Curbside Classic: 1960 Ford F-250 Styleside – The Tonka Truck Truck

(first posted 10/14/2012)    When I first saw this truck, I wanted to reach out, pick it up and give it a good run around the sandbox, just like I used to do with a certain battered old Tonka truck. Nowadays, of course, I can imagine even more uses for it.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Almost a dead ringer for the Ford, right down to the Seafoam Green color. Did Ford pay Tonka, or vice-versa?

The one that came with our first house in Iowa City was more like this. (Why do folks take pictures of things and cut off their parts?) It might have been even rustier; Midwestern winters are rough on these trucks, never mind the kids.

In contrast, Oregon’s gentle rains magically wash away all those rust-forming microbes. (viruses?) OK, this truck looks a bit too nice to be original.

This 1960 model represents the last year of the 1957-1960 generation.

A closer look at this ’57 F-100 short bed will tell you that under the skin, these F-series shared a lot more of the previous generation than Ford might like to admit: their new bodies sat atop the essentially identical 110 and 118″ wheelbase chassis of the 1953-1956 generation.

The rather set-back front axle is as much a giveaway as its other proportions. What’s more, these trucks still had high-riding cabs, a situation that would change with the all-new 1961 F-series, whose architecture produced the lowest trucks ever. And since then, it’s been all uphill–literally.

Since this is a hard-working and hard-riding 3/4-ton F-250, a four-speed with a granny low is obligatory. No problem hauling Bobcats and backhoes with this.

That emblem tells us this is a six-cylinder version, in this case the 223 cu in workhorse that chuffed out 139 (gross) horsepower at a mere 3,600 rpm. This motor had a fine rep, as did its successors, the 240/300 cu in sixes. Old Henry would be spinning in his grave, given his absolute loathing of inline sixes. If that doesn’t prove how eccentric the man was, what does?

Had it made Henry proud by sporting a V8 emblem, a husky, 186-hp Y-block 292 would be motivating  huge loads of sand, soldiers and Indians through the most challenging terrain possible within a 6′ x 6′ foot sandbox. And it never got stuck. No wonder four-wheel drive was so uncommon back then.