks, really, it was a pickup bed sticking out of the car's trunk area (see photo above) in response to Chevy making the same strange car/truck

in Oct 1945, Ford was making 42 varieties of trucks, different truck, chassis, body versions
in 1948 there were 115
in the beginning of 1949 there were 139, but by the end of 1949 there were 164
in 1950 there were 175
1956 there were 289
1958 there were 370
1969 there were over 1000
1971 over 1100

the workers in car manufacturing companies, especially in the first half of the 1900s, were regularly deprived of decent wages, breaks, and safe working conditions and so they would form unions and strike. None had a strike during the WW2 war production years, but they immediately went on strike following the end of the war. Just at the time it hurt the companies worst to not be producing vehicles desperately needed by people all over the country, as it had been 5 or 6 years of not getting new parts, new cars, and new trucks, and running the existing ones into the ground, and using up all the ones for sale. Used car lots went out of business during the war, as they couldn't find used cars to sell. 

the reason Ford created the 1961 Econoline was in response to the overwhelming success of the VW van

the King Ranch in Texas uses over 200 Ford trucks. 

Why does Ford make a Harley Davidson edition truck? Besides the obvious rich people buying both, it's because in 1903 the Ford Motor Company and the Harley Davidson company both were founded. So, each has the identical anniversarys

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