By on August 28, 2010

Fifty years old, and this venerable Ford is still working hard, hauling construction supplies and debris for its young owner who traded it for “some drywall work”. But in addition to just still being on the job, this F-600 caught me eye for another reason:

It’s a Custom Cab, no less. Ford’s upgraded cab trim package was reasonably popular with pickup buyers of the time; maybe about half of them paid the premium fare. But those were pretty much all private buyers; fleets and work trucks rarely sported the chrome grille and deluxe interior appointments. And on the larger trucks, like this F-600, they were downright scarce.Let’s take a look inside:

Not your typical vintage work truck interior indeed: two-tone color scheme, and a (formerly) white-painted steering wheel with a big chrome horn ring. Truckin’ in style.

In my younger days, I drove lots of Ford construction trucks like this and the big Super Duties, as recounted here. But none of them were bestowed with luxurious and tastefully trimmed Custom Cabs.

The Custom Cab may included an upgraded dash, not that it did you much good. All that chrome and white trim, but no tachometer! How’s a guy supposed to know when to shift this thing? And there’s plenty of that to do, with a five speed and two speed rear axle: ten speeds to play with, if you know what you’re doing. If not, there will be tell-tale grinding from the rear splitter, for sure. Back to that the tach question: It wasn’t really very necessary, and here’s why:

Ford’s venerable Y-block, probably a 292 CID version here, was not fond of revving. You knew when to shift when it just stopped breathing any deeper, and hit the wall, probably about 3500 rpm, or so. After driving some of these Fords, my first drive in a Chevy of similar vintage was an eye opener: it was a construction hauler just like this one, but had a 283 in it. Compared to the asthmatic Y-block, the Chevy small block felt like it was hooked up top a bottle of Nitrous. It was so responsive to the pedal, and probably revved to at least to 5000 or more. Felt like a ‘Vette engine compared to the Fords, and we wrung it out for all it was worth. Maybe that’s why there seem to be more old Ford than Chevy work trucks left.

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24 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1960 Ford F-600 Still Hard At Work...”


  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    Nice old F-600. Almost as rare as the custom cab trim is the fact this truck sports power steering and power brakes. The line just under the master cylinder is a vacuum line to a hydro-vac unit which would be mounted to the outside of the frame on the driver’s side. All in all a pretty deluxe unit for 1960. As for the lack of a tach, most of these trucks were governed at around 3500 so you couldn’t really hurt them by over revving on upshifts, it was learning when to downshift when trying to slow down where a tach would be helpful.
    Whoever owns this truck now must be reasonably handy with a wrench, as items like points, plugs, holley carbs, bendix hydrovacs and juice brakes require far more maintenance than medium duty trucks of today. This one looks like its been well cared for since new and it’s cool to see it still earning a living. Great find!.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    Love that crossover exhaust pipe. I remember first seeing that exhaust setup in 1984, the summer between high school and college, when I was a gofer/clean-up boy at an auto repair shop. I was doing a vehicle service (oil change and lube) to an old Ford pickup with that type of engine and was bemused at that exhaust pipe/manifold arrangement. It had to have been a money saving reason behind that – that couldn’t have been efficient for performance. But maybe low end torque wasn’t affected that much by it at or below 3500 rpm.

    BTW, had Ford gone to paper air cleaners by then or were they still using oil bath cleaners? Anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I used to help a friend work on his ’37 flathead Ford V-8 which I seem to recall also had that strange exhaust over the top routing. Almost certainly one of ol’ Henry’s penny pinching ideas. It sure makes working on the things a PITA when hot!

  • avatar
    pleiter

    Wow, compare and contrast with the Mike McCool story of April 18, 2010. need to have a charity drag strip,winner gets hubcap money. What are the inspection requirements like in Eugene, in Maryland they would hen peck you to death on an old vehicle like these F-350 and F-600.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Inspection? What is this word you speak of? Nothing of the sort here, in the land of the free Curbside Classics.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      Same thing here Paul. I’ve got an old 1950 Internaitonal that is in mint condition that looks like that Ford’s twin right down to the color.

      I still use it on my old farm outside of town. It hasn’t needed anything done to it in over 20 years except batteries. Absolutely great old truck. Unfortunately no power brakes or steering. I’m getting almost too old to manhandle it any more.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    perhaps all ve can say is they dont build them like they used to.
    is a hell lot of a truck. ve once had an early 60′s Dodge 2 ton truck, slant 6, it was fun to drive, sadly where my bro lives the city’s engineer were unimpressed, one day the city put the hook on her, after a week at the pound u know u just cant afford the moorage charge!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Quel coincidence! I was down on the Cape in Chatham when I passed a ’60 F 100 “for sale” It had a 98 inspection sticker on it ,so it has been for sale a looonng time. I struggled with the rust bound hood hinges and saw the 223 I 6 in it. A ringer for my briefly owned 60 F 100. After my brother totaled on a tree stump. I transplanted the engine into a 62 F 250, that my folks used for a decade as their utility vehicle.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Sweet old ride. For some reason General MacArthur’s old quote; “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” comes to mind.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    How’s a guy supposed to know when to shift this thing?

    You answered your own question, but back in the day, when “three on the tree” was pretty common, people learned to shift when the engine “told” them it was time. You just had a feel for it.

    Also, I really miss the days when knobs were actually connected to something on the other side of the dash. Especially when they’d freeze up. Then you’d squirt something onto the slider–maybe some 3 in 1, and hope it made a difference. Or the knob would break so you always kept a vice-grip in the glove compartment.

  • avatar

    I like this story.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I see that overly optimistic speedometers are not a recent innovation.

  • avatar
    obbop

    For even more head-shaking fun have yet another gear shift sticking out of the floor with 4 choices to select from.

