Ultimate Tow Rig: 1990 Ford F350 Lariat Dually

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In the late eighties and early nineties, if you wanted a truck with pulling power you went to your local Ford dealer for a 7.3 diesel F250 or F350.  Reliable and relatively economical, these trucks had a reputation that kept secondhand prices in the stratosphere for decades.  If you are looking for probably the nicest and most capable classic tow vehicle around, then have a close look at this 1990 Ford F350 Lariat crew cab dually for sale on craigslist in, believe it or not, the San Francisco Bay area of California.  This truck has just 108,000 original miles on its 7.3-liter diesel engine and is selling for a mere $13,500.  Would you put this beast to work, or would you try to preserve it?  Thanks to the legendary Pat L. for this 7.3-liter tip!

Towing capacity is an important figure if you are purchasing a truck.  Anyone who has signed on the dotted line for a travel trailer can tell you that having enough truck to do the job is very important.  If your trailer weighs anywhere near the towing capacity of the tow vehicle, you are going to want more horsepower, more brakes, and more weight in the tow vehicle almost immediately.  In RV circles, the joke is you never have enough truck.  That is especially true if you roam.  In Florida, you can get away with less truck.  In the Rockies, you’ll soon want a new Peterbilt.

The nice folks at Ford took this challenge seriously when they brought to market the eighth generation of F-Series trucks.  In a partnership with International, Ford installed an excellent engine for the task of towing: the 6.9 and later 7.3-liter diesel V-8s.  The engine in the 1990 F350 you see here puts out 180 horsepower and 345 lb.-ft of torque.  That doesn’t sound like much compared to today’s power plants.  However, back in 1990, it was a big deal to have what was essentially a school bus motor in your truck.  The specs also didn’t tell the whole tale.  That power was available almost in its entirety at very low RPMs.

The other big plus with this engine was durability.  When originally designed, light and medium truck applications were not thought about as much as the demands that commercial and industrial service would put on the engine.  These customers demand durability because downtime equals lost revenue.  The companies that purchase engines such as this also expect engines to perform for thousands of hours and/or hundreds of thousands of miles with regular maintenance.   Dropping one of these in an F250 or F350 was the best kind of overkill.

Take for example the 1990 F350 Lariat you see here.  Whoever purchased this truck originally not only checked every option box, but they pulled out a highlighter and marked up the order sheet as well.  Not only does it have the 7.3 diesel, but the truck is also equipped with an automatic transmission, dual rear wheels, and a four-door cab.  Adding to the already extravagant for the time Lariat trim package, leather captain’s chairs up front are supplemented with a unique rear seat that folds down into a bed in case the truck payment made it impossible to afford a hotel room when traveling.  Wood trim was also added to the door panels, but that was likely a dealer-installed option.

Inside and out, this truck is impressive.  The condition is spectacular, the drivetrain is top-notch for 1990, and the cab looks to be more comfortable than the interior of a Cartier Edition Lincoln Town Car.  With a meager for this engine 108,000 miles and an asking price of $13,500, I doubt this truck stays on the market for very long.  There is a lot of life left in this one, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better tow vehicle for less money.

Have you ever owned a 7.3 diesel-powered Ford?  What was the experience like?  Please let us know in the comments.



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  1. MoparDoug

    Ad deleted

    Like 1
    • BoatmanMember

      “Gone in 60 seconds”

      Like 4
  2. Tony Primo

    It will reappear on eBay next week with a $19,000 reserve.

    Like 12
  3. Uncle Leo

    I have a 1989 Ford f-350 dually crew cab with the 7.3 diesel. Bought it brand new to tow my 39′ fifth wheel RV trailer. Trans is a C-6 three speed,4:10 heavy duty rear. I wasn’t happy with the undercoating applied by the dealer and knowing the service manager,he allowed me to come in after hours and do it myself. Think I used the whole 55gallon drum. Top speed with or without the trailer was 68 mph. Unless I was going up an incline, I was lucky to break 30 mph. No race car. I’m surprised at this trucks interior,as this wasn’t an offering when I bought my truck even though I have the Lariat pakage. Just bench seats. I have a tad bit over 110,000 miles on it,no longer have the trailer,so it sees very little use.

