43 Most Over-the-Top Trucks You Can Buy
A reliable truck is great and all, but it takes an over-the-top truck to make other drivers pay attention. We aren't just talking about some candy-painted monstrosity on rims or a factory-grade pickup with an open exhaust, but about trucks that stand out for their sheer size, design, notoriety or infamy, payload, towing, unique features, multiple axles, armor, or even their ability to float. An over-the-top truck doesn't have to be incredibly expensive or outright weird, but it doesn't hurt. We went through a bit of recent truck history and found a few examples of the most outlandish trucks you can buy.
Russian vehicle fabricator Dartz isn't subtle when it builds armored vehicles for the global elite. For the more than $200,000 T-98 more than a decade ago, it installed a V-8 that could push it to 110 mph. That's a tough speed to reach in a steel-plated car with 3-inch-thick windows that's supposed to withstand a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade. The $1.5 million Prombron version also features bulletproof wheel hubs and a Vertu mobile phone with a panic button — not to mention gold-plated windows, ruby- and diamond-encrusted gauges. Oh, and that latter upgrade was protested by the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Pamela Anderson when Dartz touted whale penis leather as an upholstery option.
Love a Ford F-150, but hate that it looks like every other truck in the parking lot? Do you also hate that it only has two axles? Well, this Raptor-based modification from Hennessey has Fox Racing shocks at all six wheels and a 600-horsepower twin-turbo V-6. If this $350,000 brute is good enough for rapper Post Malone, it's good enough for your garage.
From 2004 to 2008, commercial truck maker International opted to give the hardcore truck folks what they wanted: a semi rig with a Ford Super Duty pickup bed in the back. If truck owners are going to customize their vehicles with semi-style exhaust pipes and horns anyway, why not just give them a 14,500-pound medium-duty commercial truck, equip it with four-wheel drive and give it a whopping 12,000 pounds of payload capacity? If you were willing to pay the $93,000 to $115,000 to own it, you'd find a use for its 20 tons (!) of towing capability.
Where do you go to find a vehicle actually built to survive the worst winter elements for an entire season? Siberia. This $200,000 truck isn't some flashy bauble for celebrities: It's built to get people out of blinding snowstorms and through mountain passes without calling in air support. It's also an amphibious vehicle, watertight, with a water jet on its back, and able to do at least 6 miles per hour in lakes and rivers — basically a boat.
From 1963 through 1987, these trucks replaced the Willys pickup and the FC (Forward Control) trucks and brought Jeep pickups from a World War II design into the modern age. The early Gladiators used an advanced six-cylinder engine, but larger Buick- and AMC-built V-8 engines were optional throughout the life of the Gladiator and J-Series. While it never got a complete overhaul, its body evolved to include the disco-era "Honcho" package that included a version with a stepside bed. A new Jeep pickup is coming, but it has a lot to live up to.
This off-road package debuted in 2010 but just got a facelift. The F-150's new aluminum body sits on the Raptor's steel frame, but "torque-on-demand" locking differential, 3-inch Fox Racing Shox with variable dampening, a new 3.5-liter, 450-horsepower EcoBoost engine and a terrain selection system with mud, sand, and "Baja" modes are all new additions. When they show up in the wild, they typically cost about six figures.
Before "Hummer" was simply a brand of SUVs, it was High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or Humvee) built for the U.S. military as a new Jeep and thrust into the spotlight during the 1991 Gulf War. Action film star (and not-yet California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) owned one, '90s R&B groups drove them in videos, and civilians drove them around as if they didn't have a 10-foot wheelbase, nearly a foot and a half of ground clearance, and nearly 4 tons of curb weight. Fewer than 12,000 were sold before sales halted in 2006, but you'll still occasionally find one off-roading or taking up more than its share of parking space.