  • avatar
    Cerbera LM

    That brings back the memories. Grew up driving farm trucks that were 10-15 years newer. Chevy C50/60, International Loadstar 1600/1800 but never drove a Ford. Then there was dad’s ’69 GMC with a big block V-6, talk about low power & slow revving. With 485 bushel of corn it would do 47 after a 1.5 miles of flat road. Empty it would so 52 (red line in 5H) with the tag axle up.

    It had no power steering. 0-30 mph it had the bounciest speedometer I’ve seen and the shift pattern in 4th & 5th was 4L-5L-4H-5H. It had an auxiliary 40+ gl gas tank, one had to lift the bed to fill, but no gas gauge. Would be driving along when the engine would cough. Reach underneath the seat, find the lever by feel and try to remember was if one was to turn it 90°cw or ccw. Then pump the gas until the engine coughed back to life. Oh the good old days.

  • avatar
    skor

    I really like the interior. For starts, no pun intended, there’s the ignition switch which was thoughtfully placed on the extreme left of the all metal dash — a perfect location if you enjoy having your knee cap run through by the key in an accident. And what about that all metal dash with all the metal levers and control thingies sticking straight out at the driver? Man, oh man, this thing is an ambulance chaser’s wet dream.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    People really use the tach to shift? That’s crazy! The only time I can imagine doing that is with a vehicle so silent you can’t hear the engine.

    Even then, it would be pretty obvious from the timing alone… Time in gear modified by throttle usage…

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    The sight of the 292 is awesome! It’s like stepping back in time because it’s just like looking under the hood of my dad’s old 64 F100 with the same engine.
    The holley 2 barrel carb is even missing the air cleaner like my dad’s truck! He drove it for years and years like that and it never started to smoke. Those old Y blocks had a high nickel content.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      I drove a ’71 351W 2bbl in a Ford Custom 500 for a couple of years w/out an air cleaner. The bottom of the hood was singhed (sp?) from when I deliberately made it backfire. I’d put the automatic into a lower gear while going down a hill with no throttle. Rumble, rumble, pop, rumble, pop, etc. Fun for an 18 year old with no sense. And of course, I’d open the hood and rev the engine using my hand on the carb linkage – glad it didn’t backfire in my face! Gotta be cool around the other dorks in the high school parking lot.

  • avatar
    PJungnitsch

    We had something very similar on the farm, a mid 50′s Ford 5 ton with a big grain box. Ours had a 302 and had plenty of jam with the single axle. Very sweet shifting for some reason, better than any manual shift Ford pickup I’ve driven since. The instruments were made with care including a big tachometer, color coded with idle from 0-2000 rpm, operating range 2000-3500, and ‘overspeed’ 3500-4000.

    A tach is handy on a heavily loaded truck with questionable brakes, shifting correctly on soft ground or going up or down hills is a big deal.

    Never mind keeping the door shut with a rubber strap while wrestling the giant non-power steering wheel around.

    My brother took over the farm and he still uses it. Probably still starts it with a jug of gas poured down the carb throat.

  • avatar
    Jseis

    Nice,

    Outback of the packing house on the farm is my ’58 F8 bobtail 5 yard dump truck with a 390 (where it came from, no one knows), with a 4 and 2 (electric shift). When rolling with a load of gravel at 60 mph..downright scary as in, don’t get in the way. Red outside and inside. We used it to build road on the farm and it was quite fun to drive slow with the dump heaped with sand such that it ran over the front of the cab guard and off the sides. I figured I was pushing 8 yards heaped and if the sand was wet, it was likely that the all up weight was north of 40K on two front tires and the rear duals. Of course, crawling slowly (at 5-8 mph) over farm roads and leaning like a drunk in a wind was nothing compared to backing up 1000 feet to end dump. More than once I backed off the road which meant hand shoveling the sand out so I could jack and crib the truck, then hoofing back for the tractor to pull it out and a spare body to drive. My poor Mom got roped into the driver’s seat once and I’ll never forget looking backwards from the tractor as the truck shot out of the hole with her two hands on the wheel and hearing the throttle to the floor. Thank god she stepped on the brake before pushing the tractor aside. I can remember dumping sand and trying to rock the truck out, just watching that driveline and rear end twist up..gives me chills.

  • avatar
    FJ20ET

    “Maybe that’s why there seem to be more old Ford than Chevy work trucks left.”

    There’s really only one game in town when it comes to full-size Pick-ups or larger versions such as these. Ford knows what they are doing, and they do it well. Constantly improving on design set over 60 years ago.

    GM and Chrysler, as well as the current Japanese full-size startups(which will likely fade away soon) never stood a chance.

    Best truck ever? Probably

  • avatar
    ItalianStrongman

    I installed a hood mounted tach for a 1969-70 Mustang. I got it from company that does custom dashes that also built a digital dash for me as well out a gauge panel I found in a junkyard & restored the original. I also had them do a Mustang Rally Pac with a clock & vacuum gauge. Ididit Steering Column, Custom Stereo with 4 speakers, Upholstery, Headliner, AC, PS, PB Carpet & sound deadener. Built into a Super Cab from 2 other cabs, long bed, leather power captains chairs Custom wheels in 24.5, original 2 speed rear end with NV 4500 5 speed OD Trans, (.50:1 OD). This F-600 is a full custom that I use to pull a 53 foot 5th wheel or a 55 foot house boat. Custom electrics, Twin I Beam fitted in with disc brakes all around, etc. Anyway, the hood mounted tach is my point

  • avatar
    ItalianStrongman

    Also, a 460 bored & stroked to 557 set up for towing & will run 135. Sorry to go off about my own F-600, but my point is that they do very well with some mods & look cool with fresh paint & lots of chrome.


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