(first posted 7/6/2013) In the 1960s, Ford leveraged its considerable reputation for quality trucks into an entirely new line—the N-series. These trucks slotted between the “conventional” light-to-heavy duty F-series trucks and the cab-over (COE) C-series trucks. The N-series had a shorter wheelbase than the F-Series, thanks to a cab mounted higher, partially above the rear of the engine compartment. The result was more room for the truck’s body/bed, better visibility, and tighter turning radius. The cab itself is sourced from the F-series. The N-series is sometimes referred to as the “flat-nose F-series” due to the fact that the similarities between the two series end at the cowl.
Flat-nose indeed! While the N-series is not a C.O.E., a casual observer could be forgiven for mistaking it as one. And though the N-series appears to have a flip-front clip, engine access is actually accomplished via two large bat-wing doors! Pretty neat, unless you’re actually having to work on that engine buried down there somewhere. There’s a reason fiberglass flip-fronts became popular.
The above illustration of a ’65 also makes it clear why Ford made a design change for ’66. The cab just had too little headroom! ’66-’69 N-series trucks had a raised roof version that allowed much more headroom for the driver. Our feature vehicle, though, can be pegged as an earlier ’63-’65 model, also known as the “flat roof” N-series. The heavier-duty F-Sseries trucks got the additional headroom too.
Here’s a ’66 Diesel N-series showing that raised roof. Nice color! Maybe drivers were hitting their head from the rough ride when they were running empty?
An early example of an N-series, while a solid seller in its day, is a pretty rare find. N-series trucks started with the Medium Duty N-500 (20,000lbs GVW), and N-600, with engines from the 155hp 223ci (1965) or 240 cid six (1966 on) straight-sixes.Optional were the 300 cid big six, and the 330 cid FT V8.
Next up were the Heavy Duty versions. Gas engine models N-700 and N-750 used 330, 361 or 391 versions of Ford’s HD FT V8. Diesel N-6000 and N-7000 used a Ford-built 330 cid diesel six.
Above that were a raft of even higher capacity models, which in the N-Series spanned from the N-850 through the N-110. The gas engine versions with Ford’s Super Duty V8s sported the chrome “Super Duty” script on its front fender. The mega-block V8s came in 401, 477 and 534 cid versions, fed by a giant Holley four-barrel carb.
Diesel models had engines from Cummins and Caterpillar on tap. While we can’t determine which of those SD gas engines our feature truck is equipped with, they are all stout options for a medium-duty single-axle truck. If it were a diesel, the letters D-I-E-S-E-L would be spelled out in the ovoid hole above the “FORD” lettering—not to mention a huge air cleaner hanging off of the passenger side. Further, our feature truck has a prominent “V-8” badge on the prow.
The N-series was offered in a plethora of wheelbases, from 121 inch tractors to 212 inch straight trucks. Our feature truck falls somewhere in between those two numbers, and is fitted with a modest grain box. It’s probably an N-850, as that was the lightest chassis to offer the Super Duty V8s. I suspect that it has been repainted in snazzy black at least once; it actually looked very fresh when I first spotted it a few years ago. Needless to say, it doesn’t appear to have moved since then, and the paint is starting to oxidize on the hood.
For those of you who were extant in the 1960s, do these trucks still ring a bell? They sure appear to have been fairly prevalent in their day, serving as everything from fire trucks to trash compactor trucks, with a whole lot of dump and grain trucks in between. I think they are quite a handsome vehicle, and “honest” in a way that Ford had a real knack for in the 60s and 70s especially.
Postscript: The N-Series was made through 1970. In 1971, the new Louisville line, which came in both long and short nose versions, replaced it.
Okay…somebody school me. I need a history lesson here…
In the 1960s, the snub-nose medium layout came into fashion. International apparently pioneered, or re-adopted, it. Ford had this model.
Chevrolet/GMC stayed with the long-nose layout on its C50/60/70 models.
In 1967, the new GM mediums adopted the snub-nose layout. And about that same time, Ford DROPPED it! I know this, because the village I worked for, had a 1968 Ford garbage truck. Long hood.
