Ford F-Series (first generation)

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First generation
1949 Ford F-3 3.9.jpg
1949 Ford F-3
Also calledFord Bonus-Built
ProductionNovember 27, 1947–1952[1]
Model years1948–1952
AssemblyChester, Pennsylvania, USA
Dearborn, Michigan, USA
Edison, New Jersey, USA
Long Beach, California, USA
Norfolk , Virginia
St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Hapeville, Georgia, USA
Highland Park, Michigan, USA
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size pickup truck
Body style2-door pickup
4-door panel truck
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Related1946 Mercury M-Series
Engine226 cu in (3.7 L) I6
239 cu in (3.9 L) Flathead V8
254 cu in (4.2 L) I6
337 cu in (5.5 L) Flathead V8
215 cu in (3.5 L) I6
279 cu in (4.6 L) Y-block V8
317 cu in (5.2 L) Y-block V8
Transmission3-speed manual
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Predecessor1942-1947 Ford pickup
SuccessorFord F-Series second generation (1953–1956)

The first-generation of the Ford F-Series (also known as the Ford Bonus-Built trucks) is a series of trucks that was produced by Ford from the 1948 to the 1952 model years. The introduction of the F-Series marked the divergence of Ford car and truck design, developing a chassis intended specifically for truck use. Alongside pickup trucks, the model line included also panel vans, bare and cowled chassis, and marked the entry of Ford into the medium and heavy-duty truck segment.

Across North America, Ford assembled F-Series trucks at sixteen different facilities during its production. In Canada, Lincoln-Mercury sold the F-Series under the Mercury M-Series nameplate to expand coverage in rural areas. The first generation of the F-Series is the sole generation produced entirely with "Flathead" engines (inline-6 and V8).


The first-generation F-Series truck (known as the Ford Bonus-Built) was introduced in late 1947 (going on sale January 16, 1948), replacing Ford trucks introduced in 1941. It had a flat, one-piece windshield and integrated headlamps.[2] It had a wider cab.[2] Options included the "See-Clear" windshield washer (operated by foot plunger), passenger-side windshield wiper & sun visor, and Passenger-side taillight. The F-1 truck was also available with additional stainless steel trim and two horns as an option. All F-series were available with optional "Marmon-Herrington All Wheel Drive" until 1959.

Design of the F-Series truck changed tremendously from 1950 to 1954. From 1948 to 1950, the grill was a series of horizontal bars and the headlights were set into the fenders. For 1951 and 1952, the headlights were connected by a wide aerodynamic cross piece with three similarly aerodynamic supports. The rear window was wider in these later trucks and the dashboard was redesigned. This new cab was called the "Five-Star Cab".


The first-generation F-Series was marketed in eight different chassis (based on their GVWR), giving them their model names; the F-1 was the lightest-capacity version with the F-8 as the highest. F-1 through F-3 pickup trucks were offered (forming the basis for panel trucks) and the bare F-3 chassis served as the basis for a parcel delivery truck. The heavier-duty F-4 chassis was produced as a light-duty commercial truck. The F-5 and F-6 were produced as medium-duty trucks in three configurations, a conventional, a COE/cab-over (as the C-Series), and a school bus chassis (as the B-Series, no bodywork rear of the firewall). The F-7 and F-8 were heavy-duty commercial trucks, marketed under the "Big Job" brand name from 1951.

With the exception of bus chassis and parcel-delivery vehicles (which used bodywork produced by second-party manufacturers), Ford shared the same cab design on all F-Series trucks; C-Series trucks moved the cab upward and forward, requiring a higher hood.

The most common first-generation model was the F-1 with a 6 ½-foot bed, followed by the F-2 and F-3 Express models with an 8-foot (2.4 m) bed.

1948-1952 Ford F-Series (Bonus-Built) model range
Model Description GVWR Body Style(s)
F-1 ½ ton 4,700 lb (2,132 kg) Pickup truck

Panel truck

F-2 ¾ ton 5,700 lb (2,585 kg)
F-3 ¾ ton (heavy duty) 6,800 lb (3,084 kg)

7,000 lb (3,175 kg) (parcel delivery)

7,800 lb (3,538 kg) (optional rear springs)

Pickup truck

Panel truck

Parcel delivery truck

F-4 1 ton

1¼ ton (optional)

7,500 lb (3,402 kg)

10,000 lb (4,536 kg)

Conventional (light-duty)
F-5 1½ ton 10,000–14,500 lb (4,536–6,577 kg) COE (C-Series)

Bus chassis (B-Series)

Conventional (medium-duty)

F-6 2 ton 14,000–16,000 lb (6,350–7,257 kg)
F-7 "Big Job" 17,000–19,000 lb (7,711–8,618 kg) Conventional (heavy-duty)
F-8 20,000–22,000 lb (9,072–9,979 kg)

Variation by Year:

1951 Ford F-series, showing the larger rear window
1949 Ford F-3, showing the smaller rear window
  • 1948: Feature a wider, longer, and taller cabs. Model designations for trucks were badged as F-1s. Heater only, No Defroster. Running boards curved over the frame and under the cab.
  • 1949: The most noticeable change on the 1949 trucks was the deletion of the red pinstripes on the silver-painted grille bars. Wheels were painted to match body color, rather than the previous black wheels. Defroster added as an option. Running boards trimmed at the frame for ease of replacement. Passenger Taillight became standard as well as Reflectors on both sides.
  • 1950: The standard three-speed shift was relocated from the floor to the steering column mid-year. Additionally, the bed lost its structural indents, becoming smooth-sided, and the tailgate chain brackets were now welded to the roll instead of inside it. These changes were kept through 51/52.
  • 1951: For 1951, the grille was restyled with a large horizontal bar, moving the headlights further apart, painted either ivory or argent, with either painted or chrome headlight trim; the hood trim was also redesigned. If specified, a V-8 emblem appeared on the front fascia above the grille opening. The truck underwent several revisions, with the cab receiving a larger rear window and updated door panels; for pickup trucks, the tailgate was redesigned, along with the introduction of a hardwood floor.
  • 1952: The builder's plate was attached to the inside of the glove box door. While predating a VIN, the information identified the series, model year, assembly plant and production sequence as well as paint code and rear axle gearing.



Engine Years Power Usage
226 cu in (3,700 cm3) Flathead 6 1948–51 95 hp (71 kW) at 3,300 rpm[3] F-1 through F-6
239 cu in (3,920 cm3) Flathead V8 1948–52 100 hp (75 kW) at 3,800 rpm F-1 through F-6
254 cu in (4,160 cm3) Flathead 6 1948–51 110 hp (82 kW) at 3,400 rpm F-6 only
337 cu in (5,520 cm3) Flathead V-8 1948–51 145 hp (108 kW) at 3,600 rpm F-7 and F-8
215 cu in (3,520 cm3) OHV Straight-6 1952–53 101 hp (75 kW)
279 cu in (4,570 cm3) Lincoln Y-block (EAL) 1952–55 145 hp (108 kW) at 3,800 rpm F-7 only
317 cu in (5,190 cm3) Lincoln Y-block (EAM) 1952–55 155 hp (116 kW) at 3,900 rpm F-8 only


All are manual.

  • 3-speed light-duty, F-1 only
  • 3-speed heavy-duty, F-1 through F-5
  • 4-speed (spur gear), F-1 through F-6
  • 4-speed Synchro-Silent, F-4 through F-6
  • 5-speed overdrive, F-7 and F-8
  • 5-speed direct drive, F-7 and F-8



  1. ^ Bunn 1998, p. 13.
  2. ^ a b Gunnell, John A. (1993). Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks. krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-238-9.
  3. ^