15,913 Miles! 1976 Ford F-250 Highboy

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“The ultimate pickup truck” is how a twenty-something mechanic at Castle Shannon Ford described this generation of Ford F-Series to me sometime in the early ’90s. Of course he had one in the parking lot, a completely restored 1978 F-250 Ranger XLT Lariat, so he may have been partial. Nonetheless the Sixth-Generation Ford F-Series pickups served their owners well on the highways, construction sites, farms, and back-woods of America and beyond. This tidy-looking 1976 Ford F-250 in Rimersburg, Pennsylvania served a fire department for many years before entering into public ownership in 2017. After little more than a paint job and a seat cover it comes to market here on eBay having traversed fewer than 16,000 miles in its lifetime! At least eight bidders have fanned the flames of the auction, raising the market value of this red-hot classic beyond $21,000.

The Custom trim got rubber floor mats, perfect for a harsh environment and garden hose cleanup. Muddy boot? Muddy dogs? Hop on in!

My family owned a bar in northwestern Pennsylvania and one of our regulars who worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline offered a testament to this generation F-Series. His Stroh’s-fueled praise was that the pipeline had used GM, Ford, and Dodge trucks at different times, but the Fords like this F-250 held up the best in those brutal conditions. The only complaint I remember was a well driller once told me “The bed sides fall off,” a problem I presume plagues only the rustiest specimens. Clearly that won’t be an issue on this fabulous low-mile cream-puff. I’m no F-Series show judge but I believe the side trim, rear bumper, and ’80s-style mirrors may deviate from original equipment.

Purists say the Ford FE is not a “big block” compared to the 385-series or the MEL, but the FE holds a large place in Ford history in displacements of 390, 427, and 428 cubic inches as well as this 360 cid version. While the phrase “High Boy” or “Highboy” gets loosely applied to many tall Ford pickups, a true Highboy (not a Ford term) resulted from engineering necessity and adapting 2WD mechanicals to 4WD. Read more about the Ford Highboy at BlueOvalTrucks. With the fresh paint you can’t call this truck a survivor, but it’s certainly a low-mileage mostly-original classic that deserves continued pampering. What do you remember about this generation F-Series pickups?

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  1. Terrry

    A low-mileage gas hog. The 360, despite being the smaller motor than some other FE’s, could eat gas! And even back then, most 4×4 trucks were “posers”. Hardly anyone took them off road seriously, that’s why several examples like this are still around!

    Like 5
    • Dave

      With the population loss and changed demographics a lot of small town volunteer fire departments have been dissolved, resulting in a ton of surplus radios and trucks like this one. They are highly sought after because of their normally excellent condition. You normally have to “know someone” to even learn that the vehicle is available.
      I had a 77 F150 4×4, it had the same mirrors and an 85 mph speedo.

      Like 7
      • Mike Brown

        There are still plenty of volunteer fire departments in rural areas. Government regulations on the age of apparatus are the reason why many of these are becoming available now. I believe that the age limit is now 30 years for fire trucks.

        One of the 7 volunteer departments in my Ohio county was forced to purchase a new brush truck a few years ago because the one they had was outdated according to the regulations. In order to offset the cost, they raffled the old unit, complete with all of its equipment intact and functioning, for $100 per ticket! Unfortunately, my ticket wasn’t the winner! The truck was a 1972 GMC K-25 step side with a 350, 3 speed/overdrive and just under 13k original miles. It was in mint condition and came with ALL of its maintenance records from day one. I don’t know who got it but I’m sure that it’s in someones collection now.

        Like 0
    • TouringFordor

      I had a black on black ’76 F-250 4×4 that I bought new. It worked hard on our dairy farm for 18 years. Not a poser. 360 / 4 speed, no lock out hubs, got 8 mpg, loaded or empty.

      Like 3
    • ADM

      A friend had a ’69 F-100 Ranger long bed, with the 360, and a three-on-the-tree. It got 10 mpg, on the highway, or around town.

      Like 0
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Thanks Todd. Very nice example. Not many in this condition; as Dave points out, former fire department units are usually highly desired. Sure, they drank gas, what truck didn’t back then? Add the fact that this generation of Fords is “hot”, I’m not surprised at the price it will fetch.

    Like 8
    • Dave

      On PA 31, just north of where it crosses over US 119, there’s a collection of yard cars. A few years ago the owner obtained a mid/late 70s Dodge 250 3/4 ton 4×4 from the Calumet, PA VFD. The truck looked as good as this truck does. My friend Mark winds up with vintage fire radios…he recently received a 1956 Motorola Consolette low-band VHF FM base station. He says it weighs 80 pounds and if he can find the manual and schematic he will convert it to 10 meter FM.

      Like 4
  3. Michael Abate

    IMHO, and I am sure many others…ruined a survivor, by respraying, and reupholstering.

    Like 0
  4. Bunky

    Here in the Pacific Northwest the default truck for loggers was a red Ford 4×4. I can assure you that they were not “posers”. The trucks were used up, worn out, and beat to pieces. Park a ‘70s Chevy pickup next to a ‘70s Ford pickup, then crawl underneath and compare the dimensions and thickness of the frame rails- then you’ll have a clue as to why guys who needed a stout truck drove Fords. Chevys are fine. I had a ‘77 light duty 1/2T,6/3 speed. My Dad had a ‘78 6/4 speed. Both great trucks for general duty.
    As for the 360 being a gas hog, I had a ‘72 360/4 speed. It was no Datsun B210, but I remember taking it on a camping/fishing trip. Canopy on the back with a 10 foot fiberglass boat on top, 175 Yamaha in the back, all the camping gear, and a rick of firewood to top it off. Got 14.6 mpg for the trip- carbureted, point style ignition. Guess I have low expectations. I was impressed.

    Like 5
  5. chrlsful

    “…a completely restored 1978…” nota highboy. last wuz 6 mo B4.

    Like 0
  6. Todd Zuercher

    1976 was a good year for the Highboys – first year for those big hubs and disc brakes, among other things. For me, they have to have a 4 speed though. Otherwise it looks like a great truck.

    Like 1
  7. Desert Rat

    Back in 1976 I bought my first new truck. A f100 4×4 with a 360, with 22,000 miles a ring broke and the motor had to be rebuilt. I could write a book on all the problems I had with that truck and as the last insult it was stolen at the mall when I went to Radio shack to buy a cb antenna. To say the least this was the worse truck I every owned and to this day I still drive only Chevys. Still this is a good looking truck.

    Like 0
  8. Mike Brown

    Didn’t the highboy trucks have a different chassis than the regular F-250 4×4s? I could be mistaken but I believe that I read this somewhere.

    Like 0
    • Todd Zuercher

      Mike – they did have different frames than the trucks that preceded them and the ones that followed them. However, there were no other “regular F250 4x4s” made in the years the Highboys were made.

      Like 0
  9. Greg

    Ok, maybe a 1976 without the bells and other break down crap on new pickups, it is now only $21,000. Try and buy a pickup today in this condition and milage for that price. It really is a new pickup that will serve the driver for a long time and new parts are readily available. If the lower milage is a problem then don’t look at it. I keep all my pickups for more than 20+ years and wear them out. This would be a good candidate for me, but I already have 3 and one is 72 years old!

    Like 0

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