Final Flathead: 1953 Ford F100 Shortbed

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I guess that there has to be something to be said for being the last of a breed. Whether it is a good thing or not is open to debate. This 1953 Ford F100 Short Box is the last of its kind because this was the final year that the F100 was available fitted with the venerable flathead V8. Automotive technology had marched forward, and the overhead valve era beckoned. The time has come for this F100 to find a new home, so take a look and see if it could be yours. The Short Box is located in Galesburg, Illinois, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The price for this piece of American history has been set at $11,500. A big thank you has to go out to Barn Finder Ikey H for spotting this beauty for us.

The Vermillion F100 is an impressive survivor with surprisingly straight panels. There are a couple of minor dents, but these should be easy to repair. It is quite common to see trucks as original as this wearing plenty of dings because that is an occupational hazard of the life that they lead. However, this one has avoided that fate. As I look at the photos, I find myself itching to give the vehicle a buff and a polish. I suspect that this would have the Ford presenting quite nicely. There is no doubt that it would look even better if treated to a repaint. For me, I’d be inclined to leave it untouched. It wears its badge as an original survivor with pride. The owner makes no mention of any rust, and what we can see of the frame indicates nothing but surface corrosion. One of the more prone areas is the cab corners, and these appear to be solid. The glass looks good, while all of the original trim seems to be present. If I were going to address any cosmetic issues, then I would probably restore the wheels. As is often the case, these don’t present as well as the rest of the F100. A repaint of those would lift the whole vehicle for little effort or outlay.

There’s not much to say about the interior, because it is just as tidy as the exterior. I suspect that the seat wears a newer cover. However, the rest of it looks original. Once again, a clean and polish of the painted surfaces would lift the interior with little effort, although there is no reason why it couldn’t be left as it is. One important consideration is the fact that the Ford is fitted with a heater. Winter isn’t far away, and a bit of comfort never goes astray.

1953 marked the end of the line for the 239ci flathead V8 in the F100. It was an engine that had served with distinction. The reality was that by this point, automotive technology had overtaken the flathead. It wasn’t a bad engine by any means, but the OHV engines offered more scope for improved levels of performance and economy. This flathead should be pumping out 105hp. A measure of the performance improvement that the new engine would bring the following year can be easily seen when comparing power figures. While the flathead gave its owner 105hp, the 1954 239ci OHV engine produced 130hp. That is a noticeable difference. Backing this flathead is a 3-speed manual transmission. The engine bay looks tidy and presents at about the right level that I would expect for an original survivor of this age. Sadly, all we have to go on here is appearance. The owner doesn’t indicate how well the F100 runs or drives.

The fact that 1953 marked the final year of flathead production in the F100 didn’t harm sales. In fact, 116,437 people handed over their cash to drive one home. As a point of comparison, 1954 sales totaled 101,202 vehicles. This 1953 model seems to be a rare treat. As a general rule, these tend to fall into two broad categories. Sometimes, they are presented as spotlessly clean restorations. Alternatively, they will appear on our desks showing high levels of wear and tear. This one seems to tread a middle ground. There is no doubt that it would represent a straightforward restoration project. However, there will be plenty of readers who will argue that it should be left untouched. They will state that these classics are only original once. I agree with them on that. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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  1. Phlathead Phil

    Dang, another Phlathead 239 Here on B.F.’s in the last few days? Dudes, I’m in eye candy heaven!!!

    Like 6
  2. JRHaelig

    Oh – Decisions, Decisions….

    On the one hand….it meets the full restoration maxim of “start with the best you can afford”

    On the other hand…it begs for a few hours with a couple of cans of compound and a buffer

    On the other-other hand….sand and paint the rims and put some fresh blackwalls on there and commence to racking up the miles of smiles.

    Like 8
  3. Bob C.

    The interior looks in good shape. Then again, it’s mostly metal. The way a truck was supposed to be back then.

    Like 9
  4. Dhgravityfreak

    My favorite in old pickups! My buddies dad had a bass boat metallic blue one. Those flakes would just pop in the sun. It was all modified but these have been my favorite every since.

    Like 2
  5. bobhess bobhessMember

    One of the best examples of one of the best.

