History of Pickup Trucks

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A car is ideal for a nice long ride, a truck is a go-to choice when cargo needs to be moved but what if you only have the budget for one, but your lifestyle requires both? To solve this dilemma of the modern man, who wishes to keep functionality and luxury in balance, the modern day pickup trucks were introduced. These lightweight vehicles have an enclosed cab area that seats 4-5 people for a comfortable ride while the back contains ample cargo area with low sides. In this article, let's learn about the history of pickup trucks!

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Learn about the history of pickup trucks

Early Pickup Truck Concepts

In the early period of vehicle manufacturing, vehicles used to be sold only as chassis (a vehicle frame on which the vehicle body is mounted). In 1917, Ford had built a vehicle to haul heavy loads, etc., known as the Model TT chassis.  The truck bed didn't come with the model TT, and one would have to either build it or have another company install it. The model cost around $600 and had sold 209 units in the first year alone. This was the beginning of the pickup truck ideology.

Not far behind, Chevrolet (American automobile manufacturer) developed their concept of a pickup truck in 1911. The Model 490 had a cost of $490 (hence the name) and was a chassis body with the option to attach a truck bed, such as the Ford TT.

Vehicles used to be sold only as chassis


The idea of the built-in attachable truck bed had entered the market (instead of only selling chassis) and thus began the development of sturdier vehicles for hauling or transporting purposes. In 1929, Dodge (an American brand of automobile manufacturers) built the Merchant Express atop, with a sturdier and heavy duty frame, which was more fitting for hauling and pickup purposes. The price tag was $525, with a 45 horsepower engine (there was the least expensive automobile chassis offered by Dodge at the time).

In 1929, Dodge built the Merchant Express atop


Toyota introduced its first pickup truck vehicle, thus entering the race with other automobile manufacturing companies. The Toyota G1 was the first truck built by the company, and it could carry 1.5 tons (and was 20ft long). The total cost of G1 was several times the annual profit of the company. Hence several loans had to be taken in order to begin the production of G1 (At that time, the company was Toyoda).

Since this was Toyota's first production vehicle, the vehicles had several faults that needed to be dealt with, which were done for free by the company in order to rectify for the test model. By 1947, the entire series was replaced with BM trucks.

The Toyota G1 was the first truck built

The 1940s (Post World War Period)

With the end of the world war, vehicle manufacturing companies were in top gear to show off their newly engineered designed vehicles, increasing the efficiency of automobiles. Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet began launching their post-war series of pickup trucks. Chevrolet had designed their post-war light pickup truck series with a valve 6 cylinder engine and chrome from the window grill to the trim.

Dodge had taken a massive leap into the vehicle market industry with its new design. The Dodge B series was introduced with a new innovative design model, with a new cab design and few blind spots. At the same time, Ford launched its F-series pickup truck, the first of its generations.

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Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet began launching their post-war series of pickup trucks

The 1950s

By 1950, the general consumer began purchasing and using pickup truck vehicles for lifestyle purposes instead of utilitarian purposes. In the American region, most Americans had moved towards the suburbs during the 1950s. However, jobs still remained within the city, and hence it required long and sturdy drives.

By 1956, the interstate highway had allowed the use or personal trucks for the highway, and hence increasing the demand for new pickup trucks in the model. In these years, several new innovative ideas, with powerful engines (such as the V8) were introduced in the market.

Most Americans had moved towards the suburbs during the 1950s

The 1970s

By 1970, the US government had implemented the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, to improve the average fuel economy of vehicles such as cars and light pickups. Thus, the pickup industries had to bring innovative changes to the market. This led to the development and released of a minivan, sport utility vehicles (such as SUVs). Thus, pickup trucks were replaced muscle cars as the vehicle for a performance of choice.

During these years, Dodge introduced the lifestyle pickup trucks, and the Dodge D200 camper allowed a special slide on camper body to be attached. GMC finally presented its first crew cab, focusing more on the trucks ability to be sturdier and be able to pick up heavy loads.

