A Classic American Pickup Truck Sitting in a Field.
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33 Greatest American Trucks of All Time

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A Classic American Pickup Truck Sitting in a Field.
schlol/istockphoto

Red, White, and Vroom

Nissan boasts the Frontier and the Titan. Toyota has the Tacoma and the Tundra. Then there are the Mitsubishi Triton, the Volkswagen Amarok, the Mercedes X-Class, and the rest of the top-shelf import trucks. But some of the most groundbreaking, most innovative, most powerful, and most all-around awesome trucks ever to ride on four wheels were made right here in America and date back to the time of Henry Ford. (Check out our 32 Most Reliable Trucks of All Time.)

1925 Model TT Truck
1925 Model TT Truck by Geni (CC BY-SA)

1917 Ford Model TT

Henry Ford’s Model T brought the automobile to the masses, but he’s also credited with creating the first civilian pickup truck. In 1917, Ford unveiled the Model TT, which was built with a heavy-duty frame and chassis that was designed to haul heavy loads. The Model TT, which cost $600, came from the factory with the chassis only. Anyone who wanted a truck bed had to build one themselves or have a contractor do it for them.

Related: Henry Ford and Other Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

1925 Ford Model T Runabout
1925 Ford Model T Runabout by SnapMeUp (CC BY-SA)

1925 Ford Model T Runabout

Eight years later in 1925, Ford released the first genuine factory-built pickup truck that was ready for action immediately upon purchase. The Ford Model T Runabout had a 40-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and heavy-duty rear leaf springs. With a price of $281, it was much more affordable than the Model TT.

1929 Dodge Brothers Merchants Express Pick-Up
1929 Dodge Brothers Merchants Express Pick-Up by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

1929 Dodge Brothers Merchants Express

Today’s modern Ram trucks trace their genesis to 1929, the first full year that Chrysler owned the Dodge Brothers operation. That year, the company unveiled the Merchants Express, which came with an L-head four-cylinder 45-horsepower engine. That might not seem like much today, but it was a major advancement for its time, and one that set the stage for a race to make engines bigger and more capable. It was also stylish and came with features that turned a page in truck design.

1932 Ford Model 18 Pickup
1932 Ford Model 18 Pickup by Sicnag (CC BY)

1932 Ford Flathead V8

In 1932, it was the Ford company, once again, that changed the automotive game with a major innovation on a brand new pickup. The Ford Flathead V8 was the first eight-cylinder truck ever to hit the civilian market. A powerful and reliable work truck, the monster under the hood would become the standard moving forward — Ford would soon phase out four-cylinder options due to a lack of demand.

1946 Hudson "Big Boy' pickup truck
1946 Hudson "Big Boy' pickup truck by CZmarlin (CC BY-SA)

Hudson Big Boy

The now long-defunct Hudson Motor Car Co. produced the C28 from 1939-42 and then briefly again for a few years after World War II. Known as the Big Boy, the C28 was exactly that — big, particularly for its time. Comparable to today’s pickups, it had a gigantic 7’9”x4’9” bed and a 128-inch wheelbase. Sleek and beautiful with fluid lines, its design was based on the Hudson Commodore sedan.

Related: 50 of the Biggest Cars Ever Made

Willys Americar Pickup 1941
Willys Americar Pickup 1941 by JOHN LLOYD (CC BY)

Willys Americar Pickup

Everyone knows the well-documented story of the Willys-Overland Jeep, a military vehicle repurposed for the civilian market after World War II to incredible success. What’s largely lost to history, however, is the pre-war Willys Americar line, which included a coupe, sedan, station wagon, and half-ton pickup. The line lasted only from 1937-42, but the pickups built during that production run were small, affordable, simple, and handsome.

Related: 24 Timeless Jeeps Everybody Still Loves

Power Wagon WM-300. This model was sold into the mid-1960s
Power Wagon WM-300. This model was sold into the mid-1960s by dave_7 (CC BY-SA)

1946 Dodge Power Wagon

Dodge had been building military vehicles for the Army since the 1930s, but in 1946, Dodge unveiled the first American civilian truck with four-wheel drive. Like the flathead V8 before it, the introduction of the Dodge Power Wagon represented a watershed moment in the history of American trucks.

