Curbside Classic: 1965 Ford F350 Pickup – Top Dog

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(first posted 10/12/13)      Yes, as an owner of a ’66 F100, I do take notice of the other members of that family. It’s been a while since I spotted the the top dog of the clan, but here it is, the F350 Flareside, with a 132″ wheelbase, 9′ bed, big 17″ wheels, about 1½ ton capacity, the gnarly 300 CID six, and of course, the big, scary guard dog to go with it.

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Here he is, the perfect watch dog to make sure no one gets any ideas about this fine old truck, which has been in the owner’s family since 1971. You don’t want to lose an heirloom gem like this.

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Yes, the Peterbilt of pickups: all work and no play. I’m just imagining what this thing rides like.

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It probably takes about a ton of weight in the back before the ride on that big stack of springs starts to flex a bit. The F350 was typically built in longer wheelbase version as stake and utility trucks, usually with dual rear wheels. But if you wanted a pickup, here it is, although back in the day these were quite uncommon, unlike nowadays when a you’re not taken seriously without a Super-cab F350 with smoke stacks and lift kit.

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Although the fenders (from an F100) proudly proclaim “Twin I Beam”, the F350 relied on a solid beam truck axle to carry the loads. Twin I Beam first appeared in 1965; prior to that all the F-Series trucks used a solid front axle.

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Here’s a little composite of the three main types of trucks/beds Ford made during the 1962-1966 era. The top is a 1962 F100 Styleside, with the “unibody” bed that was directly attached to the cab, and also referred to as a “slick”.  That construction wasn’t such a hot idea, as it didn’t allow for any articulation between bed and cab, and was replaced with a more conventional construction in 1964. The middle truck is a 1965 F250, with that new style bed, and the obviously larger wheels and tires, and harsher ride. And the F350 shows off its longer wheelbase and 9′ bed.

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And if you really wanted to be gnarly, you could order this pickup with even bigger 19″ wheels and a 3200 lb capacity rear axle for an extra 1/2 additional ton capacity in the rear bed. Got some gold bars to haul?

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In addition to these, there were other variations too, of course, including short beds, and the 4x4s which oddly came in a shorter wheelbase and used the bed from the previous generation F Series.

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1965 was the first year for Ford’s excellent new “Big Six” engines, in 240 and 300 CID versions. The 240 was very common (like in my truck), but the 300 was the one to have. And this one does have it. These pre-smog 300s put out some serious power; they were rated at 170 gross hp; that translated to 146 net hp, more than many V8s from the 70s and early eighties. And the torque curve is mighty tall. Combined with the four-speed stick with “granny” low gear, these are capable of some serious stump-pulling. Many a time I’ve wished for one of these, especially when I found myself at an uphill stop sign towing a 7000 lb mini-excavator with my 240/three-speed F100. Ah, the smell of a burning clutch, to go along with the smell of burning brakes.

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