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The pickup industries had to bring innovative changes to the market

The 1990s

During the 1990s, Ford had dominated the pickup truck industry, with the introduction of its new pickup truck series line. The 8th, 9th and 10th Generation of Ford F-Series had revamped the market of pickup trucks. Due to the development of engineering experimentation and designs, the Ford F – series better fuel economy and advanced aerodynamics, all the while offering more spacious for passengers within the truck.

Dodge also introduced the T-300 series, offering more space for passenger and storage, competing with the spacious Ford F – series. During these years, minivans also became more common in the pickup industry, pickup trucks market were slightly further eroded due to the rising popularity of SUVs.

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During 1990s, Ford had dominated the pickup truck industry

2015 – Present

Due to the discovery of new metallurgy and its improved efficiency and features, Automobile industries began replacing steel with new metallurgy designs to increase the efficiency of pickup trucks further. Ford introduced a new heat-treated aluminum body in the F-150 Series instead if the steel body.

With the increasing concern for the environment regarding fuel emission and the greenhouse effect and recent releases of electronic cars by the Tesla Corporation, it doesn't come as a surprise that someone released the same for pickup trucks. Hence in 2017, Kawei (a Chinese manufacturing company) unveiled the Kawei EV7, as the first pure electric full-sized pickup truck.

Ford introduced a new heat-treated aluminum body in the F-150 Series

Most Popular Pickup Trucks of all time

1950 Chevrolet

The 1950 Chevy truck models were a reliable and rugged, and the truck stood out from the pack, for obvious reasons. Despite the fact that the US population was half of what it is today, the company sold 494,753 such pickup trucks, which is an impressive feat.

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The 1950 Chevy truck models were a reliable and rugged

1978 Chevrolet

The 1978 Chevy was the first modern truck to be introduced. It was rugged, comfortable and compatible for long trips and drives. The 1978 Chevy was the highest point for Chevy (and probably any truck ever produced), as, within 5 years of release, about 1,317,466 trucks were sold into the market.

The 1978 Chevy was the first modern truck to be introduced

1979 Ford

Ford was releasing its 6th generation F – series, and with the F – 100 and F – 150, Ford managed to sell over 985,310 trucks that year.

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Ford was releasing its 6th generation F – series

1987 Jeep Comanche

In the catalogue of jeeps, they were never a powerhouse when it came to the pickup truck industry, and sales usually topped 30,000 a year by a single manufacturer. However, the 1987 Jeep Comanche sold 38,000 units that year, making it an MVP in the jeep pickup industry.

1987 Jeep Comanche sold 38,000 units

1997 Toyota Hilux

The Toyota Hilux is a multipurpose pickup truck, that’s very common outside North America. The Hilux was a continuation in the compact pickup truck that Toyota had introduced; hence it was a midsize truck. The truck was as popular all around the world as in America. To give an idea, in 1997, Toyota sold 500,000 such trucks in South Africa alone.

The Toyota Hilux is a multipurpose pickup truck

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1999 Dodge Ram

The T-300 Dodge Ram had already introduced more space for passengers and storage, as well as the extra interior room. However, the Dodge Ram also offered the ‘Quad Cab' rear doors, making the hauler more practical. The company sold 428,929 such products in 1999.

The Dodge Ram also offered the ‘Quad Cab' rear doors

2004 Ford F – Series

The F – Series had severely improved by 2004, by new engineering designs and aerodynamics. 2004 For F – Series were the most sold for pickup trucks (yearly) in the 21st century, with over 939,511 trucks sold.

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The F – Series had severely improved by 2004

2005 Chevrolet Silverado

The pickup truck quality was declining after 2000 since new innovative metallurgy was being tested to replace the current steel bodies. Even then, Chevrolet managed to sell 705,980 truck in 2005, making it the Chevy’s best sales in a year (Regarding pickup trucks) in the 21st century.

Chevrolet managed to sell 705,980 truck in 2005

2016 Ram

The Ram didn't see much manufacturing and its design changes over the years, however, it remained one of the iconic pickup truck series. In 2016, 489,418 vehicles were sold in the market.

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In 2016, 489,418 units of Ram were sold in the market


When looking to the future, the growth potential of pickup trucks is huge. They will be improved with new technologies such as electric motors and self-driving systems. With those potentials, Pickup trucks are definitely still the favorite choice of men.