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The History of the Pickup Truck

The pickup truck: a small, lightweight utility vehicle with an open bed and enclosed cab. It's a simple enough definition for a vehicle that has a long and complex history. The truck is known by different names all around the world: in Australia, they use the term "ute" (for utility). In South Africa, they use "bakkie", which comes from "bak", meaning "bowl" in Afrikaans. Appropriate considering its function, the English name for the vehicle comes from its ability to "pick up" and carry heavy or oversized loads. 

Regardless of where in the world you are, the pickup truck has become a famous model. We often see pickup trucks all round Plano, TX, and trucks are continuing to be popular throughout the USA! Here are some interesting facts about the history of the pickup truck, brought to you by Revive Collision Inc.. 

In the past, Pickups were known as "half-tons", based on their ability to haul a half ton of cargo. However, with the evolution of these trucks’ capacity, now often exceeding 1,000 pounds, the “half-ton” moniker made better sense in the early 1960s.

The truck was first introduced in its familiar form in 1925 as the Ford Model T Runabout. Pickups can now be found everywhere in the United States, with higher concentrations in California and Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and stats from the Federal Highway Administration.

Although Ford is credited with introducing the pickup to the market, there were others with similar designs that contributed to its evolution. One of these was Gottlieb Daimler’s 1896 horseless wagon, originally called the “vehicle no. 42”. This vehicle, although a very early design, could pull 3,300 pounds.

Other early 1900s styles included Autocar, Auto Wagon, Reo and King. Around the same time, Chrysler had just been established, and introduced the Plymouth, DeSoto, and Fargo trucks (the latter of which was dropped in 1929).

In 1913, the Galion Allsteel Body Company built and installed hauling boxes on slightly modified Ford Model T frame. In 1918, Chevy produced early models that resembled a car without a rear body frame, into which customers had to install their own bed for it to function as a truck.  

The Ford Model-A pickup of 1928 had roll-up windows and an all-steel cab. That same year, Chrysler bought the Dodge Brothers Company, which made Ford parts in 1914 and Fargo trucks from 1928 to 1930. Dodge’s first half-ton pickup, the Merchants Express, came out in 1929, featuring a six-cylinder engine, an attractive body and remarkable speed for the time. The next year, Chevrolet changed things up with the first overhead valve six-cylinder engine, in a lightweight model. Ford weighed in in 1932 with a Flathead V-8 pickup truck, while in 1933, Dodge produced a six cylinder Flathead pickup.

By 1931, Chevrolet was producing factory-assembled pickups, and by 1935, Toyota had launched its model G1 pickup.

During this time, cars were made lower to the ground, meaning they couldn’t be easily converted to a truck by adding a bed onto the back. So, when carmakers increased production of pickup trucks following World War II, popularity skyrocketed.

Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge launched postwar vehicle models; these were followed closely by Chevy’s new “Advanced Design” light-duty pickups. For produced its F-Series’ first generation trucks from 1948 to 1952.

In 1956, the U.S. Interstate Highway System was authorized for both personal and commercial trucking. Within a decade, huge numbers of Americans moved from cities to suburbs, sparking the rise in automobile and pickup truck use. By then, The 1955 Chevy pickup offered better horsepower at higher speeds, thanks to the introduction of the first modern V-8 engine with overhead valves. The first crew cab came in 1957, which originally featured three doors, with a fourth door added four years later.

GMC introduced new pickup designs during the 60s, as did Dodge in 1963 and Ford with its first crew cab vehicle in 1965.  Compact pickups came to the U.S. by way of Japanese manufacturers Datsun and Toyota in the 1960s. The 1960s gave us dramatically improved transmissions in trucks; the vehicles of this decade were now designed to carry heavier loads, travel further, and go faster than ever before.

In the 1970s, Dodge introduced Lifestyle pickup trucks, capable of towing trailers and campers. These were created to compete with family-friendly vehicles like SUVs and station wagons, as more Americans got ready to hit the road.

In the 1980s, the extended cab pickup truck concept emerged. In 1983, Chevrolet offered S-Series extended cab models, and GMC offered full-size extended cab pickups in 1988. Meanwhile, Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge introduced smaller pickups to compete with foreign models. In 1987, GMC introduced its new aerodynamic truck series, setting the standard for modern GMC pickups.

The 90s were a big decade for the Ford F-Series, with a completely revamped tenth generation 1997 Ford F150. The new edition featured updates like better fuel economy, a larger interior, and advanced aerodynamics. Dodge also launched its Ram pickups in 1993, with a more spacious cab and extra storage.

In the 2000s, GMC introduced Duramax diesel engines in the Sierra HD, and expanded into the luxury pickup market with the Sierra 1500 Denali pickup in 2007. From 2009 to 2014, Ford launched its twelfth generation of F150s, with updated full-size truck platform and unique added features.

Once a work tool with few embellishments, the truck has undergone quite a transformation since its original model. The 1950s saw more American consumers buying pickups for their lifestyle, and by the 1990s, fewer than 15 percent of owners reported using their truck primarily for work. Truly, the pickup truck has become more than a tool; it’s become part of the personality of the American lifestyle.

Sources: Wikipedia,,



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