    Like 6
    • Todd Zuercher

      Those seats, both front and rear, along with the center console, are aftermarket pieces – likely from an ‘up fitter’ of the times. They look very much like what was available and popular when this truck was new.

      Like 4
  4. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking truck. 1990 is my favourite year for the Ford F250/F350. Given its condition, I’d be willing to pay around the $13,500 asking price.

    Like 2
    • Ashtray

      I have owned several 7.3 Ford diesel trucks. The first years were very sluggish, so folks started adding turbos on them to improve performance. Sometimes they blew up because of the added boost.
      Around 1994 Ford (Navistar/International Harvester) redesigned the 7.3 and and built the lower end stronger and added a factory turbo. I suppose that’s when the Power Stroke name was born?It was a hit, especially in 1999 when Ford changed the body design on heavy duty trucks. They were a different look compared to the 1999 f150 truck.
      Chevy diesel motors were close to “junk ” status at that time, and not everyone liked the new Dodge look that changed around 96 or 97?
      So, if you had a new 1999 Ford 7.3 you were considered to have the best.
      I spent 36 years at FoMoCo.
      I own a Dodge 5.9 diesel now.

      Like 3
  5. Lawrence Smith

    I had a 1997 F250 with the 7.3 power stroker, at the time i was living in Alberta Canada, & was touring the states pulling my 40 Ft 5th wheel & my 4 horse trailer behind it, I was coming up over Hwy 20 in Washington when I noticed a set of red & blue flashing lights behind me. So i pulled over and the officer came up to me& told me i was not allowed to double pull in Washington State ,He let me off because i was from Alberta, but asked me what engine i had in the truck ,I told him a chipped 7.3 power stroke diesel, he was surprised ,lol

    Like 3
  6. Dwight

    I had a 97 f250 super cab with the 7.3 towed a fifth wheel 40 ft all around the states and had more engine than I needed.Great truck.

    Like 3
  7. Feez

    I have a 2003 F250 7.3 Crew Cab Lariat, I purchased it in 2002 fall,
    I still have it, has 230,000 miles, I’ve work all over the country, it still looks as good as when I bought it, At 80, I don’t think I could ever sell it, Anyone who has ever owned one knows how I feel, my grandkids tell me it sounds like the school buses they would ride in to go to school, , now thats funny.

    Like 5
  8. Chuck

    I bought a brand new 1989 F350 4X4 Crew Cab XLT Lariat with the 7.3 Diesel, 5 spd, w/ 4.10 gears, Posi-traction and 8 ft bed. I towed a 33′ 5TH wheel with it. I went from Michigan to Florida and back and got just over 12 MPG. Normal mileage was about 17 MPG. The camper weighed 10,000 # with 2000 # of pin weight. I sold the truck 2019 with over 300K miles, and never had a valve cover off it. It was a great truck! Due to the salt in Michigan, the rust worms finally destroyed the body. (:-( That was my second Ford truck. I also owned a 1975 F250 4X4 XLT that I had a slide in camper for. I put a 428 Police Interceptor engine in that. It was a lot better truck after getting rid of the anemic 360 engine! I sold that to get my ’89. I’m still driving Fords!

    Like 2
  9. MGM

    In the 90’s we owned 2 wreckers. Both had the 7.3 lasted forever and ran great till the very end. This 350 is sweet, the new owner can count on many miles of dependability with good maintenance. Lucky dog ,he got a deal.

    Like 2
  10. Chuck

    There were actually 4 different 6.9 / 7.3 Diesels in that engine family. From ’83 to ’87 was the 6.9 IDI engine with mechanical fuel injection, naturally aspirated. From ’88 to ’93 was the 7.3 IDI engine with mechanical fuel injection, naturally aspirated. In ’94 the 7.3 IDI engine with mechanical fuel injection, also had a factory turbo charger added, with upgrades to the internal parts. It was used only one year. The “Power Stroke” 7.3 turbo diesel was used from ’95 to ’03. It had computer controlled electronic fuel injectors. I have heard that these engines can go over 750,000 miles without major problems with good maintenance.

    Like 0

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