And Chevrolet/GMC kept it; and Ford resisted it. As late as 1979, Ford mediums were long-nose, with a hood that seemed to be adopted from the previous generation pickup. Just as in 1959-66, the Chev/GMC mediums used the same hood as the pickups.
We had a 1966 Chev C60; a 1968 C60; and a 1974 C60. And then a 1968 F700; and a 1978 F600.
What were the perceived advantages/disadvantages of moving the cab forward and tucking the rear of the engine under the firewall? And why, do you think, manufacturers seemingly couldn’t make up their minds?
Ford offered both the Cab Forward N-series, Cab Over C-series, and the conventional F-series side by side for many years. My guess is the Cab Forward versions were done for the same reasons that the Cab Over models were offered, to help get more load within the length restrictions, but still give some of the room of the conventional cab. Plus there were others offering Cab Forward models and they likely didn’t want to lose a sale due to not having a competing model. The LN series trucks were the technical successor to the N series which dropped the lesser capacity models, gained a little length in the hood and shared a big truck cab with the rest of the L series.
I’d forgotten about the Louisville Line…1970, IIRC. That took the place of some of the larger mediums that had shared the Ford light and medium sheet metal.
That makes sense, as far as Ford goes. The Louisville series was the snub-nose model; and the F-series was the traditional conventional.
There were standard and long hood versions of the L series too. From wikipedia.
LN=Short Nose (compact hood) Same WB as LS except shorter hood.
LNT=Short Nose Tandem Axle
LS=Set Back Front Axle. Shorter WB than L series.
LTS=Setback Front Axle with Tandem Rear Axles.
LTL=Tractor-Trailer. Long hood.
A straight L designation would be the “standard” length hood, standard FA position and a single rear axle.
The cab forward design is popular where space is limited. In fact, Hino pulled their cab forward models in Canada a few years ago. Now they are offering a full line again. In a place as congested as Vancouver, the cab forward means better visibility, maneuverability and easier parking.
My company just bought two model 195 Hino’s for urban stuff as we have out-grown our Ford cube vans. The Fords were good units, just too small.
COE or Cab forward (or Cab Over Engine) is different than these, because the cab is directly over the engine, or even in front of it. The correct terminology for these is LCF (lower cab forward). Not exactly perfectly descriptive, but that’s what it was called by some manufacturers to distinguish it from the COE.
Hino calls theirs COE, Navistar, Ford, and Mazda called theirs Low Cab Forward, Cab Forward, and Cab Over respectively even though they were all the exact same truck.
I assume you are talking about what was commonly referred to as a COE or tilt cab configuration, as I’ve never seen a true cab forward Hino in the US nor any new cab forward in a long time.
Which points out an interesting evolution of what trucks were called over the years. When they first came out in the 50’s the snub nose configuration like the featured N-series were called COE or cab overs. Then when the flat front tilt cab like the Ford C-series came out they were called COE, cab overs or tilt cabs and the short nose conventional cab trucks got the cab forward or snub nose moniker. Since the cab forward trucks went away that name has been frequently used for the true COE or tilt cab trucks.
Good luck with those Hinos hopefully the new trucks that were designed and built just for the North American market do much better than the older versions and the dealers actually stock parts for them. Hopefully you’ve got a dealer that specializes in them rather than just being a small sideline like many were.
That being said, the “hooded” Hinos suffer from having too tall and flat a windshield which is clearly a result of adapting a COE tilt cab into a conventional. I wonder if using the Toyota Tundra cab was considered and if so why it was rejected – same issue that led to the hightop Ford Ns and a similar adaptation of the GMT400 cab in medium-duty service, not enough headroom for a bouncing suspension seat?
I have what i thank is a 1964 super duty short nose ford simi can you tell me what size gas moter i have by this vin n000u554254
Chevrolet (and GMC) offered cab-forward trucks from waaayyy back. Here’s one from 1955.
There is one of these that I used to see once a week going to work. It is/was owned by a wrecking yard in eastern WA and I’d see it loaded to the gills with flattened cars, presumably on its way to Schnitzer Steel in Tacoma about once a week. Since I don’t do the fleet maintenance gig anymore I’m not on that hwy at the same time every day like I used to be, so it still may be making the weekly trek.
