Ford F-150: A Retrospective Design Approach To America’s Best Selling Vehicle

Ford’s F-150 is undoubtedly an automotive icon; an integral part of America’s landscape that will seemingly be a part of us until the human race dies out. It’s also a vehicle that generates massive profits for the blue oval, and to mess with it would be corporate suicide. Or would it?

What if Ford went bold (alloy body aside), shook up the styling and delivered something that isn’t just an update on the current tried and proven theme? To answer this, I’ve created a design study that takes on a retrospective approach by melding contemporary, modern design and blending it with some of the F-150’s past.

Looking to the past for the future

Taking inspiration from the 1956 to 1960 F-series; front-end styling is dominated by a 3-dimensional grille with multiple cutouts to emphasize width and technical detailing. Like the current Raptor, big block lettering is used for brand identification and sits pride of place between the headlamps. Big LED halos are intersected by the grille’s midsection, and a thin illuminated strip connects both at the base for a unique lighting signature.

Renderings copyright / Josh Byrnes

In a nod to the third-generation truck, the hood has a raised mid-section with color contrasting to emphasize power and toughness. As your eye casts further back, the theme changes into a more contemporary one; the cabin area has blacked-out A-pillars for a floating roof effect, and there’s a Tonka-like chunkiness to the glasshouse, lower door panels, and wheel arches.

Interior styling would mimic the exterior; with chunky, yet retro styling. Like it’s third-generation forebearer; exterior color schemes make their way into the cabin, melded with high quality and durable materials. As with the recently revised Chinese-market Taurus, a large portrait-style infotainment screen would dominate the center console and a plethora of driver-assist technologies help make everyday work life a breeze.

China’s 2020 Ford Taurus Vignale comes with a 12.8-inch touchscreen

What about power?

It wouldn’t be a full-size pickup without a V8; the next-gen F-150 is rumored to be getting a new  normally aspirated 4.8-litre unit mated to the familiar 10-speed automatic transmission. This design proposition couples this with hybridisation, making most of the weight-savings ethos introduced with the aluminum-bodied 2015 truck.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right looking into the future without embodying full electrification; we’ve already seen electric F-150 prototypes pulling locomotives – however lets up the ante by adding high density, solid-state batteries or even a hydrogen-powered option. Fast charging with a range of 500 miles plus? Yes, please.

Yet would this hypothetical design study drag punters out of their Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado, Nissan Titan or Toyota Tundra? Probably not, as many of them are loyalists (as are F-150 owners), however, it does serve as an alternative to today’s steady-as-she-goes styling ethos for many trucks.

Finally, what are your thoughts on this alternative design exploration for the F-150? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

2019 Ford F-150 Limited
  • Mr. EP9


  • William rowe

    not as a F 150- maybe as a nicne pickup , call it the Ford Lobo

  • Bananarama

    I actually love this.

    Always thought the current gen F150 was overwrought and dated (that Atlas concept everyone loved was nasty imo). I like the clean belt line here and the more squared off front end.

  • Knotmyrealname

    Retro = we have run out of ideas or inspiration.

    • Craig

      Yes. We have. Steven Spielberg remaking ‘West Side Story’ should tell you that. But reusing a great design is a great idea. Or would dating a 1970’s Raquel Welch today be too retro for you? lol

      • db

        You had me as soon as I read Raquel Welch.

      • Knotmyrealname

        I’d consider myself a little sad if I sought out Raquel Welch lookalikes.

        • Craig

          But aren’t all ‘pretty girls’ lookalikes?

          • Knotmyrealname

            Not in my world. Pretty comes in lots of guises.

    • MarketAndChurch

      Nah… this is modern retro. As in… “let’s apply all that we’ve learned about design over the past 40+ years to classic themes that have aged very well.” Which is a good thing. We shouldn’t be limiting ourselves in any way when it comes to design, and that doesn’t just apply to breathing new life into classic themes, but also exploring ideas outside of car design.

      • Craig

        I couldn’t agree more if I tried.

      • Knotmyrealname

        I hear you, but isn’t this moving forward whilst looking backward? When I see these ‘retro’ ideas, it says to me that the designers are stuck for ideas and rehash old (yet proven) style elements. There’s no real risk or innovation at play here. It’s a little lazy, and It’s like listening to classic hit radio. Enough of the Fleetwood Mac already.

  • U8INIT

    Do it…

  • Zandit75
  • schnittz

    Yes! Because the current gen looks like a Chevy.

  • donald seymour

    Do it!

  • thejohnnycanuck


  • charlotteharry57

    Not a chance in hell it’ll ever look like that. Good thing.

  • Jay

    Kill it with fire!

    • Jay

      On second thought. The grille needs some work along with hood, pillars and roof.. slight changes and it can work.

