Ford F-150 Series Pickup Trucks: 1987–1996

1987 Ford F-150 Truck
1987 Ford F-150 Truck.

Ford Motor Co.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Ford F-Series line of pickup trucks, you may have a specific date and model in mind—1996 was a good year, for instance. In fact, from 1987 to 1996, Ford implemented a series of upgrades and improvements to each model year that sets this entire generation of F-series trucks apart from any other years of production. 


Ford's 1987 F-Series sported new exterior sheet metal with a more rounded front end that improved aerodynamics. Replaceable halogen bulbs were inserted into headlights made from impact-resistant housings that blended into the new fenders.

The grille, tail lights, and all of the truck's moldings and emblems were redesigned to match the new body panels. Updates inside the pickup truck included a new dash, seats, door panels, and interior trim.

The first F-150 4WD SuperCab was also introduced in 1987. Its redesign brought quite a few changes to F-Series mechanicals, including:

  • Electronic fuel injection for the 4.9-liter 6-cylinder engine
  • Hydroelastic motor mounts to help reduce the amount of engine noise and vibration transmitted to the body for the 6-cylinder engine
  • Updated electronic engine control for the 5-liter V8 engine
  • All-new electronic-controlled antilock brake system as standard, which kept the rear wheels from locking up on hard braking
  • Redesigned Twin I-Beam front axle to allow caster and camber adjustments
  • New one-piece hub/rotor design for 4WD trucks
  • Changes to the transfer case to reduce shift lever effort in 4WD trucks

In addition, both the three-speed manual transmission and manual steering was discontinued. Furthermore, 4WD trucks with manually locking front hubs could be towed with all four wheels on the ground without disconnecting the driveshaft thanks to a new hydraulic pump that worked when the driveshaft was turning. This kept the transfer case gears lubricated even if the engine wasn't running.


Ford made just a few changes to 1988 F-Series trucks. Pickups with the 5.8-liter V8 were fitted with electronic fuel injection, and the four-speed manual transmission was replaced with a five-speed overdrive manual transmission.


This was another year with a few significant updates. On SuperCab trucks with captain's chairs, both front seats had a tilt and slide mechanism to make entry and exit easier. Other changes focused on trim and color choices.


The four-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission, which replaced the C6 three-speed automatic transmission starting in late 1989, was now the standard for all 1990 trucks. The 4WD trucks also had automatic locking front hubs as standard equipment, but manual hubs were available as an option.

Ford offered two different sport packages in late 1990: One included body and tailgate stripes and body-colored styled steel wheels; the second tacked a black tubular bumper and a light bar with off-road lights to the first package.


For 1991, an electronic switched transfer case became available on 4WD trucks with the 5.0-liter V8 engine and automatic overdrive. The "Nite" model became available—an all-black truck with red or blue stripes and special decal. Buyers could opt for either the 5.0-liter or 5.8-liter V8, a handling package, and a rear step bumper.


The 1992 F-Series trucks are sometimes considered an entirely new generation, but changes were really more of a facelift than a true redesign. Updates included a new grille, bumper, headlights, fenders, and hood front—all more rounded to help reduce wind drag.

Inside, a new dash and instrument panel were installed. Heating and air-conditioning controls were tweaked and the glove compartment was enlarged. Ford also offered a 75th-anniversary package on its 1992 F-series, which consisted of a stripe package, a silvery-colored step bumper, and special 75th-anniversary logos.


Ford's base truck was christened with a new name in 1993. The Custom package now became the XL, and the Lariat package was shortened to XLT.

Cruise control was now an electronic system allowing the driver to increase or decrease speed by one MPH when tapping the accelerate or decelerate buttons. This was the first model year to also experience problems with cruise control, resulting in a recall for switches that could combust regardless of whether the vehicle was running or not.

The first SVT Lightning truck entered the scene this year as well. It featured a 5.8-liter engine with performance cylinder heads, cam, pistons, intake, headers, dual exhaust, oil cooler, and modified engine computer programming. The truck was available with a reprogrammed four-speed automatic transmission with an auxiliary cooler. The rear axle was a limited slip unit with 4.10:1 gearing.

The SVT Lightning's suspension was set up for handling and performance, and its steering provided quicker response than steering on a typical F-150. Inside were six-way adjustable sport seats with lumbar controls and a console between them. A tachometer and 120 MPH speedometer were part of the truck's instrumentation. Exterior modifications included a body color-matched front bumper and a lower front air dam with integrated fog lamps.


Ford added a high-mount brake light to the rear of 1994 truck cab roofs. More safety-related moves included a security package with remote keyless entry and an intrusion alarm. Driver-side air bags and door intrusion beams became standard equipment on 1994 F-Series trucks.

An automatic transmission became standard equipment as well, and trannys were fitted with a shift lock that prevented drivers from shifting out of park unless the brake pedal was depressed. The previous four-speed automatic transmission was replaced with a new four-speed automatic overdrive for trucks equipped with the 5.0-liter V8 engine.

Ford introduced an off-road package for 4WD trucks that included skid plates, a handling package, and off-road decals for the bedsides. And all air-conditioning systems contained CFC-free r-134 refrigerant instead of r12.


Ford gave the F-Series top trim level an upward bump by adding the more plush Eddie Bauer Edition. SuperCab models were fitted with a new bench seat—the previous jump seats disappeared.


The F-Series changed little for this last year before a major 1997 redesign. At this point, Ford began to phase in seats with integrated headrests and eliminated the anti-theft aspect of the keyless entry system.