A crossover that churns out 626 horsepower from its available W-12 engine and hits a top speed of nearly 190 miles per hour — making it the fastest SUV of all time — earns its nearly $160,000 starting price. With all the amenities of a Bentley Continental GT, the Bentayga is replete with handcrafted leather, wood, and metal trim; an 8-inch touchscreen control dial in the center console; 22-way adjustable seats with heating, ventilation, and massage functions; 10.2-inch Android tablet screens in the rear; and a customizable 1,950-watt, 18-speaker Naim sound system. Its 15 shades of leather, 15 carpet colors, and seven wood choices will get attention too.
This 6-ton armored SUV is built to protect NBA players, politicians, and anyone else who lives in fear of the proletariat lobbing artillery their way. It comes equipped with a 400-horsepower Ford V-10 engine that can run on biofuels; a six-seat leather interior with wool carpeting; navigation and Bluetooth equipment; and a dual-screen rear console and rear laptop stations. But none of that is why you buy this $800,000 vehicle. You get it for front and rear night-vision cameras; ballistic glass windows and ballistic aluminum, composite, and ceramic armor; firewalls; and bulletproof run-flat tires. If you'd like, you can install upgrades including large flat-screen TVs; satellite television; bars and cigar humidors; external listening devices; and a black box recorder.
Need room for a driver, a passenger, and eight bodyguards? Need various armor configurations to absorb blasts of up to 18 pounds of TNT around the vehicle or a 31-pound dynamite blast near the wheels? Need anti-blast seats in case you roll over a mine, or double-skinned hull in case you get hit by another armored vehicle? For $485,000, you can have it all.
Ford has placed Harley-Davidson tags on trucks since 1999, giving those trucks big chrome wheels and black paint to evoke the namesake motorcycle. But this was the only such truck to get a Saleen-made optional supercharger kit for the 5.4-liter V-8 engine that hiked its output to 450 horsepower. To this day, 450 horsepower is a rarity among pickups.
This six-wheeled desert dune buster isn't some modification: Mercedes-Benz actually sells them straight from the factory. This nearly 4-ton vehicle has independent axle suspensions, a V-8 bi-turbo engine that produces nearly 600 horsepower, and independent tire pressure control — it's built strictly for off-roading and specifically for playing around in the sand. It goes for more than $500,000, but it's also one of the rare vehicles that can fetch close to $1 million on the secondary market.
As part of its "Adult Toys" lineups in 1978 and 1979, Dodge painted this truck fire-engine red, gave it yellow trim, added exhaust pipes, and bulked up the engine to make it heavy enough to exploit a loophole that let it avoid using a performance-draining catalytic converter. It used a 5.9-liter police interceptor V-8 capable of 225 horsepower. As Jalopnik points out, that's more muscle than a 1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (160 horsepower), a '78 Ford Mustang Cobra II (88 to 139 horsepower), and the Dodge Charger (140 horsepower). When Car and Driver tested the Li'l Red Express in November 1977 against a Corvette, Pontiac Trans Am, Porsche 924, Saab Turbo, and a Ford Thunderbird, it was declared the fastest vehicle from zero to 100 miles per hour.
That "Adult Toys" series — which included the Lil' Red Express, Warlock, Macho Power Wagons, Street Van, and Ramcharger — were basically Matchbox and Hot Wheels toy cars come to life. But this 4X4, available as a Dodge truck, Ramcharger, or Plymouth Trailduster, was built under the consultation of off-road legend Vic Hickey and used a bunch of bolt-on accessories such as brush and roll bars. Popular Mechanics says fewer than 500 of these gems were produced in 1978, but other sources put that number closer to 200.
Basically the Toyota Hummer when it was released in the '90s, this 3-ton behemoth was sold exclusively in Japan and was supposed to be used strictly for police, fire, and rescue as a test for Toyota's SUV designs. But a few made their way into civilian hands, and some even made their way over to the states. They occasionally find their way onto the market, and their four-wheel steering, four-cylinder diesel engine, central tire inflation, and civilian-friendly suspension might be worth the fuss ... if you can acclimate yourself to the right-hand steering wheel.
