Ford F-100 Truck Grilles by Year: 1948-1979Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
Ford’s F-series trucks’ appealing style has helped them become America’s favorite pickup. But it took years to evolve that style. In the years before they seized the crown, Ford revamped their pickup grille every year or two.
These minor grille tweaks make each year distinct. While this makes trucks easy to identify, it can make recreating a stock look challenging. Here’s what changed from year to year during the F-series’ evolution.
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For a more thorough rundown on the differences, check out our year by year guide below!
First-Generation F-100 Grille and Hood Styling
The first-gen F-100 comes from a unique time. This is Ford’s first post-WWII pickup. During their first-generation, F-100s were known as F-1 pickups (or Effies, affectionately). This style pickup is distinct, with a prominent hood design.
1948-1950 F-100 Grille
The 1948-1950 F-100’s grille features 5 chrome bars. On the third bar, FORD lettering offers some ornamentation. The bottom bar comes with or without a crank hole.
The hood itself is very distinct from the rest of the truck and features some trim pieces of its own.
1951-1952 F-100 Grille
The 1951 F-100 grille is substantially different. A single bar with three connection points is featured in the center of the grille. The hood isn’t as high as the previous three years' models.
The bar on 1951 and 1952 F-100s grille is available in black, white, chrome, or body-colored.
The hood ornamentation is a minor difference between the 1951 and 1952 F-100 models and is one way to tell them apart. In the center of the hood, you’ll often find an emblem that’s associated with the installed engine. The V8 emblem for the ‘51 model is smaller, while the ‘52 version has an elongated “v” with an 8 in the center.
The 1952 F-100 also has Ford lettering across the front panel above the grille.
Second-Generation F-100 Grille and Hood Styling
The F-100’s second generation has a more connected look. The hood still has a hump-like shape but was more integrated with the truck’s body.
Most people describe the second-gen’s look as “friendly.” With the round headlights, bubble-shaped hood, and small grille, it has a distinctly cheerful appearance.
By 1953, fears over the Korean war had subsided and people were buying pickups in large numbers. Ford produced more than 100,000 of these pickups per year. While that hardly compares to the million-plus F-series pickups created per year now, it’s still an impressive feat. Certainly, the appealing design helped.
1953 F-100 Grille
The 1953’s grille featured two parallel lines with space for a center emblem. The emblem changed, depending on the equipped engine. A three-point inverted star indicated a six-cylinder engine, while V8s had an “8” sitting in the center of a “V.”
A deluxe F-100 grille came with the custom cab option. The deluxe grille featured “teeth.” These six small metal pieces went between the two bars. With three on either side, they resemble very spaced out teeth. Hence the name.
A Ford hood emblem was included with either cab option. Overdrive or Ford-O-Matic transmissions were also accompanied by an emblem.
1954 F-100 Grille
In 1954, the F-100’s grille featured a more prominent top bar with a central emblem. A four-point star indicated a six-cylinder engine, and a V8 was signified by an “8” inside a “V.” Custom Cabs were also outfitted with grille “hash marks.”
A Ford emblem adorned the center of the hood. Overdrive and Ford-O-Matic emblems were often featured under the Ford emblem.
1955 F-100 Grille
In 1955 the two grille bars were similarly sized, but the top bar came down in a V to meet the second bar. This bar is actually composed of two separate pieces, sometimes referred to as “gullwings.” In the space above the V, there was an emblem to designate which engine was available.
A 4-point star indicated a six-cylinder engine. V8 F-100s’ emblem was an “8” over a very wide-set “V.” As with the previous two years, a Ford emblem could be found on the front of the hood. Optional Ford-O-Matic or Overdrive emblems accompanied their respective transmissions.
One new addition for this year were Ford side-hood emblems.
1956 F-100 Grille
In 1956, the top bar became larger again and ran parallel to the second bar. The connecting point was the front radiator emblem. This year there was no emblem for six-cylinder engines, but V8s still had a radiator emblem.
Other hood ornaments ( the side-hood “Ford”, the center “Ford”, and the optional Ford-O-Matic and Overdrive options ) all returned.
In 1956, Custom Cabs came with a bright metal grille.
Third-Generation F-100 Grille and Hood Styling
In 1957, Lee Iacocca was at the helm of the Ford truck division. It was important to him that the third-gen was both new and yet created a “Ford-look.” That way the generation was distinct, but still welcomed returning Ford truck owners.
The hood was more squared off for this generation but kept its rounded edges. This created less space for hood emblems and more space for grille ornamentation.
1957 F-100 Grille
Part of the “Ford-look” was creating a wide sweep grille. The prominent center bar featured six rectangular cutouts, created with grille teeth. Finally, squared-off headlights completed the look. Six-cylinder F-100s got a hood ornament featuring a lightning and gear design. The standard “8” inside a “V” logo came with V8 engines.
1958 F-100 Grille
One of the distinguishing features of 1958 F-100 trucks was their egg-crate grille. Dual headlights were also added this year. The hood ornament for six-cylinders was the same as the previous year’s, a lightning bolt and gear design.
1959 F-100 Grille
In 1959, several changes radically altered the front appearance of the F-100.
Four prominent bars replaced the egg-crate design. The block “Ford” letters on the mesh hood scoop ornamentation were also distinct. A brand new bumper tied the whole look together. Added marker lights are located right beneath the headlights.
Dual headlights carried over from the previous year.
1960 F-100 Grille
For 1960, a central bar defined the grille. Grid work underneath that bar was in an egg-crate format.
