Home » The 2024 Ford F-150 Is Over $15,000 More Expensive Than The 1975 F-150, How Much Better Is It?

The 2024 Ford F-150 Is Over $15,000 More Expensive Than The 1975 F-150, How Much Better Is It?

Then Now F 150 Ts
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The Ford F-Series line stretches all the way back to 1948, but the beloved Ford F-150 is altogether more modern. It was born in 1975 as a variant of the F-100, but from those humble origins, it quickly became the darling of the range. It’s been the headliner for America’s favorite truck lineup since 1977, but how does today’s model compare to the original from almost 50 years ago?

Welcome to Then And Now, the recurring feature where we look at popular, influential, or otherwise important long-running models. We examine how they’ve changed in line with market trends and consumer preferences, and how they’ve survived the ever-changing automotive landscape. The Honda Accord was last under the microscope. Today, we’re putting Ford’s hero truck under the same scrutiny.

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We’re gonna run the numbers and pore over the differences between the 1975 model and the latest rig [Ed Note: I just drove the 2024 F-150; expect a review next week! -DT], and find out what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. Let’s get started!

1975 Ford F 150: F 150 Pickup Debuts. (09/27/2007)
Where it all began.

PRICE: 2024 F-150 vs. 1975 F-150

The F-150 was initially built as a heavy-payload version of the F-100 to dodge emissions standards. With a gross vehicle weight rating of 6,050 pounds, it was designed to cross the line in the sand drawn by the EPA at the time. Anything over 6,000 pounds wouldn’t fit into the “light truck” category. This meant the F-150 didn’t require catalytic converters and it could still burn leaded gas. Between the lack of smog gear choking the engine and the greater payload, the F-150 quickly outshined the F-100 it was based on.

The first F-150 dropped in 1975, hitting the US market at a price of $4,002. That’s just $23,233 in 2024 dollars, which would make the F-150 cheaper than the Ford Maverick in today’s market. As a guide, the median family income in the US was $13,720 back then, equal to $79,650 today.

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Screenshot 2024 05 15 150711
This 1978 brochure highlights the three body styles available in the sixth-generation F-Series. The F-100 existed beneath the F-150 until 1983, but the latter truck quickly became the star of the range.

The F-150 wasn’t supposed to steal the limelight from the F-100, but it did anyway. The shift into a higher category with fewer regulations was enough to dominate the former mainstay of the range. Other automakers were making similar moves, and trucks like the F-150 were nicknamed “heavy halfs,” as they were heavier-duty versions of the conventional half-ton trucks of the era.

By 1977, the F-Series was America’s best-selling truck with the F-150 at the forefront. It’s been that way ever since. Fast forward to 1983, and the F-150 had proven so popular it that the F-100 was dropped entirely. The F-150 would go forward as the lead model of the F-Series range.

2024 Ford F 150 Platinum 08
If you took this truck back to 1943, they’d have melted down all the chrome and aluminum to make fighter planes.

The 2024 Ford F-150 starts at $38,765 by comparison. That’s a massive $15,000 more expensive than the 1975 model, accounting for inflation. In the US, the median family income was $74,580 in 2022, the closest year that we have data for. Adjusted to 2024 prices, it’s equal to $79,594 today.

It’s worth noting that you can spend to the moon on a modern F-150, now that luxury trucks are a thing. The Plantium and King Ranch trims start at $73,735, while the high-performance F-150 Raptor begins at $78,330. Throw in a bunch of options and it’s possible to walk away paying six figures by the time you’re done.

More than most models, the Ford F-150 has significantly risen in price over the years. Where a 1975 model cost just 29% of the median income, a 2024 F-150 costs a full 49% of the modern median income. That shift hasn’t come quickly; instead, the F-150, like the Civic, has slowly moved a little upmarket over the years.

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2024 Ford F 150 Platinum 10
Where the original F-150 was a basic truck, the latest model is packed to the gills with technology.

 

2015 Ford F150 Xl 2
The XL is the work truck of the modern F-150 range. Even then, it’s no stripper model.

POWER & WEIGHT: 2024 F-150 v. 1975 F-150

Engine-wise, the 1975 model featured the famous Ford 300 cubic-inch straight six. It made 120 horsepower from its 4.9-liter displacement. Alternatively, you could option up a V8 in 360, 390, or 460 cubic inch displacements. They offered 143 hp, 161 hp, or 245 hp respectively. The Malaise Era would soon cut those power figures down some, but you really could get a 245 hp V8 in your Ford F-150 in 1975. Curb weight depended on body and engine choice but started at around 3,800 pounds for a long bed with the 300 inline six.

