It didn’t take me long as a kid of seven or eight to figure out that these tall Ford semi trucks I’d see on the highway in Iowa were just a Ford C-Series cab jacked up a story and set back some in relation to the front axle. Ford needed a serious over-the-road tractor, and that’s how it was created. Quite tot contrasts to GMC’s very ambitious “crackerbox”.
Presumably Ford felt a bit left behind, as the H Series had a pretty short lifespan (1961-1965), as in 1966 they replaced it with the W Series which was a crackerbox itself.
Here’s the prototype from 1959, part of a small series Ford had built by Hendrickson and then sent out to four trucking firms to evaluate.
One of those firms was the giant Pacific Intermountain Express.
The production version came in either a day cab, like this one, or with an integral sleeper, which didn’t look all that “integral”. Note how the former wheel cutout from the C Series has been repurposed as a cargo space with a semi-circle door.
Here’s the engine and other specs from a hemmings.com post:
The H-series trucks were available in many combinations of engine, transmission and rear axle options. Five Ford big V-8 gas and five Cummins diesel engines supplied the power under the newly designed cab. The V-8 gas engines offered were Super-Duty engines. The H-series trucks were optioned with 401-cu.in. two-barrel and four-barrel, 477 two-barrel and four-barrel, and 534 four-barrel Ford engines. Gas engine models were designated H or HT. Cummins engine options available were 674-cubic-inch NH-180 and NH-195 diesels or 743-cubic-inch NHE-180, NHE-195 or the NH-220. Torque ratings ranged from 504-lbs.ft. at 1,500 rpm for the NH-180 to a whopping 606-lbs.ft. at 1,600 rpm for the NH-220. The NHE or “economy” engines operated at lower rpm, exhaust temperatures and cylinder pressures to improve fuel economy and longevity. Cummins “Pressure-Time” fuel injection was used on the diesels, which was a very simple injection system using a minimum of components. The “PT” fuel-injection system was driven off the engine camshaft. Diesel models were designated HD for single rear axle and HDT for tandem rear axle.Five different wheelbases were offered, from 126 inches up to 176 inches. Dual drive units were used for freight yard tugs and had longer wheelbases.HDT-series Tandem axle units were available in both 850 and 950 model classifications to be used as tugs in freight terminals to move trailers from one unloading dock to another. HDT-850 used a 30,000-pound Eaton dual-drive axle, while the HDT-950 came equipped with a 34,000- or optional 38,000-pound dual-drive rear axle. The HT and HDT-850 single-axle trucks were rated to haul 55,000 to 65,000 pounds gross carrying weight, while the larger 950 and 1000 series trucks were rated at 76,800 pounds. Single rear axle gas engine-equipped versions came with 22,000- or 23,000-pound rear axles. The Cummins diesel models had a 14-inch dual-disc clutch system, and the Ford engines had a 13-inch dual disc. Several different Spicer and Fuller transmission options could be selected. Fuller (Eaton) Roadranger transmissions were available in eight or 10-speed. Spicer 5000, 6000 and 8000 series “synchro silent ” five-speeds were offered in “direct-in-fifth” or “overdrive-in-fifth” configurations. A Spicer 12-speed was another drivetrain option, as were several Spicer 7000 series three- and four-speed auxiliary transmissions. Wide- and close-ratio underdrive and overdrive auxiliary units helped the trucking company or over-the-road hauler tailor these trucks to their specific hauling needs:overdrives for highway driving and underdrives for short hauls around the freight terminal.
Of course Ford wasn’t the first or only one to do this: a number of hi-boy COEs in the 50s had been created the same way. But by the 60s, this was becoming a bit out of date, and everyone was moving to unique big truck cabs.
Seeing an H Series straight truck is a bit unusual, but here’s one for your perusal. It’s possible that it was converted from a retired twin axle tractor with a lengthened frame, something not uncommon for grain trucks, which were only used seasonally.
Not a bad looking truck; actually, better looking than than the slightly dumpy C Series.
Ford’s Near-Immortal C-Series Trucks I.Williams