Courtesy of Leake Auction Company
  • 302-ci EFI V8 engine
  • SelectShift 3-speed automatic transmission
  • Only 12,445 miles
  • Short box
  • 4x4 with lockout hubs
  • Power steering
  • Power brakes
  • Air conditioning
  • Dual exhaust
  • Twin-traction-beam independent suspension
  • Factory 15-inch sport wheels
  • Upgraded Ford AM/FM/cassette stereo
  • Original delivery paperwork
  • Purchased new from Harry Holder Motor Co., Owensboro, KY

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1985 Ford F-150 XL 4x4 SWB pickup
Years Produced:1980–86
Number Produced:348,565 (1985 F-150s)
Original List Price:$7,799
SCM Valuation:$11,198
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$10
Chassis Number Location:Tag on driver’s side base of the windshield, decal on the driver’s door jamb
Engine Number Location:Boss on top rear of the engine block, at the bellhousing
Club Info:American Truck Historical Society
Alternatives:1981–86 Chevrolet K-10, 1980–93 Dodge W-100 Power Wagon, 1980–86 Ford Bronco
Investment Grade:B

This truck, Lot 418, sold for $15,950, including buyer’s premium, at Leake Auctions’ sale in Oklahoma City, OK, on February 25, 2017. It was offered without reserve.

When Ford downsized the F-series for 1980, I recall hard-core die-hard Blue Oval fans, and truck users as a whole, bemoaning this as the end of the world as they knew it. Cars got downsized, not trucks. How do you downsize a working vehicle? Surely Ford would lose the title of the best-selling truck in the USA — a title it wrestled from Chevy in 1978.

It didn’t work out that way. What Ford did was build the first full-size pickup to factor lighter weight along with aerodynamics, rather than breaking out the cleavers and trimming an existing platform. While still a full-sized truck, it was slimmed down with less bulk, to include thinner-gauge body steel and glass. This produced a taut, neatly styled truck that as time progressed has aged well, yet has still held up for real work.

Leaner and meaner

The first styling changes were introduced for 1982, with a new grille incorporating the corporate Blue Oval logo in the center — now used on all vehicles in all global markets, their best-selling one in the U.S. no longer excluded. There was also some semblance of performance, with a high-output version of the 351-ci V8 introduced in 1984 and fuel injection as an option — initially on the evergreen 302 V8 — in 1985. It proved to be the start of a short trip to the future, since after 1986, every F-series engine was fuel injected.

The F-series was lightly restyled in 1987, most notably with integral headlights and rounded wheelwell openings. Most pundits felt that it didn’t flatter the design, and even despite a cleaner refresh in 1992, the earlier 1980s model years are generally considered to be the best-styled of the group — never losing a beat in the sales race, and not only remaining as the best-selling truck, but the best-selling vehicle in the USA.

With the first step up from the basic Custom package, our featured XL was fairly well equipped when it rolled out of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant. Options on it include the 190-hp fuel-injected 302 V8, 3-speed automatic transmission (since Automatic Overdrive wasn’t available on 4x4s yet), power steering, power front-disc brakes, full gauge package, and AM/FM/cassette stereo. This, in 1985, constituted a well-equipped pickup.

Personal experience

When I saw this truck at this auction, it didn’t really bowl me over. Even with the low-miles virgin cargo box, it did show some light interior sun fade. Then again, I’m not a fan of Raven Black, and without a contrasting color or graphics — just a red pinstripe — it really didn’t jump out and scream, “Look at me.” No, this came off like just another once common-as-dirt 1980s F-150 that’ll do north of $10k, so I passed it by.

However, I also have a rather up-close-and-personal knowledge of the collector values of these trucks.

Not only did I use this generation of F-series regularly when I was in the Air Force, but my father bought a Wimbledon White and Midnight Blue Metallic 1984 F-150 XL Explorer package LWB pickup brand new. He kept it until he died in 2014. Two years after he bought it, he was assigned a company van. As such, his F-150 was only used as a daily driver — at seven miles a day — for two years.

When my family conducted his estate auction, that pickup attracted the greatest interest compared to his other cars and vintage tractors. While it had 91k miles on it, he maintained his truck fastidiously and literally kept every single piece of paper associated with it — the invoice, window sticker, all service records, and even every receipt for every tank of gas its 302 V8 burned though.

However, almost to a person, prospective buyers made the exact same statement after examining the truck: “Too bad it doesn’t have four-wheel drive.”

The only person who didn’t say that proved to be the high bidder, becoming the second owner at $4,600.

Without the excuse of saying “too bad it doesn’t have four-wheel drive,” this sale at Leake shows what multiple parties are willing to pay up for what used to be just a nice used truck not all that many years ago. Add in the low miles, and lots of folks who do like Raven Black, and the final price here not only makes sense in 2017, but in the future could be the type of truck driving people to say, “Dang, why didn’t I step up and buy it when it was only $16k?”

Practical classic

The same reasons my dad had for keeping his F-150 for three decades play into part of what makes these trucks increasingly popular today. These trucks are simple, comfortable and reliable. They have one foot in vintage style and the other in 21st century functionality.

At over 30 years old, these trucks qualify for collector/vintage/historic licensing — and insurance — in most states. They lack Nanny State airbags and ABS (I’ll take no ABS over the half-baked 1987–96 rear-wheel-only system), but on the other hand they are one of the last trucks that have an “analog” feel to them, and can be readily used in modern traffic.

Additionally, these things are of an age where buyers have sentimental reasons to want them. A parent, relative or friend had one; or maybe they even had one years ago and now miss it (or to be more honest, miss that time). If you’ve been watching the market, you’ll note these are the same reasons folks started buying — and the values started exploding for — 1967–72 Chevy pickups over a decade ago. The two trucks even share similar styling traits.

While we at ACC have seen an upwardly building market on all of the Big Three pickups of the 1980s, it’s especially so on the Fords. With that in mind, this truck may seem fully priced today, yet in a few years you may be bemoaning the fact that you didn’t get in while it was this cheap.

(Introductory description courtesy of Leake Auction Co.)

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