Technology always works marvels, and that’s true. There isn’t a truck on American roads today that doesn’t look good or run well. With the latest in tech, carmakers are churning out the safest, most powerful and the most gas savvy trucks they can. But while new is good and great, there’s something beautiful about a classic American truck.
The time when the good folk toiled hard and partied harder and drove trucks that looked beautiful and powerful. New is shiny, but everything that glitters isn’t always gold. But the classic American trucks with big hearts and bigger power mills were some of the greatest wheels to drive on American roads. And we pay homage to ten of them right here…
10 1939-1947 Hudson Big Boy C28
There’s quite a story behind these trucks. When Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson teamed up to form AMC, they were still struggling to match sales with the Detroit Three. So they took the Hudson Commodore sedan, and turned it into a beautifully streamlined pickup – and called it the Hudson Big Boy. Designed by America’s first-ever female car designer, Betty Thatcher Oros, the Big Boy went into production in 1939. It halted production from 1942 to 1945 because of the war, until it finally went belly up in 1947. The 3.5-liter V6 engines managed 102 horses, in a truck that gleams with intent and power.
9 1978-1979 Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck
Once upon a time, Dodge was way ahead of its competitors. The Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck launched in 1978 proved to be more potent than a Corvette even, going 0-100mph in 19.9 seconds, and doing a quarter-mile in 14.71 seconds. The modified 360 police engine spat out a powerful 225 horses and 295 ft-lb torque, making it one fast drive.
Lil’ Red was rare enough, and then came a rarer sibling – the Midnite Express in all black. Getting your hands on one of these is a tough call, and they were so beautiful, they made men cry…
8 1967-1977 Ford F-250 "Highboy"
The ultimate USP of this tough-looking truck? The suspension was wired so that you could swap in 35-inch tires on them, with nary a change to anything. Meaning from a normal-looking truck, this Highboy could go pretty high with nothing more than the tire cost. They normally came with 31-inch tires, but moving on four inches bigger minus a suspension change need was pretty big for that era. And it made the Highboy look even meaner than how it rolled. In 1977, the Highboy was lowered two inches. But in 1977, the Ford F-Series also became America’s bestselling pickup and has remained ever since.
7 1947-1955 Chevrolet 3100
1947 was the golden period for Chevy, for its trucks were America’s best sellers of the time. After the war ended, Chevy decided to revamp its truck line and the Chevrolet 3100 was one such stylish but powerful truck so released to the general public. An inline-six engine gave it enough power to tow plenty, and look great while doing it.
Plus Chevy was a great option for those who didn’t care too much about the Ford and Dodge trucks of that era. Classic lines, flared fronts and a decent power make it a beautiful classic truck any car collector would be proud to own today.
6 1945-1968 Dodge Power Wagon
Introduced in 1945 for the 1946 model, the Dodge Power Wagon was built upon the WC-series Dodge three quarter ton trucks so used in the second world war. Now while this was called the “power” wagon at the time, the horses it churned out were only 94 measly ones. That said; this was America’s first-ever four-wheel-drive and got the job done because of an ultra-strong transmission as well as a low axle. The high-ground clearance meant it could tow a decent payload over rough terrains as well – sadly, it was a tad prone to rust. But it's as genuine an American classic as it can get.
5 1967-1972 Chevrolet C/K Action Line
If you get your hands on a 71-72 Chevy C/K, you are one lucky, lucky person. Because while the Chevrolet C/K Action-Line pickups were great-looking trucks, they were in production for just five years (second generation). This was the time Chevy married workload with luxury – and the 67-72 C/K trucks boasted a plush interior.
They were radio-equipped for music pleasure and even had a carpeted and insulated cab to keep the driver and shotgun passenger in ultimate comfort. 1973 saw a complete third-gen redesign, so the 71-72 C/K trucks are rare, and quite the catch. Much like a four-leaf clover.
4 1963-1987 Jeep Gladiator And J-Series trucks
There’s no greater truck legacy than Jeep in America today, with the Willys Jeep helping America win the war. And when the war was over, there came the forward control trucks by Jeep till finally in 1963, the Gladiator rolled in. And with it came the J-series truck. The Gladiator, now being reintroduced as the 2020 model, was a then a modern full-sized pickup and stayed in production for 24 years – with only minor changes to the design. The engines were big and varied and gave enough power to the Gladiator to keep it on par with the competition. While the new one sure looks swanky, there’s something about the cliché old is gold that rings true.
3 1956-1960 Ford F-100
Before the F-150 and the F-250 and so on, it was the F-100. A favorite even when introduced, the hood uplift in 1956 made it a bestseller overnight. The engine was okay because the bigger Ford pickups boasted the bigger engines, but the F-100 looked so rugged and handsome – it became an instant favorite especially with the light pickup users because it was just a half-ton truck.
Later on, they may have killed the F-100 only to bring it out in its new avatar, the Ford Bronco. Which is just as classic and in demand as the Ford F-100.
2 1992-2006 AM General Hummer H1
Technically not a classic when it comes to the years it was introduced, one cannot talk about trucks and not mention the Hummer. The origins of the Hummer lie with the HMMWV – the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle lovingly called the Humvee by the US army. For the army, it was an awesome thing in 1985. The amazing Humvee was an army boy favorite – that drivetrain coupled with a 4WD could tackle just about any terrain at great speeds and stability. So in 1992, Humvee became the Hummer H1 for civilian use and became a favored ride for many since it was one tough nut to crack.
1 1942-1959 Napco Chevy and GMC Trucks
In the 40s and the 50s, Dodge came up with the Power Wagon – this was America’s first-ever home-grown production-ready four-wheel-drive truck. And it upped the game for Dodge but left Chevy and GMC biting the dust. So while their 4WDs were in the making, they decided to use a shortcut and the shortcut was called NAPCO, meaning Northwest Auto Parts Company. NAPCO began to make conversion kits for GMC and Chevy trucks – which turned them into 4WDs. Suddenly, GMC and Chevy were on a high too. By 1957, these NAPCO kits were being fitted onto Chevy and GMC trucks on the assembly lines itself – and all these NAPCO trucks are now rare collector's items.