Brand loyalty in the automotive world can be a powerful thing. Go to any NASCAR track and observe the battle lines as the various tribes loyal to the bowtie, the blue oval, or MOPAR. This isn't just in racing, pickup owners have a staunch loyalty as well even outside of the NASCAR Craftsman truck series.
While all vehicles serve a function, pickup trucks have a special place in their user's hearts. They straddle the line between personal transportation and workhorse. They can take their owners to town and haul whatever is needed. Put a shell on the bed and it's a covered cargo carrier, put a camper in the back and it's a home away from home. There's even a pastime named for it, the tailgate party, where proud pickup owners drop the gates on their trucks and pull out the BBQs, tunes, and pregame for whatever sporting event they're about to attend.
Since Ford introduced the production pickup with the 1925 Model T Runabout, pickups have come in a variety of shapes and sizes and the big three have competed for the market of self-sufficient, "do it yourselfers" who wanted something that could haul both themselves and a bedroom set. Ford has a lengthy run at the top with the F-series being the most sold brand in the United States for decades. That doesn't mean the other members of the 'Big Three' have slept on the pickup market, and Dodge, in particular, had an intense focus on turning their trucks into a recognizable brand, even spinning Ram off into its own badge recently. Here are thirteen Fords and thirteen Dodge pickups side by side for you to pick your side of the pickup battle.
26 Original Dodge 4x4 Power Wagon
The Power Wagon has an even more rugged history than the already rugged name implies. Originally made for the United States, it was Dodge's contribution, featuring a 4x4 drive train and sturdy build.
Officially they were the WC trucks that came in a variety of configurations from the factory as a joint effort with other Chrysler stablemate Fargo. The rugged trucks became popular and eventually, they introduced a commercial version.
25 Ford F-100 4x4
The 4x4 pickup is a staple in the US. Up until the prevalence of SUVs and the all-wheel-drive passenger car pickups were the primary way drivers went off the beaten path and blazed their own trail.
The very first pick up to come from the factory with a 4x4 drive train that was made by the same factory was the F100 4x4 in 1948. There were 4x4 pickups prior to that but the drivetrains came from different suppliers. Once that option became available from the factory, it became perhaps the most popular truck option.
24 Ford F550
The Ford F-series is often celebrated as the most sold model in the US, but it manages that distinction by way of a bit of a cheat. First of all, the F is the pickup line, but the pickups come in a variety of sizes that for other vehicles would be different models.
The second is that the F series is the platform for a number of professional configurations from tow trucks haulers. For those duties, the F550 is the platform of choice, too big for consumer use, though you can get one for your daily use if you're up to the parking challenge.
23 Dodge 5500
The beast mode Dodge pickup is the 5500. If there was a truck that wore Dodge's semi truck facade the best, it would be the big dog Ram commercial duty pickup. Available with the biggest versions of Dodge's signature engines, the legendary Hemi and the Cummins diesel as an upgrade featuring even more torque.
You can even get the big beast in the Laramie trim if you want big and fancy.
22 Dodge Ram SRT-10
Dodge rocked the sports car market when it introduced the Cobra inspired Viper. With its massive V10 engine developed with stablemate Lamborghini, the car was a beast but the engine was the star. Sooner or later people started trying to find other things they could put that engine in.
The craziest perhaps was the Tomahawk motorcycle, but the natural choice was the Ram pickup trucks. For the 2005 to 2006 model year that's exactly what they did, putting the 500hp, ten-cylinder in their hauler, creating a truly mad pickup.
21 Ford Lightning
Most manufacturers have a mad science division, a group of engineers that will take the standard model line and ask the question, 'How can we make this more insane?' For Ford, that's the Special Vehicle Team. Chasing the incredible GMC Cyclone, a sports truck that famously out hustled a Ferrari, they took the F150 and slapped a supercharger and some chassis tweaks, creating their own sports truck the F150 Lightning.
With 380 hp and only two-wheel drive, it wasn't as fast as the Cyclone but it could still be used as a pickup as long as you weren't overly concerned with comfort.
20 Dodge Ram Rumble Bee
Daytona is not the only hot rod badge that Dodge has in their stable. In the late 60s and early 70s, Dodge produced a low cost muscle car based on the Coronet called the "Super Bee," a play on the base B body.
In the early 2000s, as Dodge Rams were getting various option packages, they dipped into their history and came up with the trim package and dubbed it the Rumble Bee. Mostly a sticker package for the R/T, it was still unmistakable.
