“The Tank!” 1979 Ford F350 4×4

UPDATE – We heard from the seller and they clarified that the engine is the original 351M and that the Marti Report proves it’s factory a dual battery-equipped truck!

Nicknamed “The Tank” for its olive green matte tank paint job, this 1979 Ford F350 Custom 4×4 in Marsing, Idaho needs little more than a new owner to twist the key and put it to work. The listing right here on Barn Finds classifieds includes the truck’s interesting story and dozens of pictures. The original California Ford is said to have no rust. “Everything” works and this 124k mile F-series runs “great.” The 351 V8 and automatic transmission make one of the most proven combinations ever built. Arguably better than new, the sturdy one-ton can be yours for $15,500.

Original and ubiquitous in its day, the 351 cid (5.8) V8 looks well-maintained in the ways that would keep it on the road but not in a way that would prompt people to accuse you of coddling a cream puff. The seller claims the dual batteries were a factory option. As Johnny Carson used to say “I did not know that.”

The 8-lug wagon wheels and beefy tires cut a classic “Day Two” look. Note the heavy-duty rear axle extending beyond the wheels. Aftermarket fog lights illuminate rearward for nighttime loading, campsite setup, or forgetful high-beam users.

The upholstery seems to match up with the Free Wheeling package that would have originally had some multi-colored graphics on the exterior and other features. I logged many hours behind the wheel of my Aunt’s 351W-powered ’79 F250. Though not a speed demon, it pulled a two-horse trailer all over the East coast and reliably executed a million other jobs over a long lifetime.

Ford changed the face of these popular trucks often, and this hexagonal grille appeared only in ’79. An all-new F-series followed this one for model year 1980. The F350 featured the heaviest components for the toughest duty, including the C6 automatic transmission, 9.5 x 16.5 wheels, and more. With Dana 60 differentials front and rear, 4.10 gear sets, locking in the rear, this workhorse can pull, crawl, or haul just about anything you can connect or load into it. If you get in a jam, use the 12,000 lb winch. I met a Ford mechanic in the ’80s who called the 1978 F250 the pinnacle of Ford trucks, and this ’79 looks ready to continue its life of service in new hands. How would you put this ’70s tough truck to work?

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Comments

  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    I feel like someone named Frank should buy this truck

    Like 7
  2. Todd Zuercher

    The ’78s also used this grille.

    Like 4
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi Todd Zuercher. Partially true! This truck, a Custom, would have had the round-headlight grille in 1978. Ranger and higher got the 79-ish rectangular headlight grille in ’78. Here’s one (too shiny for me!) https://www.ford-trucks.com/how-tos/slideshows/black-on-black-1978-ford-f-250-looks-picture-perfect-590293#jaw-dropper

      Like 7
      • Todd Zuercher

        Correct – I knew I should’ve been more specific in my reply :). My comment was in reference to your description of the “hexagonal” shape of the grille, which was the same regardless of the differences in the head light surround areas between the Custom and Rangers.

        Like 4
  3. David G

    Awesome truck. The engine is a 351M, not a Windsor. Sad that there is no A/C.

    Like 5
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      You beat me to it, David. That’s definitely an ‘M’ engine in that bay.

      Like 5
  4. Howard A Member

    I predict the “death wobble” will be strong with this one,,

    Like 5
    • Todd Zuercher

      I doubt it. This leaf springs in the front. Death wobble only generally those rigs with coil springs, panhard bar, and radius arms/control arms.

      Like 6
      • Howard A Member

        I believe Ford is currently on the “hot seat” as people with 2 or 3 year old F250’s or 350’s are experiencing death wobble. Naturally they deny any wrong doing. I’ve been around 4×4’s since the beginning, and while Jeep has the worst record, I’ve found, it’s not brand specific, although, I haven’t seen much with GM makes, for some reason. There are several videos of newer Fords with front ends shaking violently.

        Like 1
      • Todd Fitch Staff

        Hey Howard. I’ve logged some miles in my Step-Dad’s 2017 F250 4×4. Five minutes after we picked up a 5th-Wheel we’re on the highway and hit an expansion joint and get the DW for about five seconds (I know what it’s like from having a ’97 Wrangler), but then it goes away and we’re thinking “Maybe there was just some unevenness in the road there.” Couple hours later in WV coming off a bridge, it’s unquestionable and much more severe. I have to slow down to about 40 before it stops. Since then we got a letter from Ford and they will address it IF you have experienced problems. What did they do? Replace the steering stabilizer shock absorber. Ha! Only trip since then was to retrieve my ’81 Imperial, no DW, but I’m skeptical. Also in Ford’s defense, if you have bad wheels or tires, these solid-axle vehicles can DW even if the parts are good, but it usually takes a combo of A. Wheel Imbalance and B. Bad parts.

        Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Over the years I got several trucks in with a Death Wobble. The most common cause is wear in the front end components such as steering knuckles, ball-joints, king pins and tie rod ends. But it can also be a result of worn springs and shackles, U-joints, drive shaft out of balance. A worn-out set of needles between the transmission input shaft and main shaft, worn out pilot bearing, loose differential pinion, and bad tires can all make an unwanted contribution. Trucks sporting Full-time 4×4 got it from a worn out chain and loose suspension; the latter being the reason I had to take my ‘79 GMC out of service. DW is sometimes hard to narrow down. I remember a customer with a NEW GMC K1500 with Full-time 4×4 that would go into a DW without warning. We worked on it a dozen times without success, then, while driving it down the highway I could hear a soft but regular click in the rear axle. Ran it into the shop and tore off the diff cover. Drained a whole lot of silver metal flake out and found a stripped governor drive in the diff lock. Replaced the carrier and the problem went away. The DW can be a riddle that’s very difficult to solve…

  5. Rustytech Member

    Todd. The one you sent the link to may be a 78, but that is a 75 or 76 grill. I had a 77 with the same grill but in 77 the parking lamps were amber. My father had a 78 which had the same grill as this one but with the round headlights.

    Like 1
    • Todd Zuercher

      The one in Todd’s link is a 76-77 grille. The 73-75s were the same, the 76-77s were the same, and the 78-79s were the same (besides the headlight differences that Todd and I discussed).

      Like 2
      • Todd Fitch Staff

        Todd Z and Rustytech. You are both correct. I found the round headlight reference first, and through bad luck found the ’78 with the earlier grille in Google images. In my mind at least some ’78s had the ’77-ish grille but it looks like the principle difference is only headlight shape (round on Custom, Rectangular on Ranger+) and amount of chrome. Thanks for calling that out. I have learned something, and that sort of thing is what makes BarnFinds so awesome.

        Like 4
  6. CapNemo Frank Stein

    Merica! I have one of these with a manual transmission, and also have a beautifully restored Highboy in the collection as well. Love these machines.

    Like 4
  7. chrlsful

    the 250 is plenty. Rather the 400M in this as it’s the largest displacement ‘square motor’ in production (& a 250).
    Often when asked “…your fav looking vehicle?” I skip cars’n name this, the ’73/9 F-series & bronk. If it’s a warm Wednesday I’ll say ’50s/60s Itialian/Brit or a cold Saturday – late usa ’30s – very early ’50s. (Toss up).

    A 4 WD, short bed, step side F250 w/2 18 inch stripes & the 400m & NP 435/NV4500 or the ZF (latter due to 2 PTOs) would win every day for me. Looks AND utility (off rd, not st).

  8. Clasar Member

    well guys and gals it didn’t sell this go around so i listed it as a no reserve auction on eBay.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1979-Ford-F-350/224228272150?hash=item34350be816:g:pg0AAOSwzJZfouFg

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