• Flathead V8 engine with modern upgrades
  • Floor-shift manual transmission
  • Mild custom with bucket seats
  • Dash and gauges period-correct
  • Ford step plates
  • Chromed bumpers
  • Beautiful finish
  • Radio
The brilliant blue paint immediately draws your attention to this restored and mildly customized 1949 Ford pickup. The interior features complementary blue cloth bucket seats in an otherwise seemingly period-correct cabin in mainly a gray tone with the period dashboard and instruments onboard. The truck has a flathead V8 that looks to have been mechanically upgraded for better reliability, with a modern intake manifold and carburetor, plus the ease and peace of mind of a modern oil-filtering system. The Ford F-1 displays many attractive features that include a finished wood bed floor with bright securing strips, color-keyed steel wheels with trim rings, wide whitewall tires, dual exterior mirrors, radio, chromed bumpers, running-board step plates branded “Ford” and cabin side-window drip guards. Beautiful styling and the detailing with bright trim on the hood and grille add to the character of this sharp Ford pickup.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1949 Ford F-1 Pickup
Years Produced:1948–52 (first generation)
Number Produced:138,000 (1949 total truck production)
Original List Price:$1,239
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $28,025; high sale, $71,500
Tune Up Cost:$150
Distributor Caps:$25
Chassis Number Location:Clutch housing
Engine Number Location:Same as chassis number
Club Info:Classic Ford Truck Club
Alternatives:1949 Dodge B1, 1949 Chevrolet 3100, 1949 Studebaker 2R
Investment Grade:C

This truck, Lot 790, sold for $23,650, including buyer’s premium, at Auction America’s Spring Auburn auction at Auburn, IN, on May 7, 2016.

Ford first built a commercial vehicle, a Model C delivery van, in 1905, with a grand total of 10 that year. In contrast, in 2015, Ford delivered close to 900,000 pickup trucks in North America.

The initial Model C was discontinued after the first year, and Ford started making commercial vehicles again in 1912, but their first factory pickup did not appear until 1925.

In the interim, third parties such as the Galion Allsteel Body Company built and installed hauling boxes on modified Model T chassis. Other car companies came earlier to the truck party, and Studebaker first used the term “pick-up” in 1913. Early pickup trucks were based on a car chassis that was modified to accept an optional body.

Enter the F-series

In 1948, Ford introduced the “Ford Bonus Built” F-series, its first post-war truck design built on a dedicated truck platform. It was to become the longest continuous series produced by Ford — the F-series was manufactured for 60 years.

The F-1 had a 6.5-foot bed and a flat windshield. Options included “See-Clear” foot-operated windshield washer, passenger’s side windshield wiper, sun visor and passenger’s side taillight. The wheels were painted black, as were the bumpers and running boards.

The “Million Dollar” cab — so called as that was what Ford spent designing it — was wider, longer and taller than any previous pickup model. They were offered with either a 95-hp L-head six or the 100-hp V8. A total of 148,000 “Bonus Built” trucks were produced in 1948.

The 1949 Ford F-1, to the uninitiated, was identical to the prior year’s offering — with only a couple of minor exterior changes. The wheels were now body color rather than black, and the red stripe on the Argent Silver grille bars was eliminated.

Sales were off slightly, as Ford produced 138,000 trucks in 1949.

Costly modifications

Our subject Ford F-1 pickup offered at Auctions America was subjected to someone’s interpretation of how to improve Ford’s iconic design. The bumpers had been plated, and a weird Ford step plate was added to the running board.

The “Million Dollar” cab was modified with bucket seats. Wide whitewall tires were added, which would have been an affront to any self-respecting, hard-working tradesman in the era. Under the hood an oil filter had been added and a newer intake manifold with larger carburetor installed.

Today it is estimated that 85% of pickups are purchased as “life-style” vehicles rather than for commercial use. With vintage trucks, the figure pushes 100%.

There is little argument that collector trucks are currently one of the hottest market segments, with numbers offered at most every auction, so we can make some fairly accurate observations.

1950s trucks tend to be a bit more valuable, as styling and creature comforts were more of a factor. Full customs assume the same risks as with other vehicles.

For example, a fully customized 1949 Ford with a stated $150,000 in the build recently sold for less than $50,000.

Gooding & Company recently sold a well-restored 6-cylinder 1949 F-1 for $22,000, and RM Sotheby’s sold a V8 version, which had received a frame-off restoration, for $33,000, so we can see the premium the V8 engine brings.

I come from the school that prefers a stock presentation over modifications, so it’s hard to see the benefits of what has been done to this Ford pickup. It appears the seller actually cost himself money with the mods.

On the other hand, the buyer is entering an expanding market, and he very well may be ahead of the game by reversing the modifications and returning this truck to stock. If the new owner does that, this truck may still prove to be a wise purchase. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.)

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