While purchasing a car is one of the most expensive buys most people make during their lifetime, it is usually a poor investment. Cars are essential for daily living, but their value generally goes down every year.
Depreciation of older pickup trucks at one time was even worse. Inexpensive, rudimentary, and tough-as-nails vehicles, they had just two functions: start every day and haul almost anything and everything. Few people who purchased pickup trucks new thought of them as an investment. Who would have guessed that some pickups now bring prices that represent over a 1000% increase in value from the original sticker price?
Vintage trucks draw a lot of attention at today’s auto auctions. They don't command the same big figures as a Ferrari or Duesenberg that cross the block, but classic pickup trucks have become increasingly popular with collectors.
Perhaps the gain in popularity can be attributed to two factors: they are reasonably affordable with respect to prices of collectible cars, and they have gained a “just cool” persona with many who appreciate classic vehicles.
Dave Kinney, a vehicle appraiser and publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide, says, "It costs a lot less to restore a pickup truck…look at a 1956 Chevy Bel Air and a 1956 Chevy pickup truck…The truck has a tenth of the chrome, only two doors, one seat, and a rubber mat on the floor."
Kinney adds: "Nobody doesn't like an old pickup truck…they make you smile."
Here are 20 old pickups whose value has skyrocketed in 2018.
20 1953-1956 Ford F100 Pickups
A wide fender pickup, the second-generation Ford F100 series, 1953-1956, is well known for its legendary front grille.
In 1953 Ford offered two engine options: the 215 CID straight-6 that produced 101 hp and the 239 CID Flathead V8 which generated 100hp along with the Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission. In the final year, 1956, the engines offered were the 223 CID Mileage Maker I6 with 137 hp and the most powerful 272- CID Truck 2V Y-block V8 that produced 300hp. Interior options included armrests, sun visors, a dome light, lighter, and a radio.
In 1956 one of these workhorses could be purchased for $1,611. Today, a restored version is worth around $65,000.
19 1946-1956 Dodge Power Wagon
Dodge produced the four-wheel drive Power Wagon truck in several model series from 1945 to 1981, then from 2005 to 2013 as a nameplate for the Dodge Ram, and in recent years, as a discrete model marketed by Ram Trucks. The brand has always had the reputation of a tough-as-nails truck.
The original version built for civilian use, commonly called the "flat fender" Power Wagon (FFPW), was a derivative of Dodge's 3/4-ton World War II WC series of military trucks.
Incredibly, the early version of this truck remained in production mostly unchanged until the late 1970s. But the vintage trucks from 1946 to 1956 are the ones collectors demand the most. In the early ’50s, a Power Wagon could be purchased for $1,627. Today, perfectly restored models are worth over $60,000.
18 1947-1953 Chevrolet "Advance Design"
Advance-Design was a Chevrolet truck series that introduced the first significant truck changes after WWII. It was marketed as a stronger, larger, and sleeker design in comparison to the earlier AK Series. First available on Saturday, June 28, 1947, these popular trucks were sold with various minor changes over the years in three main sizes: the half-, three-quarter-, and full ton capacities in short and long wheelbase. Chevrolet trucks were number one in sales in the United States during that period.
The combination of good looks and bulletproof reliability kept many of these trucks on the road for decades. Today an immaculate Advance Design pickup can sell for over $55,000.
17 1946-1947 Hudson Pickup Truck
Founded in Detroit in 1909, the Hudson Motor Car Co. was one of the most iconic independent companies in automotive history. Although the company was best known for its NASCAR success and rakish late ’40s cars, it built an attractive car-based pickup for two years that has developed a cult following.
While other car companies like Ford and Chevrolet started building trucks based on car models, separating them in the late 1930s to produce more rugged commercial vehicles, Hudson stayed with the car-based design.