19 Hennessey Velociraptor
Aftermarket specialty shop Hennessey made its name taking the truly mad Viper and making them even madder. Since then they have become one of the best-known specialty aftermarket companies alongside Saleen and even Shelby.
While they may have made their name with the Viper, for the pickups they went for the already exciting Ford Raptor. With the base truck already off the factory floor a little bonkers, Hennessey had to go to extremes to turn things up, adding an extra axle at the rear to make it stand out in a field of standouts.
18 Ford F-150 Nite
Special editions are a staple of model lines, especially long live or mass produced models. While being the most popular vehicle sold is a unique distinction, it does also mean that there are going to be a lot of trucks just like yours in the parking lot.
Most of the time they amount to limited trim packages like the Nite Edition, available from 1991 to 1992 which featured mostly unique color choices for the interior and the distinctive black paint job. It also was available in the SUV sibling Bronco.
17 Dodge Ram Rod Hall Signature Edition
While some limited editions are unique colors and options, some of them are themed to accentuate brand success in other fields or partner with other brands. Off-road racer Rod Hall had been having success racing across the deserts in pickup trucks and in 1987 came out with a signature edition for Dodge.
Unfortunately, that truck featured the kind of suspension that Hall would use in desert racing which the NHTSA didn't feel was highway safe. In 1990 Hall and Dodge teamed with legend Carroll Shelby to make ones that were highway safe. Only 33 were made before Shelby's health issues halted production.
16 Ford King Ranch
It's not all limited editions, sometimes trim packages act as tiers for the models of the truck. For the F series, the pinnacle trim package is the Ford King Ranch. King Ranch is a massive ranch in Texas. The ranch ordered a very large amount of trucks, enough of them to create their own style of trim, complete with leather interior fit for luxury sedans.
It stands to reason that Texas is the most popular destination for the pickup, with 40% of King Ranches going to Texas.
15 Dodge Laramie Longhorn
For buyers looking for the luxury option in the Dodge pickup line that comes in the Laramie Longhorn edition. Predictably enough, this too is Texas themed luxury option is also riddled with fine leather.
It goes even further and includes barn wood accents amid the satin chrome presumably so the well-heeled buyers can remember their humble beginnings or the rugged life they lived to afford a pickup truck that costs north of $50,000.
14 Ford NASCAR
For most of the life of the pickup, any racing was reserved for the desert or stadiums with dirt tracks built in with jumps and rhythm sections. In the 90s, a quartet of prominent desert truck racers became concerned that the sport was in danger. They began shopping the idea of a pavement series for pickups and eventually sold fans on a NASCAR super truck series.
It was an instant hit and to capitalize on that Ford released a NASCAR appearance package with NASCAR style wheels, special tires, and a cool side exhaust.
13 Dodge Daytona
Dodge has a storied history with NASCAR as well. One of the most notorious Dodges was a homologated Charger that bore the name of NASCAR's premiere tracks, Daytona.
The Charger Daytona features an aerodynamic nose cone and a dramatic tall wing to keep the powerful race car pinned to the track at his speeds. Dodge paid homage to that fast legacy with a Ram Daytona in 2005 that featured big wheels and even a tall spoiler over the bed of the pickup.
12 Freewheelin' Fords
The seventies were a colorful time, a decade in search of an identity sandwiched between the turbulent sixties and the opulence of the eighties. One of the most common aesthetics in designs was the rainbow look, and the Freewheelin' Fords adopted that look with gusto.
Primarily a decal package, the Freewheelin' option was available on a range of Ford vehicles even down to the Pinto wagon. This one is a classic and a memorable ride from decades ago.
11 Dodge Dude
Car models have adopted nicknames over time, like the GTO Judge. For ranchers the term 'Dude' wasn't always a compliment, it referred to the well-heeled city slickers who had wandered into ranch life as a tourist. Once California got a hold of the term it became a little more casual.
Hoping to invoke the duality of the well-heeled suburbanite with the ruggedness of the farmer, Dodge released a decal package called "The Dude." The advertisements featured none other than Don Knotts with the tag line, "Works like a rancher, looks like a Dude."
10 Dodge Ram R/T
For customers that were looking for wild, but not 500 horsepower worth of wild, Dodge offered a sports truck that still had truck-like capabilities. With the slightly milder Hemi producing 395 hp, the Dodge Ram R/T was capable of a 0-60 dance of 5.4 seconds during Car and Drivers road test in 2005.
