Turbo Diesel Time Capsule: 1997 Ford F-350

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As a new millennium neared, Ford split its popular F-series trucks into two lines, with a new and significantly reworked 10th generation F150 hitting showrooms as a 1997 model. Meanwhile, the F250 and F350 soldiered on in 9th generation form through model year 1998. This 1997 F-350 XLT 4×4 in Columbus, Indiana takes you back in time, showing well with recently replaced OEM headlights, shiny paint, and a cloth interior matching up with the truck’s claimed 114,000 miles. The one-ton rig features the 7.3 Powerstroke turbocharged diesel engine and automatic transmission. This snapshot of Ford history can be yours with a high bid here on eBay, where at least 11 suitors have the market value above $29,000.

The Navistar T444E became the first of Ford’s “PowerStroke” diesel engines. The turbocharged 7.3L (444 cid) PSD made 210 HP and 425 lb-ft of torque. I drove a 7.3 PSD-powered church bus on a 2000+ mile round trip to rebuild homes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and while its power can be underwhelming on steep hills with a heavy load (unlike today’s burly 6.7 PSD), the 7.3 keeps up with traffic and gets the job done. Nearly two million T444E engines powered an assortment of Ford trucks before the 6.0 PSD took over in 2003. Thanks to Wikipedia for some details.

A continuation of the F series that began in 1980, this 1997 model featured a more aerodynamic front end and other modern touches. The configuration seen here, standard single-seat cab with an eight-foot bed, answered the needs of most truck buyers during a time before pickup trucks became a sort-of SUV alternative. For decades, if you couldn’t load 4x8s in the back and close the tailgate, it wasn’t a real truck. Personally, I wouldn’t argue with anyone still holding that opinion.

Light gray interiors ruled America in the ’80s and ’90s, and it’s no surprise to see this one. The nicely updated dashboard features a car-like instrument pod and steering wheel, the latter offering cruise controls on the fat spokes and an airbag to greet you in an emergency. Three-across seating with the bench seat covered most trucking duties in those days. While this truck may never hit 200,000 miles, the bus and ambulance-proven 7.3 PSD generally lasts 400-500k according to ProSourceDiesel, so don’t worry about wearing it out. How far above $30,000 would you bid on this ’90s turbo diesel time capsule?

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  1. Todd Zuercher

    Lovely truck and nice writeup. One note – there weren’t any F250/F350 trucks for the ’98 model year. There was a gap between the ’97s like this truck and the new-for-’99 Super Duties.

    Like 3
    • Yblocker

      Actually there was a 98 F250, it was a light duty based on the new F150, with 7 lug wheels, it was short lived.

      Like 2
      • Todd Zuercher

        Yeah – I generally don’t count that 😀

        Like 1
  2. Troy

    Expensive for a older used truck but my friend sold his at 485,000 miles and two transmissions later.

    Like 6
    • robjMember

      Expensive for an older truck, except when compared to the price of a new one…

      Like 26
      • tim961

        Plus, The value of this will stay right where it is for years if maintained

        Like 8
      • Glenn SchwassMember

        Where did they hide this beautiful specimen? Someone will get a nice truck.

        Like 5
  3. steve

    Last of the “real men trucks”.

    Like 12
    • Matt

      Tht truck didnt sticker for $30K new…but its almost worth it to not have all the extra crap trucks come with nowadays, including a service nightmare of computers, cameras, sensors and infotainment systems that need constant reflashes and updates

      Like 24
      • steve

        Pretty damn close. I looked at 1997 460 4×4 and that was like 21k, and the powerstroke was a 5 to 6k option.

        Like 2
  4. Yblocker

    A note for the writer, no air bag in that steering wheel, F250s didn’t get air bags till the 99 models. I bought one like this new in 95, but with a 460, never had use for a diesel, drove it for 10 years, put over 250,000 miles on it, never any issues, then sold it. Still trying to figure out why. Great truck

    Like 6
  5. Bobby

    I got a 2001 7.3 with a six speed with 280k on it and tow way too much weight with it daily at 10k plus elevation. Co worker has a 97 with 870k on it and it does damn near the same thing! Love these trucks and I’m a Chevy guy!

