When you come across an obviously well-loved 1964 Ford truck, it’s natural to feel a little wistful for a time when trucks were simple and honest. However, retrospection often obscures what was actually going on at the time. This 1962-66 generation of Ford trucks represent a time of experimentation and innovation that transitioned trucks to what they would be for thirty years.
Through the 1990s sometime, this was a truck: single-cab, low-riding, slab-sided (Styleside, in Ford lingo). This idiom formed here. If you’re younger than 30 or so, it looks quaint compared to today’s towering trucks, 98% of which feature rear seats and levels of comfort previously reserved for expensive sedans. If you’re older than 40, it looks like what a truck should be.
Until this time, trucks were high-riding, bulky, bulbous. Even the immediate previous generation Ford truck, which had squared up considerably, perched tall on its frame. Wheelbases were shorter, too.
Some of Ford’s innovations didn’t work out, such as the two-year unibody experiment that mated the bed to the cab. Read all about it here.
The center tailgate latch, which was new in 1964, did catch on. Previously, tailgates were latched in both upper corners, a practice Chevy persisted for another couple years yet.
Ford touted its new tailgate latch and made the long-bed Styleside the default truck in all of its ads. And why not? It looked so modern.
An innovation on the drawing board in 1964 was an entirely new chassis that introduced the Twin I-Beam suspension. Ford was proud that it ended the bump steer endemic to solid front axles, but the haters complained that it created a tire-eating front end that wandered all over the road. That chassis would underpin the Ford truck through 1979, and the suspension would survive through the late 1990s.
Interestingly, the ’65 Ford truck carried the existing body over to its new chassis. How many times has that happened? (Yeah, yeah, I know, this is a ’66. Close enough.)
That makes the truck at hand the last of a generation. I found it in infield parking at the Indiana State Fair in August. It’s just how we like ‘em here at Curbside Classic: unrestored and still going.
I happen to like ‘em not too scuffed up. This one looks like it got 10 or 15 years of solid use – the surface rust in the bed attests – and then was put into a time capsule until today. Just right, in my book.
Was a red steering wheel and column typical in a white truck? Did this fellow come to the fair by himself, or did he bring a companion and move the box from the bed to the locked cab? Only the first question can be answered definitively, I’m sure.
What is it that makes a basic truck so appealing? All the details here are right: not a thing present not directly related to this truck’s basic functioning. Well, except for some badging and a now-faded body side stripe. We’ll cede Ford that much on a truck that set the pace for thirty years.