Big straight-six, four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, no air conditioning.
Ford has been selling the F-Series truck since 1948, and it has lived at or near the top of the American best-seller charts (not just for trucks, for all vehicles) for most of that time. For the 1980 model year, Dearborn introduced the all-new seventh-generation F-Series. Production continued through 1986, with massive sales throughout the run. Here’s one of those first-year “bullnose” Ford pickups, found in a Denver-area self-service knacker’s yard recently.
The F-100 designation was introduced for the 1953 model year (replacing the old F-1), and it was used on the half-ton F-Series trucks through 1983. After that, the F-150 took over as the entry-level F-Series.
It’s in rough shape now, having worked hard for 42 years, but a look at the build tag will make it easier to imagine that day in June of 1980 when it rolled off the assembly line in San Jose, California (today, the Great Mall stands on the site of San Jose Assembly). It was sold through the San Jose District Sales Office, so it would have started life in northern California or perhaps northwestern Nevada. Perhaps I saw it on the Nimitz Freeway while driving my ’69 Corona as a yoot in 1982.
The engine code on the build tag indicates that the original powerplant in this truck was the 300-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) pushrod straight-six engine that Ford built for trucks from 1965 through 1996. The one we’re looking at here might not be the original 300 (engine swaps have always been frequent in Detroit pickups), but we should know that Engine Numero Uno in this truck offered 117 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque. The only optional engine for the 1980 F-100 was the 302/5.0-liter Windsor V8 (buyers of the F-150/F-250/F-350 could get 351s and 400s).
While it’s possible the engine is original, we can see that the front body panels and maybe the bed began life on different trucks. This truck had some adventures.
You can’t even get a manual transmission in a new F-150 these days, but the base gearbox in the 1980 F-100 was a three-on-the-tree column-shift manual (the three-on-the-tree was available on new Ford trucks through 1986). This truck has the optional Clark-made four-on-the-floor manual with overdrive. A “Select-Shift” three-speed automatic was available as well.
Trucks of the Malaise Era are so much bouncier, noisier, and generally more uncomfortable than their 21st-century counterparts that I think most 2022 F-150 owners (the ones under 40, anyway) would find an eight-hour road trip in a 1980 F-100 to be intolerable. Truck owners were tougher 42 years ago, when you bought a sedan if you wanted interior space and a comfy ride, and so this cab was considered pleasant enough for a pickup of its time.
It appears Ford didn’t offer a factory sunroof in the 1980 F-Series, so this is an aftermarket unit. You can be sure it always leaked in the rain.
Why is it here? Aside from the fact that it’s a base-model rear-wheel-drive pickup with the wrong number of engine cylinders and the wrong number of pedals, it has the Junkyard Harlequin mix-and-match color scheme plus rust in the usual spots. These trucks have plenty of devoted enthusiasts today, but most of them would rather get a solid four-wheel-drive with a V8.
Keyword: 1980 Ford F-100 Is Junkyard Treasure