Trucks have changed a lot since the first Model T trucks started to replace horse-drawn wagons as a method for hauling stuff around farms. But from the first introduction of the pickup truck, we have been in love with these practical and powerful vehicles. Whether you're bouncing over a dirt road in the back of a 4x4 pickup, hauling construction materials for our new remodel, or helping a friend move, the owner of a pickup truck knows that he's driving something that makes a real difference in people's lives. What makes a truck cool? It might be the design. Or might be the power. It might just be the great feeling you get when you're driving it.
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This awesome pickup truck debuted in 1963, and after a hiatus in the 90s, it's back again today. The early Gladiator was a real change of pace for Jeep — much more a pickup than the brand's earlier trucks which were more like, well, jeeps. These Gladiators had a lot of power, with the biggest V8 in any Jeep ever. Jeep knew it had something good going for it, as you can see by the fact that they essentially didn't redesign the Gladiator for 24 full years.
Now that's a truck!... International, known for its manufacture of semis, wanted to make a splash when it entered the pickup truck market in 2004, and boy, did they accomplish their goals! This massive 4WD truck weighed a hefty 14,500 pounds with a payload of 12,000 pounds — which should be more than enough to help your friends move to their new place. Even though this gigantic beauty was a full 9-feet high (so underground garages are out), it was built on a Ford pickup bed. So I guess we still have to call it a pickup instead of just, you know, a truck.
Is there another truck that can trace its lineage back almost 85 years? Not one that's still on the road, that's for sure. The direct predecessor to the huge Chevy Suburban started life way back in 1935. At that time, it was a comparatively small half-tonner called the Carryall Suburban, but it still had the three rows of seats the Suburban is known for today. GM has to count this as one of its most popular and financially successful models ever. Yes, nowadays it's called an SUV, but let's be honest here. The Suburban existed long before the term SUV was a gleam in a marketer's eye. Back in the day, it was a truck. And it drives like a truck today. So let's admit it: The Suburban is a kickass truck, whether you're driving carpool or hauling stuff to your construction site.
Today's Ranger is far larger and more powerful than the original that made its debut in 1983. This small pickup was agile and quick, with great maneuverability. In 1997, Ford offered it with a 5-speed automatic transmission — the first American car so equipped. Now the Ranger has outgrown its original size and purpose, with a 4-door crew cab model available. But it still does the job of carrying people and gear where they need to go.
The Dodge Ram may have started out as a light truck, but since it started to get tougher and bigger, every generation has won Motor Trend's Truck of the Year at some point. As well it should, what with that V10 engine cranking out all the power you need for hauling and towing, plus a manual transmission available for those who love the feel of being in control. Despite its size, the Ram handles smooth as silk. The Ram has been released in many special editions over the years, but efforts to create a plug-in hybrid version in the early 2010s came to naught.
These are the classic Jeeps you see in every World War II movie. Those first post-war Jeeps were essentially the same as the ones that helped win the war, and to everyone's surprise, civilians were thrilled to get their hands on them. Maybe that's because Willys had four-wheel drive, meaning they could outdrive any truck on the market when it came to rough terrain. These babies were as tough as nails. As new Jeeps came out and the company shifted hands, U.S. production was shut down in 1965, but you can still find Willys Jeeps on the road in other countries.
The Tundra deserves a place in truck history as the first full-size Japanese pickup. That's right; the sleek looking truck was a pioneer. And just like Toyota cars, it's proven itself incredibly reliable over the years, winning it real popularity in the marketplace. Even in its first generation, car critics compared it favorably to Ford, Dodge, and Chevy trucks, and it was named Motor Trend's Truck of the Year in 2000 and 2008.
Think back to what your basic pickup truck looked like in the 1950s. Rugged, practical, and well, rather plain. You certainly didn't look at trucks to see high-end style. But then came the Chevy Cameo Carrier. Its lines were beautiful enough to catch your eye, and that chrome trim and full hubcaps added to its visual appeal. Inside, it was a pleasure as well, with carpeting and a radio; features that weren't common or even available on most trucks back then. It drove smoothly, and its owners loved it. But all that style came at a price, and the Cameo just couldn't keep up with the competition, leading it to be discontinued in 1958.
Pickup trucks are pickup trucks, and off-road vehicles are off-roaders, and never the twain shall meet, right? Wrong, once the Ford Raptor was introduced in 2009. This fierce 4WD uses Fox Racing shocks to smooth out the ride and high-tech electronics to push it to the edge. Once you see it float over jumps or grind its way up the toughest four-wheel course, you'll be more than impressed. And when you ride in it and see how smooth the roughest roads feel, you'll be sold.
Not too many pickups can handle the jobs the Super Duty can pull off. This versatile pickup was introduced in 1998 as a heavier-duty counterpart to the F-150. If you need to do some serious towing, this iconic truck can handle it. The Super Duty has been released in all sorts of special editions. One of the coolest was available from 2004 to 2007, when Ford teamed up with Harley-Davidson to spice up the interior of the truck, as well as offering special paint jobs.
This stunning pickup became a future collectible the second it rolled off the assembly line, thanks to its attention-grabbing retro design. A retractable hardtop turned the pickup into a convertible — now that was something new in the truck world. And the SSR didn't stint on power either, relying on the same V8 engine as the Corvette — not a surprise for a truck whose name stands for "Super Sport Roadster."
Back when Ford brought out its Model T, about a third of the country still lived on farms, and horse-drawn wagons were the primary way to haul stuff around. In this world, Ford made an incredibly smart move when it introduced the first pickup truck, a variation on the Model T. With the 1925 introduction of this truck, everyone from farmers to dairy deliverers to construction companies no longer had to feed and care for horses, but could finally move into the 20th century.
Toyota brought this compact pickup to the United States in 1979. It was the first compact truck to feature AWD, and it was set so high off the ground that it made off-roading a delight, with plenty of clearance for all those obstacles. Because the drivetrain and overall construction were so reliable, the Hilux quickly became popular. In the 1980s, it began to evolve, and became the forerunner of, well, the 4Runner, which then transformed into an SUV.
Wait— Lamborghini made a truck? Yup. This truck/SUV was originally produced as a spinoff of an effort by Lamborghini to win a military contract. The LM002 was extremely heavy at near to 6,000 pounds, which meant that, despite its powerful V12 engine, it was still a bit sluggish, though it sported a powerful 4WD system. And a high price: The "Rambo Lambo," as it was jokingly known, cost a jaw-dropping $125,000 in 1980s dollars.
You're not likely to see these massive trucks in the United States (although some 1960s models show up in the backcountry from time to time). But this post-war truck from Mercedes-Benz is one of the most useful vehicles ever to drive the roads — or the off-roads— across Europe. Originally, the Unimog was a farm truck that could handle a tractor attachment when needed. But through the years, these trucks were adapted by militaries and campers alike. It's no wonder, given their ability to haul up to 16,000 pounds and wade through water 3 feet deep.