The Carchive: The '74 Ford W-Series

It’s time to flag down a passing AEC Regent, hop onto the platform and find a conductor to sell us a ticket to memory lane, passing through bewilderment, disbelief and, most probably, irony on our way. Welcome back to The Carchive.
Last week we looked at the pride of Browns Lane, the unmistakeable new Jaguar XJS. Today we’re dealing with something totally different. It’s Fords W-Series Cabover of 1974.

“The new look of premium engineering”
You’ll have to forgive me here because this slim document contains absolutely everything I know about the W-Series. Ford certainly sounded quite proud of their new rig, phrases such as “sleek and functional” and “ultramodern exterior” leap from the text with confidence.
We’re also reminded that the Cummins NTC-350 was now available, as were a number of Caterpillar and Detroit Diesel choices (including the 8V-71n which must have sounded terrific).
“Handsome interior luxury” was the expression used to describe the inside story, though todays’ long-distance trucker more used to a mobile condo would probably be reluctant to swap to a W-Series. The word “Vinyl” appears at least seven times to give you a clear idea of just how much petrochemical-based luxury you could realistically expect.
“More roadtime, less downtime”
I like downtime, but it seems profit-hungry transport firms don’t. This section of the brochure speaks of how the W-Series was designed to make routine maintenance a painless, quick task, and design was (allegedly) optimised to try and lessen the chances of component failure as best as possible.
Things like the “Two-stage Cyclopac air cleaner” which seemed to work a bit like a Dyson, “long-life coolant hoses” which seem like a very good idea until you realise they’re optional, and a “high-reliability electrical system” whose naming gives you all the reassurance you could need.
Protection against corrosion was mentioned in a big way, with “deep-dip electrocoat priming” being exclaimed in bold letters. Did the W-Series rust? Maybe one of you can confirm.
“Ford W-Series linehaulers offer high-style appearance options with the economy of assembly line installation”.
Trucks are partially about working well and earning money, and obviously partly about looking fly. To that end Ford offered a catalogue of factory-selected graphic treatments for the cab, and the selection shown here all look awesome.
Which would you choose? I’m feeling one of the beige ones. Whichever one you went for would be applied “right on the paint line in Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant”. Style and distinction right off the peg.
Please feel free to share your For Heavy-Duty Truck experiences below!
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me while on my lunchbreak at work. Copyright remains property of Ford Motor Company.)

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  1. stigshift Avatar

    Now featuring more squareness!

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      What could be more square?

  2. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    This brings back memories of my circa 1975 Chevy Astro 95 catalog, which I strongly prefer over the Ford since the stock seats were nicer and the rounded exterior was way more attractive.

  3. Jason Hopkins Avatar
    Jason Hopkins

    We need to see more paint jobs like that on modern semi’s. The monotone look is nice, but not quite as cool. Also, cabover’s need to come back too.

  4. dr zero Avatar
    dr zero

    The paint option at the top left looks as though you could get it in Optimus Prime.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    I’m partial to the new Internationals. I still see a cabover of some sort that a local trucking company uses. Looks really out of place now. I remember in the 1970s and early 1980s cabovers seemed like they had well over 50% market share.

    1. Racekar Avatar

      Cab overs were popular because of length restrictions for trucks in the 70’s. They usually rode terribly, and we’re not popular with truckers. In Europe, again because of restrictions they are the only type of trucks made. Actually with improved technology they are now arguably better than anything avaliable in the USA.

  6. LostAndFound Avatar

    Blue Mule, the star of White Line Fever, was also a W-Series.

    1. StephaneDumas Avatar

      Speaking of White Line Fever, here the ending of the movie.

    2. boxdin Avatar

      And I read a few months ago someone found the Blue Mule and is restoring it.

      1. Lance Cormier Avatar
        Lance Cormier

        It was a replica they restored, the one used in the movie was a 1974 and the one being restored is a 1977

  7. CSM Avatar

    8-71 Detroit sounding terrific? That sound could be heard coming from any Greyhound or city bus of the era.. And no they did not sound terrific. They are known as “Screamin Jimmys,” because they are so noisy….. and so likely to give the driver a headache.

  8. truthseeker53 Avatar

    Drove a ’75. Was hands down my favorite CO. DD 318,13 sp. OD, GREAT pwr. steering, 6 turn lock to lock, car size steering wheel, Reyco sprg. susp., rode better than air bag.