Ford Tough – A Guide to Parts and Upgrades for Mid-Year Ford F100s
To say that trucks are hot these days would be a tremendous understatement, and we’re not talking about just the classic fat-fendered ’50s pickups – which are still, and always will be popular. The Ford F-series of pickups has been a favorite hot rodding canvas for years and there is no sign of them slowing down, however the era of truck being modified is definitely a moving target.
The Ford F100 was introduced in 1953 and like all long-lasting models, it has transformed over the years to follow trends, safety guidelines, consumer desires, and of course, the overall styling. There are catalogs of replacement components for early models, and the market continues to grow strong for the later models including bumpsides (’67-’72), dentsides (’73-’79), with the ’80-’86 models and even ’90s versions starting to come on strong.
We decided to take a look at some of the parts available to help restore or build an F100 with a focus on the ’61–’86 models. There are plenty of parts available for both restoration and upgrades, with new parts and systems coming soon as aftermarket companies continue to R&D and innovate cool truck components. Take a look and be sure to reach out to these companies for any questions or needs you may have on your later F100 project!
You spend a lot of time looking through the steering wheel at your gauges, so why not make your Ford’s dash look as good as possible? Speedway Motors offers a slick polished billet aluminum dash for ’61-’66 F100 trucks.
The CNC-machined billet panel bolts right into the original dash and secures six gauges; a 3-3/8-inch speedometer and tach with four 2-1/16-inch auxiliary positions. These sizes mean most aftermarket gauges will fit, but Speedway can fill those holes with their own six-pack of gauges. The dash panel also has 5/32-inch holes to hold LED bulbs for turn signals and bright light indicators.
IFS and 4-Link
Early F100s have never been known to ride comfortably or handle particularly well. Total Cost Involved can help you change that with their 4-Link Rear Suspension and a complete Independent Front Suspension for early-’60s trucks. The 4-Link setup is provided with height-adjustable coil-overs and will allow you to fine tune the rear setup to eliminate hop and provide greater axle control.
Up front, TCI’s Pro-Touring IFS features their custom-designed spindles with bolt-on steering arms to maximize the performance aspects of the suspension geometry, including camber gain, bump steer, Ackerman angle, scrub radius, kingpin inclination, instant center, and more. The Pro-Touring IFS utilizes OEM-spec disc brakes, ball joints, and rack-and-pinion so replacement parts are readily available, and RideTech Million Mile Warranty coil-overs are standard equipment.
You might think your truck is cool – but does your passenger agree? Vintage Air now offers a Gen IV Sure Fit kit, their most powerful and intelligent system, for ’73-’79 Ford F100 dentside pickups. This system is based on a fully electronic microprocessor control system that eliminates cables and vacuum connections. The separate, high-capacity, parallel-flow copper heating coils and aluminum plate-and-fin cooling coils provide outstanding performance and infinite “just right” temperature air blends, blower fan speed adjustments, and high-volume dehumidified defrost.
The kit includes a direct-fit, three-lever, fully electronic, LED-backlit control panel that replaces the factory unit. The factory A/C kit uses the original in-dash louvers, and new OEM-style in-dash louvers are included with non-factory A/C systems. The Gen IV SureFit air conditioning system complete kit is available for all six- and eight-cylinder factory-A/C and non-factory-A/C trucks and requires minimal modifications to the original firewall. They also offer a new system available for ’80-’86 F100s!
There’s a good chance you’ll need some custom sheet metal work when building any classic pickup. This is especially true when different drivetrains and transmissions such as a Coyote or a big overdrive automatic transmission are being installed. To ease your build, Direct Sheetmetal now offers a firewall for the Ford ’53-‘56 F100 that fits nicely around a Coyote engine.
This firewall, formed of 16-gauge cold-rolled steel, features a 4-inch deep recess that is 32-inches wide, which is plenty of space to clear this modern engine choice. The firewall, #FD224-CY, can be complemented with Direct’s Front Floorboard Kit designed to match up to the Coyote firewall and there is even a separate trans cover that is taller for added clearance. Direct Sheetmetal offers a long list of helpful custom panels and can also build a custom firewall or floorboard for your specific project.
Dakota Digital’s Retrotech Series of instrumentation combines OE styling with modern technology, making them a terrific upgrade to your ’61-’85 F100. Dakota starts with a CNC-machined housing that is used as a foundation for the modern gauges and electronics that are designed and built in-house.