Why spend more than $278,000 on a truck? Well, Terradyne's Gurkha has a 6.7-liter V-8 turbo-diesel engine that generates 660 pound-feet of torque and can still hit 70 miles per hour on flat tires. A configurable interior, protective window mesh, a thermal imaging camera, a fire suppression system, and extreme off-road capability make it particularly valuable to those who value security. This Canadian armored vehicle even has a street-legal civilian edition.
A 6-by-6 truck isn't much of a novelty on this list, but the tires on these $50,000-plus vehicles make them noteworthy. Designed by Trecol itself, they can be used to float vehicles or even run over people without killing or severely injuring them. The flexible, low-pressure tires manage to handle Siberian tundra without tearing up the ground. Why aren't more trucks field tested in Siberia?
Why does Rolls-Royce have an SUV? Because many of its newest customers aren't buying luxury sedans anymore. It's named after the Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem-worthy diamond ever found, which explains the 3-ton SUV's $325,000 starting price. So does the 6.75-liter, 563-horsepower twin-turbo V-12 Rolls-Royce engine; bespoke key, lowering stainless steel door handle, heated steering wheel; night-vision "Wildlife and Pedestrian Warning"; four-camera viewing system with helicopter perspective; elevating seating; coach doors, an off-road setting, and glass partition between the passenger seating and the luggage compartment.
From 1986 to 1993, Lamborghini had a very 21st century idea: Why not turn the popular Countach supercar into an SUV/pickup? Enter the LM002, which took the 450-horsepower V-12 engine from the Countach, mounted it onto an off-road suspension, squared off the fenders, added a cargo bed, and slapped a spare tire onto the tailgate. It seemed ridiculous at the time, but roughly a decade after its demise, it would be the template other luxury sports cars would emulate.
Take 2. Since Bentley, Jaguar, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce all have one, it just seems natural for Lamborghini to get into the SUV game as well. With a 4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that looks a whole lot like the Audi 4-liter V-8 that's in the Bentley Bentayga and a whole bunch of Audis, this 650-horsepower SUV masks its brawn beneath a carbon-fiber body. Starting at $200,000, it's still very much a Lamborghini, even if the body and engine suggest something with a bit more utility.
The "UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät" machine is perhaps the most significant working vehicle in history. Coming out of Germany after World War II and initially designed as a self-propelled machine for sawing trees and harvesting fields, the Unimog has been a military vehicle, a firetruck, a camper, a delivery vehicle, and more. If you find one, don't expect it to be cheap.
Though it sold in this country from 1985 to 1995, the Samurai took a lot of heat for its high center of gravity and potential to roll over. That resulted in a lawsuit against Consumer Reports and an ensuing settlement, but the Samurai is still beloved by off-road enthusiasts. At a little over a ton and with four-wheel drive, it could take on a lot of unforgiving terrain quickly.
Some people get really touchy when you call an El Camino a "truck," but it had a cargo bed and limited seating up front, so don't blame us. Besides, the 1970 SS 454 had an LS6 7.4-liter big-block V-8 under the hood — that's a 450-horsepower engine that can run a quarter-mile in 13 seconds. Putting a truck or SUV on a car frame isn't a sacrilege today: It's a crossover.
This brand is better known for buses and RVs, but from 1953 through 1975 built these hulking 4x4 SUVs. They were big, five-door bruisers that battled with the GMC Suburban and served as everything from grocery getters to ambulances. Large by even today's standards, the Travelall is now a bargain find if you come across one.
Land Rover already makes some fairly over-the-top all-purpose vehicles, but a convertible SUV goes right over the edge. The Evoque already had less cargo capacity than a Honda Fit, so cutting into it isn't such a big loss. A push-button folding roof that can fold down at up to 29 miles per hour melds nicely with the Range Rover's off-road capability and its Land Rover InControl Touch ProTM infotainment system, which has a 10.2-inch touchscreen. Also, at $52,100, it's one of the lower-priced offerings on this list.