The result was a pickup that was mainly a car back to the rear window. They were more stylish and civilized than other trucks. The Hudson 1946-’47 models are among the best-looking vintage pickups ever made. In 1947 a Hudson pickup cost $1,154. Today, they sell for an average of $45,000.
16 1946-1948 Studebaker M-Series
Studebaker is better known for its uniquely styled cars, but the M series trucks, built pre and post WWII, featured a more aerodynamic shape than most of its competitors of the time. The easily recognizable and unique "wind wing" vents on the driver and passenger windows, were not available on any other U.S. manufactured truck during World War II. The Studebaker M Series trucks could be had in any number of body styles and engine sizes from 169 cu. in. to 226 cu. in. found in the M16 1-1/2 & 2-ton versions.
The final M-Series trucks built after the war are the most collectible. A truck that sold in the 1940s for $1,107 has increased in value by 3,387%. Today, faultless versions can demand up to $37,500.
15 1955-1957 Chevrolet Cameo
The Chevy Cameo was a trend-setter when it debuted in 1955. It offered a combination of convenience features only found in cars including fiberglass fenders and Chevy’s new 283-cubic-inch V8, the same engine found in the Bel Air and Corvette. Boasting an automatic transmission, deluxe interior, and two-tone paint, the 1955 Chevrolet Cameo blurred the line between car and truck.
Although sales were mediocre, it set the stage for other stylish trucks, such as the Chevy Fleetside, Ford Styleside, and the Dodge Sweptside.
More expensive than other trucks at the time, it sold for $1,981. Owners who kept it in the garage and maintained it in near-mint condition after all these years could see a 3,028% return on their investment. Today, immaculate Cameos can fetch up to $60,000.
14 1957-1959 Dodge Sweptside
For 1957, Dodge modified its odd-looking C-Series pickups and introduced the upscale Sweptside model. Featuring an available Hemi engine and car-like tail fins, the stylish pickup truck featured numerous car-like amenities including optional heaters, passenger-side sun visors, a pushbutton-controlled automatic transmission, and a radio. Although the Sweptside trucks were a hit with Dodge dealers, they were never on the production line. Less than two thousand of these special custom models were assembled in 1957 through 1958, and they were discontinued in 1959.
The Sweptside is a favorite among collectors. A new one cost $2,124 back in the '50s. Today, spotless trucks trade hands for up to $60,000.
13 1963-1973 Toyota Land Cruiser
From 1960 to 1984, Toyota built the J40 Land Cruiser to compete with the Jeep and Land Rover. Most 40 series Land Cruisers were the traditional body-on-frame SUVs built as 2-door models with slightly larger dimensions than the similar Jeep CJ. With a devoted following and seemingly unlimited ways to modify the trucks, the 10-year period from ’63 to ’73 produced the models that have become some of the most sought-after collectibles in the world in recent years. Collectors are specifically fond of the early trucks in near-mint condition. Selling for $3,164 in the 1960s, restored Land Cruisers have increased in value by 2,370%, selling for up to $75,000 today.
12 1970-1972 Chevrolet Pickup
The 1967 to 1972 Chevrolet “Action Line” trucks have always been popular among collectors. But it’s the later trucks that are the most in demand, especially the luxurious and rugged Cheyenne. In addition to a new grille design, the package was composed of several comfort features including an upgraded interior, more insulation and padding, carpet, upper and lower side molding with tailgate trim.
In 1971, factory installed AM/FM radios were introduced, and the front disc brakes were standard on all light-duty trucks.
In the early 1970s, a Chevy Cheyenne pickup truck was priced at $2,473. Today, immaculate trucks sell for up to $45,000.
11 1969-1972 Ford Bronco Pickup
The Ford Bronco Pickup experienced a gradual decline in popularity during the 1969-1973 model years.
By 1971 the combination of falling pickup sales and rising wagon sales resulted in a production of only 1,503 pickups compared to 18,281 Bronco wagons. Today, that low production rate has helped contribute to a short supply and therefore higher prices.