The high-definition TFT message centers can be fully configured to display just about any piece of information needed to give you as much detail about your drivetrain as possible. Dakota’s RTX series utilizes a central control box to make installation and setup as easy as possible and all their systems are backed by a limited lifetime warranty and are proudly made in the USA.
On many weekends you can find the crew from No Limit Engineering beating on their test trucks by taking laps on the autocross course. Their Wide Ride IFS is a popular upgrade on classic Ford trucks, such as the ’61-’72 models.
The No Limit Wide Ride IFS is based on a CNC-formed, custom one-piece crossmember flanked by tubular upper and lower A-arms fitted with durable urethane bushings. A set of their custom ZG spindles are included along with 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors with GM D52 calipers. A set of single-adjustable RideTech coil-overs are part of the package finished with a No Limit custom sway bar and new power rack and pinion with prices starting at $4,350.
Classic Instruments recently introduced a complete, direct-fit gauge package for the ’73-’79 F100. The all-electric cluster features a speedometer, fuel, oil, temperature, and volt gauges with green turn signal indicators, a blue high-beam indicator, and two red warning lights. Their new Hybrid LED Lighting offers the feel of the original perimeter lighting with the visual benefits of back-lighting to produce comfortable illumination and nice looks.
The cluster is wired with a single snap-in wire harness on the back of the cluster. Mounting hardware is included to install to your original bezel and lens. The fuel gauge is programmable to work with any sending unit and Classic’s Zeus Speedometer Technology requires no external control boxes and works directly with ECM or VSS signals and has a built-in ECM signal filter switch.
Torque Arm Rear
Building on the popularity of their suspension systems for ’65–’72 F100s, QA1 now offers a Torque Arm Rear Suspension kit for the ’73–’79 models. The new suspension system is designed to provide vintage Ford F100 enthusiasts with exceptional handling and ride quality in a bolt-in system. It is also designed to accommodate modern wheel and tire packages along with clearance for a 3-inch dual exhaust system.
QA1’s multi-link torque arm design eliminates bind and efficiently transfers weight for unparalleled launch and cornering. The adjustable coil-over shocks let you fine-tune the stance and ride quality of your Ford with 4-7-inches of drop and built-in pinion angle correction. The unique Watt’s link design works with the factory 9-inch rearend to keep it centered under cornering to provide superior performance. QA1 also offers complete front end kits to complete the handling upgrade of your Ford F100.
Whether you’re making the move to electronic fuel injection or keeping your F100 stock with a carb, it’s a wise idea to replace the fuel tank. Tanks, Inc. continues to expand their Ford truck offerings with an all-new 19-gallon stamped tank for the ’73–’79 pickups. A new tank gives you peace of mind that it’s corrosion-free and solid to keep your fuel clean.
Tanks products are equipped with internal baffling to prevent fuel starvation and can be ordered with an internal fuel pump to feed consistent high-pressure fuel for EFI updates. Each tank accepts a common five-bolt sending unit for the fuel gauge and is stamped from galvanized steel and then powder coated silver for a stock look. Tanks also offers new tanks for ’80s F100s and many older applications.
Just Frame It
If you’re planning on building your F100 into a pro-touring, cone-dodging street machine or if you just want comfortable cruiser for the long haul, Scott’s Hotrods ’N Customs has you covered with an all-new chassis. Their chassis start at $12,190 and are based on mandrel-bent 2×4-inch frame rails with 8-point crossmembers and feature their custom IFS and true parallel four-bar rear suspension.
The rear setup is built around a new Moser 9-inch rearend with 31-spline axles and a Panhard bar support. You can specify either single-adjustable coil-overs or air bags with external shocks on all four corners, while options include upgraded coil-overs, beefy sway bars, Wilwood disc brakes, fuel tank, stainless steel fuel AN brake lines plumbed, power rack and pinion, a Watt’s link rear setup, and more! Scott’s builds each new chassis to order so you can custom tailor your F100 project to fit your truckin’ goals.
The early-’80s F100s are becoming more popular and many companies have already stepped up with parts and products to help you replace and upgrade your truck. New Vintage offers a bold new gauge package to give your ’80–’85 Ford’s interior a fresh, modern look.
