Curbside Classic: 1964 Ford F100 – The Embodiment of Perfection

Behold this definitive specimen of the American pickup truck.  In all its vast and rich history, the appeal has sadly been fairly limited for many outside North America while being a bastion of life for many within North America.

For many vocal critics the modern versions of these seem to fall somewhere in the spectrum between a religious and painful experience.  That whaling and gnashing of teeth is often accompanied by incessant bellyaching, moaning, and denigration not only of the machine but of the owners.  It is an interesting, and rather humorous, phenomenon.

But fear not, friends.  Despite what may read like me sticking my finger into the figurative monkey cage, I have finally seen the light and wholeheartedly agree with these folks.  What you see before your eyes is the embodiment of perfection, a perfection swathed in a most interesting, alluring, and titillating shade of green.

Really, when a pickup is this perfect, what need is there for anything more?  History has impugned Charles Holland Duell, commissioner of the US Patent Office from 1898 to 1901 for reportedly having said “everything that can be invented has been invented”.  Duell was certainly onto something profound as this Ford pretty well makes its own argument for nothing further being needed.  It is simply unimaginable anyone could identify any need for improvements or refinements.

Duell really didn’t make that statement but, as was once said, what does it matter?  When a pickup as perfect as this Ford comes along, and we all know Ford is King Ranch of pickups, one should respect it.

Seriously, why does anything – car, pickup, van, minivan, road tractor, dump truck, locomotive, or naval vessel – need more than 223 cubic inches of fire breathing thrust with 135 gross and throbbing horsepower?  Maybe the original owner needed to move houses or some such, opting for the one year only (at least for the half-tons) 262 straight six.  But probably not.

That available 292 V8 was ridiculous overkill; nobody needs a V8 in a pickup.  A six is all I ever need so that’s all anybody else should ever need.  A V8 simply uses too much fuel.

Us wasteful Americanos.

Our featured Ford is also the last of the true, dyed in the wool pickups.  This is the sort of pickup used by men who dry shaved with dull, rusty blades, women who gave birth without pain killers while at home in the bathtub, and people who knew how to butcher their livestock.

Lookie there, boys and girls, this green machine has a solid beam front axle.  It would be in 1965 when Ford acquiesced to peer pressure from Chevrolet, discarding a solid axle and implementing the Twin I-beam front suspension.  There was nothing at all wrong with a solid front axle – it was as durable as an anvil and as complicated as a chunk of granite.  A pickup is an implement; why did Ford see the need to throw in the towel and succumb to the sensitive crowd?

Sure, some whine about “well, it rode so harsh”.  Well, that’s the way it was and people liked it.  Everybody knows if you load your pickup down, it rides smoothly.  Anybody who doesn’t keep at least 1,500 pounds of dead weight in the bed of their pickup at all times doesn’t need a pickup anyway!

And look at how low that bed is to the ground!  Praise Hank The Duece!  This is ideal.  When loading a person can just drop that load into that eagerly awaiting short bed.  When unloading, a person can bend over and pick up heavy loads from knee height.  If that doesn’t build a strong back it will certainly build character.  Who the hell thinks a pickup bed whose height is identical to a typical bathroom vanity makes any sense?  I much prefer straining my back when lifting something; if I lift it from waist level, I cannot feel the burn.

No doubt the real men and women knew what was coming for 1965 as it was in 1964 Ford sold over a half-million half-tons for the first time.  Those buyers knew they better get a true pickup while the getting was good.  Beginning in 1965 the American pickup started down that slippery slope to those damned macho manscaped poseur super gargantuan jumbo monster truck brodozers.  You know, the ones that compensate for the owner’s teeny weeny peeny.

This Ford was borne in the finest of traditions.  Unlike all that tom-foolery found nowadays with things such as fuel injection, catalytic converters, engine computers, air bags, three-point seatbelts, crumple zones, collapsable steering columns, ten-speed automatic transmissions, ergonomic interiors, and previously unheard of fuel economy with twice the volumetric horsepower, this ultimate in Ford pickups has lap belts (maybe), a one-barrel carburetor with a manual choke, and a three-speed manual transmission with none of that other hogwash.  Hell, three speeds were good enough for my daddy and for his daddy, so it’s good enough for me.  All a pickup is supposed to do is pull a load, not win drag races.  Anybody who can’t drive a clutch with a three-on-the-tree doesn’t need to be behind the wheel anyway.

Speaking of pulling loads, Ford rated our featured pickup at around 5,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.  You know that’s bullshit; Ford underrated these bad girls from Day One.  Supposedly a new short-bed F-150 has a gross vehicle weight that is over 20% better.  You know that’s bullshit; marketing propaganda sells oodles of pickups.

Even more marketing baloney is how Ford claims a new regular cab short box F-150 has a cargo volume of 62.3 cubic feet with an interior bed height of 21.4 inches.  That’s all fine and dandy, but a 4′ x 6.5′ x maybe 1.25′ bed with about 32.5 cubic feet is plenty.  Nobody needs anything more than this.

The world would be a better place if all pickups were built in the same vein as this rugged old Ford.  Plain, basic, and tough.  There is absolutely no need for any cloth seats, air conditioning, heaters, power steering, power brakes, stereo radios, infotainment systems, cruise control, anti-lock disc brakes, backup cameras, trailer wiring, cupholders, or two exterior mirrors.  That’s just so much ridiculousness all wrapped up in an envelope that generally has four times as many doors as it does usefulness.  This is all a person needs.

I found this pickup in Southern California, a place we’ve often heard of being a haven for old cars and trucks which are still doing their thing.  True that.  But notice the Oklahoma plates.  This Ford is a long way from home and I wonder if the owner is ultimately heading toward Mexico.

But I think we can all agree on one thing:  Whoever drove this old Ford such a distance has more hair on their butt than on their chest.  Why?  This is a pickup, not a jacked up safety chamber for some cowboy wanna-be.  The number of people in the population who can navigate this honey are dwindling, the sort of people who rolled their own and who are getting mighty thin on the ground.  Too many in this old world know nothing but those newer, prissy pickups that drive like a sedan.

Found May 2020 in California, the county seat of Moniteau County, Missouri.  Mexico is another 90 minutes northeast of California.  For what it’s worth, Paris is about 30 minutes north of Mexico and Louisiana is 45 minutes east of Mexico.