They all offered a model like this way back. I believe it was White Motors (later calling an entire division Freightliner) who built the first true COE unit for Consolidated Freight back in the 1930’s.
Cab forward was a natural evolution for trucks, as various applications were found to be suitable for various needs. Ford’s N series was a great truck. When the N series was replaced, Ford paid homage to the N series value it brought to the table, and to retain customers familiar with the N series truck by retaining the “N” for the L Line truck short nose configuration.
Here’s one from the next generation (looks like a 65-66)
If that’s what it looks like…I’d never seen one of those.
Like I said, long-nose C50s and C60s of that generation abounded. Our DPW had one. Farm trucks around were that way. Never, never ever seen one like you’ve posted.
Conversely, never saw a long-nose 1967 or later C-series medium. I suspect they were never made; partly because all the applications that used them earlier…farm and city trucks, school bus chasses…went with the snub-nose, “cab-forward” style (a misnomer when talking about a school-bus chassis which has no separate cab).
But I’ve learned something here…t’anks.
Chevrolet (and GMC) also made a heavier-duty lfc (Lower cab forward) that was very similar to the Ford N-Series (perhaps a direct response to it):
Yeah those look so much like the N-series I can’t imagine they weren’t a direct response.
GM offered this cab from 1960 thru 1966, so it came before the Ford N. Maybe Ford did the N as a response to the GMC B Model. Also, GMC, Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge had COE and/or LCF models from the 30’s up through the 60’s.
I had an N850 1967 this is a N800
The Ford C-series made an impression on me when I was a kid but the N-series isn’t something I remember seeing that much. But I drove this one …
Used it for a car carrier back then 477 ingine around 100.thousand miles per year
Love those Super Duty’s!
I recall these trucks as a favorite of mine when I was a boy. Especially liked the labeling if Super Duty, DIESEL, and the badge with the V-8 in a gear. I also recall the grille louvers to have often seemed to be broken with some open and some closed.
The front views if this truck make me think of the pre-1975 Econoline proportions; never noticed that before.
The grille louvers would be specific to certain diesel engines.
It was an early attempt at controlling engine temperatures more precisely than the thermostats of the time could do. Today, there are thermostatically-controlled fans, engaged or disengaged with air pressure, which take the place.
Or did, circa 1990. These days, there may be completely electric fans used. But the mechanically-closing grille slats are long, long gone.
Opening and closing grilles are back, just they are now on cars to improve aerodynamics and thus MPG. The Focus SFE is one car with them and I’m pretty sure that there is a version of the Cruise with it as well.
the louversyou call we called them the shutters it was the thermostat
Actually, not a thermostat, but (as KW called them) shutterstats.
Thank you for posting this, always interesting to read about classic US trucks.
From the days Ford still made big trucks and farm tractors, all over the world.
The front of this one resembles the 1965 Ford D-series from the UK. A good and popular truck in Northwestern Europe with timeless looks, like its successor, the Ford Cargo.
As a kid, being a son of a truck driver, I was very impressed by the first long distance truck Ford made in and for Europe: the huge cab-over-engine Ford Transcontinental.
Basically it was a Ford Louisville chassis with an all-American powertrain (Cummins engines) and a French Berliet cab on top of it. In those days, the late seventies, it was by far the highest truck on the market. Unfortunately it wasn’t very successful.
Now we only have the Ford Transit vans and light trucks….and New Holland farm tractors…
Found this picture of a Ford Transcontinental among Kenworth friends.
As previously noted, keeping the truck as short as possible makes for a handier truck in tight spaces, and you would be appalled at just how small an area some docks have for manuevering, but this is always offset by maintenance needs. It seems the increased maintenance costs of COE designs are more important to a company than how easily and quickly a driver can bump a dock
I drive concrete mixers on a casual basis on call one outfit has American conventionals Cummins R10 Meritors whoevers chassis thats the spec, I like em coz a Cummins pulls from idling speed nice ride sitting there between the axles but the windscreen is too far from the front of the truck if you get into really tight spaces.