1947 Chevy 3100 Pickup Truck in Dayglo Green
1947 Chevy 3100 Pickup Truck in Dayglo Green by crudmucosa (CC BY)

1947 Chevy 3100

On looks alone, the ’47 Chevy 3100 just might be the most quintessential American pickup truck ever built. Part of Chevrolet’s Advance Design series, the 3100 was a half-ton truck that is still instantly recognizable for its stylish cab-over fenders and long, thin, sloping hood.

1952 Dodge B series
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Dodge B Series

Like the Dodge Power Wagon, the Dodge B Series — first unveiled in 1948 — was the result of a major leap forward in automotive innovation that accompanied the post-war economic boom. The B-Series offered features never seen before on pickup trucks and a brand new cab design. Known as the “pilot house,” the cab featured larger windows, dramatically increased visibility, and fewer blind spots.

Related: 37 Classic Car Design Features You Don’t See Anymore

Chevrolet Cameo Carrier
Chevrolet Cameo Carrier by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

Chevrolet Cameo Carrier

Although its short-lived run only lasted from 1955-58, the Chevy Cameo Carrier was ahead of its time in terms of both function and form. It sported a stylish, two-tone design with features common to both cars and trucks that others — like the Dodge Sweptside — would parrot in the coming decade. It came with an automatic transmission and a powerful V8 engine, as well as fiberglass panels and chrome-plated tail lights.

1956 Ford F-100
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1956 Ford F-100

The Ford F-Series second generation ran from 1953-1956, but in its final year of production, something happened that set the 1956 F-100 apart. That year, Ford offered a full wraparound windshield both in the front and back that gave the already good-looking pickup a one-of-a-kind bubble-like appearance.

1958 International Harvester A-120 Travelette 4x4
1958 International Harvester A-120 Travelette 4x4 by Waxel61 - (CC BY-SA)

International Harvester Travelette

By 1957, scores of Americans were flooding the rapidly expanding suburbs and more, and more of them were taking on pickups as their vehicle of choice. Responding to the rising demand for trucks as non-work vehicles, International Harvester changed the game with the passenger-friendly Travelette. Originally made with three doors — it would soon add a fourth — it was the first truck with a crew cab.

Dodge D100 Sweptside
Dodge D100 Sweptside by Alden Jewell (CC BY)

1957-1959 Dodge D100 Sweptside

In the late ’50s, the Dodge D100 Sweptside garnered no neutral opinions — depending on the perspective of whoever saw one, it was either the greatest thing ever built or the ugliest thing on the road. Dodge pilfered the huge tailfins from its station wagon of the same model year and dropped them onto the rear of this one-of-a-kind pickup, which came in a variety of starkly contrasting colors, most notably white and cherry red. It didn’t sell well in its day, but modern collectors consider it to have been ahead of its time in both looks and performance.

Related: 25 Ugly Cars That Never Should Have Left the Assembly Line

1983 Dodge Ram D150 shortbed
1983 Dodge Ram D150 shortbed by Slant6guy (CC BY-SA)

Dodge D-Series

First unveiled in 1961, the Dodge D-Series would enjoy a 30-plus year production run into the early ’90s. They were bigger and more robust than Dodge trucks that came before and they were available with several options for people who used them as work trucks — but the D-Series was also marketed to the masses. In 1971, Dodge introduced the D-Series “lifestyle” trucks. Marketed to vacationers who towed boats and trailers, lifestyle D-Series trucks were powerful, comfortable, and easy to drive.

Bigfoot #1, with Jim Kramer. May 12, 2009
Bigfoot #1, with Jim Kramer. May 12, 2009 by BigfootFan (CC BY-SA)

Ford F-250 ‘Highboy’

Although “Highboy” is not an official Ford model name, that’s the term that stuck with the 4x4 F-250 that Ford produced between 1967-77 — and for good reason. They came standard with 31-inch tires, but the Highboy’s jacked-up suspension allowed drivers to swap those out for 35-inch tires with no modification needed.

