During the era of Ford’s 1973-79 generation pickups, the US had two OPEC-induced fuel shortages, so fuel economy was a priority for their all new pickups for 1980. They were the first in the industry to factor lighter weight along with aerodynamics into the styling. While still a full-sized truck, they were slimmed down to include thinner gauge body steel and glass. This produced a taught, neatly styled truck that as time as progressed has a look that aged well. While most of the previous generation engines continued from 1979 into 1980, the larger V-8s migrated to the heavier capacity F-250 and F-350 models. The optional SuperCab and trim level packages also continued unabated from previously – spanning from the bare bones Custom to the luxurious Lariat.
For 1981, F-100s added an optional 4.2-liter V-8. Also new in the F-100s through F-250s equipped with the 302 V-8 was an optional 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission. The first styling changes were introduced for 1982. “FORD” block letters on the hood gave way to a mildly retooled grille with the corporate blue oval logo in the center. Trim lines were also shuffled, now going from Lariat XLT, XL, XLS, to Standard - from posh to austere.
1983 was a significant year for the F-series. The 4.2 V-8 proved underpowered, even in the two-wheel drive only F-100, so it was discontinued. As for the F-100, this was its final year, as F-150 sales had become significantly greater and presented a more unified line-up compared to the F-250 and F-350. For those two models, the most important introduction this year was the 6.9-liter V-8 diesel. Built by International Harvester, exclusively for Ford initially, this engine evolved into the highly successful 7.3-liter Power Stroke. Finally, a four-door crew cab was now available in this generation on the F-350.
Performance was making a comeback in 1984, as a 351 H.O. version of the Windsor V-8 was a new option. Trim levels were back down to three, with the XLS being dropped. 1985 ushered in electronic fuel injection for the 302 (now called the 5.0 L). 1986 was the final year for carbureted engines for any Ford truck. It was also the last year for the F-series to have squared off wheel well openings, as the 1987 restyle introduced rounded wheel wells.