Junkyard Gem: 1985 Ford F-150 Explorer XL 4X4


The Ford F-Series was the best selling motor vehicle in the United States for the 1982 model year and has remained in the No. 1 spot ever since. You’d think that Junkyard Gem-worthy examples of that historic F-Series generation would be easy to find in the car graveyards I frequent, given how many were sold, but most of the ones that do show up have been used up beyond easy recognition and then picked clean by junkyard shoppers. That’s not the case with today’s truck spotted in a northeastern Colorado yard: a fairly solid 1985 F-150 with two-tone paint and the Explorer trim package.


The seventh generation of the F-Series was sold in the United States for the 1980 through 1986 model years. For 1980 through 1983, the F-100 cost-cutting half-ton model was still available, after which it was replaced by the F-150 as the only half-ton F-Series. This truck has the mid-grade XL trim level, positioned between the Standard and XLT tiers.

07 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The Explorer package, which included styling upgrades and various popular options at tempting prices, first became available in F-Series trucks for the 1968 model year. There were Explorer Rancheros and Broncos as well for a while. 1985 appears to have been the last model year for the F-Series Explorer package, after which it was replaced by a set of Preferred Equipment Packages. Starting with the 1991 model year, the Explorer name was repurposed as the model designation for a hot-selling SUV based on the Ranger chassis via the Bronco II.

12 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The F-Series hadn’t gone very far along the process of its metamorphosis into the replacement for the American family sedan by the middle 1980s, so the powertrain in this one is extremely truckish. The engine is the base 300-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) pushrod straight-six, rated at 115 horsepower and 223 pound-feet. 302- and 351-cubic-inch (5.0- and 5.8-liter) gasoline V8s were available as options, and buyers of 1985 F-250s and F-350s could opt for a 460-cube (7.5-liter) big-block V8 or a 6.9-liter diesel.

20 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

No drive-to-the-office-park automatic here! This truck has the four-on-the-floor manual transmission, which was an upgrade from the base three-on-the-tree column-shift manual but cheaper than the four-speed with overdrive top gear.

25 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Who says you can’t have a floor-shift manual with a bench seat? The middle passenger just had to get used to taking a beating from the shifter.

19 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Ford hadn’t gone to six-digit odometers in these trucks by 1985, so the actual final mileage must remain a mystery.

40 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

There’s rust here and there, but it looks good from 100 feet away.

27 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The original buyer of this truck even sprang for the optional AM/FM stereo radio, which was a good idea for the kind of long drives you take in the Mountain Time Zone.

47 1985 Ford F 150 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Ford used the chassis of the 1980 F-Series nearly into our current century, finally doing a major redesign for the 1997 model year. The current F-Series is the 14th generation of a truck family dating back to 1948.

Willie Nelson better have been paid well for Ford’s use of this rewrite of his 1980 song!

Climbs a rocky hill while carrying a Chevy truck and towing a Dodge.



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