Trucks & SUVs

Sam Walton’s 1979 Ford F-150 Receives Modern Interpretation By Jay Leno

Many people may recognize Jay Leno as a stand-up comedian and television entertainer. However, he is also a big-time car enthusiast. His collection is large enough to need a warehouse to house it and a staff maintaining or restoring the vehicles. So, after leaving late-night television shows, he began work on Jay Leno’s Garage, another show. But, this one is centered, as you might expect, around his automotive passion. As a prominent personality and automotive guy, he often gets the opportunity to meet interesting people and hears their interesting automotive stories. Recently, he came across an opportunity to hear part of the Sam Walton Ford F-150 story.

The 1979 Ford F-150 owned by Sam Walton

Sam Walton kneels in front of his red and white pickup to hug his dogs.
Sam Walton and his 1979 Ford F150 Custom | via WalmartMuseum.com

Sam Walton is the entrepreneur that created Walmart and Sam’s Club. He also orchestrated the growth of two companies. By 1979, sales from Walmart alone hit a billion dollars. The military vet was still a humble man, though. At that time, he purchased a Ford F-150. The truck was,

“a Ford F150 Custom Model with a four-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive. After more than a few aftermarket dents and scrapes, it came to symbolize Sam’s own humble nature and the humility he expected from his executives and associates. – Walmart Museum

When asked about why he chose a pickup truck, Mr. Walton responded,

“I just don’t believe a big showy lifestyle is appropriate. Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls Royce?” – Walmart Museum

To this day, the teeth marks of Ol’ Roy, Mr. Walton’s dog, can be seen on the steering wheel of the original F-150. It had become the dog’s favorite chew toy. A replica of the truck is often used in parades or shows.

The 2021 Ford F-150 interpretation

Jay Leno has a fond appreciation of all things automotive that has trickled down into his own line of automotive cleaning supplies. After passing the Walmart testing, Mr. Leno was recently informed that his products would be stocked at the retailer’s stores in 2021. It was a lengthy approval process.

To honor the move by the corporate giant, Mr. Leno decided to make a modern interpretation of the classic F-150 Mr. Walton used to drive. So, he picked up a new 2021 Ford F-150 and modified it to look like the old truck. By the way, the old truck is still in the Walmart Museum to this day.

The new pickup truck had the undergo a few modifications to match the original better. The modifications on the 2021 Ford F-150 included a two-tone paint job, painted steelie wheels, custom center caps, side step bars, and a toolbox in the bed. There is also a dog box in the rear by the tailgate. 

Not so true to the original

There is one thing that is not true to the original truck that is in the modern interpretation. The new 2021 Ford F-150 is not a simple truck. The pickup chosen by Jay Leno and his garage team for the interpretation is not the base model. It has leather seating and other goodies. The original 1979 version was a Custom trim pickup, meaning it was the entry-level, base truck. Regardless, the new interpretation is an homage to honor the late great businessman.

A red and white custom 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck.
A modern interpretation of Sam Walton’s Ford F-150 pickup truck | Leno’s Garage via YouTube

RELATED: The Ford F-150 Just Got Ranked as the Best Vehicle You Can Buy Under $30,000

Sadly, Mr. Leno’s video seemed to spend more time pushing his products and the new collaboration than breaking down the different aspects of the 2021 Ford F-150 build. Although, Mr. Leno’s quest to get his products into Walmart made him more acquainted with Mr. Walton’s story, and that of the man’s classic pickup, little was shown that elaborated on the two trucks. So, truck enthusiasts will probably be left wanting.