S L1600
I found a 390 V8 for sale on eBay, seen here in an old F-250. You could get this engine in an F-150 if you so desired. Credit: eBay

Today, the F-150 is an altogether different beast. Ignoring the all-electric F-150 Lightning, the 2024 model is available with V6 and V8 engines, including diesel and hybrid options. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost Nano V6 is the smallest option in the range, offering 325 horsepower. The larger 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 ups this to 400 hp, as does the 5.0-liter Coyote V8, however, the turbocharged V6 has 500 pound-feet of torque to the latter’s 400 pound-feet. The sole diesel option is the Power Stroke V6 with 250 hp and 440 pound-feet of torque, while the hybrid PowerBoost V6 offers 430 hp and 570 pound-feet of torque.

The Raptor takes the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and boosts it up to 450 hp. But at the top of the tree stands the Carnivore V8 from the Raptor R model, good for 720 hp and 640 pound-feet of torque. Those were once supercar numbers, but now you can get them in a truck from Ford.

Curb weight for the newest models starts at around 4,600 pounds and goes up from there. Adding four-wheel-drive, a crew cab, or longer bed pushes that figure over 5,000 pounds in many cases.

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2023 F 150 Raptor R Exterior Avalanche Gray 02
The F-150 Raptor R has lots of power so it can do this.
Vehicle
It makes 720 horsepower with a supercharged 5.2-liter V8.

It goes without saying—the 2024 models make far more power than the original F-150. Even the so-called Nano V6 makes 80 more horsepower than the gigantic 460 cubic-inch (7.5-liter) V8 of the first F-150. Meanwhile, the Raptor R makes almost three times as much. The original F-150 might have been a bit lighter, even if it lacked a modern aluminum body, but it would never keep up with such a disadvantage in power.

You won’t find many performance statistics for the sixth-generation F-series lineup. These were workhorses, not racehorses. Still, you can rest assured that the modern lineup is far quicker. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost model can hit 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. The Raptor R will do it in 3.6 seconds. You could line it up against a McLaren F1 and you’d have a serious chance of coming out the victor.

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Even the 2.7-liter V6 delivers 325 horsepower. Twin turbochargers help it eclipse the output of the 7.5-liter V8 in the original F-150.

Beds, Payload & Towing: 2024 F-150 v. 1975 F-150

When it comes to work duties, two numbers matter more than all others. Payload figures and towing figures. Indeed, it was the greater payload capacity that separated the F-150 from the F-100, birthing the legend that we know today.

Back in 1975, the F-150 had a payload of 2,085 pounds in the short wheelbase configuration, or up to 2,325 pounds in long wheelbase form. It was available with a 6-and-3/4 foot bed with the SuperCab, or 8-foot beds with the SuperCab or Regular Cab, including Styleside and Flareside configurations. It had a a maximum tow rating of 6,000 pounds.

Screenshot 2024 05 20 124219

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As far as bed choices, the new F-150 offers three options to the original’s two. It can now be had with a 5.5-foot short bed, a 6.5-foot standard bed, or an 8-foot long bed for larger loads. Availability is tied to cab choice. The Regular Cab can be had with the 6.5-foot or 8-foot box, while the SuperCab only gets the 6.5-foot option. SuperCrew buyers can choose the 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot box.

Today’s F-150 is a touch more capable when it comes to payload. A 2024 model is rated up to 2,445 pounds, with the optimum payload configuration featuring the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. Towing is where the new model really has an advantage, however. An F-150 with that same engine and the Tow/Haul package will pull up to 14,000 pounds. If you’re regularly towing big loads for work, or you like tugging a big camper down the highway, a modern F-150 will do a lot more for you than a classic 1975 model.

Screenshot 2024 05 20 124321
The F-150 SuperCrew with the 6.5-foot bed and the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 has the greatest towing capacity when the correct specification is chosen. It will haul 13,500 pounds, over double what the original F-150 could achieve.

Options: 2024 F-150 v. 1975 F-150

Trucks were just trucks in 1975. The options list reflected that. You could get an AM/FM radio or air conditioning if you were so inclined, or an automatic transmission if shifting your own didn’t appeal. A sliding rear cab window was also available. Four-wheel-drive wasn’t available at first but would become an option some years later.

Beyond that, though, most of the options list was focused on whatever job the truck would be entrusted with. The brochure lists towing packages, box covers, wider mirrors, and an increased capacity radiator for heavy-duty users. You could also get “Speed control”—a basic cruise control unit.

Vintage F 150 Ad
Ford’s idea of luxury included a headliner and extra carpeting. The cheap seats were cloth, but you could upgrade to vinyl!

 

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1975
You could get cruise control in 1975! Click to enlarge.

However, it was also the Golden Era of Two-Tone, and Ford didn’t disappoint in this regard. You had your choice of five different two-tone configurations, and 16 paint colors. Ford didn’t list out all the color combinations in the brochure, but it appears that Chrome Yellow was singled out, and could not be specified in a two-tone combination.

Screenshot 2024 05 15 132952

Fast forward to today, though, and the F-150 is an altogether different beast. Power windows weren’t even a thing back in the day, but now they’re standard on the modern model. As is air conditioning, satellite navigation, and the infotainment display itself. Where the stereo once came with two speakers, it now comes with eighteen if you specify the Bang and Olufsen sound system.

