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Have you heard fans of classic Ford trucks refer to OBS pickups? The phrase stands for “old body style.” It is a loosely defined slang term, but usually refers to 1980 through 1997 F-Series pickup trucks. But don’t get it confused with the term square body Ford, which may refer to a slightly different generation.

What does OBS stand for?

The acronym OBS refers to the blocky classic pickup trucks built before the curvier redesigns of the early 2000s. Most people will tell you this acronym stands for “old body style.” I’ve also heard it interpreted as “original body style.”

Automotive journalist Henry Cesari driving his classic square body Ford F-150 pickup truck, the woods of Vermont visible behind him.
Your writer in his 1988 Ford F-150 | Xander Cesari/Motorbiscuit

You often see Craigslist or eBay advertisements refer to OBS pickup trucks, including OBS Fords. The acronym is most often defined as “old body style,” though this is an admittedly problematic phrase. If the current OBS F-150 is three generations old, what happens when Ford introduces a new generation? Perhaps, someday, a 2023 F-150 will be referred to as an OBS Ford. But at present, most F-150 fans agree on the years of an OBS Ford.

What years is an OBS Ford?

According to J.D. Power, an old body style (OBS) Ford F-150 is from the seventh, eighth, or ninth generation of the F-Series. This makes it an F-150 built between 1980 and 1997. These trucks were decidedly different from the F-series pickups both before and since. But all three generations are also distinct from each other as well.

The seventh generation (1980-86) of the F-150 is often called a “bulldog” Ford because of its slanted grille. It was very much a square body. But Ford often finished it with two-tone paint in decorative colors such as baby blue.

The eighth generation (1987-91) of the Ford F-150 is a square body truck with no-frills workhorse styling. This flat-nose, square body pickup is one of the most recognizable trucks ever built, and a personal favorite of mine.

The ninth generation (1992-1997) F-150 enjoyed slightly more rounded headlights and a bit more chrome. Its body panels were still relatively flat, though its grille was slightly curved.

See an OBS Ford only car show in the video below:

Is a Ford OBS pickup truck the same as a Ford sqarebody?

Both square body and OBS are loosely defined slang terms for certain generations of classic truck. But while most Ford fans refer to 1980-1997 F-150s as OBS Fords, some add 1970s trucks when referring to square body Fords. The reason why may actually be contemporary Chevy trucks.

A two-tone blue and white square body Ford pickup truck being loaded with hay bales, an open barn door visible in the background.
1989 Ford F-150 | Ford

You could say that General Motors’ C/K truck series led pickup styling by a couple of years. Square body truck most commonly refers to the 1973-1987 Chevy C/K which pioneered a blocked-off utilitarian style. The 1973-79 F-150 had a relatively square body and bullnose grille. But it sported more chrome and other trim. It also had a rounded hood.

Perhaps because 1970s Chevy pickup trucks are so commonly referred to as square bodies, many Ford fans also refer to 1970s F-150s as square body trucks. For this reason, square body Ford and OBS Ford usually refer to slightly different eras of classic pickups.

Next, learn what years a square body Chevy is or see a complete OBS Ford buying guide in the video below:


square body Chevy truck


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