Of all the various types of vehicle which have ever been made, perhaps the most quintessentially US set of wheels ever to hit the road is the pickup truck. The pickup started life as a functional truck back in the 1920s, with Ford’s Model T Runabout with Pickup Body which went on sale in 1925, and other car manufacturers soon followed Ford’s lead.
It wasn’t until the 1940s and 1950s that ordinary motorists started to buy pickup trucks as their everyday vehicles, simply because they liked the way they looked, rather than because they needed the cargo space or towing power. Since then car manufacturers around the world have created their own versions of the great US pickup truck, including companies from Japan and Europe – although it is a Ford pickup, the F-150, that holds the top spot when it comes to the best-selling trucks of all time.
Pickups have become such an integral part of motoring culture that some auto firms have gone a step further and created pickup trucks which are based on some very unlikely vehicles, including supercars and compact city cars. It seems that there is no limit to the imagination when it comes to creating unusual pickup trucks, many of which are made in such small numbers that even the most devoted gearhead doesn’t even know they exist – until now!
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20 Porsche 928
There is no such thing as a production Porsche 928 pickup truck, but that hasn’t stopped some creative owners from building their own! Designed to cross the gap between sports cars and luxury saloons, the 928 was built between 1977 and 1995, and its slightly larger frame seems to lend itself to pickup conversions.
One Porsche 928 owner changed his vehicle almost beyond recognition when he transformed it into a six-wheeler truck, but even more modest conversions are unusual enough to catch the eye of any passing gearhead. These Porsche 928 pickups are not the most practical of trucks, however, so any conversion is only ever going to be for the amusement of the owner.
19 BMW M3
The pickup version of the BMW M3 executive car was built by the Germany based company, which has experimented with creating pickup versions of some of its most iconic cars over the last thirty years.
The most recent incarnation of the BMW M3 pickup was spotted at the Nürburgring racetrack in 2011, apparently carrying out some testing before it was to be made available to the public, though a BMW-made M3 pickup never made it to the roads. It would have made for a pretty impressive truck if it had, however, with an impressive top speed on the track of 186mph.
The Mini is one of the most iconic and recognizable cars in the world – up there with the Volkswagen Beetle when it comes to kitsch value and cultural significance! As time has gone on, we have seen convertible Mini cars, and even Mini SUVs, but the Mini pickup truck is a much rarer vehicle.
Despite their rarity on the streets, there were actually nearly 60,000 Mini pickups built between 1961 and 1983, and some owners of newer models have followed the company’s lead and converted their own Minis into pickup trucks. Storage space is naturally limited in such a compact car, but it makes for an eye-catching set of wheels!
17 Mazda B-Series
The Mazda B-Series pickup was far from a one-off creation, and yet even devoted gearheads have managed to forget that this truck ever existed. Earlier models were made for the domestic Japan market, but the company soon joined forces to sell their vehicles in the US, where they were better known as the Ford Courier and then the Ford Ranger.
It is the model that was built by Mazda between 1974 and 1977 that is a particular rarity, however, as it was and still remains today the only pickup ever powered by a rotary engine, designed and made by engineer Felix Wankel in the 1950s, and a popular choice with Mazda still to this day.
16 Lamborghini LM002
Imagine a Lamborghini pickup truck and you probably picture something sleek and sophisticated, rather like the Ferrari or Porsche pickups already seen on this list. If that’s the case, then you are going to be very disappointed with the real Lamborghini truck, the LM0002. Looking more like a slightly down-sized Hummer, the Lamborghini LM0002 has none of the panache you would expect from the same Italian company which created the Aventador and the Gallardo.
Initially intended to be a combat vehicle, until it was rejected by the authorities in favor of tougher vehicles, only 328 models of the Lamborghini LM002 off-road pickup truck were ever made.
15 VW Type 2 Flatbed
The Volkswagen Type 2 is another of those instantly recognizable vehicles; a bus that was perennially popular among the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s and which has somehow retained its cool factor even into the cynical 21st century.
However, while the Type 2 bus remains a relatively common sight on our roads, the pickup or flatbed model that Volkswagen only made between 1950 and 1967 for the US is a much more unusual sight – and any flatbeds built after 1967, when the US officials started to crack down on the importation of pickups and light trucks from Europe and Japan, they are a very rare find indeed.
14 Tempo Matador
Like the Volkswagen Type 2, the Tempo Matador was another Germany-made bus that was also available as a pickup or flatbed truck. Unlike the Volkswagen Type 2, which was a huge commercial success and still has millions of fans today, the Tempo Matador is something of a forgotten gem when it comes to pickups.
Various models of the Matador were made by Tempo between 1949 and 1966, and the earlier buses and pickups were powered by Volkswagen engines – a deal which came to an end when Volkswagen’s own Type 2 bus began to sell in increasing numbers in the 1950s. Tempo went out of business in 1977, just as the VW Type 2 was becoming a cultural icon.
13 Volvo 240
Another rare and unusual conversion now – a pickup made from a Volvo 240, an estate car which was also available as a station wagon, and which was in production in Europe between 1974 and 1993. The automotive company Volvo has a reputation for safety which doesn’t quite chime with regular pickup trucks, but the vast amount of space in the rear of the Volvo 240 does seem to lend itself perfectly to an unusual conversion.
Unlike many car-to-pickup conversions, this Volvo 240 pickup does actually seem to have plenty of room on the truck bed for whatever you need to transport.
12 Chevrolet SSR
When a car enthusiast takes a car and transforms it into a pickup they are seen as creative geniuses. Yet when one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world tries the same trick, the result is a commercial disaster which is roundly mocked by motorists everywhere.
The Chevrolet SSR was a convertible pickup truck, which tried to combine the style of an affordable roadster with the practicality of a truck and ended up doing neither. To make things worse, the end result looked like it had driven straight off the set of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Unsurprisingly, it only lasted three years.
11 Lincoln Blackwood
If the Chevrolet SSR was a pickup that was designed for younger drivers, then the Lincoln Blackwood was a truck that was being marketed to those more experienced motorists who wanted a bit of luxury in their lives. You can see why Lincoln, the luxury division of Ford, thought that a luxury pickup would hit the mark in 2001; after all, this was around the time that luxury SUVs were taking the dealerships of the US by storm.
And yet somehow, the Blackwood – which was basically just a Ford F-150 with a more luxurious interior – simply didn’t sell anywhere near as well as the company had hoped, and it was taken off the market after just one year.
10 Ford Skyranger
The Lincoln Blackwood may have been a Ford vehicle at heart, but it couldn’t have been more different from the Ford Skyranger pickup truck. This sporty and compact convertible pickup was a special edition of the more generic Ford Ranger truck and would probably have been a big success in 1991 when it was launched - if it wasn’t for the fact that Ford only ever made 17 of these vehicles!
Ford Skyranger pickups are now as rare as hen’s teeth, and collectors have been known to push the price up to around $40,000; not a ridiculous amount of money, but a lot for a 1990s Ford.
9 Dodge Dakota
The Dodge Dakota is actually a very well-known pickup truck in the US, having been made first by Dodge and them by Ram between 1987 and 2011, and selling well over 100,000 units per year at its peak. However, not many motorists know that there was also a convertible Dodge Dakota which was much rarer than the original model, and which tried to appeal to the same younger demographic that Chevy targeted with their cartoon creation, the SSR.
When the convertible Dodge Dakota was launched in 1989, it was the first convertible pickup sold in the US since the Ford Model A, which last rolled off the production line in 1931.
8 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6
Back in the early days of pickups, the vehicles were all about function and practicality. Later, style and comfort became more important, even at the expense of power and capacity. However, there is now a new breed of pickups on the market which hark back to those earlier features, while also adding some of the popular features from some of the toughest SUVs on the market.
The Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 may look like a rare vehicle, with its six wheels and its robust exterior, but it is available on the open market for anyone to buy. Well, so long as you have a spare $1 million lying around…
7 Ford Ranchero
The Chevrolet El Camino was at once both one of the most popular and one of the most unusual pickup trucks of all time. From a distance, it looked like a classic muscle car; but get up close and you could see that there was actually a pickup bed hidden away in the rear of the vehicle.
The El Camino may have become a cult classic in the 1960s and 1970s, but Chevy was actually following in the footsteps of another vehicle which had been in production since 1957; the Ford Ranchero. Ford may have got a head start, but it is the Chevy El Camino which still gets motoring enthusiasts excited.
6 Chevrolet LUV
Chevy may have hit the jackpot with their uniquely stylish El Camino, but the Chevrolet LUV was less of a commercial or cultural success, despite the fact that the vehicle has been in production since the 1970s. To be fair, the LUV (which stands for Light Utility Vehicle) is a proper practical pickup, with little to offer regular motorists looking for a truck for the morning commute.
As such, it has been a relative success among business owners, without ever getting the general public excited. Until 2005, the Chevy LUV was simply a rebadged Isuzu Faster, and the most recent models, known as the Chevy Luv D-Max, are really just repurposed Isuzu D-Max trucks.
5 Cadillac Mirage
While Chevy and Ford spent the 1960s and 1970s fighting over whether the El Camino or the Ranchero was the best pickup/car, there was one US car manufacturer that remained relatively aloof from the fray; Cadillac.
Only “relatively aloof” however, as the company did produce around 200 pickup models of their classic Coupe de Ville luxury car which was called the Cadillac Mirage. There is no doubt that the Mirage was a classier version of what Chevy and Ford were trying to bring to the marketplace, but it was also much more expensive, which explains why the Mirage is one of those forgotten gems in US automotive history.
4 Jeep Comanche
The Jeep Cherokee is one of the best-selling compact SUVs, so surely a pickup truck based on the same vehicle would be equally successful? For Jeep, this was sadly not the case. The Jeep Comanche, which was only in production for five years between 1987 and 1992 seemingly failed to tick enough boxes for pickup drivers as we moved into the 1990s.
The compact frame meant that there was both a lack of towing power and storage capacity, while the fact that Jeep’s vehicles were designed with off-road driving in mind meant that there was also little in the way of luxury features for ordinary motorists.
3 Subaru BRAT
At first glance, it might seem as though the Subaru BRAT also suffered from something of an identity crisis. After all, what kind of pickup has rear-facing seats on the truck bed, cutting down your cargo capacity quite significantly? There is, however, a method in Subaru’s madness.
The BRAT pickup was another vehicle which suffered as a result of increased US taxes on pickups and light trucks, except Subaru didn’t take this challenge lying down; instead, they installed the rear-facing seats and classified the Subaru BRAT not as a pickup but as a passenger vehicle, thereby avoiding the extra taxes!
2 Hennessy Velociraptor 6x6
The Hennessy Velociraptor 6x6 is another of those monster pickup trucks, in the same vein as the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6, which are increasingly popular with the rich and the famous, who like the idea of driving a pickup, but who also seem to like the idea of driving something which looks like an armoured car around Los Angeles.
Based on the frame of the Ford Raptor pickup, the Hennessy Velociraptor 6x6 is something of a bargain at $350,000, considering just how much truck you are getting for your money, although the extra money you will have to pay at the gas station also has to be factored in if you want to own one!
1 Ferrari 412
Ferrari fans may think that converting one of the stylish supercars into a pickup truck is nothing more than sacrilege, but that hasn’t stopped owners from experimenting with some unusual conversions! However, the episode of London-based TV show Ultimate Wheels in which the team converted a 1989 Ferrari 412 into a sports-car-turned-pickup was certainly one of the most intriguing in the whole series!
The Ferrari 412 was a Grand Tourer which was first built in 1985, and its longer body certainly gave the conversion team plenty of room to play with when they were creating their one-of-a-kind Ferrari pickup back in 2014.
Sources - Flat Sixes, Old Classic Car, Freep, Motor Authority