The evolution of the great American pickup truck, from 1925 to today

Modified pickups can be used as improvised, unarmoured combat vehicles called technicals. In Latin and South America, the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, VW Amarok, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet S-10, Chevrolet D-20, and Chevrolet Montana are sold. The towing industry was born in 1916 in Chattanooga, Tennessee when Ernest Holmes, Sr helped a friend retrieve his car with three poles, a pulley, and a chain hooked to the frame of a 1913 Cadillac. After patenting his invention, Holmes began manufacturing wreckers and towing equipment for sale to automotive garages and to anyone else who might be interested in retrieving and towing wrecked or disabled autos. The word “truck” comes from the late 14th-century term “truckle,” referring to a small wheel, roller, or pulley system used to transport goods.

  • The half-ton truck description was more accurate when referring to early pickup models of the 1960s.
  • In the early 1930s, the Airstream camper debuted as American drivers happily pulled the camper with their sedans.
  • They built and sold the first pickup truck in 1899, and it’s the earliest known vehicle focused specifically on helping with work.
  • Starting in the 1940’s and going through the 1950’s there were some fairly big leaps with the innovation of Pickups.
  • Jump ahead an entire decade to 1996, and even in its ninth generation, the F-150 hadn’t upped its game much.
  • A look at some of the milestone models that have led to the choices we have today.

The first civilian Jeep, the CJ-2A, was introduced in 1945 to replace farm workhorses; its belt-drive attachment served as a mobile power supply for farm implements. Jeep offered cash awards to people who came up with unique applications for the $1,090 CJ, like the first Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine. Ford and Chevrolet joined the party in 1961, with their respective Falcon Econoline and Corvair flat-nosed pickups. With six-cylinder engines, available automatic transmissions, and trim upgrades along with other options, both offered more power and comfort. Like the sedan it was based on, the Corvair pickup used a rear-engine layout, and it could be had with either a conventional rear tailgate or a side-opening Rampside design. Dodge wasn’t the first to drop a diesel engine into a heavy-duty truck, but the 1989 Ram was the salvo that sparked the great pickup power war.

The Change from a Utility to a Primary Vehicle

The big three, Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet rose as the leaders in the market to meet this new demand. Chevrolet soon jumped on the bandwagon and began producing truck models that looked akin to early cars with the rear body frame cut away. This particular model had a bit of a DIY (do it yourself) element to it because if you wanted to use it as a truck, you had to install your own bed. Trucks have always been an essential part of the worksite, but does everyone know the history of the pickup truck?

  • Pickup truck sales boomed in the 1990s thanks to dirt cheap gas prices and a flourishing economy.
  • With almost 22,000 sold in its first year of production, the Ranchero’s success led Chevrolet to follow suit with the El Camino in 1959.
  • For example, in 1955 the first contemporary V-8 engine with overhead valves was introduced in a Chevy pickup truck.
  • The 1955 Chevy Cameo was quintessential 1950s with a modern body redesign and V-8 engine, a stark contrast from light-duty Chevys powered by six cylinder engines until 1955.

Popular with utility companies and others appreciative of its maneuverability and go-anywhere capability, the FC-150 remained in production until 1965. Present day it seems like the Tech Boom has made its way into pickup trucks. History of the Pickup Truck It is abnormal to see a new truck without cameras, navigation, heated seats, backup sensors, etc. Additionally, the diesel engine has made its way into compact trucks due to better fuel efficiency while still performing well.

Early Truck Capability and Designs

One notable pickup truck built during that time was the Merchants Express pickup in 1929 (produced by Dodge). The Merchants Express had the power of a six-cylinder engine underneath its hood and a body that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This new lightweightpickup truck came with an overhead valve six-cylinder engine, the first of its kind in 1929.

The name could also have come from drivers picking things up and putting them in the bed to transport them. Updated to “set a new standard for full-size pickups,” the F150 is part of the Ford F-Series the world’s bestselling truck series at 34 million models over 30 consecutive years. May have a higher-power engine compared to a compact pickup; for example, the 1987 Dodge Dakota was the first mid-size pickup introduced with V-6 and V-8 engines. By 1936, the Ford Motor Company had already produced 3 million pickup trucks and was the leader in industry sales.

