California Dreamin’ Daily Driver: 1951 Ford F-1 Pickup

Old School. That’s what the seller calls this 71-year-old daily driver, and I couldn’t agree more. It has a certain rough-around-the-edges look that you just can’t fake. Most survivor pickups we feature don’t come with palm trees, sunshine, and a California backdrop but this one does. It’s been a California truck all of its life since the day it rolled off Ford’s Long Beach factory way back in 1951. This cream dream is for sale here on craigslist for $18,750 and thanks again for our pickup pal, T.J., for sending this tip our way.

I guess one of the most famous 1951 Ford F-1 pickups is the faded red one from the old Sanford and Son TV series. I can imagine having “Sanford & Son Salvage” on the doors of this one as well. Nothing is shared about the truck’s history or what it’s been up to since Harry Truman was president back in 1951. It’s obviously got plenty of bumps, bruises, scrapes, rust spots, and all the other imperfections that give an old pickup truck “character.” But that’s why I like it. The seller does some name dropping and says a well-known classic car mechanic (Tim Krehbiel) has completely gone over the truck mechanically and has tuned it up and made all the necessary repairs needed to make it roadworthy. (And the new owner will be given copies of all the recent repair and maintenance work performed.)

The interior has the classic old school, mostly-metal spartan 1950s vibe and looks good overall, even though I’m not sure how accurate the bench seat cover is and there’s an opening where a radio was. The dash was redesigned for ’51 and I read that this is the first year the manual transmission moved from the floor to “3-on-the-tree.” The floors appear to be solid.

You gotta love the utter simplicity that greets you when you raise the hood. I’m assuming this is the standard 215-cubic inch inline-6 cylinder engine that generated 101 horsepower when new. Nothing is mentioned about any rebuilds and the mileage is given as 29,277, with one guesses has probably rolled over once. The seller states that the engine runs strong and the truck overall is mechanically sound. There’s also a mention of spare parts for the truck’s body in case the next owner wants to pursue a full truck body restoration but no details are given.

This 1951 F-1 represents the third year of Ford’s historic 1948-1952 first generation F-1 truck series and marks the first year of a major front end redesign. Gone were the horizontal grille and inboard headlamps of the ’48-’50 models. A new single bar grille with 3 large “teeth” and headlamps moved farther out gave the F-1 a bit of a more aggressive look. (Seeing these trucks as a kid, I thought it looked like they were wearing braces with that big tin grin upfront.) The F-1 was the lightest of Ford’s truck series (1/2 ton) and were available as a pickup or panel truck. Overall, 279,693 pickups and 22,421 panel trucks found new owners in 1951 and were put right to work. If you were lucky enough to be the next owner of this old pickup, would you leave it as is and enjoy it as a daily driver? I know I would.


  1. Euromoto Member

    Nice truck but typical L.A. (specifically West L.A.) BS about, “…well known…Tim Krehbiel.” A Google search shows maybe one reference from the ‘90’s to a “Krehbiel” that might have turned a wrench. I’m ready to stand corrected here, but this is likely some hipster with more money than brains repeating some story used to sell it to him last year for way more than it was worth. I live here, I know.

    Like 11
    • bobH Member

      If you were in the EFV8 Club, you would recognize the Krehbiel name. You will find Dan Krehbiel listed as the 39-41 Merc Advisor, and also as the Columbia (overdrive) Advisor. And, Tim is also a great Club asset. Both of my two old Fords (34, and 47) have received benefits from the Krehbiel’s. I can vouch that Tim has done his best to make his work ‘right’. Another name you might want to consider (in the EFV8 world), is Kennedy. Bob, the dad, has passed. But he has sons that are carrying on, and are a great asset to the club. (And, there are many more recognized authorities for the V8’s) Signed, Bob Hall, EFV8 Club member since 1982.

      Like 11
      • Euromoto Member

        We’ll, as I said, I’m willing to stand corrected, and so I have been…

        Like 7
  2. Harvey Member

    Made me 😃.Once bought a 70s Firebird.✔ over by a not so famous mechanic(me).On the way back from the first test drive it developed a serious knock.I was into it for a lot less than $18,000.

    Like 5
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    Wow, Ford sold 280,000 pickup trucks in 1951? That is impressive.

    Like 6
    • Daniel Bayne

      I am surprised by that amount and happy to perhaps get a chance to find one. I had ( stolen ) 51 Merc M-1 30+years ago. Paid 200.00 and came with the
      255 flathead. We drove this truck all over central Canada to West coast.
      Love this style!

      Like 1
  4. robert lewis

    highly optioned,rear bumper, extra tail-light,can’t see if it has a heater or right hand wiper,wonder if it has the optional 6 volt electric shaver in the glovebox

    Like 3
  5. Bob C.

    The 215 six was an OHV unit introduced for 1952. This would be the 226 flathead in its last year, producing 95 horsepower.

    Like 7
  6. Howard A Member

    “California dreamin”,,right on, pal. I think it’s pretty clear by now, California pretty much thinks the world revolves around them. It’s not 129K, no way, these trucks just weren’t used that much. This truck was found at an estate sale of some farm or ranch, picked it up for peanuts, and did little. Didn’t even fix the burned out headlight. Got a snowballs chance in Hades of remaining like this, gonna pad a lot of pockets with this one, and apparently, it’s what makes our world go ’round,,,for now.

    Like 7
  7. Ricardo Ventura

    Dear Ron, every day that passes a pick up with these characteristics appears.
    It’s hard to choose the best one.
    I would buy them all and use one a day. They’re wonderful.

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