At the height of the early 2000s SUV push, the luxury SUV could do no wrong. It appeared in music videos, it rolled on 20-inch rims, and it burned more fuel than a hunting cabin in winter. But the Lincoln Navigator tested the limits of its popularity by wrapping its exterior around a Ford F-150 and selling it for more than $50,000. The upsides included plush carpeting, stainless-steel bed rails, LED lighting, a power cover, and dual doors instead of a tailgate. Unfortunately, it wasn't available in four-wheel-drive and, despite being a F-150, its luxury features and paint made it virtually unusable as a pickup. It can occasionally be found today for less than $8,000.
The Chevy Blazer was an early predecessor to the modern 4X4 SUV, but the Chalet looks even more like a modified pickup. The reason: The Chalet was a pop-up camper body made by Chinook that slid into the cargo area of a Blazer. You could rumble into rugged terrain and have a place to sleep two of you for the night, all for less than $10,000. Despite the Chalet debuting at the height of a camping craze, less than 2,000 were made during its run in 1976 and 1977.
Built only from 2004 through 2006, this pickup was a beast by birthright. Built by the same Dodge Street & Racing Technology team that was assembled to build the Dodge Viper, the SRT-10 followed the Viper's lead by putting its V-10 engine and six-speed manual transmission into standard-cab Ram 1500. That produced a 500-horsepower truck that topped out at 155 miles per hour, good enough for the Guinness World Record for pickup trucks.
While the new Jeep Gladiator pickup serves to the contrary, there's a reason you don't see many convertible pickups. In 1989, Dodge began producing the Dakota Convertible. Even kept to a fairly limited run for two years it didn't pan out. One pops up occasionally on eBay, but even there demand isn't all that brisk.
The auctioneers at Barrett-Jackson who sold a Ranchero for $66,000 a few years back call it a pickup, and we won't argue the point. Ford built several thousand, and they were popular enough to inspire General Motors to build the El Camino. But just 11 got the 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet V-8 engine and the 365 horsepower that went with it.
"Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter"? It's a bit of a stretch, but it was Subaru's best attempt at a pickup in the U.S. market. Subaru had to weld rear-facing seats to the bed and install carpeting to avoid the 1964 "Chicken tax" 25 percent tariff on imported light trucks. President Ronald Reagan owned one for decades, and they still occasionally show up at auction.
At some point in the early 2000s, someone at Subaru looked at an Outback SUV and wondered "What if that was a pickup instead?" They gave it a 41-inch open bed, a tailgate, a pass-through to the main cabin and four doors for passengers and made one of its primary color schemes yellow and black. It was produced only from 2003 to 2006, but there are still a lot of them available today for one big reason: It's still an all-wheel-drive Subaru, and its reliability and versatility help it retain value.
During that early 2000s bout of boomer car nostalgia that bred the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevrolet HHR, the Chevrolet SSR stood out as the oddest contribution. It had a rear-drive V-8 chassis, a folding hardtop, bulbous 1950s throwback styling, and a 48-inch bed. Its run lasted from 2003 to 2006 and, though its last version produced nearly 400 horsepower, older models sell for less than $20,000 today.
If you wanted to get from the train station to your home during the early days of the automobile, you took a station wagon — literally a car with a wooden box built onto the back to hold luggage. If you wanted to take more passengers and gear out to their homes away from the city, you took a "suburban": A station wagon mounted onto a truck frame. Chevrolet invented several family cars in one stroke when it debuted the Suburban in 1936, but it's rolled into the modern day as the extended, truck-based SUV it's never stopped being.
It's a GMC S-15 pickup with a 4.3-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that produced 280 horsepower and, at the time, was more powerful that a corvette. But the Syclone earned its stripes when Car and Driver pitted it against a Ferrari 348 in a drag race back in September 1991. The pickup beat the six-figure Italian sports car by four-tenths of a second, but hung around only from 1991 to 1993. It's fun to have a fast pickup, but when it has little payload capacity and isn't rated to tow at all, it kind of defeats the purpose.