The first-generation Bronco Pickup has kept pace with the meteoric rise of the Toyota Land Cruiser in collector circles. A beloved vehicle to off-roaders, unmodified trucks in excellent condition are increasingly difficult to find. The Ford Bronco SUV that initially sold for $2,834 is now a $50,000-plus collectible on the vintage car market.
10 1969-1972 Chevrolet Blazer
The Chevy Blazer was built to compete with the Ford Bronco and the International Harvester Scout. A significant innovation, the Blazer was designed to offer a shortened pickup truck based on a shared platform which provided both increased interior space and a lower price.
The Blazer concept was an instant hit, combining the off-road capabilities of the Scout with the "luxury" features like automatic transmissions and air conditioning routinely available on pickup trucks. By 1970, Blazer sales exceeded those of both of its older rivals.
Although the more popular Bronco has long overshadowed today’s sales of vintage Blazers, the value of first-generation Blazers is gaining momentum. A Blazer that initially sold for $2,852 is now worth around $45,000.
9 1960 Chevrolet El Camino Custom Pickup
Both the Ranchero and El Camino were ahead of their time as examples of "crossover" vehicles that appeal to both truck and car customers with a variety of creature comforts and utility features.
One feature was access to most of Chevy’s powertrains. The 283-cu. in. Turbo-jet V-8 with two- or four-barrel carburetors and several Turbo-Thrust 348-cid V-8s were available along with the 250- and 290-bhp 283 cu. in. Ramjet Fuel Injection engines.
At a recent auction in Palm Beach, Florida, a custom 1960 Chevrolet El Camino Pickup truck sold for $126,500. Although almost every piece of the vehicle had been customized, including a GM ZZ 502ci crate engine with a Ram Jet fuel-injection system, highly detailed and painted undercarriage and fully custom leather interior, it is an indicator of recent skyrocketing prices for vintage pickups.
8 1928 Ford Model A "AR" Type 76A
This versatile open cab 1928 Ford Model A pickup truck was built on a conventional ladder chassis and used mechanical brakes. It was twice as powerful as the model T with a 200 cubic inch, L-head, 40hp inline four coupled to a three-speed manual transmission with a dry multiple-disc clutch. New on the Model A was a modern battery and ignition system, with distributor atop the cylinder head that replaced the reliable, but old magnet system. The truck also used a fin-and-tube radiator with a centrifugal water pump.
At a Bonham’s auction, the truck is expected to sell for as much as $30,000.
7 1937 Dodge Pickup
In 1937, Dodge continued the “D” series trucks initially introduced in the prior year. In the half-ton pickups, Dodge dropped the old car frames and implemented a modern truck-style frame with side rails welded to cross members. The front axles had been moved forward to carry more weight and increase stability. Moving the engine and cab forward created more usable bed space.
Dodge also upgraded the dashboard in the half-ton pickup for improved safety. Controls and knobs were flush-mounted to reduce potential injuries in a crash.
The 1937 Dodge Pickup is rare for two reasons: post-depression production numbers were low, and many trucks were worn out on dirt roads and farms. The value of ’37 pickup is estimated between $29,000 to $49,000.
6 1959 Chevrolet 3100 Apache Fleetside Deluxe
The 1959 Apache continued with the front-end redesign implemented in 1958 including four headlights instead of the two-light setup. The other visual difference was a larger and more ornate hood emblem.
The Apache had a parallel-design frame, high capacity front axles, cast spoke or disc wheels, tubeless tires, a ball-gear steering, and large brakes. Chevrolet offered six- and eight-cylinder engines, and several other options to facilitate small to large jobs.
1959 was the last year that Apache was offered with a NAPCO "Powr-Pak" 4x4 conversion system as a regular production option. In 1960 GM installed their own 4x4 design. One Apache Fleetside truck won "Best Non-Passenger" vehicle honors at the 2011 Desert Classic Concours in 2011. The same truck is currently estimated to be worth over $85,000.
