The Ford Super Duty Pickup: 30 years ago and now

Ford Super Duty Trucks
Ford Super Duty Trucks

Ford’s decision to build the 2020 Super Duty with a 7.3-liter “Godzilla” V-8 is a nod to its past, in which the Blue Oval produced several trucks featuring the undoubtedly enormous displacement figure. That said, it’s a bit different than those of yore, mainly because it runs on gasoline instead of diesel. It’s still far more complex and, let’s admit it, more capable—but how exactly does it stack up against a pickup from the Reagan era?

Our friends at The Fast Lane Truck are figuring this out by the day as they were recently gifted a 1989 Ford F-250. It features one of the early 7.3-liter engines, an indirect injection (IDI) diesel power plant that was largely developed by International Harvester—y’know, the tractor company. Unlike later compression-ignition units, it doesn’t even have a turbocharger, meaning its performance is…modest, to say the least.

Still yet, the old-school F-Series is a trooper. TFL Truck’s particular example is a high mileage single-cab with four-wheel-drive and a five-speed manual transmission, making it the perfect choice for anyone needing an affordable yet reliable work truck.

Compare that to the 2020 F-250 that TFL Truck is using to create a “Super Tremor” project and the differences are clear. It’s a crew-cab, short-bed model that’s fueled by gasoline and draped in relative luxury. Four full doors mean ample room on the inside and decidedly modern tech like touchscreen infotainment and 110-volt outlets show this apple has fallen far from its proverbial tree.

Quick math and common sense dictate that the all-new F-250 far outmatches the ancestral 1989 model in terms of work capability, too. The former’s power output of 430 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque is leagues above the IDI’s specs, which measure at 185 hp and 338 pound-feet. Ford claims its new 7.3-liter gas engine can haul around 13,000 pounds in optimal spec while payload capacity maxes out at a monstrous 4,323 pounds; although detailed specs weren’t given for the ’89, it’s almost definitely behind the current F-150 half-ton in both regards.

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And don’t even get us started on the price difference. Costs for the classic pickup vary depending on condition, though we’d be surprised to see many “well-loved” models fetch more than $5,000. The 2020 Ford, on the other hand, is near $60,000 even in middle-of-the-road XLT trim.

We’ll let the guys at TFL break down the rest, but in our view, each has its place and purpose. Just be realistic when deciding if you do or don’t need a truck that costs the same as the balance remaining on your student loans.

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