460 Original Miles! 1976 Ford F-150 Diesel “Prototype”

This truck may be the lowest mileage 6th-generation Ford pickup on the planet! Not only is it in remarkably original condition, but it also features a surprise under the hood. The truck is a 1976 and was reportedly purchased in Portland, Oregon. You can find it for sale here on Craigslist with an asking price of $35,000. The truck is being sold by Fastlane Performance in Roanoke, Virginia and is only shown by appointment only. Thanks to Ian C. for the tip on this great find. Check out the photos and you’ll be amazed by the original condition and the power plant!

Along with the ultra-low miles, the engine is the other part of the story. According to the ad, the original owner purchased the truck new and driven to a shop in Pendleton, Oregon where a diesel engine was installed. The engine is a Nissan/Chrysler SD33 backed by a Chrysler 727 automatic transmission. This truck was a “proof of concept” for the owner and was going to pitch the idea to Ford. During the oil crisis of the late 1970s, this may have been a great idea, but unfortunately, the owner passed away in 1978 and the truck sat.

Amazingly, the odometer only shows 460.8 miles! If you doubt the mileage, the original condition of this truck from top to bottom might change your mind. Just check out the door panels, undercarriage, and bed! While you can buy just about any parts for these trucks and restore one to this quality, they are only original once. A trained eye could take a closer look and see if it is truly original. One of the tell-tale signs of original Ford parts is they are stamped “FoMoCo” (Ford Motor Company). Most reproduction parts don’t have this stamp.

If this truck truly has less than 500 miles, it probably belongs in a museum. So what is your take on this truck? Would you be a player at $35,000? Do you think the story rings authentic or is it too good to be true?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I have seen this vehicle in person. It was in the showroom of my local Ford dealer for a couple months about a year ago. This dealer is somehow linked up with collector car dealer(s), so seeing interesting vehicles in the showroom is common.

    I looked it over pretty good. Other than having some tarnished surfaces and (if I remember) an odd split seam in the upholstery, I did not see any reason to doubt the story. From looking at the pics here, I think it has had some recent underhood detailing performed. It showed 453 miles when I saw it.

    But how does one set the value of an extreme oddball like this? And, what would one do with it? Is it destined to be a museum piece forever?

    Thanks Montana.

    Like 16
    • Ken

      But how does one set the value of an extreme oddball like this?

      This goes back to the old saying, there is no one who can place a value on things like this. “It’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay”
      I would do an auction style and see how high someone is willing to pay out. Putting a reserve to protect the value is always advisable. You wouldn’t the hammer coming down at 10 dollars.

      And, what would one do with it?

      I’d drive it around to different car shows on weekends and judging cars shows.

      Is it destined to be a museum piece forever?
      That would be cool too. So long as the caretakers would start, run and drive it at least once a week.

      Like 5
    • Dave

      It already has a 727 Torqueflite installed, so why not go with whatever Mopar motor will bolt up to it?

  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    I had to look twice – it’s here in the Roanoke,VA.
    Wonder just how it ended up here?.
    If I had it (I wouldn’t pay that much for it),I’d
    drive the wheels off of it.

    Like 8
    • Steve S

      If I could get the truck I would replace the engine with a Ford engine like a 429 or 428 or 427. Then get a 3 or 4 speed automatic transmission that can handle the power. Then I would have to get rid of that topper also. Then find a chassis that is a 4×4 and turn it into a 4×4 since it is not 100% original anymore

      Like 1
      • Mr.BZ

        Then you’d have a 50k truck worth 15k. Maybe.

        Like 23
    • Brian Cody

      Hey, I’m in Danville just south of you. Is it still around? Any chance of seeing this for myself?

      • Nick

        It’s a buddy of mines truck. He has it at the dealership. Fastlane performance in Roanoke.

  3. Keith

    What’s up with the hour meter on the dash? Wonder what that reads?

    Like 4
  4. Reg Bruce

    Remarkably preserved example!
    While this truck is somewhat unique in that it’s done so few miles, many Diesel engine conversions were done by dealers and other owners in that era. In those years I saw all kinds of engine manufacturers units fitted. The Nissan UD engine was especially popular.

