America sure is a truck-lovin’ country and with good reason. Is there any other vehicle that can satisfy our need to work, our love of fun and, most importantly, our desire to look cool? In a word, no.
Chevrolet (or Chevy as it's often known) has a lot to do with all that love, because they’ve been making some of the best trucks on the road since, well, since there were trucks. So while we may be ranking them, really any of these trucks would make for a happy and proud owner. After all, we’re talking about the best of the best.
The name says it all. Trucks are meant to haul and tow and get the job done and a Loadmaster does it all as nothing else can. That’s because it’s a COE (cab over engine) design. Putting the driver above the engine, instead of behind, makes the front of the truck shorter, so you can either build a longer bed or carry the same amount of cargo in a smaller footprint.
The Loadmaster was a popular truck for inner-city deliveries because of the shorter length, but it also worked well for short and medium haulers. True, it was a little harder to get into than the more traditional designs, but the commanding view behind the wheel more than made up for the difficulties getting there.
This truck is how Chevy shut the door on the 1950s. Less rounded styling, a dual nacelle hood, and more slab-like sides, the 1960 Apache had a very different vibe from the previous year. But that’s not what puts this pickup on the list. For that, you have to look underneath.
With this truck, Chevy introduced truck buyers to the torsion bar independent front suspension. No longer were the front wheels at opposite ends of a live axle, being levered around by each other. Nope. This pickup could react to uneven roads like no truck that came before it. Which is to say, smoothly.
It may have seemed a little gimmicky at first, but the designers and engineers at Chevy were onto something. Because we like cargo space. But we also like passenger space. The Avalanche was the first truck to give us both.
Keep the mid-gate up and it’s a 5-passenger short-bed pickup. But fold the mid-gate and seats down into the stowed position and you’re looking at a traditional length pickup. That’s pretty awesome. Unless you happen to be sitting in the backseat when the driver finds something long he wants to buy and you need to find another way home.
If a regular pickup is cool, then the C/K 30 is 50% cooler because it has 50% more wheels. And it can tow 2-3x as much as a conventional pickup. Okay, maybe the math doesn’t quite work out but you do get to call it a dually because of the dual rear wheels. That’s got to be worth some points.
Anyway, what puts the C/K 30 on the list is that it was the first dually ever. That’s right, you’re looking at the first of a whole new breed. And you could get it with the legendary 454 V8.
Speaking of the 454, it found its way into another pickup truck whose mission was hauling… but in a different way. 454 cubic inches of displacement is 7.4 liters in today-speak, so this engine is massive. But it was also choked by emissions equipment without the benefit of advanced computer control we count on today to liberate horsepower, such as direct injection and multi-valve technology.
But the massive displacement was still enough to propel the truck 0-60 in about 7.7 seconds, which, while slow by today’s standards, was pretty good back in the ‘90s.
The ‘67 C-10 was an instant classic. Not only did it have chiseled good looks and admirable hauling ability, but it was also unique for being the only pickup available on the market with modern conveniences and comfort options. Ford and Dodge were still selling strippers only intended to be the least-expensive work vehicle possible.
Because of the great design and new approach to equipment, the C-10 sold extremely well at the time and remains a popular truck today in original or modified form. And lastly, we selected the ‘67 not only because it was the first year, but also because it’s the only year not to suffer from the new-in-‘68 side marker lights that messed up so many clean designs.
So, what happens if you take popular, capable and good-looking C-10, give it 4WD and drop a removable hardtop over the bed? You get the Blazer. The right size, the right capabilities, and the right look gave the Blazer a strong start that turned it into an icon. That’s because the Ford Bronco, International Scout and Jeep CJ were all small, and Americans love big. The Blazer was the first off-roader in half-ton size and that made it just right.
If you need more proof of the Blazer’s desirability than you’re getting from your eyeballs, factor this into the equation: Hagerty Insurance values a #1 (Concours-condition) Blazer at $61,600. Wow.
You have to admit that Chevy was firing on all cylinders in the ‘60s – which makes sense being a car company – but it’s almost unbelievable how many truly great models they came out with. And clustered toward the end of the decade were some of their greatest hits. Like the ‘68 El Camino SS. Part car, part pickup and all attitude, the ‘68 was the finest of a very fine offering.
From the stance to the aggressive 396 you could get under the hood, to the racing stripes on top of it, everything about the ‘68 El Camino is just right. Bravo, Chevy. Bravo.
Did you know that the first Suburban was made in 1933? How about that it is the oldest continuously-made vehicle in the world? While the Suburban on dealer’s lots today has very little in common with the first one, the concept is the same. Haul a bunch of people and all their junk pretty much anywhere they want to go.
With nearly 85 years worth of Suburbans to choose from, it’s hard to select just one as the best. But we’re going to go with the ‘55-’57 NAPCO 4WD version. One look at it will tell you we’re right.
The absolute top of the (very tall) stack for Chevrolet trucks is the 1955-1957 Chevy Cameo. It was the first pickup to have enclosed fenders, rather than step-side fenders that stuck out from the box. But more importantly, it was the first truck to bring flashy car styling to the usually more utilitarian truck market.
While the Cameo wasn’t quite as flashy as a Bel Air, for a pickup it was remarkably modern looking. And by 1957, it even had some two-tone action going on. No, it’s not the fastest, the most capable or the safest truck Chevy has ever made, but it is the coolest. And that makes it King of the Stack. Long live King Cameo.