Dual headlights are mounted in dramatic housing. The marker lights are still right beneath the headlights.
Fourth-Generation F-100 Grille and Hood Styling
The fourth generation of F-100 brought a lot of interesting style decisions. Perhaps most prominently, the introduction of the unibody style. This integrated styleside model was meant to herald an era of “trucks for everyone.”
Ford imagined their F-100 truck suited young urbanites as well as rugged outdoors folk. The grille design reflects these dual purposes. The smoother hood left less room for ornamentation.
1961 F-100 Grille
For the fourth-gen F-100’s first year in 1961, the grille featured two solid bars with Ford lettering in the center. A single round headlight was mounted in squared-off housing. Six-cylinder F-100s featured the gear and lightning bolt design hood emblem.
1962 F-100 Grille
In 1962 the central bars contained amber marker lights and were surrounded by a thin vertical divider. The Ford lettering was still there, just located above the grille and below the air intake.
1963 F-100 Grille
The 1963 F-100 got rid of the central bars and replaced them with an egg-crate style overlay. The Ford letters were still present, centered between the grille and air intake. Amber marker lights complete the look.
1964 F-100 Grille
Eight horizontal cutouts, each with a blacked-out center created a unique grille appearance for 1964. Slimmer marker lights were mounted between the cutouts.
The Ford lettering maintained its position between grille and air intake, but there was more space between each letter.
1965 F-100 Grille
In 1965, everything on the F-100’s front looked larger. A larger grille with 18 rectangular openings set the tone for a few minor changes.
The larger Ford letters were moved to the upper grille panel, as were the marker lights. Ford claimed that this marker light placement led to better visibility.
An optional brush-type grille guard was also available.
1966 F-100 Grille
Though the 1966 F-100 grille featured the same 18 rectangular slots as the previous year, they were shrunk. This created space for a bar with two rectangular slots. The Ford lettering, marker, and headlight placement remained the same.
Fifth-Generation F-100 Grille and Hood Design
The fifth-generation F-100 has a “straight-line” aesthetic that separates it from the bubble-hooded first-gen trucks. These squared-off front ends have significantly influenced modern truck design.
In general, the fifth-gen was one with huge changes, new trims, and some exciting developments. You can read about all the big changes for the fifth-gen F-100s here.
1967 F-100 Grille
For 1967, the Ford lettering was still large with wide spaces. Now located at the front of the hood, it was more prominent than before. Beneath, was a larger grille area. Single headlights with marker lights below offset a grid-design grille.
1968 F-100 Grille
The changes for the 1968 F-100’s grille were subtle. Three of the horizontal bars became more prominent, and the three vertical bars became black-finished rather than bright.
1969 F-100 Grille
For 1969, the F-100’s grille was largely unchanged. The main difference was that the vertical bars changed from black-finish to bright-finish.
1970 F-100 Grille
1970 saw one of the most dramatic changes for the F-100 grille. It moved to using a “split down the center” design. Each of the two sides featured an egg-crate style grille.
1971 F-100 Grille
In 1971, the split down the center style returned. But for this year, each of the sides moved to using a six-rectangle design.
1972 F-100 Grille
In 1972 the two halves of the grille feature two divided rectangular cutouts (for a total of four cutouts).
Sixth-Generation F-100 Grille and Hood Styling
The F-150 was introduced in 1975, during the F-100’s sixth generation. This introduction heralded the end for the smaller of the two pickups. Through the sixth-gen, grille redesigns were less frequent.
But it was also during this generation that the F-series finally became “America’s Favorite Pickup.” It’s held onto that title ever since.
1973-1975 F-100 Grille
In 1973, the Ford lettering returned to the area above the grille, with the marker lights on either side. Underneath, the grille is still divided in two, but now by a single vertical bar over a grid design.
This simple design was so likable that it remained unchanged for the next two years! 1974 and 1975 F-100s came with the same grille. It was the first time in more than 20 years that Ford kept grille styling.
1976-1977 F-100 Grille
The grille design for 1976 was revamped slightly. The Ford lettering and marker lights retained their position. And there was still a two-piece grille design. But by reducing the number of horizontal bars, Ford created an egg crate look.
This look would last through 1977.
1978-1979 F-100 Grille
In 1978, The F-100 grille went through one of its biggest redesigns yet. The two-piece design was abandoned entirely. Instead, the egg crate design extended across the width of the grille.
Square headlights have amber marker lights underneath. The Ford lettering remained above the grille, and the lettering size stayed the same. But all together these changes create the foundation of a more modern pickup look.
This look would carry over through the 1979 year.
Modern Grille Designs
Hopefully, this guide gives you a better picture of what your F-100 came stock with. It’s up to you whether you want to keep that design or create your own look.
A truck’s grille is the perfect place to add style. Companies, like Ford, update grille designs regularly, but aftermarket options allow for deeper personalization. Whether you prefer a grille that’s simple and timeless or want something aggressive, there are options for you.
In addition to the grille itself, emblems are a great way to personalize your truck. Many opt to showcase their engine selection or favorite pickup brand. But it’s also just a great place to add a personal touch.
Sources: 1974 Ford F-100 Specs, Info, Blue Oval Tech | 1977 Ford F-100 F-150 Specs, Info, Blue Oval Tech | 1978 Ford F-100, Autotrader Classics | | 1976 Ford F100 F150 Specs, Blue Oval Tech | Factory Literature Library, Fordification