1961 Ford F-100 SpecificationsLast Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
The F-100’s fourth generation kicked off in 1961. While there was some resistance to a few designs, these trucks were, and continue to be, popular. Part of the reason for their continued popularity is the wide selection of trucks available.
Ford worked to diversify their pickup truck options for this generation to create a truck for everyone. Advertisements even included a “job selector” so you could pick the truck for your needs. This translated to huge changes in equipment, appearance, and options.
Because Ford used to destroy their order forms once a vehicle was produced, we have no exact production numbers. It’s possible that some unique or limited-edition trucks were produced with equipment not listed here. Here’s all the equipment we do know about that was more of a standard offering.
|223 CID 6-Cylinder||135 hp||200 lb-ft|
|292 CID V8||160 hp||270 lb-ft|
|Gross Vehicle Weight Rating||5,000 lb|
|Standard Front Axle Capacity||2,600 lb|
|Standard Rear Axle Capacity||3,300 lb|
|Standard Front Spring Capacity||1,145 lb|
|Standard Rear Spring Capacity||1,180 lb|
|Code||Gear Ratio||Differential/Axle Type|
|A1||3.73||Dana/Spicer 44.1 and Locking Differential|
|A2||3.92||Dana/Spicer 44.1 and Locking Differential|
|A5||4.10||Dana/Spicer 44.1 and Locking Differential|
|Model||Price at Time of Sale||Adjusted for Inflation|
|Monte Carlo Red||J|
Exterior Changes from the Previous Generation
With a new generation came a bold new look. The Ford F-100 began its slimdown in the fourth generation and lost some of the bubbly-roundedness of older models. While the hood still has a distinct rounded appearance, it’s significantly shorter than third-gen F-100 trucks. There were several other major exterior changes.
The Unibody Truck
1961-1963 Styleside bed pickups are often called “unibodies." But that’s a little misleading since the bodies are still bolted to a ladder frame. They did have a sleeker look, though. And Ford intended for these pickups to appeal to a younger, hipper crowd.
Unibody pickups didn’t have a space between the cab and the bed. Instead, the cab and bed were integrated into a single unit, hence the name. This was a serious progression of the styleside pickup (which was still new) and focused on a smoother-looking exterior. Unfortunately, that gap between the cab and bed was crucial for carrying heavy loads.
Unibody pickups have a hard time hauling anything heavy without becoming damaged. With no space for flex, the entire body would often bow under the weight, causing the doors to get stuck. This design only lasted for a couple of years.
You might think that these trucks would be chalked up as a disaster. But really, they ushered in the style of pickup that’s still popular today. And their unique looks make them desirable collectibles.
|Box Length||Shortbed: 6.5’
|Inside Length||78.2” and 98.2”||76.4” and 94.4”||78” and 80”|
|Inside Width||76.6” and 76.6”||73” and 73”||49” and 54”|
|Tailgate Opening||64.5”||51.6”||49” and 54”|
|Height (Floor to Top of Walls Inside Box)||65.1” and 79.7”||56.1” and 70.6”||45” and 65.4”|
In the third-gen, Ford trucks had a quad headlamp setup. Two lights were present on each corner. In ‘61, these lights were replaced with one larger square setup.
Wheels and Tires
F-100s came with standard black wall bias ply tires. Some dealerships dressed up the trucks with whitewalls, but those weren’t manufacturer equipment.
Standard cabs came with painted hubcaps (white or silver) with “Ford” in red letters.
Custom Cabs had stainless steel hubcaps with black “Ford Letters.”
For 1961, the F-100 was available with two engines. The base six-cylinder and an optional V8, referred to as the Y-block.
The engine code can be found on the data plate, along with the net horsepower. Though engines at the time were usually measured in gross horsepower, most owners found net horsepower more useful. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) agreed and made net horsepower the standard in 1972.
|Spec||223 6-Cylinder||292 V8|
|Gross Horsepower||135 hp @ 4,000 RPM||160 hp @ 4,000 RPM|
|Net Horsepower||114 hp @ 3,600 RPM||135 hp @ 3,800 RPM|
|Gross Torque||200 lb-ft @ 1,800-2,400 RPM||270 lb-ft @ 1,800-2,000 RPM|
|Net Torque||186 lb-ft @ 1,600-2,000 RPM||245 lb-ft @ 1,800-2,000 RPM|
There weren’t many options available for Ford truck interiors. Even though trucks were starting to be mainstream, they were still built mostly for work. As a result, the interiors were utilitarian.
If you opted for the standard package, you’d get these features:
- Brown basket weave pattern vinyl seat upholstery with dark brown vinyl bolster and seat facing
- Deep-dish collapsible steering wheel (referred to as a “lifeguard” model)
- Safety double-grip door latches
- Dome light
- Driver’s side sun visor
- Ash tray
- Dispatch box
- Theft-retardant ignition switch
- Sound deadener on floor and rear panel
The “Custom” cab package came with all the standard cab features plus a few extras:
- Twill stripe woven plastic seat upholstery with brown woven-in bolster
- Perforated insulated headlining
- Chrome-trimmed instrument cluster
- White steering wheel with chrome horn ring
- Coat hook
- Door locks on both doors
- Foam rubber in seat cushion and back
The Custom Cab also came with a few exterior features:
- Bright metal grille and headlight assembly
- Bright metal windshield molding
- Custom Cab emblem
Major Mechanical Adjustments
Besides the obvious physical differences, there were some mechanical improvements that made a big difference in drivability.
New Steering Box
The F-100’s cam and lever steering box from 1960 was replaced with a recirculating ball system with a 20:1 steering ratio. This improved the responsiveness of the steering and made it more durable.
Upgrading to a rack and pinion steering system is a popular mod for F-100s. But this upgrade is less urgent with a good recirculating ball steering box. These systems are still in use today, and can be kept in working order with little maintenance.
A mechanical clutch linkage replaced the hydraulic system. This meant less pedal effort and less maintenance. The transmission was also made sturdier for smoother transmission shifts.
A heavy-duty metal radiator with lock-seam construction resulted in fewer coolant leaks and better cooling. New fans were used in both available engines, and the crankcase’s ventilation was improved. Overall, this made the engine less likely to overheat.
Popular Modifications and Restorations for 1961 F-100s
While the unibodies will never be great for heavy-duty hauling, they are stylish and perfect for restomod builds. When lowered, these trucks are especially eye-catching.
All classic vehicles can benefit from a brake upgrade, and F-100s are no exception. Added stopping power makes these trucks better equipped for daily driving and is necessary for drag builds.
Creating a drag truck is another popular build goal. Engine swaps are a popular mod for these builds. Partly because the engines at the time weren’t very powerful, but also because the original engines tend to have a lot of miles on them.
For restorations, just replacing some of the more iconic pieces, like the tailgate or hood emblems, can help restore some shine to this truck.
No two F-100 projects look the same, and that’s because this truck ended up being the perfect platform for a wide variety of builds. Whether you want to do a period-correct restoration that’s show-ready or create a hot rod capable of hitting the track, there’s no wrong way to update your F-100.
In many ways, Ford was successful in its fourth-gen goal. They created a truck that can be right for everyone and anyone.
Sources: How to Decode Your 1961-62 VIN, Fordification | At $12,000, Could This Primer-Patched 1961 Ford F-100 ‘Unibody’ Be A Prime Deal?, Jalopnik | Ford F-100/F-150 Pickup 1953 to 1996: America’s Best-Selling Truck, Robert Ackerson