5 1931 Ford Model A pickup
While the 1931 Model A pickup appeared to have only slight modifications from the 1928-1929 Ford Model A truck, it was significantly improved underneath.
With a higher hood line, lower and wider fenders, the truck replaced the nickel-plated radiator and headlamp shells with stainless steel. Smaller wheels, balloon tires, standard vacuum wipers, and a higher steering ratio were included.
Although it used the same suspension as the long-lived Model T, the 1931 Model A truck was a superior design and far more sophisticated. It could reach a speed of 60 mph, aided by a modern gearbox and electrical system. Mechanical brakes on all four wheels instead of only two, gave it a more efficient stopping capability.
1931 Ford Model A pickup trucks can fetch between $60,000 and $100,000 at auction.
4 1937 Hudson Terraplane
The exterior of the Terraplane displays a typical prewar elegance with its streamlined bodywork and the Art Modern grille that would seem appropriate in a museum. The truck looks like a sedan with the body hacked off behind the front seat and a cargo bed bolted to the rear fenders.
However, unlike many pickup trucks produced post-WWII that were merely car-truck hybrids riding on beefed-up passenger car coil springs or leaf springs befitting a sedan, the Terraplane was pure truck.
The "Monobilt" construction used a couple of steel boxed frame rails which were bolted down at 38 points and reinforced in the center by a massive X-member. The beefy 14-leaf rear springs gave the vehicle its ¾-ton rating.
From 2001 through 2018 the average auction price for restored 1937 Hudson Terraplane was $51,065 with the highest price at $192,500.
3 1929 Ford Model A Roadster Truck
The 1929 Model A Roadster pickup featured a 200 cubic inch L-Head inline 4-cylinder engine that produced 40 hp and powered a 3-speed manual transmission. The suspension was made with a transverse leaf spring and solid front axle. In the rear, a live axle used a cantilevered, semi-elliptical leaf spring. Four-wheel mechanical drum brakes were standard.
Through the years, the roadster pickup went from being out of favor to being in fashion. Pickup trucks took more of a beating than cars, so by World War II, augmented by wartime scrap-metal drives, Model A pickups became scarce. Regardless of the truck’s condition, stock, modified, or street-rod, the roadster pickup is now more desirable and worth more than the Model A cars.
From 2010 to 2018 the average Sale price was $22,940 with the highest at $209,000.
2 1939 Chevrolet Half-Ton
Some collectors claim that the 1939 and ’40 Chevrolet pickup trucks were by far the best looking in the division’s history. Re-engineered and restyled, the new cab emphasized driver comfort and convenience. The attractive instrument panel was easier for the driver to use with controls like throttle and choke recessed at the center and the lower edge of the panel. The clustered instruments facilitated easy reading.
The 1939 Chevrolet Series JC Master half-ton pickup featured a “Cab and Box” construction built on a 113 1/2-inch wheelbase chassis.
Weighing in at 2,925 pounds, the original Half-Ton sold for only $572 list. One 1939 Chevrolet Pickup recently brought $28,500 at auction while another truck fetched $41,995.
1 1957 Chevrolet Truck
While the value of many vintage pickup trucks has skyrocketed in recent years for models that have been restored to stock, slightly modified or hot-rod condition, it is the last category that demands the highest prices.
Car collectors have discovered vintage pickups, and auction prices verify it. Barrett-Jackson auto auction house sales figures for recent years show nine Chevy pickups sold in the six figures with one approaching a quarter million dollars.
This ‘57 pickup won a GM Design award at SEMA 2009 and a Mothers Choice Award at SEMA 2010. It has a complete Corvette C6 drivetrain with a 6-speed transaxle and a full Air Ride suspension. In 2011, the truck sold in Las Vegas for $148,500.
Sources: classiccars.com, thedrive.com, news.pickuptrucks.com, hemmings.com