Super-Clean Flareside! 1981 Ford F150 XLT

Shiny and clean, this 1981 Ford F150 XLT Flareside pickup in Polk City, Florida comes with a tidy interior, oversized tires on blacked-out wheels, and nothing obvious on the “must change” list. The short-bed Ford seeks a new owner here on Barn Finds Classifieds or here on eBay, where $9500 will transfer the title into your name. The seller says it “runs and drives well,” and the (presumably 300 cid / 4.9L) inline six-cylinder engine should provide adequate power and a super-smooth idle. After sitting a few months, it may benefit from a tune-up, according to the listing.

Custom upholstery or what might be a nicely-fitted black seat cover keeps things fresh in the cockpit. Though not mentioned in the description, those look like Cruise Control buttons on the steering wheel. If I read the brochure at lov2xlr8 correctly, the F150 could have come with one of three manual transmissions:  3-speed, 4-speed with overdrive and 4-speed without overdrive. I had the Overdrive standard transmission on my ’85 F250 4×4, and despite the super-wide ratio gear ratio spacing, the OD gearbox was solid gold for highway driving, delivering plenty of hill-climbing power and a consistent 20 MPG with the fuel-injected 302 (5.0L) and about 700 lb of tools in the back. This lightweight should do even better!

The Flareside bed offers a sporty retro-look for fans of old-school pickups, folks who just like the look, and those who admire the geometrical precision of a perfectly box-shaped cargo area. Unlike the amorphous bed on Ford’s Styleside pickup, the Flareside’s cargo volume can be calculated using the grade-school formula of Length x Width x Height. Blacked out wheels and dual exhaust seem to threaten more brute force than the typical I6, but even the puniest F150 Flareside could carry about a ton of whatever you can fit back there. The gentleman who bought my Dad’s ’66 Thunderbird towed it away using an I6 standard-shift Flareside Ford much like this one.

My buddy Casey had a truck like this back in the ’80s, a Flareside I6 “straight-drive” (as they say in the South), and I remember how nicely it absorbed impacts like the endless supply of Northwestern Pennsylvania potholes. Hopefully, this one continues to enjoy a life of leisure in Florida where there’s plenty of disposable income among folks pining for the simpler days of 1981. Would you change anything on this turn-key classic?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I like the simplicity of this F-150. It looks good and the price is reasonable. Would make a fine Home Depot runner without being out-of-place at Cars and Coffee. I’d probably go for some flashier wheels.

    Thanks Todd for the write-up, and for using the correct model name.

    Like 11
  2. Steve Clinton

    I’d take the ’86 Chevy C10 in the other ad.

    Like 4
  3. Raymond

    Why arent these called squarebodies too?, ford had square down first, were chevys ever even really round?….

    Like 1
    • Bob C.

      I believe “Bullnose” was the term used for this generation.

      Like 9
  4. Terry J

    Yup, Bullnose from the way the headlights are back from the grill. I wanted a simple old pickup for everyday chores but stuff from the 50’s has gotten sooooo expensive and are often rust buckets. So I found an ’81 F150 single cab short wide box. Compared to the 50’s, Ford used a lot of galvanized tin in the cab & box . Mine has the carbed straight six with a 3 speed toploader and a 9″ rear end. Simple, bulletproof tractor-like stuff. But a vast improvement over the 50’s is the Twin I Beam front end, Power disc brakes and power steering. No sensors or computers and electronics is limited to Ford’s excellent DuraSpark 2 ignition. Good little truck. :-) Terry J

    Like 3
  5. Gil Davis Tercenio

    I had a ’80 F100, SWB Flareside & it had a plain aluminum camper shell. It had the 300 six and the 4 speed overdrive transmission. It would get 24 MPG at 70 MPH, but it wouldn’t pull a sick fire ant off of it’s mound. It had a 2.75 highway rearend.

    Like 3
  6. Terry J

    Yup Gil, My ’81 had that same tall 2.75 ratio and when I swapped in a 240 for the tired 300, that ratio was almost undriveable with the 3 speed top loader, like starting out in 2nd gear. It doesn’t see freeway driving, so I swapped in a 3.50 ratio and it works great. :-) Terry J

  7. chrlsful

    looks beddah den da cheb to its left?

    any step side I like (yes, 10 & 20 yrs earlier is preferred) the i6 just adds to the package, swap inan auto OD for a street “car” as that’s how I’d use it. For real work a long bed (2 WD any motor, auto) on st; or this shortie w/4WD the i6’n 4 speed. I like the wagon for st car (just picked upa fox-bodied ltd). Lill better MPGs, no need open box/bed, & a lill better style (subjectively).

    This motor, the million mile, ‘gasser thats a diesel’ has better tq for off rd (low rev, less tire spin the a bent8). If the transmis is the one I thing that 1st is real steep & defiantly for on rd. Jumpin from vehicle to vehicle I’d often stall out at start-up in this 1 as it IS so steep. Just gota fox wagon (85 ltd) but this motor and step (altho I like the 6th gen F – short bed, step-side 4 WD above most others for looks including m a n y cars) might B more attractive to me than the wagon?

    At any rate, thnx 4 da write-up Todd. U add to “the fun w/cars” !

  8. Miminite

    This truck is no longer available per the Ebay link. I’ve had several Bullnose Ford trucks, including 2 dead ones in my driveway now. This one has to be a SROD OD 4 sp, which is a notoriously weak transmission that was ironically adapted from the overall great toploader. Try and get parts for it today; nobody wants to mess with them.

    My ’81 F100 came from the factory with 300 six, SROD 4 sp, and a 2.47 ratio rear. Yes, 2.47, no a typo. You basically couldn’t use the OD. If you did, just keep the pedal to the floor and speed will increase or decrease according to hills and wind direction. I put a used 3.50 chunk in it and it was much better.

    Like 1
  9. Nick 8778

    Not an ’81. At least the grille and front fenders are not. ’82 -’86. Possibly this truck was in a frontal collision and a later model clip was grafted on but those parts are NOT from an ’81.

    ’81 does NOT have the Ford blue oval in the grille, it has the block letters on the hood and the grille is six slots wide, not four. The Series badge is also of a different design. My dad had an ’81 F-250 pickup. I used it to move into my first house in May of 1981.

    Like 2
  10. Richard Beal

    I drive a 1994 Flareside 6 cylinder. Took out the bench seat & replaced it with electric leather front seats out of a Grand Cherokee with seat belts. Used a console out of a Chevy. Added a satellite radio……..I am a happy camper.

    Like 1

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