In 1989, Chrysler decided it wanted in on the high-performance pickup game. They were a big deal in the 1970s, and a 1980s focus on sports trucks put them in vogue again. Muscle-car icon Carroll Shelby was up for it, replacing a 3.9-liter V-6 and with a 5.2-liter V-8 with 175 horsepower. Granted, there are midsize sedans with that much horsepower now, but at the time that made this pickup an incredibly fast mover. It's now highly sought, with one selling at auction for nearly $40,000.
Back in 1990, racer Rod Hall teamed up with Shelby to build a limited run of specially branded trucks based on the Dodge Ram 150. Just 33 were made, each with front and rear pre-runner bumpers, a bed-mounted light bar, and special driving lights and decals. But the V-8 engine that came with it managed just 170 horsepower and never quite lived up to its racing pedigree.
So begins the performance truck arms race. With fully redesigned 1988 Chevy and GMC full-size trucks, GM decided to load up a 1990 model with a big-block V-8 from its heavy-duty pickup trucks, paint it black, and unleash it on the road. Eventually, it managed 255 horsepower, 405 pounds per foot of torque, and a zero to 60 miles per hour time similar to a Camaro. The run ended in 1993, but the idea of putting a heavy-duty engine in a light-duty vehicle just for kicks shouldn't have.
In 1993, just as Chevy was burying the 454 SS, Ford's Special Vehicles Team was modifying the F-series' 5.8-liter small-block V-8 with better parts to produce 240 horsepower. They dropped the suspension 2.5 inches and installed new shocks, springs, anti-roll bars, and 17-inch tires. Through the end of its first run in 1995, little more than 11,000 were produced. A second run from 1999 to 2004 only enhanced the Lightning's reputation.
In 1975, GMC got really into the idea of the race truck. It debuted the Beau James model, a blue and silver heavy-duty 3/4-ton truck with softer springs and a smoother ride that became the official truck of the Indy 500 in 1977. That all paved the way for 1980's GMC Indy Hauler, which saw the company pair with Pontiac and its turbo Trans Am to pace the race that year. The best part of the Indy Hauler? The Trans Am's Firebird hood decal (or Screaming Chicken, if you prefer) on a pickup.
In the 1970s, the Chevy Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger SUVs were based on full-size pickups; Ford's Bronco was built on a smaller platform until 1978. That was great for people such as off-road racer Bill Stroppe, who fabricated custom "Baja Broncos" that could take larger tires, a roll cage, a winch, and heavy duty suspension, but bad if you actually wanted to tow something. In 1978, the Bronco moved to the F-150 chassis and could get a big-block V-8 under the hood. The Bronco gained fans but also a bit of unwanted notoriety over the years, thanks to both some rollover claims and a supporting role in a slow-speed car chase, but it's beloved enough to inspire Ford to schedule a new one for 2020.
We don't know what "The Maserati of SUVs" means, but the $76,000 starting price and V-6 turbocharged engine tells us that it's going to be flashy and fast. It produces 345 horsepower, but comes in versions that push that power up beyond 424 horsepower. Meanwhile, the Maserati Touch Control 8.4-inch screen adjusts climate, accesses smartphones via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, provides navigation and plays music and movies through cable or USB sockets. While 19.4 cubic inches of cargo is small for an SUV, the Ermenegildo Zegna leather seating, 360-degree exterior camera views, and suite of sensor-based safety features are far more generous.
Porsche has made a version of this car for 17 years, and it's become the brand's best-seller. It has roughly 27 cubic feet of cargo space, and nearly 60 with the rear seats down, but the reason drivers buy this instead of a Volkswagen Touareg or Audi Q7 (built on the same platform, by the way) is ... the prancing pony. We aren't going to lie: It has Audi's V-6 turbo engine in its base models and doesn't provide the 541 horsepower Audi-Porsche V-8 until a buyer pays $125,000 for a turbo engine. It's over the top in its peak form, but the traction and stability control, 8 inches of ground clearance and 18 inches of wading depth, and several of the Cayenne's other perks can be found in less prestigious luxury vehicles.
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