You never know what can happen at a Christmas party. Steve Etta attended one in Connecticut in 2018 and ended up taking home a 1951 Ford F-1 pickup.
The Cold Spring resident said that while everyone was guessing the age of a vintage vehicle, another partygoer mentioned he had an older pickup for sale. Was Etta interested? “I’ve always been interested in old cars, but I was looking for a Mustang,” he says.
Nevertheless, a short time later, “we went up to his place in Hudson,” Etta recalls. “He had three garages full of old cars and a couple of old tractors.”
The bright red Ford caught his eye. He doesn’t know a lot about its history other than it had been restored in 2009 and spent time with owners in New Jersey and Baltimore. It has 116,130 original miles on the odometer.
The Ford was appealing enough to bring home a plaque from the first car show that Etta entered, at Bear Mountain. He has since shown the truck in upstate New York and Connecticut.
Etta loves taking it for a spin —it gets about 12 miles per gallon — but keeps it off the road in the winter. Even without a radio, he says it’s more fun to drive than the engine he drives for the Cold Spring Fire Co.
“It rides pretty well,” he says. “Everyone looks at it; I like it when they add a wave.”
Model: 1951 Ford F-1 pickup (½ ton)
Manufactured: 10 plants in nine states
Number built: 148,956 (1950-51)
Years built: 1948-1952
Engine: 239 cubic inch flathead V8
Transmission: 3-speed manual (floor)
Original price: $1,363
The Ford Motor Co. spent about $15 million in today’s dollars redesigning its trucks after World War II before introducing the F Series, or Ford Bonus-Built. The first of 14 generations of F Series trucks was manufactured from late 1947 through 1952. Models ranged from the lightest F-1 pickup to the heaviest “Big Job” F-8.
With the F Series, Ford became the first automaker to offer a frame specifically designed for its trucks, a departure from the practice of using car chassis.
Ford boasted that the F-1 was “wider, longer and taller.” Known for its style and comfort, it featured wider doors, increased leg room, adjustable bench seats and a curved, one-piece windshield. It also had a V8 engine. For $10, buyers could have a V8 ornament added to the front grill.
Owners didn’t have to worry about jumper cables. In the event of a dead battery, the truck could be restarted using a crank.
F Series trucks underwent a number of changes in 1951, including a larger rear window and updated door panels. The pickups got a redesigned tailgate and a hardwood bed.
Wrong on two counts: The windshield was flat and had no provision for a hand crank. Dad bought one new and I drove the same.