I also drive for another company that uses Hino chassis COE design and still are all the older FMs that I drive are RR15 speed great trucks to drive in town traffic you just rumble along with the cars and the front bumper is just ahead of the windscreen wipers for when you are inside someones shop. And there I am delivering a batch of soft footpath at the curb
I am of the age to remember when these roamed the earth. I was always fascinated by the way they used what was apparently a pickup cab situated on a much bigger truck.
Grain trucks like this have gone the way of the dodo. When my sister first married into a farming family, they had two grain trucks of roughly this size (an old 1960-ish V6 GMC and a mid 60s Chevy) plus a newer tandem axle International from the 70s. My BIL eventually ditched them all and went to a semi rig, which is the only way to keep up with the newer harvesting equipment.
Just reading an advertisement in Automobile International July 1963 for the Thames Trader MK2 (FC) Made for the job and I quote: ‘ for tipping,site work or long distance haulage you need the toughness and economy of the Thames Trader Mk11 (fc). This rugged product of FORD’s world-wide experience and engineering know-how is the perfect answer to these demanding jobs.
The Trader range, Including the new Trader NC specially designed for delivery work, are all reliability tested by Ford and are daily proved by operators to be in every sense made for the job. There are Thames Traders from 11/2 to 10 tons with 4or6 cylinder diesel engines with Hydrovac braking, a choice of 47 basic models all highly adaptable to special bodies.
Big Ford bonuses are low initial cost,low operating costs, performance,reliability and Ford service where ever you go!
On the cohort is a picture of this mechanical miracle, and somewhere I have an advert telling how many thousand trucks Dagenham had to build before they did the same one twice the range is staggering. This particular truck has 4WD and worked as a lime spreader.
Interesting looking truck, the grille looks like a widened version of what was used on the 53-6 US F-series trucks.
In the latest example of the reverse CC effect, I saw an N-Series tractor on the road earlier today towing a flatbed, before I saw this article (I’m in Massachusetts, not exactly a prime area for spotting old vehicles on the road). There are a couple of classic car shows in our area this weekend and it may have been a hauler for someone with a vehicle on display at one of them.
I didn’t know which model it was, just that it was a Ford and that it was probably several decades old. I remembered that I had a Matchbox of one these when I was a kid, like the one that ‘johhnyangel’ posted earlier.
I remember plenty of C Series and F Series as I was extant in the 1960s in the northeast, but I don’t remember ever seeing a N Series.
Damn You Mike! Did you find this truck over in C.B. IA? I live a few blocks from there. I first saw it when I moved into the neighborhood. I was thinking CC but was waiting for the owner to let me get a closer look. Lots of neat old trucks in that area of town. I dont recall the shipping container but the grain elevator in the background looks familiar.
COE TRUCKS GO BACK IN THE 1930’S FORD AND CHEVY BOTH HAD THEM I BELEVE FORD WAS 1ST. FOR 30 YEARS I ALWAYS WANTED TO MAKE A PICK UP TRUCK OUT OF A COE FORD OR CHEVY. SO FINIALY I BUILT ONE NOT A FORD OR A CHEVY BUT A DODGE-FORD CHEVY IN ONE. FORD CAB AND FRAME DODGE BOX WITH FORD FENDERS AND A 454 CHEVY ENGINE FUEL INJECTION WITH COMPUTER. THIS IS A 1969 WITH THE “BUBBLE TOP” A N500 TRUCK
ORIGNALY A 330 CU.IN FORD V8, 4 SPEED. 628 REAR GEAR. A CHICAGO AREA FIRE TRUCK. WHEN INSTALLING THE CHEVY 454,4L80E AUTOMATIC TRANS. WE PUT THE ENGINE 8 INCHES FURTHER BACK UNDER THE CAB AND 4 INCHS LOWER THAN THE ORIGNAL FORD ENGINE , THE CHEVY IS SMALLER IN SIZE THAN THE FORD AND IS VERY EASY TO WORK ON IN THE TRUCK. BUY MOVING THE ENGINE BACK WE GAINED ALOT OF ROOM FOR AC COND. AND A VERY LARGE GRIFFIN ALUMINUM RADIATOR, TRUCK HAS POWER STEERING, AIR COND, HYDROVAC BRAKES, TILT WHEEL.. NEXT IS 4 LINK AND AIR SUSPENSION
Snap lemon–Your pickup is really impressive. How is it set up? Did you lower the body on the frame and use smaller tires/wheels? What’s the wheelbase? Good job on it.
