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Ford C-Series was a medium-duty cab over truck built by the Ford Motor Company between 1957 and 1990. While advertisers boasted of its versatility, it was used primarily for local delivery, and fire apparatus. Many of the fire trucks came merely as cab and windshield models.
Like other automotive manufacturers that built cabover trucks before the 1960s, early Ford C-Series trucks were helmet-shaped cab forward trucks that shared components with the existing F-Series trucks. From 1948-52, they were simply cabover versions of the F-5, F-6, F-7, and F-8. By 1953, they were designated C-Series trucks, but still were little more than helmet-shaped versions of the F-Series trucks.
Models consisted of the C-500, C-600, C-700, C-750, C-800, C-850 and C-900. Like the F-900, the C-900 also included a "Big Job" model. Trucks with diesel engines had an extra zero in the model designations.
As Ford started squaring off its vehicles in 1957, they finally gave the cabovers their own designs separate from the rest of the Ford Truck lineup. The truck looked almost like an angst-filled Fisher-Price toy in appearance. It featured a small grille near the front bumper, with a four-pointed star emblem on each end, the word "F O R D" spelled out below the windshield, and had a cog-and-lightning bolt crest emblem between the headlights. Variations of this emblem were found on many other Ford Trucks during the 1950s and into the 1960s. The C-Series held onto this logo the longest. As with the cab-forward C-series, models consisted of the C-500, C-600, C-700, C-750, C-800, C-900, and the C-900 "Big Job" model.
Some historians have erroneously referred to the Ford tilt-cab as the "Budd" cab, inferring that it was an off the shelf item available to anyone. The C-Series cab was designed by Ford, tooled at Ford's expenses and built by the Budd Company to Ford Motor Company specifications. Other truck manufacturers had to obtain Ford approval before purchasing it. The exception was Mack, which bought most of the major cab stampings from Budd and assembled them itself on a floor pan of its own design.
At least three truck makers utilized the Ford C-Series tilt cab. Best known was the look-alike Mack model "N" which was produced between 1958 and 1962. The Four-Wheel-Drive Auto Company used some Ford "C" cabs which bore the FWD emblems, and Yankee-Walter used C-series cab components on some of its large airport crash trucks. In Canada, the Ford "C" had an identical twin - the Mercury "M" Series offered from 1957 to 1972.
Like the Volkswagen Beetle, changes to the C-Series trucks through the years were very subtle. Most of these changes could be found in the cowl insignias, if anywhere. Between 1958 and 1960, the C-Series added quad headlights. This was helpful for fire departments who wanted to use the extra headlight bezels for emergency flashers, an option that was offered exclusively to fire, and other emergency vehicles after 1960.
In 1961 the single headlights were resumed and a new Super Duty model was added, as well as the option of a small sleeper cab. In addition, Ford raised some C-Series cabs higher, moved the front axles closer toward the grille, added bigger engines, and a grille similar to the T-Series(including Heavy-Duty F-Series) and upcoming N-Series trucks. These would be known as the H-Series trucks, which were commonly referred to as the "Two Story Falcon." It was Ford's first entry into the heavy duty cabover engine market.
1963 was the year the C-Series adopted the same cowl insignias as other Ford Medium and Heavy-Duty trucks. The logo had the word FORD on top of a trapezoid with the model number designation. This insignia would be available until 1967.
In 1968, Federal regulations required all automotive manufacturers to add side marker reflectors or lights, which Ford was able to add to the new cowl insignia used on the F-Series since 1967. That same year, Ford decided to add this insignia on the doors of the C-series as well. Unlike the Ford F-series which removed them for 1973, the Ford C's would retain them until the last one was made in 1990.
1974 was the last year for the cog-and-lightning bolt crest that graced the front of the trucks from the beginning, and other Ford Trucks since the 1950s.
In the 1980s as Ford began adding their blue oval logo to all their models, the C-Series gained one in 1984 where the old cog-and-lightning bolt crest used to be. A few years later, Ford began selling the Iveco-built Ford Cargo series, which began to outsell the C-Series. By the time the Cargo was imported to North America, the existing C-Series cab looked like a dated design. The last C-Series trucks were built in 1990.
- American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide: 1920-1985, by Tad Burness.
- Ford Trucks Since 1905, by James K. Wagner.
- Ford Heavy Duty Trucks 1948-1998, by Paul G. McLaughlin.
- Ford Truck Chronicle, by the Auto Editors of the Consumer Guide, with Paul G. McLaughlin.
- Enjine!-Enjine! 2001-2: "Let's Hear it for the Tilt-Cab Ford". Walter McCall