    Regarding the “Hour Meter” — back in the ’80s a lot of Ford Diesel ambulances in our area experienced lifter (and other) failures because their maintenance people were changing engine oil based on the mileage done by that vehicle. How many miles is an ambulance doing when it’s being used as the emergency vehicle for an auto racing meeting and is parked at the racetrack (hopefully, never to be utilized on the day!) with it’s engine and A/C running all day?
    An hour meter “fixes” all that because maintenance schedules should be based on run time. Many light duty Diesel pickups today use an hour meter but that was not the case 20 or so years ago.
    RB

    Like 14
  5. Lance

    Well you say it’s only origional once. That is true so when the origional owner had that engine and transmission installed it stopped being origional. It’s a nice low mileage truck but I’m not certain that it can boast of being all origiona much less asking what he wants for it..

    Like 13
    • Chad O.

      *original

      Like 8
      • Billieg

        oridgeional….

        Like 1
  6. Larry

    For $35k you can buy a new F150 with less miles

    Like 10
    • Dirt Track Doug

      which will immediately depreciate the moment it leaves the lot. Not so (maybe) with this truck -if treated with ‘respect’…jus’ sayin’…

  7. canadainmarkseh Member

    My dad had a 74 ford custom 1/2 ton. Just about as plain as you could get. His had a 360 engine and a c6 transmission, that truck for its time was a great truck we’d go camping almost every weekend and my dad would pull a 20’ prowler holiday Trailer and 3 motorcycles plus all our gear and 5 people. He mounted 1 bike on the front of the truck 1 one the tong of the trailer and 1 one the back of the trailer. My brother and I rode in the back under a topper with our family dog my sister got to ride up front. That poor truck was loaded for bear and it served us well. I don’t like the new ford trucks but back in the day of these trucks they were king of the hill tough.

    Like 11
  8. BR

    Curious choice for an engine swap. I would think if he wanted to impress Ford on the idea he would have used a Ford engine, namely the Ford/Dagenham 220 cu. in. I-4 or the 330 cu. in. I-6. Both used in Ford trucks from ’63 through ’66. These were also marketed as a marine engine.
    Also curious why he chose a n/a engine over the turbo model. But it is what it is.

    Like 5
  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    Interesting unit to say the least. I’ve seen some experimental units in the past but I’ve never seen one with the SD33 Nissan. Sure won’t have an abundance of power. The engine is essentially the same engine as the SD 22 in the Datsun-Nissan pickup, with a couple of extra cylinders. From what I can see this one is running a fully mechanical governor, which works fairly well. Some used a combination mechanical/pneumatic governor which used a butterfly in the intake throat. Some restriction there. Some of these were turbocharged but there were reports of collapsed pistons and failed crankshafts. Timing advance units could get all fouled up with sludge. If you ran a vacuum governor they had a totally insane shut-off mechanism.

    As for this truck, if I was determined to run a diesel I’d rather use a Cummins 4BTA which will get you double the horsepower of the Nissan. I seriously doubt that the collectible appeal will reach what is being asked.

    Like 10
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      Wanted to say cumins too but I thought it would not be well received. Plan B would be a 390cid and c6 transmission.

      Like 4
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Yeah, Mark, as much as I ramble on about the B-Series Cummins being the SBC of the diesel world, I have to admit that, like the SBC, it’s adaptable, light weight, and amazingly tough. I have nothing against people using one, although I might be more than tempted to give them a hard time. I would much rather have a Cummins under the hood of this truck than to be running that anemic performer that’s already there.

        Like 3
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        I agree I have a 1994 dodge with a cumins which would be a gen 2. That engine is tough, cumins rates them at 450k miles before rebuild. For us Canadians that 600k km’s. my truck has a little under 300k km’s And is still going strong. Up here the body of the truck will rot off the frame before I wear out that engine.

        Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        ‘94, that’s before the smoke nazis came on the scene. I had a customer who ferried new RVs across the country. I think he had 500k miles on it before the cab disintegrated. The engine ran like the paint on the exhaust manifold wasn’t scorched yet.