truck uses stock ford N500 frame and right now it has the stock twenty inch wheels and 825×20 tires. the box is six inchs higher than the frame to match up better with the cab. wheel base is 139 inchs. lots of power and a pleasure to drive. ride is hard because of the stock truck springs. we will be changing that this winter. forty two gallons of gas and because it still has the 62 gears it gets about 10 mpg. color is stock ford “ragoon red”
I so want one of these trucks!! I missed one last week by one day that was for sale near Philly. Do you know of any for sale?? yours??
Bill- Pottstown PA
I have one that I’ll sell you. Give me a shout at email@example.com.
this is my 66 n series a lot different than most
hey Greg i had a couple of questions for you.. if you have time … im going to be getting a 1963 ford n600 i really would like to lower it,,
nice truck would enjoy some pics and info on it thanks rick
Hello Greg I just found your pic . Of this truck I am interested in building one .and would like some info. On your build if you have the time THANK you
Those were seen a lot in the South moving “mobile” homes to their permanent addresses. short, strong, and handy.
what chassis is it sitting on?
The reason for the raised roof was not because there was not enough head room as mentioned above. The reason was for leg room. When the raised roof came along in 1966 Ford was able to put taller seats in the trucks thus giving the same amount of head room but allowing more leg room.
Michelle you seem to know a lot about these trucks and if I’m correct you are the owner of the teal one that pops up when I google n-series. Anyways long story story what route did you go when switching to budd wheel So? I have a 68 n-750 I recently picked up and am trying to figure out the best way to get budd wheels on the front.
If possible please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I struggle a bit keeping up with a forum
Yes, it is my truck. I installed a cut off from an 05 International in my truck and it had hub piloted budd wheels on it. I changed the front wheels out from a 71 L series Ford to get the budds on the Front. You have to remove every thing from the spindle including brakes backing plates, everything. You will only have the axle and spindle left, then change everything over from your donor truck.
I bought this dump truck 2 years ago from Fort St.James, BC, and drove it home to Prince George, BC…approx.140 miles. It has a 250 Cummins diesel engine and a 13 spd. transmission. It is a tandem axle with air brakes. I had never seen one before, and I needed a dump trunk for my little farm when I found this one. Don’t know what I’m going to do with it once I’m done with it. Might restore it or sell it if the price is right.
Hi Pat, I saw your posting and picture of the n series, what year is it? I might be interested in purchasing a truck like that, any more details on the condition of the cab, frame and engine? Let me know what you think.
Do you have any pictures of the truck you have ? Where are you located ?
Send a note or drop a line. I have similar truck. Want another one.
Do you still have this truck? Is It for sale? I am interested. Rick 019-594-5376.
I have atruck here in Butte, Montana similar to this one that I would be interested in selling.
It looks like the one that was in Abbotsford in the early 2000’s with a paint job . Is it red underneath ? We went and looked because my friend had one for years . His was a 67 250 Cummins , 5X4 and eaton two speeds with wedge brakes . The Chassis is stilL in Terrace BC .
let me what you want to do with it.
OK I have my grandads Ford 700 grain truck 1969 it has a gas motor with a 2bbl carb I’ve never seen one like it so I don’t know what kind it is the heads has the plugs 2faceing back and 2faceing forward.
Can you help ???? School Me on this please I would love to get it running but I have to know what it is.
I looked at other motors I have a can tell its a big block . Help please!
It’s a Ford FT V8, the truck version of the Ford FE V8, and the most common Ford truck engine from the mid 60s through the 70s. It came in several sizes: 330, 352, 360, and 390 cubic inches. I can’t say with certainty which size is in your truck, but if you get the code of the build plate, it should be decodable. In fact that build plate should say which engine is in there. Of course, someone may have swapped it out, but with those spark plugs, it is a FT/FE V8. That should help.