The R/T occupied a pocket where it had the sports truck market to itself, sitting between the EcoBoost powered Tremor that had gone out of production.
9 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson
For pickup owners, there is a certain element of freedom and rugged individuality that goes with the truck. Another vehicle often associated with freedom and rugged individuality are the motorcycles made in Milwaukee, the Harley-Davidson.
If you have a hog you might find yourself needing to haul it somewhere and a pickup is the tool for the job. Between 2000 and 2012 Harley and Ford teamed up for a special trim package and eventually a supercharged 411 hp engine.
8 2019 Ford Super Duty
It's all well and good to have a fast pickup or a well-appointed pickup, but there has to be a pickup out there for people who need a pickup to be a pickup. They need a truck to do the heavy lifting, including the towing, hauling, taking on the rough terrain.
Ford offers the Super Duty for those who need a pickup to do the hard work. Super Dutys are set apart from the regular F-150 series with a heavier chassis and bodywork allowing the truck to haul and tow more than its tamer stablemates.
7 2019 Dodge Power Wagon
When it comes to names, Dodge might have the battle won. The names manage to evoke all of our toughest toys from childhood, the ones we drug through dirt and flung downhill.
The ones that stood up to those trials bearing the scars and soldiering on. Dodge's heavy-duty truck carries the name Power Wagon. The name alone implies that it crushes trees and hauls them back in one move. Like the Super Duty, it has a heavier chassis and increased truck capacity.
6 Dodge Li'l Red Express
There's a long history of muscle cars and sports cars that are born out of a crafty reading of the rules. One of those is a pickup that managed to avoid the smog regulations of the 1970s.
Thanks to that loophole of a 390 cubic engine from police cars, it found its way into a Dodge pickup without a catalytic converter. The result was an eye-grabbing pickup that managed to also be the fastest vehicle to get to 100 tested by Car and Driver in 1978.
5 Ford Special Editions
While Dodge was making trucks like the Red Express, Ford instead was making special models for specific purposes, like the Ford Super Camper Special pictured here. Each special had a set of options or specific build elements that made them especially suited for a specific purpose.
The Super Camper Special featured a longer bed and a special compartment on the passenger side. Ford even partnered with a camper maker who produced a camper expressly for the Super Camper special, but only 1,000 or so were made.
4 Ford Ranger FX4
In the 80s and 90s small and mid-sized pickups were popular. They were the perfect compromise between utility and the ability to find a parking space at the mall. They were perfect for using your workhorse as a daily driver.
Ford's popular entry into that market was the Ranger. In 2002 they took their range-topping model and gave it the Fx4 treatment, making their compact pickup an off-road monster with an upgraded drive train. The Ranger eventually bowed out, but popular demand has encouraged Ford to reintroduce the Ranger line in the coming year.
3 Dodge Dakota Sport
Introduced in 1987 as a competitor to the Ranger and the S-10 compact pickups. Its main advantage was being slightly bigger, big enough to carry a sheet of plywood in the bed without lowering the tailgate. This essentially created the mid-size pickup that survives to this day.
One of the stranger variations of the Dakota Sport was the convertible, made in conjunction with the US Sunroof Company between 1989-91 but nobody is particularly sure why. It wasn't the first and it wouldn't be the last convertible pickup but it each time it would be a confounding addition.
2 Dodge D-50
The oil embargo of the 70s and the accompanying rise in the price of gasoline pushed manufacturers to make smaller and more efficient vehicles. US manufacturers were beat to the punch by Japan car makers like Honda and Toyota.
For the compact pickup market, US car companies adapted the formula, 'if you can't beat them, join them' philosophy by badge engineering compacts from the Japan market. Catching up to the Ford Courier and Chevy LUV Dodge slapped some Ram badge on the Mitsubishi Mighty Max.
1 Ford Courier
Ford's rebadged mini pickup came from the Mazda B-series pickup. The Courier distinguished itself from the B-Series with a handful of cosmetic changes and for its second generation Ford power-plants to drive the diminutive hauler.
As long as no one had any follow up questions you could say that your pickup had a Mustang engine, but it turns out it was the 2.3 liter out of the much-maligned Mustang II, a power-plant it shared with the Pinto. The Courier was replaced in 1982 with the popular Ranger compact pickup.
Sources - Jalopnik & Motor 1