It’s entirely possible to load the 2024 model down with all kinds of luxury paraphernalia. Power tailgates, power-folding mirrors, and power seats are all available. You can heat those seats, too, front and rear, if you’re sick of cold buns—whether you’re out on the job or driving to the mall. Cruise control is standard these days, but you can upgrade top models with BlueCruise if you want to use the hands-free driver-assist on the highway.

Next Gen Bluecruise
The original F-150 could actually be optioned with cruise control, but today, technology is at an altogether higher level.

 

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2024 Ford F 150 Platinum 11
You can get over 14 cupholders in a modern crew cab F-150. The 1975 model had none.

It’s not all about comfort, though. Some of the modern features do have value for work duties. Ford’s on-board generator options have also become a major hit, providing up to 7.2 kW of AC power on demand. Meanwhile, the trailer backup assist is something that’s useful on the job site and the boat ramp, to boot.

Safety: 2024 F-150 v. 1975 F-150

Hi, it’s David Tracy popping in here. I want to add this section about safety, because that’s important. A 1975 Ford F-150 didn’t even have shoulder belts. The new F-150 has those everywhere, plus front dual-stage airbags, side seat airbags, side cushion airbags, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic detection, backup camera, and of course all the high-strength steel that helps the car crash insanely rigorous crash tests like IIHS’s small-overlap test.

I could go on and on, but, from a safety standpoint, the 2024 truck is just a way, way more advanced machine.

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Times Have Changed

The Ford F-150 can still be a work truck. You can have one with basic wheels and an ugly plastic grille if that’s what you really want [Ed note: I actually love the basic work truck plastic grille! – MH]. Even still, the base model comes with a ton of equipment compared to the original 1975 model. If you want a bargain-basement truck with wind-up windows and no air conditioning, that’s not even a thing anymore as far as Ford is concerned. The market has shifted, and the F-150’s price point has done the same.

A lot of buyers see the F-150 in a completely different light these days. Trucks are no longer simple workaday vehicles for tradespeople and industry. They’re beacons of status and luxury, with interior appointments and price tags to match. Plenty of these trucks never see mud, and serve more as status symbols than anything else. The F-150 might not yet come with massage seats from the factory, but take my word for it—it’s just a matter of time.

The idea of a luxurious pickup truck simply didn’t exist when the F-150 hit the market back in 1975. You could have made an entire comedy film about the concept back then. You’d cast Slim Pickens as a Texan oil baron who drove around in a SuperCab with a fur-lined interior and a champagne fridge hidden in the bench seat.

Screenshot 2024 05 15 135723
A truck that sounds like a delicious sandwich.

 

Cq5dam.web.1440.1440
A rich leather interior with a creamy ranch dressi … wait.

These days, the concept is so familiar it’s entirely unexceptional. Fine leathery models are just a regular part of the Ford range. Once upon a time, trucks weren’t supposed to pay any mind to comfort over utility. Today, it’s expected of them.

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Buy an F-150 today, and the doors won’t shut with a hollow, metallic clank. They’ll close with a thick and pleasant thud. The F-150 has moved up in the world, and if you want to make payments on a nice one, hopefully, you have too.

Postscript: Watch This!

Pete here. As I was enjoying this Now & Then, I flashed back to another Ford pickup history story I know you’ll dig. Back in December, when the seemingly irrepressible Jason Torchinsky found himself fully repressed by a major heart malfunction, our pal The Bishop filled in on Cold Start with a look at Ford’s delightfully bananas F-150 commercials of the 70s and 80s, including the ones below. Great fun, read the story here!

 

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Image credits: Ford

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

The 2.7-liter EcoBoost Nano V6 is the smallest option in the range, offering 325 horsepower.”

The 2.7L turbo is now the BASE engine??? Man… talk about overkill for a base engine.

Personally I’d like to see a 4 cyl hybrid as the base powertrain. These big trucks need better fuel economy, not 325HP as the base powertrain option.

Mollusk
Mollusk
1 month ago

One way my 6th gen F150 (which DID have shoulder belts, by the way) was superior to any of the current brodozers is that you could actually get a 50 pound bag of dog food out of the bed without a crane or ladder… and I don’t remember ever bottoming it out on the Ozarks dirt road I lived on at the time.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago

The idea of a luxurious pickup truck simply didn’t exist when the F-150 hit the market back in 1975. 

Uh, the 1975 Gentleman Jim would like a word. Although YMMV as far as how luxurious it is.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 month ago

I dunno. Ford hasn’t made a truck that appeals to me since the 300-6 went extinct. I’m a sucker for Twin I-Beam fronts too.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago

[Ed note: I actually love the basic work truck plastic grille! – MH].

Agreed. I’ve actually considered swapping the chrome abomination on my truck for a lower spec one that’s less obnoxious.

Soasas
Soasas
1 month ago

Do any of the old trucks have a driveline repair requiring removal of the cab?

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