Pickup Truck History

By 1960, most manufactured pickups followed suit with more comfortable seats, heaters, and even radios. Starting in the 1940’s and going through the 1950’s there were some fairly big leaps with the innovation of Pickups. At this time, engines started to produce more and more power, some of the first four-wheel drive models were coming into the markets, and styling started to take off. Manufacturers started to pay a great deal of attention to the looks of pickups and started to add impressive paint jobs with slews of chrome throughout the vehicle. In the 50’s, large V8 engines came into the markets, bringing more power to the consumer and allowing them to take on even more tasks. At this time the well-known F-Series Pickup came out with a variety of models and soon became the most popular pickup.

With this boost in size came more power, more passenger room, and bigger beds. With the onset of WWII, civilian pickup truck production halted as raw materials and manpower was diverted to the war effort. 1978 saw the arrival of the ubiquitous GM 5.7-liter V-8 diesel in Chevrolet/GMC pickups. The GM 5.7 was phased out in the early 1980s, but it marked the beginning of steady diesel availability in Chevrolet and GMC trucks that has continued ever since. A much lesser known early diesel, also making its debut for 1978, was a six-cylinder diesel version of the Dodge D100. Sourced from Mitsubishi, the 105-hp 4.0-liter inline-six delivered respectable fuel economy, but it had a hard time motivating the big Dodge and was quietly dropped the following year.

What Kind of Pickup Truck Is Best?

Towing capacity for this model year topped out at 7,600 pounds, a far cry from the capability of trucks today. If we look at the power of the first Ford pickup, the Model T Runabout only made 20 horsepower with its 2.9-liter inline-four engine achieving a top speed of 42 mph. Because of the era and limited documentation, it’s hard to say precisely how much Ford’s first pickup could haul. However, we know that the Model TT was the next iteration of the pickup and was rated at one ton. Interestingly enough, drivers didn’t have to wait around for Ford to release the Model T Runabout or the Model TT to get behind the wheel of a workhorse that would meet their needs. Instead, they bought aftermarket accessories and upgrades from local companies that made it easy to customize the Model T.

However, when it comes to the pickup truck, the end of that chaotic decade was a time for the auto manufacturers to kick their factories into full gear and start cranking out newer and more efficient automobiles. In 1949 Dodge, Chevrolet, and Ford began launching their post-war lines. The Dodge B-Series, widely believed to have taken the lead in front of the rest of the pack due to its never before seen cab design, took the market by storm with a medley of new features. These features included the aforementioned unique cab design, a windshield that was both wider and higher, and rear quarter cab windows that helped to lessen blind spots. Dodge at first assumed heavier truck production from Graham-Paige, while the company produced their own light (pickup) trucks, initially on their sufficiently sturdy passenger car frames. But after switching to distinct, dedicated truck frames in 1936, Dodge/Fargo launched an extensive own truck range for 1939, marketed as the ‘Job-Rated’ trucks.

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Chevrolet produced early truck models that looked similar to a car, without a rear body frame. In order for the vehicle to function as a truck, the customer had to install their own bed. The Ford Motor Company offered customers the option to add a truck bed onto the model T; the Model-T Runabout with Pickup Body was mass-produced. The Model-A pickup truck with an all-steel cab and roll-up windows was sold in 1928. Ford debuted its first truck in 1917 and put it into production in 1925. But, on a technicality, not even Ford gets credit for building the first truck.

History of the Pickup Truck

The diesel engine offering was important in the history of trucks and remains so until this day. By the time 1935 rolled around, Marmon-Herrington was converting Ford trucks to four-wheel-drive trucks to make more the vehicle useful. The 1946 Dodge Power Wagon was a one-ton, four-wheel-drive military truck that civilians could use. A 1947 Willys-Overland Jeep came out after, and thus the pickup truck trend was in full gear.

3/4-ton Model ER Chevrolet pickup

The term likely refers to the ease and convenience of hauling objects in the truck’s open back – this new style of vehicle allowed people to “pick up” items and transport them much more efficiently. Though World Wars II troops were the first to experience four-wheel drive in their Willys (built by Jeep and Ford), Dodge brought the terrane-tromping feature home on the Power Wagon. By delivering power to all four wheels, the truck could haul huge payloads on either 7.5- or 9-foot beds over rough pavement, rocks, and dirt. A sport-utility truck has four doors and an open bed, derived off the sport-utility vehicle (SUV) design. Ford’s recent production of the F-150 Lightning ushers America’s best-selling truck into this new, electrified future.

Who invented the first pickup?

The first truck ever powered by internal combustion was designed and built in 1896 by Gottlieb Daimler of Germany. It looked like a rear-engine hay wagon. The first American pickup trucks were homemade and came on the scene at almost the same moment as the car.