In the ongoing rivalry between Ford vs. Chevy trucks over the decades it’s rare that all-new versions would be introduced in the same year, but that’s what happened in 1973. While Ford’s F-Series did carry over its frame and some engines, everything else was all-new. Though the bodies looked very similar, they were entirely new for more of an evolutionary change.
For Chevy, it was a radical shift from the previous model introduced in 1967. There was no mistaking it for the previous year’s truck. Everything except some engine options was new including the thicker frame rails, longer wheelbase, and relocation of the gas tank to the frame. It was previously located behind the front seat.
Chevy would continue producing this basic truck with some minor revisions over the coming 15 model years. Only Dodge had a longer truck run going from 1969 to 1991. Ford’s next major pickup redesign was in 1980, so this generation F-Series was cut to a short (by truck standards) seven years. But, an extended body “SuperCab” made its debut in 1974. Ford said it could comfortably seat six people.
F-Series Becomes Best Selling Pickup
By 1977 the F-Series became the best-selling truck in the US, a record it still holds today. Both six ½-foot, and eight-foot beds could be ordered. The same was available for Chevy’s C10. So far the 1973 Ford vs. Chevy faceoff is pretty close.
The most expensive and highly-optioned Chevy in 1973 was the “Cheyenne-Super.” A more thoroughly- finished interior with less exposed painted metal and a wide stainless belt below the rear window distinguished the high-end version. This was superseded by the Silverado and Scottsdale in 1975.
Ford’s trim levels were Custom, Ranger, and Ranger XLT, with the Ranger Lariat topping the XLT for 1978. Both Ford and Chevys truck bodies spanned the range of GVW and heavy-duty configurations, with Ford seeing F-700 and F-800 GVWR of 7000 lbs and 8000 lbs respectively.
Ford vs. Chevy Pickup Engines
Engine options for the F-100-F150 ranged from a 240ci straight-six through 1976 to the 460ci V8 with over 200 hp available all years. The Caterpillar 3208 V8 diesel was optional in F-700-F-800 heavy-duty models.
For the Chevy, the engine range was from a 250ci straight-six to the 454ci big-block rated at 240 hp in 1986. A 6.2-liter Detroit diesel V8 for trucks rated over 8500 lbs GVW was available starting in 1982. So, engine choices were evenly matched in a 1973 Ford vs. Chevy fight.
While the Ford trucks changed little except for grilles and interior appointments, the Chevy received a facelift in 1981. The nose was lowered and reworked in wind tunnel testing for better aerodynamics. Weight was also reduced. All of this in an effort to increase gas mileage. Also new in late 1981 was a 700R4 automatic transmission that featured an overdrive, replacing the 400 Turbo Hydramatic three-speed automatic.
While the Chevy truck was replaced with the GMT 400 in 1988 the previous bodies continued for crew cabs, Suburbans, and Blazers through 1991 before they took on the newer pickup’s styling and platform. The single cab tooling was shipped to Mexico where it, too, continued production for distribution to other countries through 1991.
The F-150’s 1980 replacement was completely redesigned with only certain engines and transmissions carried over from the previous version.
Ford vs. Chevy: Which One Wins
In the history of pickups, both the Chevy C10 and Ford F-100/150 and its various series and bodies are iconic trucks representing a period when pickups became more than just manure haulers. As “Cowboy Cadillacs” they took on a lifestyle choice. Some actual cowboys called the Cadillac Cowboys “windshield cowboys” because they only became a cowboy behind the windshield of a pickup truck.
So the winner of the Chevy C10 vs. F-100/150 is whichever one fulfills your preference for Ford or Chevy products, familiarity, nostalgia, or styling. We would say the Chevy trucks had slightly more finished interiors. The Ford trucks have a reputation for being more truck than a car with its I-beam suspension and angular styling.
But, either one is a winner as a stylish, rugged, usable collector vehicle.