Curbside Classic: 1978 Ford F-250 SuperCab – A Superior Cab Leads To Everlasting Supremacy

How did Ford become the perpetual number one selling pickup truck? Well, there’s several reasons, but in my mind by far the biggest single one was Ford’s extended SuperCab. It arrived in 1974, and it’s no coincidence that 1976 was Chevy’s last year at the top. And when did Chevy finally get an extended cab? 1988. And what took them so long? Meanwhile, the F-Series pulled into an insurmountable lead.

It’s hard to imagine a world where not almost every pickup on the road has some kind of extended cab. Yes, there were some double cabs available back in the 60s, Dodge building the only regular production version. But the numbers were small, as pickups had not yet replaced sedans as the family vehicle of choice.

But in 1972, Dodge did revolutionize the pickup world with its Club Cab. Only one problem: it was too small. Yes, it gave some needed interior storage, but the side-facing “auxiliary jump seats” were completely unsuitable for anything but dire emergencies. I remember squeezing into our construction crew foreman’s Club Cab in 1974; I quickly wished I had jumped into the bed in back.

But it was the start of something big.

Ford seized on the idea, and made it super big; big enough for a real back seat. OK, not exactly the same as a double cab, but perfectly suitable for kids, and grownups in a pinch. Or just a whole lot more storage space with the seat flipped down. A Ford better idea, if there ever was one. And it was a pivotal moment in the pickup’s acceptance as a primary family-friendly vehicle and thus its rise to the tops of the sales charts. America had found its new vehicle of choice.

Of course this didn’t happen overnight. I don’t have stats available, but there’s no doubt that Super Cab sales started off as a minority of F-Series pickups. But they clearly were a success, and they were soon to be seen more and more frequently. And its obvious superiority to the Dodge Club Cab meant that it was perpetually marginalized.

And Ford’s rise to the top of the pickup market didn’t just start with the Supercab. In 1965, Ford took a big step in making its pickups more civilized and suitable as primary vehicles, starting with a whole new chassis under the body from its predecessor. The combination of the Twin-I-Beam front suspension and new steering tamed its rough manners to a very considerable extent. That same 1965 frame and chassis would be used almost unchanged for a very long time.

And to really show their commitment to a new civilized world of trucks, Ford offered a new Ranger package in 1965 and 1966 that was if anything, a bit too far ahead of its time, with its Mustang seats and Falcon Futura console. By 1967, the Ranger reverted back to a bench seat, but a well trimmed one, and the Ranger package came to stand for the most civilized cab in the industry.

This ’78 (or ’79) F250 is in Ranger trim, as well as sporting dome very period-correct orange color bands, the kind that graced so many Ford pickups and vans of the late 70s.

It’s also sporting some pretty nasty rust. Given that its rocker panels and other lower parts of its body are intact, and the rust is mostly on the upper parts, I feel pretty confident in saying that this truck spent too much time at the beach. The salty coast air condenses on the cold steel, and begins to do its evil work.

The hood’s front edge has been eaten away. Speaking of, it’s hard to say just what engine it’s hiding under there, but given this trucks size and Ranger trim, we can be fairly safe in guessing it’s not the 300 cu.in. six.

Not that it wasn’t capable of motivating a big truck with its bullish torque, especially combined with the four speed manual transmission. But realistically, given the tow hitch and ball on the back, this, like so many of its kind, probably spent some time hauling a good sized camping trailer; maybe to Mexico every winter, like so many others from the Pacific North West.So the better guess is that a V8 was at work up there, which means either the 351M, the 400, or the 460. Given that gas prices were quite reasonable again by the late 70s, and this was a tow rig, I’d give the toss to the 400 or 460.

This truck has been very well kept, showing some honest wear to the upholstery but otherwise in very clean condition. Most likely an older couple’s truck. In places like Oregon, with so much outdoor recreation and wide open spaces, trucks have been popular for primary transportation for a very long time.

This is the rear seat folded down fully, in two sections, for a very useful cargo storage area.

The shot in the ad with the cargo stowed must be the jump seat version. Or maybe the standard version, which had no seat at all. Both rear seat types were optional.

What a clean and tidy rig, unlike another old yellow F series that’s getting pretty funky. The tow ball is just barely visible.

The SuperCab that transformed the pickup truck from a man cave into a proper woman-friendly abode. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

 

Related:

1965-1966 Ford F-Series Ranger: A Bit Too Far Ahead of its Time

1973 Ford F-350 Super Camper Special: Ford Goes Camping In A Superlative Way