1988 Ford F150 (Specs And Features)

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A stock market crash made people nervous as the country sought to elect a new President. In 1988, the Ford F150 pickup tried to steady the course.

The 1988 F150 was the second year for the half-ton pickup in Ford’s eighth generation of F-Series trucks. Some changes included the 5.8L V8 EFI (opt) and a new 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic transmission as standard. Trim levels remained intact as Custom,  XL, and the XLT Lariat.

While Americans were decidedly nervous after a horrific stock market crash in October ‘87, Ford looked to weather the storms of the late eighties. Buoyed by record profits (Ford reported $4.6 billion in 1987) and increasing sales of cars (Escort and Taurus were leaders), Ford sought stability in the F150. (The rise of the mid-sized Dakota pickup the year before had proven short-lived, as sales tanked after the first year). Even though GM had introduced a new C10 platform, Ford saw an opportunity to distance itself ahead of Dodge and GM by emphasizing quality and performance. What makes the eighth generation of F150s so unique? Let’s explore the 1988 Ford F150 to see how this truck helped stabilize a nervous nation and kept Ford as the King of the Hill among pickup trucks.

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The Features of the 1988 Ford F150

Americans entered 1988 with fear and trepidation. After the financial crisis of late 1987, consumers pulled back on spending, jittered by rising prices. Most families preferred to hold off on large purchases, and that sentiment impacted car sales. Ford knew the nation needed stability, so it did little to change the F150 line. The Ford truck had been the best-selling truck for over a decade (11 years), and Ford saw no reason to break what didn’t need fixing.

To help reassure America about the value of their vehicles, the company initiated a 6-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Customers could rest assured that if any internally lubricated component failed, their vehicle would be fixed for free.


The most significant change in the 1988 F-series was the elimination of the naturally aspirated 5.8 L V8 it had been producing for years. The new electronic fuel injection technology would now spread to every engine class in the half-ton segment. (While Ford offered a 7.5 Desiel engine in heavier trucks, no carburetor engine was offered).

In addition, Ford eliminated the 4-speed manual with overdrive from the previous year with a 5-speed manual overdrive as the standard transmission.

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The 1988 Ford F150 truck came in 4 x 2 and 4 x 4 powertrains. There were Regular Cab and Super Cab versions, but for the first time, only a Styleside was offered. (The Flareside was discontinued, even though it had briefly appeared in early 1987).


The front of the 1988 Ford F150 was unchanged from the previous year, with more composite headlights/turn signals. A blacked-out version was offered on the Custom and XL models, eliminating the Chrome portions of the grille. (The XLT Lariat still contained portions of chrome in the grille. It also sported special wheel covers). While the chrome bumper was more rounded than previous generations, a black accent strip across the front on the XL and XLT Lariat trims matched the blacked-out portions of the grille.

The straight-lined Styleside beds were 6 ¾ ‘ short or 8’ long beds. The Super Cab was a popular choice for families with the additional room for a rear bench seat. Owners could choose from a rear seat folded down for storage or inward-facing jump seats. (There was also an option for front Captain’s chairs with a deep center storage console, but it was offered on the SuperCab only).

The cargo box was made with double-walled galvanized sheet metal and then primed with specialized polymers before a double coat of exterior paint. Despite the efforts, Ford still had issues with rust and corrosion.

For 1988, twelve color choices were included (Colonial White, Medium Silver Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic, Alpine Green Metallic, Light Chestnut, Dark Chestnut Metallic, Raven Black, Dark Canyon Red, Dark Shadow Blue Metallic, Desert Tan Metallic, Bright Canyon Red, and Light Regatta Blue were the choices).


Ford fell in love with electronic fuel injection and was speeding to put it on every vehicle. In 1988, EFI made its way across all the engine lines in the F150. (Ford had been making a 5.8L High-Output engine that was aspirated, but not this year). Since technologies were changing by the day (cell service was just starting), more people realized that old-style carburetors were inefficient fuel wasters.

The 4.9L six-cylinder engine remained the standard motor on the F150 (A distinction it had held for years).

