What Is the 1956 Ford F-100?

What Is the 1956 Ford F-100?

Last Updated May 9, 2024 | C.J. Tragakis

While the production of the second-generation Ford F-series pickup trucks ran from 1953-1956, the 1956 F-100 model was a wholly unique body style, a rare thing to see for a commonplace vehicle during any time period in the United States. The already beloved styling of these classic American trucks make them intensely popular with collectors, but the anomalous (yet good-looking) design of the 1956 model specifically puts it on a completely different level. Find out more about these interesting trucks and what separates them from the other model years of their generation.

Newsletter Sign-Up

1956 Ford F-100 Body Style

1956 Ford F-100 Panel VanAn even more rare sight these days, the F-100 panel vans offered businesses a practical workhorse.

To enthusiasts with a keen eye, the 1956 Ford F-100 has an instantly recognizable design. There are two key exterior design elements that separate it from the other trucks of its generation that preceded it from 1953-1955. The first, and perhaps most noticeable difference, is that the windshield is of a “full-wrap” or wrap-around style, with the glass curving around each side of the cabin’s edge. This creates a smoother, more bubbled appearance that is wholly unique to this model year. It also means that the A-pillars are almost completely vertical, instead of slanted backward like previous model years.

Additionally, for just 6,200 of the 1956 F-100s that were built, a special full-wrap rear window was used, which used a very similar design to the front windshield. These “Big-Window” trucks are extraordinarily rare today and represent possibly the most sought-after variant of all classic F-100 trucks. Some enthusiasts convert their second-gen F-100 trucks to the wrap-around style, so be aware that not all are original.

The second design element revision that was very noticeable compared to the previous model years was the heavily-revised grille. Ford did away with the distinctive dipping “V” shape of the top bar, instead opting for a smoother and more subtle look. For 1956, the lower of the two bars was also made a bit smaller than the top bar. While some may prefer the more dramatic styling of the 1953-1955 front end, it’s hard to deny that the 1956 grille adds a look that is more classic, understated, and streamlined. Ford changed the F-100's grille regularly, you can see the full F-100 grille evolution here.

During this time, Mercury was making its M-series of pickup trucks, which were essentially F-series models with a slightly altered exterior. The 1956 Mercury M-100 is extremely comparable to its F-100 sibling, though even fewer of them are still around today.

1956 Ford F-100 Facts and Figures

The 1956 Ford F-100 offered a V6 and V8 engine option, like its forebearers, but featured increased overall output. The V8 especially offered a much higher displacement than the previous model year. A new clutch was standard as well. Hydraulic Power steering could be added as an option for the first time in 1956. There were three different varieties of Ford's "Synchro-Silent" steering column-mounted "three-on-the-tree" 3-speed manual transmissions: the standard version, a medium-duty version, and one with overdrive. There was also a 3-speed “Fordomatic” automatic transmission and a “four-on-the-floor” 4-speed manual transmission as options.

1956 Ford F-100 Cabin

Inside the cabin, Ford’s new “Lifeguard” safety technology was present, an initiative at the time across their entire vehicle line-up. The doors were latched more robustly to prevent opening during a crash, the steering wheel used a “deep-dish” concave design to reduce impact with the driver in a collision, and soft-padded materials and seat belts were optional. All of this is woefully inadequate by today’s standards but showed that Ford was at least thinking in the right direction when it came to passenger safety.

The following exterior paint colors were available for the 1956 F-100, and any could be paired with a Colonial White roof and upper back panel for a two-tone look on Custom Cab trims.

  • Vermilion (Red)
  • Diamond Blue
  • Nocturne Blue
  • Meadowmist Green
  • Platinum Gray
  • Goldenglow Yellow
  • Meadow Green
  • Raven Black
1956 Ford F-100 Specs
Spec1956 Ford F-100
Starting MSRP $1,577 (about $15,000 when adj. for inflation)
Horsepower + Engine 133 hp 223 cubic inch “Cost Clipper” V6 or 167 hp 272 cubic inch “Power King” V8
Torque 202 ft-lbs (V6), 260 lb-ft (V8)
Transmission 3-speed manual, 3-speed manual medium-duty, 3-speed manual with O/D, 4-speed manual, 3-speed “Fordomatic” automatic
Length 189.1 inches
Width 71.3 inches
Height 75.3 inches
Wheelbase 110.0 inches
Max GVWR 5,000 lbs
Bed Length 78 inches (6.5 feet)
Wheel Size 15” standard (16” optional)
Fuel Tank Capacity 17 gallons

1956 Ford F-100 Rarity

The rarity and singular design of this model year mean that they’re a consistently sought-after vehicle in the classic pickup market. Road and Track estimates that a 1956 variant will cost an additional 10-20% over similar 1953-55 models. You’ll find that it’s common for 1956 Ford F-100 models to be used as show trucks, and they’re sure to turn heads at vintage meets. Though the second-generation trucks only ran from 1953-1956 in the United States, Brazil continued to build them from 1957-1962. It’s unclear if any of these models ever made it stateside. While the third-generation pickups that launched in America in 1957 are also a fantastic series of trucks, they don’t have the quintessential curves and lines of their predecessors.

The restomod 1956 F-100 that Ringbrothers brought to SEMA 2017, which was called “Clem 101,” also brought about a bump in interest for these classic trucks. While this truck actually started life as a 1954 model and kept the grille, the cab was swapped for a 1956 to obtain the more-desired wrap-around style. With a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 under the hood and a clean, tastefully-appointed cabin, this is a nice example of seamlessly blending the old and the new, in a way that many classic truck enthusiasts are sure to appreciate.

1956 Restored Ford F-100 Pickup in Red

A pristine red model sold on RM Sotheby’s in late 2018 for $24,500 (final price of $26,950 including fees). Another similar example on the same site fetched $35,750 inclusive of fees, back in 2014. You can expect price levels in this range for superb restorations with low mileage such as these. 137,581 F-100 units were produced in 1956 (plus another 25,122 Express models with the longer 8-foot bed), but, naturally, significantly fewer are still around today.

1956 Ford F-100 Parts

If you’re fortunate enough to own one of these classic 1956 models or any other classic Ford pickup built from 1948-1979, check out our vast array of Ford F-100 parts and accessories to find everything you need to revitalize, restore, and customize your truck.

Image Credit: Creative Commons

Sources: 1956 Ford Truck Brochure| The Next Big Thing: 1953-1956 Ford F-100 MotorTrend | 1956 F-100 Operator's Manual |1956 Ford F-100 by Ringbrothers in MotorTrend

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.