        Like 1
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        My dad has a 1992 dodge with cumins and 5 speed, body and paint like new on it. He’s 88 years old now and hardly ever drives it any more. He keeps it clean and garaged it has a colour matched topper and there is about 280k kilometre on it. It’s nicer than mine. He’s thinking about passing his down to me. If he does then I’ll pass mine down to my son in law.

        Like 1
      • Stang347

        But none of these were available in 1976, not a big choice in diesels back then. No Cummins then until mid 80’s.

    • PDXBryan

      Or one of the new Cummins Repower crate engines. The 4 cylinder R2.8 has 160hp/275 ft pds and I hear they’ll be coming out with 6 and 8 cylinder models. Way lighter, more powerful, and better economy than a 4BT. I say keep it diesel!

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        That 2.8 is impressive but I get rather nervous getting all that HP out of such a small displacement. You can make the bottom end super strong but you still have to get rid of the heat in the cylinders. Circulate all the coolant you want but you’re still limited to how fast the heat transfer is. Get one air bubble in the water jacket at full load and you melt a piston out of its hole. This happened with my brother’s neighbor; he got one of those eco-boost engines. One trip with the RV and it became an ‘eco-blast.’

    • Car Nut Tacoma

      That’s what I’d do. You can save the Powerstroke Diesel for the F250 and F350.

      Like 1
  10. Dylan

    If that’s the same Nissan diesel that was used in the IH Scout all it is good for is a museum. 0 to 50 in 5 minutes.

    Like 4
    • Pete Phillips

      …especially with an automatic transmission!

      Like 2
    • Sam Fiorani

      That’s the six-cylinder/automatic combination right out of an International Scout…no doubt it was simply plucked out of a Scout and transplanted. It’s too bad the owner died before the turbodiesel version was introduced, which would have made its acceleration simply “slow” rather than “glacial”

  11. JLS

    Thats a beauty. I am a motorhead that believes its purpose.

    Like 3
  12. lc

    I can think of a million reason why not to do this particular conversion, yet it was done, it’s been saved and now… it needs to be driven! 35K is a lot to pay, then again it’s a curiosity for those with deep pockets that can afford to play and indulge themselves.

    Like 1
  13. KKW

    I’d yank that nipponese thing out from under the hood in short order, and install the correct engine and transmission. These were great trucks, and this one is way too nice to be insulted with a hack job like this. Gotta wonder what kinda drugs the guy was on.

    Like 5
  14. daCabbie

    The mileage is most likely incorrect.

    The new transmission is not gonna spin at the same RPM’s as the original….that is if It’s even connected.

    It’s a nice truck. Not 35k nice. Maybe 13k.

    Like 1
  15. Chebby Staff

    “Hey, mid-70’s violent-UAW-strike-era Ford management dudes! I done stuck a furrin’ diesel engine from those wonderful folks who gave us Pearl Harbor into one a yer trucks, and backed it with a transmission from your biggest competitor! Whadaya think, wanna buy it from me?”

    Gee, I wonder why he failed……

    Like 10
  16. BR

    And last but not least – IT IS NOT A PROTOTYPE! It would be if the factory designed it, but it DIDN’T! $10k tops.

    Like 7
  17. angliagt angliagt Member

    I drove by there on my way home from work,
    but didn’t see it outside.
    Wonder whatever happened to the original engine/-
    transmission?

    Like 1
  18. Doc

    The engine swap hurts originality regardless.
    Love the truck amazing low miles.. but it is what it is.

    Like 2
  19. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking Ford F150 truck. It’s a damn shame that Ford never continued to offer the diesel engine for the F150. Who knows how much more popular the F150 might’ve been. My favourite years for the F Series trucks are 1976 and 1977.

