Ford F-150 SuperCab History

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Since the Model T rolled off the assembly line, Ford has taken good ideas and improved them. One classic example is when it added the SuperCab to its lineup.

The Ford SuperCab is an extended cab configuration that has been a part of the Ford legacy since 1974. While the F150 would not be introduced for a year, the SuperCab area has offered customers extra storage room to haul cargo or passengers. SuperCabs are accessed by mini-doors on either side.

As an oil embargo, Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the resignation of a President dominated headlines, America was at a crisis point in 1974. Families watched as their wallets grew thinner, and rising prices, runaway inflation, and chronic unemployment became the norm. As the new realities of a broken economy set in, the Big Three sought ways to survive. Each manufacturer had introduced a new pickup truck the previous year, but Dodge created a buzz with its new ClubCab feature. Ford followed suit the year after, and by the time the F150 emerged onto the American landscape in 1975, the SuperCab was already in place for two of the three truck makers. Let's explore this great Ford legacy with an F150 SuperCab history review.

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How Did The “SuperCab” Come To Be

The first pickup truck to have an extended cab feature was the Dodge Club Cab brought into production in 1973. Dodge promoted the new Club Cab as a place to store gear, but with only 18 inches of space, it wasn’t ideal for passengers. Dodge pushed the new feature to compliment their four-wheel-drive pickups with camper packages. (Surprisingly, General Motors would not install an extended cab on their Chevrolet Silverado until 1988).

In preparation for the sixth generation of F-series released in ‘73, Ford made a significant change to their trucks by moving the gas tank’s location from behind the cab to beneath the bed. Since Ford had extra space in their half-ton truck, making room for an extended “super” cab the following year was no problem.

Ford was motivated by the new Dodge ClubCab, but they were not content to simply copy the design. Ford designers capitalized on the idea by making their extended cab larger and offering it on their next generation of F-Series a year later. The new “SuperCab” was offered on ‘74 F100s, F250s, and F350s for all trim levels on both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models.

The rear space measured 2 x 5/1/2 feet. Ford stiffened the frame to accommodate the larger cab, increasing the payload and towing capacity. Ford introduced a full bench seat that folded down when unused or two cushioned inward-facing jump seats. You could access the rear area with a movable seat back folded forward from either the driver’s or passenger’s side.

Ford saw an opportunity to use the new “Super” cab configuration to make their trucks more family-friendly. Their light-duty trucks were increasingly being purchased by suburbanites as daily drivers. Ford stiffened the frame to accommodate the new larger cab, which increased the payload and towing capacities and drew instant praise from Ford owners.

The Birth of the F150 SuperCab

When Ford debuted their new F 150 pickup truck in 1975, it ensured that the new SuperCab configuration was included. The new half-ton pickup came as either a Regular Cab or SuperCab. (The four-door CrewCab was reserved for F350s). The extended cab configuration offered 44 cubic feet of cargo space for storage, or as the sales brochure remarked, enough room to “seat a family of six.” (Customers could order a full rear bench seat or inward-facing jump seats).

SuperCabs were offered on 6 ¾’ and 8 ’ bed Styleside pickups and Cab Chassis. Initially, Ford had 15” x 15” side windows in the back rear that could be tinted and flipped open with an inner latch if customers wished. While Ford trumpeted the new Cab as an innovative feature, they didn’t seem committed to the cab type. According to production records, only 10,852 SuperCabs were made from the 177,229 F150 units that rolled off the assembly line that year.

Ford Makes Changes - Redesigns The Windows

Ford modified the SuperCab with the 1980 F150. Two twin windows replaced the single pane, and Ford trimmed the cargo space down to 39 cubic feet. (They would cut it further the following year to 37.4 cu feet). Ford pickup trucks would keep these dimensions until 1985, when it paired the space down again - this time to 29.8 cubic feet. (Ford would take a lot of heat for these decisions, and in 1988, the manufacturer would increase their best-selling truck’s rear room to 31 cubic feet).

Ford would hold on to the SuperCab even as it launched the ninth generation of F-Series models in 1992. Ford changed the side window again, replacing the twin rear side windows with a single rectangular window.

Ford Adds A Third Door, And Then Another

The next significant innovation for the SuperCab came in 1997 (Ford’s tenth generation) when the SuperCab body style changed with the addition of a third door. The third door opened opposite the passenger door and could be accessed by a handle integrated into the side panel or inside the armrest. (The front passenger door had to be opened first). Ford also innovated a 60/40 split rear seat allowing customers to haul cargo and passengers at the same time. In addition, the bench seats were also contoured for the first time, with audio speakers installed in the cabin sidewalls to increase the sound quality.

Ford added a driver’s side door in 1999 for the F150, allowing access from either side of the truck. It wouldn’t be long before Ford introduced the full four-door half-ton pickup in the fall of 2000 (for the 2001 model) and would label it the SuperCrew.

The SuperCab Is Offered on Different Trims

Over the years, the SuperCab configuration has been offered as a part of many different trims. In addition to being offered on the XL, XLT, and Lariat trims, the SuperCab was a part of the STX, FX/FX4, and SVT Raptor. Leather became an optional feature for the rear seat on several trims, and front bucket seats with a center console were a popular choice among consumers.

Safety First

In 2003, Ford’s F150 extended cab pickup received disastrous safety ratings, which prompted Ford to reinforce the frame with more robust components in preparation for the eleventh generation of the F-Series. The changes were immediate. The 2004 Supercab was the only pickup in its class to score a 5-star frontal crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a top pick from IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

In 2009, Ford made some significant modifications to its trucks, including the development of side curtain airbags that stretched to include rear seat passengers. Electronic stability control was designed to make trucks safer (especially from roll-over accidents). According to the IIHS, ESC could reduce single-vehicle crashes by as much as 40%. New federal regulations for side airbags and ESC would follow soon after. (Auto companies had until 2012 to comply with the new law).

SuperCab Is Still Here, But …”

Even with so many advancements in the Ford F-Series, like electronic fuel injection, higher payloads, and adaptive cruise control, the SuperCab has continued to be a part of the Ford truck lineup. (In 2002, Dodge discontinued the extended cab with suicide doors in favor of four regular opening doors. In 2014, GM followed suit, offering a “double-cab” version (similar to Ford’s SuperCrew). For several years, Ford was the only truck offering a SuperCab configuration. Ford kept the rear-opening suicide doors but allowed them to open completely so they could lay flat against the truck’s sidewall.

While the Ford SuperCrew (four-door) has consistently outsold the extended cab option, Ford has remained committed to offering three cab configurations in many trucks. However, the time for the SuperCab may be limited. (Recently, Ford announced that as of 2023, the company would no longer offer the SuperCab as part of the Lariat or above package, making it available on the XL and XLT trim lines). Whatever future the SuperCab might hold, it revolutionized pickup trucks and helped to make the Ford F-Series the best-selling truck nameplate of all time.