Ford did have some issues with the early EFI engines. Owners were often frustrated with electrical shorts, and CPU failures affected the performance of their engines. A recall was issued on the electrical ignition for a faulty switch that could potentially cause fires.

Engine Horsepower Torque
4.9L inline-six EFI 150 hp @ 3400 rpm 223 ft/lb @ 1600 rpm
5.0 L V8 EFI 185 hp @ 3800 rpm 270 ft/lb @ 2400 rpm
5.8 L V8 EFI 240 hp @ 3400 rpm 340 ft/lb @ 2000 rpm


The M5R2 five-speed manual transmission with overdrive was standard for all F150s (Regular and SuperCabs; 4 x2 and 4 x 4 models). A three-speed automatic with overdrive (SelectShift) was the most popular choice.

Ford reverted to the Borg-Warner 1345 Series 2-speed transfer case for four-wheel drive models, having dabbled with the BW1356 the previous year.

Interior and Trim Lines

The interior remained the same in 1988. The instrument panel continued its boxed,  compartmentalized look, with a separate section for the audio and environmental controls and the mechanical displays. While the truck had a standard AM radio, an upgraded stereo with a digital clock and cassette player was an option for the XLT Lariat trim.

The Custom trim offered a basic “no frills” truck feel with a vinyl bench seat and black rubber flooring. A plain black steering wheel, black seatbelts, and matching black accents on the dashboard were standard features. Many owners opted for the base model, and Ford found a good market in fleet sales as companies purchased the custom F150 in mass.

The XL trim level offered a cloth/vinyl bench seat. Aluminum scuff plates were installed at the base entrances. Wood grain rimmed the instrument panel and comfort/convenience areas. Color-key headliners and floor mats were also included.

The XLT Lariat was much more luxurious, with color-coordinated cloth seats. There was high-pile color-coordinated carpeting, although many owners needed floor mats to keep it from getting trashed. The wood-accented steering wheel was soft-wrapped in leather, and even though an AM/FM radio was standard, owners could opt for the AM/FM stereo with cassette player and digital clock.

What Are The Specs For The 1988 Ford F 150?

Item Specification
Cab Configurations Regular Cab
Length 192.1 “ (6 ¾ bed)
208 “ (8 ‘ bed)
Wheelbase 117 “ (6 ¾ bed - Regular Cab)
133 “ (8’ bed - Regular Cab)
139 “ (6 ¾ bed - Super Cab)
155 “ (8 ‘ bed - Super Cab)
Max GVWR 5200 - 6100 lbs (Reg cab)
5450 - 6250 lbs (Super Cab)
Payload Capacity Regular Cab
1325 lbs (Styleside short bed - pkg 1)
1315 lbs (Styleside long bed - pkg 1)
1830 lbs (Styleside long bed - pkg 2)
2585 lbs (Styleside long bed - pkg 3
1980 - 2075 lbs (Styleside - short/long bed)
Tires Radial P215/75R or P235/75R (opt)
Engine 4.9L inline six EFI (std)
5.0L V8 EFI
5.8L HO V8
Horsepower 150 hp @ 3400 rpm (300 inline six EFI)
185 hp @3400 rpm (351 V8 EFI)
240 hp @ 3600 rpm (351 H0 V8 EFI)
Torque 223 ft/lb @ 2400 rpm (300 inline six)
285 ft/lb @ 2400 rpm (302 V8 EFI)
340 ft/lb @ 2200 rpm (351 HO V8 EFI)
Bore 4.0 (All engines)
Stroke 3.98 (300 inline EFI)
3.0 (302 V8)
3.5 (351 V8 EFI)
Compression 8.8:1 (300 inline EFI)
8.5:1 (302 V8 EFi)
8.8:1 (351 V8 EFI)
Fuel Tank 19 gallon (std - Longbed) (16.5 shortbed)

What Is a 1988 Ford F150 Worth Today?

Hagerty states that a 1988 F150 in good condition is worth $11,300, depending on the options. (Vehicles in excellent condition are worth more). For a review of free listings of 1988 F-Series trucks from classic car dealers across the country, see classiccars.com