    Like 1
  20. Midnightcowboy

    Sounds like some of yall are famliar with this 6 cyl Nissan engine .Is this the same engine as what Dodge used in half ton pick up around 1978 ? I first saw one at the auto auction in the mid 80s and was struck gee Ive not seen one of those before ,,,so the second one I saw was about 10 years later and being the lover of strange and unusual I had to add it to my collection of oddities .The 0 to 50 in 5 minutes was what rang the bell This truck has about the slowest getty up I have ever seen .Who ever had it before must have been barrowing rig fuel the thing has over a hundred gallons of capacity and gets near 35 mpg never seen one since this one ….It fits in well with my transverse 6 cyl Cadillac diesel and BMW turbo diesel Lincoln MK7 coupe Like I always say theres a butt for every seat Just gotta get em together.

    Like 3
  21. Rube Goldberg Member

    Yeah, I got to get in on this one, shows there sure are some odd ducks in the world, to spec a well known dependable truck with this setup. I’m sorry to hear the person died and never got to use it, but as others say, you could get this kind of power out of a 300/6 or small V8, and be much more civilized. The truck itself is great, aside from issues that will arise from sitting 45 years, but that could be worked out. Typical dreamer on the price, be a tough sell as is.

    Like 3
  22. Car Nut Tacoma

    Whoever provides the diesel engine for the F150, as long as the rest of the truck is durable enough to withstand the low end torque and compression that diesel engines are known for. $35k sounds like a lot to ask. If I were selling the truck, I’d ask $15k, maybe less depending on the condition of the truck. That way you have enough to restore the engine, and the rest of the truck to driveable condition.

  23. Car Nut Tacoma

    For a truck like this, I would think a Cummins 3.9 litre 4BTA Turbo Diesel engine would be a good engine.

  24. Jim

    It’s not an original truck. Oregon license plates in 1976 were yellow and not blue. The last blue plates that were issued were in 1973. It’s hard to believe that it sat for 39 years in Pendleton Oregon ( Cowboy country where trucks are used and not parked ). Also hard to believe that it has less than 460 miles since in your article it states it was Purchased in Portland and DRIVEN to Pendleton which is over 300 miles away ( I live in Oregon ) Another thing worth stating is that it’s not a factory Prototype but someone’s idea of making something different out of NON Factory Ford parts. Nissan Diesel/Chrysler 727 transmission? Why not just use a Perkins diesel and Warner T19 or NP 435 and make it a true Factory Prototype. Ford used that 6 cylinder Diesel engine at the time in the UPS trucks and various other bread trucks.

    Like 2
    • BR

      “Ford used that 6 cylinder Diesel engine at the time in the UPS trucks and various other bread trucks.”
      Nope. Ford used their own Ford/Dagenham four and six cylinder diesel engine in those trucks. Ford never used a Nissan diesel engine. And if UPS ever used a Ford truck you wouldn’t know it because they remove all brand badging from their vehicles.

      Like 1
  25. Bill McCoskey

    Most of the Chrysler Nissan SD33 engines sold in the USA were not intended for wheeled vehicles, they were sold as Chrysler MARINE diesels. I know, as a few years ago I bought out the contents of a large farm & marine supply store and we had several of these sitting on the original shipping pallets, the motors painted in Chrysler engine blue/turquoise.

    I am pretty sure I have one remaining original, never used, Chrysler/Nissan SD33 engine, still on the shipping pallet. We live in the Chesapeake Bay area and local fishermen tell me that these were popular when installed in slow moving bay trawlers, for crabs and other bay dwellers. Watermen tell me this diesel will run all day on a few gallons of diesel fuel, at a time gasoline was increasing in cost every month, and diesel fuel was still much cheaper to buy. It’s not a high revving engine, but for it’s size it’s got plenty of torque.

    If someone is interested in one of these Chrysler/Nissan SD33 engines, let me know by email, and I’ll look in the warehouse to see if it’s still there. Depending on where a buyer is located in the USA, my price for the engine is probably cheaper than the shipping, and shipping isn’t very much! My email address is my name as you see it here on Barn Finds, without spaces, at AOL.com.

  26. TimM

    Great truck and a super clean installation on the diesel!! Slap a turbo on that truck and go just about anywhere and get great fuel economy doing it!!!

    Like 1

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