1978 Ford F150 (Specs And Features)

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The late seventies gave us Happy Days, Grease, and the BeeGees. While America was dancing disco in bellbottoms, Ford kept building the best trucks ever.

In the 1978 model year, Ford produced 422,264 F150s as part of the sixth-generation F-Series. There were five engine choices (300 inline six, 302 V8, 351M V8, 400 V8, and 460 V8). The trim levels were Custom, Ranger, Ranger XLT, and Ranger Lariat. The truck received a facelift and many new options.

While Americans struggled to understand the effects of a shrinking dollar in the late seventies, fuel prices continued to climb. Ford found itself in a precarious position, as the Olds Cutlass and Chevy Caprice dominated the sedan market, and the Chevrolet C/K pickup sold over 1.3 million units. Americans were increasingly embracing smaller, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient cars, buoyed by the likes of the Toyota Celica winning MotorTrends Car of the Year. Knowing that the sixth-generation truck was declining, Ford needed a miracle to regain some of its momentum. The answer was to tweak the design of their current models, add new options, and hope that Americans returned to the Ford family. What makes the 1978 Ford F150 so unique? How did Ford manage to salvage its reputation as a formidable truck builder? Let’s stroll down memory lane and look at the 1978 Ford F150.

Table of Contents


The Features Of The 1978 Ford F150

Ford invested its energy into producing what it knew was an excellent half-ton truck. Production numbers indicate that 422,264 F 150 trucks rolled off the assembly line. While Ford continued to make the F 100 alongside the younger F 150, this number was an increase over the previous year (337,068). F150s represented a third of the 1.2 million trucks they made in 1978. Most of the F-150s were powered by V8 engines, although the inline six-cylinder was considered the standard motor.

Nearly 70% of the 1978 Ford F150s were automatics (the 3-spd manual was the standard transmission), and about the same percentage were 4 x 2s. (Ford had only recently added four-wheel drive to the F150, although it had been part of their truck lineup for decades).

Cab Configuration

The truck was offered with either Regular or SuperCab configurations. The Regular Cab had “Flareside” fenders or a “Styleside” choice with straight lines on the sides (both were built with 8’ beds). The SuperCab offered 6.5’ and 8’ beds in the Styleside configuration. It could be ordered as a Shorty (6.5’) or long bed (8’).

Most units were Styleside Regular Cab 4 x 2s, although Ford 4 x 4s were gaining momentum among American drivers.

Trim Levels

The new Lariat trim level was added as the luxury version of the F150, replacing the Ranger XLT. The trim levels were Custom, Ranger, Ranger XLT, and Ranger Lariat.


The new design look for 1978 was fresh and appealing. The split grille was replaced by a larger structure providing a more uniform look. The headlights were no longer a part of the grille but had their own housings. (Round headlights were standard on the Custom trim, but square ones were used on every other trim level. The parking lights were moved from above the headlights to below, and a chrome bumper stuck out like the lip of a spoiled child. The iconic Ford lettering was moved from the top of the grille and incorporated as part of the hood edge.

The straight lines of previous versions of the F150 were intact, so it still looked like a Styleside. Ford retained the black and chrome accent line it had used for years, stretching from a small reflector on the front quarter panel to a matching reflector located on the back side wall.

The cargo box was double-walled with zinc-coated metals and two coats of paint to protect it from rust corrosion. Dual fuel tanks were a standard feature, situated under the cargo box.

The bed was fashioned to be cleaned quickly, which truck owners loved.

There were 17 different color tones to choose from, and owners could get a two-tone paint job on their Styleside trucks if they so chose. Colors ranged from Candyapple Red, Raven Black, Medium Cooper, or Bahama Blue.


Five engine choices were available for the ‘78 F150. While the standard engine was the 300 cu. inline six, the 302 V8 was added as an engine option. (Ford had used the 302 V8 in the F-100, but not in the F150 - the 302 was unavailable in California due to emission laws). The 351 would be used for several years, while the 400 would eventually be dropped in 1981. (The 7.5L 460 would remain part of the truck’s lineup until 1996).


The standard transmission was the 3-speed manual, but most owners opted for the automatic transmission. There was also a 4-speed with overdrive. (The automatic C4 transmission backed up the 300 ci Inline six, while the upgraded C6 handled the duties for the V8s). The NP205 was the cast iron transfer case used for 4-wheel drive models.


Ford continued to use the Twin I-beam suspension that it developed in 1965. While the independent system aided the ride comfort, most owners found that the F150 handled rough terrain better than most competitor trucks.


Owners could choose from one of four trim levels for 1978 (up from three in previous years). The new Lariat trim replaced the top-tier level (Ranger XLT had been the top trim). It included smart Picton cloth inserts that were bordered by super-soft vinyl. Deluxe three-point seat belts had been used for a few years, but the new, improved recoil made them sit nicely against the B pillar. Wood grain accents and a new tilt steering wheel were options.

The Ranger XLT still had wall-to-wall color-coordinated carpeting with wood-grained door panels that gave an expensive look. A woodgrain horn on the steering wheel helped tie the interior together, and enlarged gauges made the instrument panel a thing of beauty. Extra roof insulation helped make the cabin quiet and eliminate road noise.

Custom and Ranger trims had vinyl seat covers, with 7 inches of padding in the seat bottoms and 5 inches in the seat back. The SuperCab offered additional rear seating for a cabin that Ford proclaimed would seat six. (Inward-facing jump seats were also available if owners preferred).

Owners opted for power steering in almost every Ford F150 made (92%), and power brakes were standard. The AM radio was a standard feature, although customers could have an AM with cassette or an AM/FM stereo with a speaker in each door.

Other options included tinted windows, a passenger visor mirror, air-conditioning, and a new tilt steering wheel. The company also offered a factory-installed CB radio, although very few F150s were built.

The Specs of the 1978 Ford F 150.

The following table contains a list of some of the specifications for the F150 during the 1978 model year.

What Is A 1978 Ford F150 Worth Today?

According to Hagerty, the average price of a 1978 Ford F150 is $15,300 (the prices for 4WD units are higher). For a current listing of Ford F50s and other cars on the market, check out the listing on classiccars.com. (Values will depend on accessories and condition of the vehicle for sale). Due to the production numbers, parts for restoring these beauties are easy to find and readily available.