What is the Dentside?
In 1973, Life was good because Ford was prospering, and Americans were buying trucks. Even though the Ford F-Series was rising in popularity with consumers, the auto company decided to come out with some serious upgrades before other industry leaders like GM and Dodge beat them to it.
Ford decided that the best strategy was to introduce a new generation of F-series (the sixth generation) and win even more followers to the Ford family. But, the only issue was that they liked the look of the previous generation enough to want to keep it going. Eventually, the corporate higher-ups decided to make the functional changes to the truck but keep the chassis from the previous model. In other words, they wanted their F-series to look like a Ford product.
So, in December of 1972, Ford introduced the next generation of F-series heavy-duty trucks (the sixth generation) and shoved it out of the assembly plant. At first, the public was confused because both generations of the pickup looked almost the same. (They used the same chassis). Yet, there was one difference that helped customers tell the difference. The designers reversed the three-inch outward concave (it looked like a little bump) that ran down the side of the truck from the headlight to the tail fin. Instead of an outward bump, they flipped the concave and inverted it inward. The fifth generation F-Series (pre-1973) became known as the “Bumpside”, and the sixth generation (after 1973) got called the “Dentside.” If you wanted to tell which was which, just look down the side of the truck to see if it is an inner or outer concave - (kind of like belly buttons).
What Made the Dentside So Popular?
There were some big differences between the two generations, even though they might have looked similar.
Built to Last
For one thing, the company made a serious commitment to battle the rust and corrosion that had been such a problem for Ford trucks in the past. They added galvanized sheet metal and changed their primer and paint compounds to include zinc (which has excellent anti-corrosion resistance).
This generation of F-series had a straight-six engine to start, but it wasn’t long before Ford adopted the Cleveland V8 for their trucks. With the larger engines came improved horsepower, payload, and towing capacities. Suspension systems were tweaked to handle the extra torque. The new “Dentside” trucks were built better, lasted longer, and drove more smoothly while still being tough enough to take the beating Americans loved to inflict on their trucks.
Built With Safety In Mind
One of the best additions these Ford trucks received in 1973 was the inclusion of disc brakes. (The previous generations had front and rear drum braking systems). The new brakes increased safety by improving stopping distances over the brake drum systems. Even though Ford passenger cars had been using the disc braking systems for some time (the mid 1960s), they were finally being put into F-series trucks.
The site of the gas tank was moved from behind the back bench seat to under the truck’s bed, providing added interior storage space. (One of the best things Ford did was build the first crew-cab pickup truck in 1965. The four doors allow more access. The only problem was that it wasn’t very safe). Not to be outdone, Ford introduced the extended cab in 1974, which they named the SuperCab.
Built For Convenience and Design
Intermittent wipers were introduced, and the air-conditioning motor was brought forward into the engine compartment, which improved customers’ ability to carry on a conversation. The dash was replaced to incorporate vents rather than the self-contained box look on the previous generation.
On the exterior, the grille design was changed ever so slightly, by putting the “F-O-R-D inside the grille below the hood centered between the headlights, instead of in block letters on the top of the hood lip. The windshield was given an upgrade with curved, rolled edges like many modern cars were receiving.
Built With New Buyers in Mind
Ford offered made the Custom trim the main trim level and introduced a new addition to the lineup, as well, by expanding it to include a heavy-duty F-350 V8. The large rig could be purchased with a Super Camper Special” package. (Eventually, the “super” was dropped, and just “camper special” was for sale). The truck had a large power base that could tow a trailer, complimented the F-250 very well, and brighten many American families with long journeys on the road.
In 1975, Ford introduced a heavier version of their all-popular F-100, named the F-150. It had a greater towing weight and payload capacity, upgraded springs, better performance, and interior features. It is an understatement to say that customers loved the new Ford truck because in less than five years, the F-100 would cease, and the F-150 would take over the slot as the most popular model of the F-series line.
The Ranger, Ranger XLT, and Ranger Lariat hit the ground in 1978 with a modern mini-truck look, cloth interiors, and two-tone paint jobs. The Ranger models continued to be a great seller for the company all way until being discontinued in 2011.
What Makes the Dentside So Restorable?
There are several reasons why the sixth generation of the F-series is a favorite among restorers, and the reason is their availability. The parts for these trucks are easy to get, cheap to purchase, and simple to install.
The “Dentside” trucks were vehicles with raw power, made before the advent of computers, sensors, gadgets, and gizmos. They embody the performance idea that a truck is a truck, not a pampered, taller version of a sedan. (Nothing against sedans, but I can’t be the only one who thinks that trucks have so sophisticated that they feel more car-like. I just want a truck to be a truck, that’s all)
So why aren’t more of them making their way from the scrapyard to the highway or classic collector’s garages? I don’t know. But the one thing I do know is that the F-series would never be what it is today without the “Dentside.” Maybe that is legacy enough.
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane