Most of the time, when a truck is released, it’s the standard edition. After all, why give buyers something that is bound to give them nightmares when they’ll eventually need to get spare parts? However, for other launches, the manufacturers need to send a statement and show that they mean business. They can do this by focusing on the version of the car with the highest specs and all the bells and whistles. Or they can just release a special edition.
Special Edition pickup trucks are anything but new. In fact, they have been around for decades. These are trucks for the discerning drivers who want something top of the line and relatively exclusive. They don’t mind paying the premium, as long as they get something special and (hopefully) powerful that they can flaunt to their friends.
With these Special Editions, some car makers only make subtle changes to the regular model. But others throw everything but the kitchen sink into them. Sometimes it works, and we end up with a stunning piece of machinery that we’re almost afraid to drive, just in case we scratch it. But other times, we get something that looks like it came out of a 5-year-old’s rough sketch and instantly went into production.
This article covers 24 of the weirdest pickup trucks that ever launched; the ones that stand out, for better or worse. These are the trucks which might have deserved to be launched as limited editions, either because they are impractical or they just draw the wrong kind of attention.
24 Dodge Midnite Express
Dodge aren’t strangers to making weird cars. In fact, this is only their first entry in this article. The Dodge Midnite Express was built for drivers who love shiny trucks and forms that stand out. This truck does both. But if it works… well, let’s just say that it wasn’t called an “Adult Toy” for nothing.
The Midnite Express was equipped with gold pin striping, exhaust stacks, custom wheels, a striking black paint job and even a ‘Midnite Express Truck’ decal on the door. Under the hood, a 360ci V8 was powering the truck. With only 270 made in a single year, this is one of the rarest trucks in the world.
23 Toyota Tundra Terminator 3 Edition
After the incredible success of the first two Terminator films, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was one of the most anticipated films of 2003. Toyota decided to take advantage of the hype by releasing a special edition of their Tundra truck: the Tundra Terminator 3 Special Edition.
Enhancements to the truck included T3 graphics and badging, a custom grille, magnesium-toned alloy wheels, Dark Charcoal perforated leather seats, a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) dual exit exhaust, a heavy-duty stabilizer bar and more. According to Truck Trend, the T3 Special Edition package was also available to regular Tundra trucks for $5,585.
22 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
When we first heard the name, the Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition, we thought this was a seriously powerful motorbike, with features we probably had never seen before in a bike. Then we saw it.
Looks-wise, the truck is just a standard F-150 with Harley-Davidson decals along its sides. The truck also comes with Harley-Davidson badges on its seats. The engine is also pretty powerful: a 6.2-liter V8, making it more than capable of hauling most heavy loads you throw at it. We understand Ford trying to align themselves with a motorcycle brand with an incredibly loyal following like Harley-Davidson. But just sticking a few decals and badges isn’t enough to make this truck feel special.
21 Dodge D100 “The Dude”
In August 1969, Dodge introduced the Special Edition of its D100 pickup truck: ‘The Dude Sport Trim Package’. According to Dodge Dude, this truck had a body stripe decal in the form of a lengthy ‘C’ stripe, dog dish hubcaps that came with trim rings, a ‘Dodge Dude’ decal at the rear marker lamps and a roof that matched the color of the stripe at the side of the body.
The truck was weird enough that it failed to make an impact in terms of sales: the truck only sold between 1,500 and 2,000 ‘The Dude’ trucks in 1970 and 1971.
20 Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible
The Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible is, without doubt, one of the most bizarre vehicles of any type to ever be released. Dodge was trying to answer a question that no one (except perhaps their marketing department) was asking: who wants a pickup with a removable roof?
With the top down, the car looked a tad strange. But with the top down and cargo in the rear, it drew plenty of alarmed looks: what if the cargo fell on you? For three years, Dodge kept making this car that practically no one wanted. When they stopped production, everyone must have breathed a sigh of relief.
19 Ford F-150 Nite
Are trucks meant to go fast? According to Ford, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” The F-150 Nite was their first foray into high-performance trucks. They launched this Special Edition in 1991 with a blue stripe, blacked-out trim on black paint, tighter suspension than the regular F-150 and better-looking wheels.
It ended up looking and feeling like a performance beast. That is until you put the pedal to the metal. Then all the limitations of the engine cropped up, reminding you that you were driving a high-performance truck in name only. They improved this with their next special edition, the Ford F-150 SVT Lighting, which had real power.
18 Ford F-150 Free Wheeling
The Free Wheeling special edition isn’t too scarce since it wasn’t limited to just the Ford F-150. However, it came out in 1978, and the main feature was the look: style-side trucks received a black scheme with rainbow decals to the side, while flare-side trucks had pinstripes which outlined the bed panels, doors, and fenders.
After four decades, the trucks have obviously rusted quite a bit. But the stripes and decals aren’t made anywhere anymore, so owners of these trucks have only two options: one, let them retain their look, which constantly worsens, or repaint them and lose their specialness.
17 Chevrolet C10 Big 10
Back in the 70s, there were strict emissions regulations that all vehicles weighing up to 6,000 lbs had to comply with. But the Chevrolet C10 Big 10 weighed 6,200 lbs, so the truck was exempt. This was GM’s way of circumventing the smog rules. They added just enough structural reinforcement to the Chevrolet C10 pickup to bring its curb weight above the limit.
This, in effect, allowed the Big 10 to be officially recognized as a 3/4 truck according to the EPA’s classification system. Back then, these 3/4 trucks did not require a catalytic converter to be fitted. All in all, this was a truck made to break the rules. And it did so in style.
16 Jeep J10 Honcho
In the 70s, special edition pickup trucks were all about aggressive names and wild paint jobs. The Jeep J10 Honcho, a half-ton, full-sized pickup, was one of the defining cars like this. When being marketed, ads pinned the truck as macho, tough, brawny and powerful. The color scheme was also crazy, with stripes that demanded attention from every passerby.
The Honcho used Cherokee’s Dana 44 axles with white wagon-type wheels, some massive 31-inch tires, a roll bar, and a front brush bar. The truck got its power from a 401-CID V8 engine. Only 1,500 of these weird trucks were made.
15 GMC Gentleman Jim
GMC wanted to make a classy pickup truck for drivers with good taste, so they launched the GMC Gentleman Jim. This truck only came in black and gold; if you wanted a more subtle color palette, you were out of luck. The color-keyed grille matched the gold of the rest of the exterior, including the lower and upper body moldings.
According to The Truth About Cars, this was the first ever truck with bucket seats. They came in saddle vinyl and tweed. The seats also matched the door panels and the center console. This truck even had storage pouches, chrome locking lug nuts, and a tonneau cover.
14 Ford Ranger Splash
Ford introduced the Ranger splash in 1993. They sold it separately from the Ranger, which was functional if a little boring. The Splash, however, was made to be sporty. It had a flare-side bed which immediately made you think of the 50s cargo boxes: the rear wheels lay just outside the bed.
They were under flared, protruding wheel wells. This special edition Ford came in “Splash” exterior graphics, which were a screaming yellow that belonged on a sports car, not a truck. This screaming color scheme extended to the bumper. Ford made a bunch of these, so you can still find one if you look around.
13 Skoda Felicia Fun
Skoda wanted to make a fun truck for their drivers, so they developed the Skoda Felicia Fun pickup truck. They injected so much “fun” into this truck that it ended up being weird and a little bit unseemly. For starters, the yellow—a ‘fun’ color—was incredibly vibrant. And they used it everywhere they could, from the body to the spokes and even the interior; the handbrake, gearstick, door cards, steering wheel, and dial were all yellow. Maybe this is the song that inspired Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’?
The truck also had rear seats which slid out onto its load bay, which was a neat gimmick unless it was raining or dusty.
12 Dodge Warlock
During the late 1970s, Dodge began to build and sell custom versions of their trucks. This included a line of special edition trucks they called their “adult toys.” Chief in this line was the Warlock, which came with bucket seats, a Utiline bed with oak racks, wide tires, exclusive wheels, and a custom interior and exterior.
It wasn’t subtle; but then again, few limited edition trucks were in the 70s. The Warlock came with your choice of a V-8 or a standard slant six, and it had gold pin striping all around the body lines and wheel lines. Depending on your choice of body color, the Warlock could be gorgeous or garish.
11 Ford SkyRanger
The 1991 Ford SkyRanger is one of the rarest Special Edition pickups you can find today since only 17 of them were made. But judging from its appearance alone, even 17 of these were too many.
The SkyRanger was made to be a cross between a convertible and a truck, so it had a soft top that did not blend well with the rest of it. Ford also fitted it with an aerodynamic hoop, they fixed the rear wing top the bed rails and used an aero-styled body kit. Ford never made another SkyRanger truck, which shows that even they knew they had a dud.
10 Dodge Rod Hall Signature Edition
Rod Hall was one of the most daring (aka reckless) off-road drivers of his time. So, it’s no surprise that he partnered with Dodge to enhance the Ram and make a Special Edition truck from it. However, things didn’t go so smoothly.
At first, they made 14 units of the Rod Hall Signature Edition, in 1986 and 1987. However, the trucks used a stiff and high racing suspension, which was normal in the racing world, but pretty illegal when it came to road safety regulations. So, the NHTSA got wind of this and they seized all the trucks. But in 1990, they tried again and didn’t commit a crime this time.
9 Dodge Macho Power Wagon
The Dodge Macho Power Wagons were built to be over the top. And they certainly delivered on that, though not in the way Dodge would have wanted. The trucks had black and yellow accents, sporting big tires with yellow rims, massive tires, and enormous Power Wagon callouts. They certainly drew attention, but in a bad way.