    Like 10
  6. Mel

    I have a 1993 F350 4×4 regular cab and 8 ft box with a 7.3 non turbo diesel its an XLT with 14,500 original miles. I purchased it from a friend who bought it new. It has spent most of it’s life in a heated and air condition garage.
    It’s one beautiful red truck with absolutely no rust.
    I have had it about 7 years and thinking about selling. What should be my asking price?

    Like 4
    • z1rider

      Those trucks (IDI turbos) were never made in large numbers so I rarely seen them for sale. So I’m not sure what to tell you should be a selling price. They do have appeal due to the simplicity of those engines relative to a PSD but keep in mind that the turbos were for altitude compensation not for extra power. You don’t have to worry about crossing the Rockies with that engine. The only downside is their propensity for cavitation erosion so DO NOT NEGLECT COOLING SYSTEM SERVICE. I wouldn’t worry about your truck given the very low miles. Cav erosion usually occurs with trucks pushing 100K miles and neglected cooling system service. Good luck.

      Like 4
      • z1rider

        Ooops, I just re-read your posting and I see that I mis-read it the first time. I thought you were referring to the pre-Powerstroke turbodiesel. My mistake. My caution about cavitation erosion still stands. As I understand it, Navistar used the 6.9 block and just bored the cylinders larger to get the 7.3 displacement which then made them more prone to cavitation erosion than the 6.9’s.

        If I bought your truck I might be looking into a Banks turbo kit for it.

        Like 1
  7. Dakota Always

    In agreement real trucks have an 8 ft bed. Bought a 2018 Silverado reg. cab 8ft bed. Was hard to find not in WT model. I’ll go one step further and say this is a nice PICKUP. I drive my pickup to work every night and get in a TRUCK for a 400 mile run.

    Like 4
  8. FrankDMember

    We have an actual real truck here! The only reason trucks are so popular these days are:

    No full size 6 passenger automobiles. For some reason the German manufacturers think it was a great idea to split the back seat. MB refusing years ago to add cup holders and lost sales.

    Mid size SUV’s are cramped and fit only 5 people uncomfortably. I know I have a Q5. Backseat is for 2 only. No real cargo space unless you drop the seat.
    Large SUV’s are pigs on gas handle terribly and you’re pushing a barn door
    down the road. Great Aero Pkg.
    The Soccer Mom family minivan is underpowered and is another unattractive box. The front windshield on a Honda Odyssey is so large you get cooked from the sun. I know that for a fact traveling to Florida with a dog.
    Trucks can go anywhere even in bad weather. Are useful for carrying just about anything. They have room and hold their value unless a contractor owned it.
    Time to bring back the station wagon and MB is the only ones that have a nice one.

    Like 5
    • Jeff M

      I drive a Ford Excursion SUV and it’s a real truck in every sense of the word.

      Like 4
      • FrankDMember

        I have a friend who sold his F150 and purchased an Excursion. Its big and difficult to maneuver in city traffic. Rides very well and great on the Interstate. However I prefer my F150 to it.

        Like 0
  9. Shuttle Guy Shuttle GuyMember

    Last of the “Real High Boys.”

    Like 3
  10. Steve H

    Confused, Says no accidents but new front-end parts. Then look at history and was in a slight accident in 2021. Was wondering why the front bumper was tweaked, now I know why. A really nice truck but makes you wonder what do they consider minor damage? And if any other surprises.

    Like 2
  11. John M.Stecz

    I have the same truck, blue and white . Purchased it in 1998.it has a gas 460 that was my choice of engine and is ready to turn 40 thousand miles,and best of all its a regular cab. Everytime i take it out I get offers to buy it.

    Like 4
  12. Dan

    My Co-worker bought a plain red one like this brand new and still has it today. Over 500,000 miles. He is real big on changing fluids out. No problems with it. I wish that all of the new ones were as trouble free….especially being as expensive as they are! Nice truck!

    Like 5
  13. The Truth

    Prime example of stupid people over paying for something. My buddy just bought 95 f350 crew cab 4×4 with a 7.3 and 164,000 miles. It was a garage kept California truck with one small dent on the tailgate, perfect interior, and zero rust. He paid $17,500 for the truck.

    Like 0

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