Here’s our article on the FE: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-the-ford-fe-series-v8/
I have a 66 N600 with a 352, 5 speed and 2 speed rear axle. It’s top speed is about 85 whether empty or with a load of logs and pulling a 32′ 1951 Spartan trailer, it actually road better loaded. I really love the truck and driving it would love to get rid of some slack in steering and get better parking/emergency brake, it has a hub with frickshon pads at rear of transmission.
I just picked up a 69 600N, I feel your pain regarding ‘play’ in steering…lol
I’m looking for a Front turn signal, if you know of any bone-yards.
How many 1963 GMC Cab over trucks were built, I can’t find pictures or parts anywhere, thanks Tony.
P. S. I have one!
I have two 63 GMC B4000 series trucks, will hopefully have one ready this summer of 17, thanks Tony Harlow Eminence Kentucky
I recently acquired a 67 n 750 the truck is about 95% complete, I need to find a right front fender and hood hinges,If anyone knows where I might find some parts let me know, any help would be appreciated. thank you. Ken! You can reach me @ 928 274 8335
Anyone out there with a COE of any year or any brand for sale please send me a text to 1-502-514-6060 with your information and I will contact you back as soon as my work allows, thanks Tony
Cool trucks, though I’m too young to have any memory of seeing them on the road. Blunt, no-nonsense styling that befits a workhorse truck.
Nah, don’t like ’em. Give me a C series tilt cab any day.
I thought these and the GMC HM Series had two of the toughest looking faces of 60s trucks.
Tengo para restaurar un N610 pero no le encuentro el año del modelo por si alguien podría ayudarme a encontrar mas datos de esta unidad
I name is Tom I have a 66 and 600 just took the 330 out putting in a 12 valve Cummins Allison tranny looking for a hood that will fit that from my diesel and 600 is anybody know where I can locate one diesel hood with the breather on it somebody can let me know number is 386-566 0481 thanks appreciate your help
I have one hood and breather
What are you going to do with the 330 and trans? email@example.com
Interesting thing is not all 1966 N series trucks had raised roofs. It’s too bad production numbers are not avail for pre 1967 trucks. I just found a ‘66 N gotta be rarest of rare.
Since my last post I found and bought a Ultra Rare 1966 N Series Crew Cab Dump Truck. Ford built in Louisville June of 1966. 330 5 spd 2 spd rear. Pretty much all original never messed with truck in very nice shape. original paint is pretty faded though. Great Patina!
The N series was designed to compete with the similar GMC, and with the Dodge LCF, which had much easier maintenance with its swing away fenders. They were designed to kill two birds with one stone, as a shorter wheelbase medium and as a big diesel heavy.
Many states had fifty foot length limits back then, most notably Iowa, across which ran most major transcontinental highways except 66. Forty foot trailers had just appeared, and the only way to haul one in one of those states was in a truck seven and a half feet or less from bumper to back of cab.
Cab over engine trucks filled this bill, but so did snub nose conventionals like these. With gas engines they had normal cabs. With diesels they had doghouses, large lumpy engine covers in the middle of the dashboard like found in modern vans. The raised roof, initially an option, was to prevent a newfangled air ride seat from jackhammering the driver’s head through the roof.
Dodge’s C and L series truck actually led to it being taken more seriously in the heavy truck market for a few years, as it outshine these, Ford’s big cabover consisting of a C series Budd tilt cab jacked up, and GMC’s “crackerbox”. But Ford’s Louisville Line and GMC’s General and Astro put Dodge back in the minor leagues. Unfortunately for Ford and GM, all the Big Three was considered minor league by heavy haul truckers by then, and even the much improved products of the 1970s couldn’t overcome that.
I acquired a 1969 Ford Cabover Series C 6000. Can not get the cab to flip forward. There is no pump to push the cab up. The latch is enclosed in a metal box. So I can not get a crowbar in there to pry it open. I am out of ideas. I have pried on it so hard afraid I am going break something. Even tried putting my own jack under the cab to help it up. IT WILL NOT BUDGE.
I have atruck here in Butte, Montana similar to this one that I would be interested in selling.