They start with an ABS/polycarbonate laminate panel that allows the installation of their line of unique NVU six-gauge kits in the factory opening. New Vintage offers five different styles to choose from while installation is simplified thanks to their Phoenix Direct-Drive technology. Built-in features include auxiliary gauge inputs, user-settable mileage, built-in indicators, and performance timers all without any boxes, modules, or drivers! Systems are also available for ’67–’72 and ’73–’79 F100s and are made in Detroit!
Over the years and thousands of miles, there’s a good chance that your F100’s steering column and its internal parts are just worn out. You’ll be amazed at how a new column will look and feel rolling down the road and Ididit can help with their bolt-in columns for ’65–’79 Ford trucks.
Ididit’s steering columns all feature heavy-duty castings, durable tilt and column shift mechanisms, and are backed by a lifetime warranty. Their Ford Tilt Column Shift model is available for half-ton trucks and features an eight-position tilt with a Ford-splined top shaft, Ford wiring connectors and turn signal switch, and are finished with billet aluminum knobs and stainless levers. The columns have a pre-welded under-dash mount and will work with the stock steering box or rack-and-pinion systems.
The wiring harness of any classic pickup project should be updated, especially when you’re adding more circuits such as EFI, electric fans, and other modern amenities. American Autowire offers several complete harness upgrades for Ford’s fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-gen F-trucks and recently added a new harness to cover the up-and-coming ’80–’86 models.
Their Classic Update Harness kits are designed for projects that require more circuits than would have been available on the original chassis harness. Each kit includes all the basics needed to rewire a vehicle from headlight to taillight, and will accommodate popular add-on items such as electronic fuel injection, aftermarket gauges, and common supporting modifications. Each harness features durable GXL wiring that is labeled to ease routing and an updated ATC fuse panel. A 175-amp mega-fuse and 6-gauge charging cable are also included along with extremely detailed instructions.
When it comes to refreshing the interior of your F100, TMI Products has you covered with complete interior solutions from door panels and consoles to carpet, headliners, and even visors. One of their latest additions available for Ford trucks is their Cruiser Collection of seats made specifically to bolt into your F100.
The Cruiser Collection is available in two different bucket seat configurations and a 55- or 60-inch-wide bench seat. The seats are formed with a strong, all-new metal frame and fitted with heavy bolstered high-density foam. These seats come in a timeless black vinyl with your choice of red, white, blue, or black contrast stitching. The seats include new slider tracks and are ready to bolt-on to your brackets right out of the box.
LMC Truck offers a bevy of components, from sheet metal to dome light lenses, to help restore or modify your F100. These new front bumpers provide a subtle custom look combined with improved lighting for safety. The bumpers, available for the ’73-’79 models, are stamped from new tooling using OE-quality steel for strength then buffed and polished for a smooth defect-free plating surface. The triple nickel-plating process creates a brilliant, high-quality mirror-like finish.
The lights, available as fog lights or a combination of fog/driving lights, are mounted in a durable die-cast housing with an effective reflector and strong, semi-hardened crystal glass lens. The lights use a high-efficiency halogen 12-volt 55-watt replaceable bulb that is DOT and SAE approved so they’re legal for on-road use. LMC even includes a lighted rocker switch and relay to finish the installation properly.
If you’re ready to really make your bumpside F100 ride smooth while handling like a modern sports car, check out Schwartz Performance and their G-Machine Chassis. Their chassis is designed to line up and accept the factory cab and bed mounts to simplify this major upgrade.
The Schwartz G-Machine Chassis for ’67–’72 F100s is supplied with a full-floating Moser 9-inch that is supported through a triangulated four-bar system with Teflon-lined spherical rod ends for bind-free movement. The front end features a power rack and needle-bearing-supported A-arms with separate caster and camber adjustments. Baer brakes are standard equipment as are the extra-long RieTech coil-overs to provide the smoothest ride for your truck. Schwartz can even supply a brand-new Coyote drivetrain to help complete the new foundation of your F100.
Looking for an easy, yet safe and sound way to lower the rear end of your ’65-’79 F100? Fatman Fabrications offers a trick bracket system that will lower the truck 5-inches while retaining the factory axle.
This nifty kit is supplied with a unique bracket that allows the factory axle to be shifted to the top side of the original leaf springs and secured into its new position. Fatman also includes new shocks that are designed for this new axle position to give the best ride. To get lower means the frame rail will need a C-notch cut but a reinforcement plate is also included which bolts in place to provide the vertical clearance needed. Fatman also has a long list of other F100 suspension components, all crafted in their Mint Hill, North Carolina, facility.