Curbside Classic: 1968 Ford F100 Shortbed Stepside – A Truck You’d Be Proud To Own

1968 Ford Pick up side

(first posted 8/21/2014)  Last night, I decided to clean up my Curbside Classic files and move some work into the “Complete” folder, the result being this 1968 Ford Pickup CC. Looking at this truck—which I shot down by the San Pedro Harbor during a Catalina sailboat restoration project—makes me realize that I should have posted it sooner. While it’s not totally original, the owner modified very little on the truck, the result being a rig that’s still close to the factory look. I’m sure there’s lots of folk out there who would like to take this short bed, two wheel drive pickup and bolt on nineteen inch wheels, install an airbag suspension and finish the look with dropped spindles that “slam” the truck down on the ground. Well, to each their own, but I much prefer this truck in its present guise.

1968 Ford Pick up Grille

In our first shot, you may have noticed this truck lacks any side marker lights or reflectors. Because of that I thought it was probably a 1967. However, I discovered a very extensive ’67-’72 Ford pickup website and based on this information, it appears this model is actually a 1968 with the exterior badging and side lighting removed. It could be even newer, but Ford was nice enough to change the grille most years of the model run, and this is the base model grille for 1968 (higher trim levels used the same grille with a bright aluminum or chrome finish).

1968 Ford Pick up interior

The interior also uses a number of 1968 (or newer) parts. Ford made a surprising number of changes to the 1968 cab; they went with new door release mechanisms, added lock buttons to the back of the window opening, and changed the HVAC controls from push-pull knobs to the panel you see below the radio. I also see a number of other features I like in this cab: the clutch pedal indicates we’re looking at a three-on-the-tree transmission, the radio appears to be stock, and the owner has added a couple of gauges to keep track of critical operating parameters. All in all, a vehicle office that passes on flash, but delivers the goods for day to day operation.

1968 Ford Pick up Rear three quarter 1

Removing the exterior trim on a car leaves a nice clean look, but most people then feel compelled to gussy things up with a flashy paint job and custom wheels. This owner chose to accentuate the clean lines with bright white paint, and let the lines of the body do the talking. Placing a fuel can in front of the rear wheel lends a custom touch, but a pragmatic one. You could actually put fuel in that can, and use it to extend your travel range, or perhaps fuel some equipment.

I get the feeling this owner is someone not worried about how others perceive his truck. Perhaps he came down to the waterfront to get in a little fishing, or perhaps he’s here on a service call. I’m pretty confident he knows what’s going on under the hood of this truck, and I’ll bet any changes made to the engine bay were to improve cooling or reliability, not to increase horsepower. Given that this is a base-level truck, it could quite likely be a 240 CID six. If the truck does have an upgraded engine, I’d expect it to be the 300 CID six, rather than one of the V-8 options.

1968 Ford Pick up Rear three quarter 3

No real design surprises on the driver’s side of the truck, but what is that behind the rear wheel? Shooting on the shaded side masked the image, but the driver placed a tethered chock behind the wheel–you can see the tether running over the top of that bright white fender. Given the overall condition of this truck, I have to believe the parking brakes work just fine, and this chock just represents further proof of our owner’s meticulous nature. It’s not that I’m in the throes of a man crush, but the owner of this 46-year-old truck really seems like a cool guy! We all know people who feel a new vehicle every four or five years represents the best way to assure reliability, but our truck owner pursues a different path.

1968 Ford Pick up JD Sticker

As we’ve discussed before, American pickups have also pursued a different path since Ford built this pickup back in 1968. Today’s truck emphasizes play over work, offering suburban owners a tool to transport their boats, bikes and personal watercraft out to rural playgrounds. In contrast, this truck harks back to a simpler time, as evidenced by this John Deere sticker in the back window. Every aspect of this ride brings to mind the attributes of a basic work truck. Attributes such as: clean, pure, direct, simple and honest. Bottom line, it’s a truck you’d be proud to own.