Aaaaaw yeaaaaah, now this was a truck! It is curious why Ford developed such a humongous thing at a time when the very concept of motoring in the late 90’s was to do the exact opposite, but what they gave us was something truly wonderful, raw power, raw guts, a truly untainted machine!
To try and rationalise the range and to deliver a much more raunchy truck to compliment the Ford F-150 range, Ford chose to merge the former Ford F-250 and F-350 truck lines into one in 1999 to form the F-350 Super-Duty. Whilst the Ford F-150 would remain the company’s light pickup, the F-350 had only one thing on its mind, and that was to mobilise absolutely anyone for absolutely any reason!
The truck was destined to come onto the market in 1998, but delays in construction meant that Ford had to stop-gap the hole in the market with a briefly modified F-250 with an F-150 body, essentially just a scaled up version of the latter. By using two separate but related platforms for F-Series trucks, the inevitable compromises inherent in offering a wide range of load-carrying capacities were avoided. The main competition, General Motors, followed suit for the 2001 model year, when the GMC Sierra 3500 was introduced.
For the first time, larger trucks utilized a different design distinct from the smaller F-150 half-ton pickups. Although considered part of the F-Series, the Super Duty trucks shared no common body components aside from their taillights; under the skin, only the 5.4L V8 was shared. The front was more boldly angular with a raised hood, similar to the Dodge Ram. As an industry first, 2 large complete ring-style front tow hooks were included. The side windows dropped lower forward in the door like a commercial medium to heavy duty truck (similar to a Kenworth “Daylight Door”), the grille was narrower and taller as if from a larger truck, and optional manual-telescoping trailer tow mirrors were available.
The truck was coined back in 1995 by Andrew Jacobson and Moray Callum, and came in three cab options: Regular cab (2–3 passengers) with two doors, SuperCab (5–6 passengers), which included two small “suicide” doors at the rear, and the crew cab with four full doors and seats for 5–6 people. The Super and Crew cabs came with 6 3⁄4-foot and 8-foot full-size bed options, but the regular cab was only available with the 8-foot bed. The Ford F-350 Super Duty first generation was also assembled in Venezuela as a commercial small truck from 1999 to 2010. For this market the F-350 featured the 5.4L V8 Triton engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, and a choice of 4×2 or 4×4.
Ford Super Duty trucks were built in Brazil, with different engines than its North American counterparts and fewer options, initially between 1999 and 2011, with a limited reintroduction of the F-350 in 2014. The dual-rear wheel variant of the F-350 is known locally as F-4000. They were widely exported to Australia (F-250 and F-350), South Africa (F-250) and Argentina (F-250, rebadged as F-100, and the F-350 DRW rebadged as F-4000), usually following the Brazilian specification (with an obvious change of the cockpit location in the versions targeted to Australia, South Africa and other RHD markets) but Australia had a wider range of options in pair with its American counterparts, including automatic transmission and the V8 engines.
Variations of the Ford F-350 also came in the form of the Ford F-450 security and armoured transport truck for police forces, the F-550 heavy duty commercial box truck and extended wheelbase utility vehicle, a selection of medium-duty trucks known as the F-650 and F-750, and, most controversially, the Ford Excursion, a gargantuan sized family SUV that made environmentalists wet themselves with sheer horror at the prospect of every family in America taking their kids to school in 9-MPG, CO2 spewing monsters!
The first generation of the F-350 Super-Duty ended production in 2007, being replaced by a shorter lived 2nd generation which messed with the styling somewhat, making it much less prettier than the original it must be said. However, these trucks continue to be produced in Brazil.