They didn’t sell so well, and Dodge stopped production on them. Nowadays, it’s tough to find one of these trucks, simply because the paint hasn’t aged that well. Many drivers, in fact, have long replaced the Macho Power Wagon’s look with layers of primer and paint.
8 2002 Lincoln Blackwood
When Lincoln made the Blackwood, it seemed like a good idea. There was an incredible demand for light trucks. Also, big luxury SUVs like Lincoln’s own Navigator were selling by the bucketload. So, the Blackwood seemed like a sure bet for the then-emerging crossover market.
Lincoln blended the features of a luxury sedan (the cabin), a Sports Utility Vehicle (the front end, which resembled the Lincoln Navigator) and a pickup truck (the rear, which was basically a Ford F-150). The result was something that didn’t really belong. It never blended in with other trucks, and it wasn’t good enough to rival SUVs or luxury sedans.
7 Dodge Jean Machine
What a crazy decade the 70s was! Jeans were all the craze back then. Everyone was wearing jeans, and clothing brands were making a killing. Well, Dodge didn’t make clothes, but they wanted a piece of this freshly-knitted pie.
According to Autowise, they made a special edition package and fitted it into their D Series trucks. It looked just like a denim-clad truck on the outside, from the blue color to the painted pinstripes resembling pinstripes. But inside, it didn’t have a lot going on. The seats only got orange piping along the edges. Needless to say, this was a wasted opportunity.
6 Dodge Ram SRT10
Pickup trucks are made for their utility above everything else. But Dodge decided that instead of opting for one of their fast cars, buyers would want their functional pickup truck to stop carrying heavy loads and start ferrying them at blistering speed. Hence the Dodge Ram SRT10 was born.
The SRT10 had a reduced towing capacity (7,500 lbs instead of a regular Ram’s 9,100 lbs) but made up for it with a silly amount of power. The truck was loaded with an 8.3-liter V10 engine which produced 500 hp. No one needed this truck, but Dodge built it just the same.
5 International Scout SS II
The last time International sold a civilian car was back in 1980, so it’s okay if you don’t recognize them. That said, the car manufacturer was doing relatively okay when they were trading blows with Jeep trucks, especially through the Scout.
So, it’s no surprise that International decided to make a special edition of the Scout. But instead of adding features, like most other car makers, International stripped it almost bare. They removed most of the roof, along with all the doors, and replaced them with a thick roll bar. The truck ended up looking like a Jeep knockoff instead of a rival.
4 GMC Caballero Diablo
They don’t make trucks like the GMC Caballero Diablo anymore. And probably with good reason. This was a family car crossbred with a pickup truck, and it wasn’t a good fit for either demographic. If a family man needed a truck, he would just get a double-cab truck.
But the Caballero Diablo wasn’t built to make sense. GMC wanted it to be powerful. It came with a ginormous 5.7-liter CID V8 engine which made it one of the most powerful machines on the road. It also had an aerodynamic front bumper, bucket seats, and a Firebird-esque hood graphic. It was also incredibly rare, even for that time.
3 1977 GMC Indy 500
In 1977, GMC received the privilege of being selected the official car of the Indy 500. So, they decided to make hay while the sun still shone; they built the Indy 500 Pace truck, the Special Edition of their Sierra truck. They used V8 engines to power these trucks and employed a black and white paint scheme which was complemented by red pinstripes, according to AutoWise.
In addition, they had an 8-foot bed to go with the wide side body while the 6 and a half bed could be chosen for both fender side and wide side. Only 300 of these trucks were made.
2 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier
When it came out in 1955, the Chevrolet Cameo Carrier was not a hugely selling truck. The price was part of the reason, but it also looked and performed unlike most other pickup trucks of its time.
According to How Stuff Works, the truck had forward-slanting windscreen pillars, hooded headlamps, shapely wheels, a wraparound front bumper, a brand-new upper cab structure, and a third more glass than its predecessor. Inside, the dashboard had a fan-shaped speedometer with needle gauges, and the top was finished in textured black. All these made the car seem more like a passenger car than other trucks of its time.
1 1991 GMC Syclone
In 1991, GMC produced a seriously powerful pickup truck which didn’t look the part. The GMC Syclone looked like your everyday Special Edition truck, with black paint, the Syclone name in red, and not much else.
Then you looked under the hood and realized that was not just some truck. The Syclone was powered by a turbocharged V6 engine which churned out 280 hp. But that wasn’t all. It had a rear-biased AWD system which helped the car to attain a speed of 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 4.3 seconds. That made it one of the fastest vehicles of its time.
Sources: thetruthaboutcars.com; popularmechanics.com; complex.com; autowise.com; motor1.com