      • chrome crossbar might help, throw the blue ovel inside a V shaped dip in the middle?

      • Six_Tymes

        you had it right the first time.

  • why not, the new silverado HD kinda has 1960’s C/K inspired headlights.

    though personally i think ford should do a Ranger like look. it ties in with the one ford styling, and brings back some 90’s nostelgia for the aero F150 that saw Ford’s first true attempt to one up Dodge and their fancy stylized Ram.

  • Paul

    It looks like they consulted Rivan to help with the design or to play copycat somewhat.

  • badcyclist

    It looks OK to me. I am happy with any new truck that doesn’t look like it was designed by a fascist overcompensating for his lack of size in other areas. And I don’t have a problem with a nod to classic design notes– nothing wrong with that.

  • William rowe

    The more I look @ it the more I kinda like it but I was thinking, maybe make it a F100 above the ranger and below the F150 or replace the ranger with something that like that is as big as the f150 but carry a smaller price tag.. I dont know maybe it could work as a new f150 too.. The more you look @ it the more it looks good.

    • MarketAndChurch

      I’ve been wanting an F100 Ranger for so long. Like a life-style off-roader like the Tacoma, 4runner, Wrangler, and Gladiator, smaller than the F150, but bigger than the current Ranger. But also on the F-series platform.

  • FordMopar

    Ford better see this rendering and use it as inspiration for next generation model. I believe the upcoming F150 for 2021 is a heavily revised of current generation. I think I read an article a while ago…?

  • Smith

    Couldn’t make it look more like a Rivian if you tried. That first rendering is exactly why they bought Rivian share, for the future.

  • Craig

    I like that a LOT!

  • jakejosh2001

    I like it. Definitely looks more like what Ford should be doing with the F150. Current design is much too safe looking, like they don’t dare take a chance doing something different.
    Chevy trucks just outsold the F150 in the 3rd quarter of this year. I believe you’ll see more of that, if Ford doesn’t take a radical step away from the current mundane design. Sure it’s a good truck, but way too many years of the same old design. Its what’s stopped me from buying one, and I’m a Ford guy.

    • :/ Yurr

      I haven’t even been paying attention to the sales. That’s interesting, if only Chevy gave it a new interior probably would climb even more.

    • Ken Wolf

      You mean Dodge out sold Chevy and Ford out sold both. For the 3/4 quarter number 1 was Ford , 2 was Dodge and 3 was Chevy.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    I appreciate what you were going for, but that front really does not work.

  • performante

    My eyes!

  • nellydesign

    I respect the effort, but it does not look good. Ford isn’t going back to the “retro-modernism” of the early 2000’s anytime soon. Lets look at the history of retro-modernism in car design.

    Plymouth Prowler – Car and brand discontinued
    New Beetle – Discontinued
    Ford Thunderbird – Discontinued after 3 years.
    PT Cruiser – Discontinued
    Chevy HHR and SSR – Discontinued
    Ford Mustang 2005 – Design changed to something more modern
    Chevy Camaro – Design changed to something more modern
    Dodge Challenger – Surprisingly successful

    Challenger aside, It’s a movement that has come and gone. Customers, for the most part, don’t want it anymore.

  • Bob

    Lord that’s ugly.

  • Sukhoi31m3

    I suppose the renderings here are ok but what disturbs me is the reduction of the greenhouse – the windows look shorter and the doors look taller, like what happened to the Camaro. Less visibility is not the way to go IMHO.

    • Stephen G

      Visibilty!? They lowered the roof. Do you look at the sky out the side windows when you drive?

      • Sukhoi31m3

        I stand corrected. Less visibility in a vehicle is better than more.

  • TB

    Not bad…but not a fan on how the headlights are set up.

  • TED Schmitt

    I like it, but the rumor about the 4.8L V8 has long since been debunked.

  • SteersUright

    Aside from the creepy headlights, I like it alot.

  • Dubs Dub


    On another note, why do you guys do your own renders? Floods the internet with fake pics.

  • Stephen G

    I like the lowered roof. I don’t understand why a pickup needs to include a foot and a half of space above the driver head.

    • hard hats, ear protection and things like that need a lot of headroom. plus it’s easier to see out of a larger glass surface, especially with pedestrian safety mandating a high belt line…

      • Stephen G

        Funny. Chrysler sales in the early fifties tanked because KT Keller insisted their cars be designed so a man can wear his hat. Who would of thought that 60 years later we find out he was right. Suddenly it’s 1948 again!

        • i have a feeling other issues where at play for that…

          the old Superduty was designed with hard hats and such in mind. headroom for days! even with the sunroof intruding into the passenger space .

  • Zcat

    I’ll take the brilliant green ’56!

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