Q: Greg I enjoy your nostalgic columns on cars and am wondering if you could give us a list of the pickup trucks that left an impression on you growing up? It looks like today pickup trucks are more and more popular at the car shows and TV auctions.
- Jim F., Daytona Beach, Florida
A: Jim, I’d be happy to oblige and you are correct in your truck popularity assumptions. Specifically, it may not be a surprise to most readers that sales of pickup trucks in all shapes and sizes continue to deliver major profits for manufacturers in America and Canada. Included are perennial full-size bestseller Ford F-Series, followed by Chevy Silverado, (Dodge) Ram, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. All make tough built pickups and most these days are four-door crew cabs that double as family movers.
As for the popular work trucks of the 1940s through the 1970s, these older trucks may not offer modern day amenities or extended cabs, but they sure are gaining in collector popularity as the years go by.
So, here’s my “Top 10” list of pickups that made an impact on me along the way.
Ford F Series: The very first F Series truck built by Ford arrived in 1948 to much fanfare. Now in its 13th generation, the F-Series is the world’s most popular and best selling pickup. How popular? In 2017, 1,052,054 F-Series were sold in the U.S. and Canada and analysts expect a 4.2-percent bump up when 2018 sales are released. Nostalgic Favorite: 1953 Ford F Series.
Dodge Pickups: Although the Dodge Brothers built pickups starting in 1921 in co-op with the Graham Brothers, the first Chrysler owned Dodge pickup appeared in ’29 and it’s been a big sales success since then. Even with a name change to Ram in 1981, Dodge/Ram is a solid choice and has even outsold Chevy’s Silverado the last few months of 2018. Nostalgic Favorite: 1972 Dodge Club Cab.
Studebaker E-Series: Growing up in the 50s, a day never went by without seeing a Studebaker pickup stop at my grandfather’s economy store in Ranshaw, Pennsylvania. Built from 1955 to 1960, these pickups were fairly priced and offered excellent return-on-investment. Nostalgic Favorite: 1956 Studebaker Transtar.
Chevrolet Silverado: With a history of building quality pickups starting in 1930, Chevy’s Silverado pickup made its initial appearance in 1999. The name “Silverado” was originally utilized as a trim name on both Chevy C/K pickups, Suburbans and Tahoes from 1975 through 1999. But then in 1999, the official Chevy Silverado version arrived and it’s never looked back as the “in model” for Chevy lovers. Nostalgic Favorite: 2003-06 Silverado SS. (Chevy SSR receives a nod here, too, built from 2004 to 2006 in hardtop/convertible pickup design.).
GMC C/K: The GMC dates back to 1902 as the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company in Pontiac, Michigan. When General Motors purchased Rapid Motor in 1909, it became GMC and to this day specializes in trucks of all shapes and sizes. Unlike the Chevy dealers, the Buick-Olds-Pontiac-Cadillac dealers needed a truck to sell, and the GMC franchise filled the void. By 1920, GMC began sharing platform time with sibling Chevy and it’s been that way ever since. Nostalgic Favorite: 1957 (single headlight) 1958 (dual headlight) GMC pickup.
International Harvester (IH): From 1902 to 1986, IH was a successful firm specializing in farm tractors, farm equipment and trucks. By the 1960s, the trucks were very popular and featured many light and heavy duty versions. They are still around today as Navistar Freightliner and are still a major player in the big truck business. Nostalgic Favorite: 1956 C-Line two or four-door pickup.
Jeep Pickups: Known mostly for its Wrangler, early station wagons and then Cherokee style models, Jeep Pickups were very popular over the years until they stopped producing them. The good news is that Jeep is bringing back a 2020 Wrangler platform pickup this April called the Gladiator. The last Wrangler based pickup dates back to the 1986 Scrambler. Nostalgic Favorite: 1980 Jeep ½ Ton Pickup.
Willys Overland: Although Willys had a full line of Jeeps, cars and wagons that date back to 1903, they also impacted the pickup truck market in a big way through the 1930s with a line of solid-built light and heavy duty pickups. By the 1950s, the Willys 4x4 pickup was billed as the “Go anywhere truck” and became a popular workhorse. Nostalgic Favorite: 1952 Willys 4x4 Pickup.
Ford Ranchero: Although half car and half truck, I’ll give a pat on the back to Ford for introducing the 1957 Ranchero a full two years before Chevy’s ElCamino. Rancheros were loaded with car amenities, but still deserve mention. Nostalgic Favorite: 1958 Ranchero.
Dodge Little Red Truck: In 1978 and 1979, Dodge introduced the Lil Red Express high-performance truck, complete with a powerful 360-inch V8 and lots of special goodies that the youth market loved. It deserves a spot on my Top 10 for sure. Nostalgic Favorite: Any 1978 or 1979 Lil Red Express trucks.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.