    Like 2
  6. geomechs geomechsMember

    It’s a real treat to see one of these that is still in its original glory, and not fallen victim of the hot-rodder’s torch. If this came my way the flathead would remain. Full driver-quality restoration for me. It’s far enough gone to need to pull the cab off and restore it all from the frame up. I’ve helped with a number of restorations where the owner should’ve pulled the body off but refused because he thought it would cost way too much. In the end, we ended up doing several things twice because it got missed the first time. Take your time and do things right, and you won’t have to do them again…

    Like 11
  7. benjy58

    This is the way to buy them.

    Like 3
  8. Gord

    The flathead V8 was still used in the Ford and Mercury trucks in Canada in 1954.

    Like 2
  9. Marlon W Smith

    I bought a rough 53 when I was in high school. Unfortunately I didn’t have the funds or knowledge to keep it running or to restore it
    I would love to bring this back hot flatty and slightly wider steelys otherwise stock.

    Like 0
  10. James Simpson

    I own a 1952 F1, having the three “bullets” in the grill. But the 53 was unique, and really a more flowing body style. With wider and lower wheels, this body was more “Grounded” and has a more skirted “German Helmet” look. Here in Sonoma, a mural on the Sonoma Market wall depicts a 53 as a fire truck. Nice Super-graphic ! I guess a dollar is worth only a dime these days. $11,500 sounds like a lot for a fixer-upper- YET- these old trucks don’t grow on trees! The price just upgrades the value of my truck. I would love to post a photo of mine- owned for 55 years!

    Like 2
  11. dlong

    Gord is correct.the flathead v-8 was exported after 1953 but was no longer available in the U.S.I just found that fact out a few weeks ago.

    Like 0
  12. robt

    This one is sweet. I’d leave it just the way it is upgrading only as needed to make it a solid daily driver. Maybe hop up the motor with a couple period correct mods. Looks like owner heard the wheels complaint as ad now shows painted wheels. Though I’d have painted them satin black.
    To me a frame off move would kill it and make it a generic trailer queen.
    Nice truck.

    Like 1
  13. Vince H

    Perfect for hot rodding but that would be a shame for one this nice.

    Like 0
  14. Rustytech RustytechMember

    There has been one of these sitting in a yard in my neighborhood for about 4 years with giant hand painted lettering on the doors stating “NOT FOR SALE”. What a shame to let it sit outside in the Pennsylvania mountains and deteriorate. Probably one of those 70 + year olds that say,”I’m going to restore it some day”. I’d love to have this, but still working on one project and at my age I don’t plan on taking on another.

    Like 0
  15. Jerry

    I wouldn’t get excited about the heater. My memory is that any of the flathead fords put out very little heat. Removing the cover helped but not much. Still would like to have one this nice.

    Like 0
  16. NIK OWEN

    didn hear, this is yr. of jubilee, for ford…new style, tractors. too…be blessed, grateful, prepared

    Like 1
  17. Dave

    This is what I learned to drive a stick in out by the barn. Love it!

    Like 1
  18. JackMember

    A friend of mine has a shortbed 53 like this. His has the 50 year anniversary of Ford in the emblem in the middle of the steering wheel. I wouldn’t have paid any attention to it unless he pointed it out.

    Like 1
  19. vintagehotrods

    I love this truck, and I remember my Grandpa had one when I was a little kid in the 50’s. I can barely remember it now. I wish I had room for it in my garage. I wouldn’t change a thing except to clean it up and try to knock out the dents, spot in the bare spots on the paint with some flattened paint, repaint the front bumper and the engine.

    Adam, solve this mystery for me. Did you notice that the pics that are posted here are different that the ones posted on Ebay? The wheels on the pics here are rusty and the tires are mismatched, but on the Ebay the pics of the tires look new and the wheels are restored and painted white with new hubcaps. Pretty interesting! Also, why did you put it in Today’s Finds twice?

    Like 0
  20. TimM

    Rebuild the flathead and drive it as is with some upgraded breaks and a few touch ups!! Great find, most you see have been transformed to custom hot rods with overhead valve motors!! I would transport hay and get building supplies oh and take the wife out to breakfast on a Sunday morning!!!

    Like 2
  21. Arlin Bohn

    Does it run? If not when was the last time it was driven? How bad is the rust?
    Looks like it is three on the tree? Have they had any offers other than full price?

    Like 0

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