By on April 1, 2010

Since we’re hanging out in the seventies with Ford, I remembered this truck I shot a couple of weeks ago. It sports the Free Wheelin’ decor package, that was quite the hot item in 1978. The splashy graphics made their way across a whole palette of Fords. It’s been quite awhile since I saw one. You? Hey, let’s go free wheelin’…

Does this take you back to a more free wheelin’ time of life?

And let’s not forget the bitchin’ free wheelin’ Pinto Cruisin’ Wagon’

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30 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Free Wheelin’...”

  • avatar

    My dad had a ’78 F-150 back in the 80’s. We felt so special with it. It’s official name was Ford F-150 Ranger XLT. It was the first truck I ever saw that had factory A/C. No Free Wheelin’ package, but it looked good in black with a red pinstripe and red interior. He sold it and replaced it with my first true automotive love, a black ’86 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe with claret leather and chrome super stock wheels :D

    • 0 avatar

      I remember that one. A fellow down the road had a metallic brown one with matching factory topper. He used it to stock his gas bar store combo – that was when a little road side outfit could raise enough cash to carry a family.

  • avatar

    I love these 70s stripe treatments! The F-150 looks great and that Pinto is unreal.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Looks like they had the same designer as the Mohawk mall?

      What is it with the 70s and brown rainbows?

    • 0 avatar

      @Dr Ken: Earth tones. It was all about earth tones, the yellows, browns, siennas, ochres and umbers in the 1970’s.

      I played drums in a couple of bands back in the day, and I desperately wanted to own a particular set of Ludwig clear lucite drums known as the Tequila Sunrise:

      Like I said, Earth tones…

  • avatar

    Ford Econoline for sale dans Quebec:

    I think the Carousel is more my speed.

  • avatar

    My pinto wagon was nowhere near that cool. :(

  • avatar

    I remember Jim Potocki’s mom had one of the last old-gen black F-150 XLT with that “Black Rainbow” (or something similar like “Midnight Rainbow”) stripe package. It certainly was distinctive…

    But Jamie May’s dad transferred-up from the Little Rock, AZ Ford Zone Office to a HQ job in Dearborn, and I thought his red w/white cap new-gen 1979/80 Bronco was so much cooler!

  • avatar

    Love the Pinto wagon…….especially the “far out” rear window.

    Made a 1/25 scale model of it back in the 70’s, stripes and all.

  • avatar

    I wish I could have sampled some of whatever chemicals made people think this stuff was cool.

    That would have been TNT.

  • avatar

    I would proudly drive any of those vehicles. A late 70s retro stripe graphics package would be pretty cool on the upcoming Fiesta hatchback.

  • avatar

    It’s like a Liesure Suit on wheels.

    Two years ago I saw this 1979 Bronco with the Free Wheelin package.[email protected]/2469084704/

    I recently saw a 1978-80 Dodge D-50 Sport with similar graphics.[email protected]/4410146690/

  • avatar

    Wow! Trip down memory lane. I was a wee child of 6 in 78, but I think the free-wheeling graphics is what turned me into a Ford guy. Back then my family lived in America and though my father was issued some station wagon (don’t remember which) from GM every year and my mother had a Chevy Nova, when I saw these cars I found my true love! I actually remember some of these commercials. The one of the yellow pick-up I thought was ever so cool.

    Thanks for the trip!

  • avatar

    I had a matchbox of the ‘free-wheeling’ bronco pictured here. I still think its beautiful. Might have to go digging through the parents basement now, see if its still around. Its too bad for those of us that live in harsher climates, there’s none of these paint-jobs that survived. All the great van-art from that same era too, lost to time. I do however have a surviving IH s-series tandem axle with the similar ‘sundance’ trim.

  • avatar

    I remember those graphics and how they screamed that “if you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullsh1t…”

    Craptastic pathos like this when I was a younger man was very helpful in moving me to the Asians and Euros. Great job DET!

    Looked like effen clown cars. Which would be fine, ‘cept that they weren’t done tongue in cheek…

    Velvet Elvis paintings anyone?

  • avatar

    Please Paul, stop it now. I know Jack Baruth positively kissed Ford’s ass in his review of the ‘Stang and you felt duty bound to inform everyone of the horrors of the Mustang II in order to remind the world that TTAC isn’t paid for by the blue oval, but you’re taking it too far. Please, I can’t even look at that bottom picture, it makes me want to hurl.

  • avatar

    Couldn’t say it better myself. You just have to look at the positive comments here to see who Ford’s target audience was back then. I guess I’m just not (or ever will be) a truck guy. To me a pickup is something you use to do a job. When the job is done, you park it ASAP and get into something comfortable, that handles, and is fuel efficient. I’ll NEVER understand the pickup-as-a-personal-everday-driver mentality……and putting ridiculous graphics on them doesn’t help IMHO.

    • 0 avatar

      @Big Duke: While I’m trying to inject some humor while writing this, I have to admit that I too, am not a truck guy. To me, these are things owned by poor farmers, (not meant in a detrimental fashion, just my impression leftover from childhood), certain tradesmen and folks who have to pull trailers. Like you, I believe they’re just another tool in the box.

      But: Maybe if you’re from a rural area, not particularly wealthy, where you can only afford one vehicle and it has to perform many diverse functions, you can understand the appeal of a pickup truck. With a bed topper. And extended cab, for the munchkins.

      I can certainly understand it. But, I prefer not to join in. To each their own.

  • avatar

    One thing’s for certain, those guys at the plants must have hated to put these graphics on! I would think they had templates and such, but sticker tech is not what it is now. As a kid I used to measure the stickers on our old Topaz, and could see they didn’t line up from panel to panel. I am sure auto workers were glad to see these decal packages go away.

  • avatar

    Sweet ride for any retro Houston Astros fan.

  • avatar

    Wow, look at all the cry babies here without a sense of humor! I love these!

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    The ’79 f series and broncos are my favorite looking trucks of just about all time. They don’t seems to rust to pieces like the old chevys. And I can’t remember the past time I saw a dodge of that vintage in PA.

    Love the free wheelin’ stripes. I would kill for one of these.

  • avatar

    Wow, it’s neat to see some of these old ads from the 70’s. It’s interesting to see how hard the automakers pushed these tape stripe specials back then. All of them did it back then, and I do mean all of them, the euros and asian makers, too. Some were more garish than others (i.e. the Pinto above) but everyone had a hand in the game.

    As a graphic designer, I personally miss this kind of thing, just because I think it would have been interesting to distill the customizing trends of the day and apply them to production cars. Something of a mashup of 2-D and 3-D design skills.

    Like someone else posted, I wouldn’t want to be the poor schmoe responsible for getting them on the car however…

  • avatar

    I built a plastic model of a custom black cabover Peterbilt with a decal scheme exactly like this. Then I moved on to my magnum opus, the one from Bj and the Bear.

  • avatar

    If you’re wondering how Detroit came about these graphics, you only need to find a magazine that covered the custom car shows of the era. Tons and tons of red and orange paint everywhere. Dittos for the opera windowed Pinto wagon, customizers were putting those dumb things on everything from econoline vans to corvettes.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    I want the yellow short box!!

  • avatar

    Damn. 30 years later, and I still can’t grow a mustache cheesy enough to qualify as a Free Wheelin Ford driver! I guess that’s why we had a Pinto Squire wagon.

  • avatar

    My ADD’s kicking in, holy cow a rust free Celebrity? amazing.

  • avatar

    I remember that insane striped Pinto wagon concoction with the round quarter window. I wonder if one of those in decent shape may be the first to obtain “collectible” status. That getup is as period as any car will get.

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