1967 GMC C/K
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Second-Generation Chevrolet C/K

Chevy’s full-size C/K series ran from 1960 through 1999, making it one of America’s longest-running production vehicles. In 1967, the C/K entered its second generation with a major design overhaul that transformed the truck into what people expected pickups to look like from that point forward. Just as the 1947 Chevy 3100 defined the look of postwar pickups, thesecond-gen C/K set the bar for aesthetics moving into the modern era.

Chevrolet El Camino SS 454 LS6
Chevrolet El Camino SS 454 LS6 by Bryce Edwards (CC BY)

1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 454 LS6

Some traditionalists may stop reading here because an El Camino is not technically a truck. It does, however, have an open bed in the rear behind an enclosed cab in the front, which makes it truck-ey enough for casual purposes, provided it has something that makes it worthy of the discussion. For the 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 454 LS6, that something is 450 horsepower — probably more — created by a 454-cubic-inch, 7.4-liter V8 engine. That kind of power makes it one of the greatest American muscle cars and greatest trucks (sort of) of all time at the same time.

Related: Muscle Memories: 15 Ford Cars That Defined a Generation

Dodge 100 Club Cab Pick-Up
Dodge 100 Club Cab Pick-Up by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

1972 Dodge Club Cab

Today’s extended-cab trucks can all trace their lineage to 1972, the year that Dodge unveiled the Club Cab. It was a major innovation in terms of pickups as passenger vehicles. It allowed more people to ride in more comfortable conditions and store more cargo in the safety of a locked interior.

1978 Bronco Custom
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Second Generation Ford Bronco

One of the greatest and most beloved American trucks ever built, the Ford Bronco ran for three decades from 1966-96 — and Bronco fans recently rejoiced when Ford announced an upcoming reboot. For many Bronco aficionados, the first generation wasn’t quite there yet, and the third focused too much on highway travel and strayed from the Bronco’s rugged roots. Released in 1977 for model year 1978, the second generation Bronco came with a removable hardtop and a back window that rolled down into the rear door. It remains the most iconic of all the Broncos that came before and since.

Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck
Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

1978-1979 Dodge Li'l Red Express

By the end of the 1970s, the muscle car era was coming to an end as new regulations, soaring gas prices, and rapidly rising insurance rates forced automakers to build vehicles with fuel economy and safety in mind. For one year at the end of the decade, however, Dodge went the other way. The Li’l Red Express was a brick-shaped beast said to launch from 0-100 mph faster than any American vehicle on the road at the time. Because new regulations largely excluded medium-duty trucks, Dodge was able to sneak in features like vertical big-rig exhaust stacks and a cold-air induction 360-cubic-inch V-8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor that could generate 225 horsepower — and no catalytic converter.

Related: 43 Most Over-the-Top Trucks You Can Buy

Jeep Gladiator
FCA US LLC.

Jeep Gladiator

First released in model year 1963, the Jeep Gladiator pickup looked like a Wagoneer from the front. Jeep’s first true pickup, the Gladiator became the J-Series starting in 1971, a name it kept until 1987. In mid-2019, however, the Gladiator was back in all its glory, only this time it looks more like a Wrangler in the front and now sports four doors. It’s packed with all the features and rugged, off-road durability that Jeep has long been known for with the added benefit of a pickup bed in the back.

Related: 15 Classic Car Models That Were Resurrected

Jeep Scrambler
Jeep Scrambler by CZmarlin (CC BY)

Jeep Scrambler

In 1981, five years after the introduction of the CJ-7, Jeep unveiled the CJ-8, known both on the road and off as the Jeep Scrambler. It had a longer wheelbase than the CJ-7 and was immediately identifiable by its removable half cab. That one-of-a-kind feature made it look like a tough and rugged little pickup, even though it didn’t actually have a separate bed in the back.

1988 Jeep Comanche Laredo
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Jeep Comanche

The last truck that Jeep produced before the re-introduction of the Gladiator was the Comanche, a famously reliable pickup that won several international speed competitions. The first pickup with a unibody and a removable bed, its production run lasted for seven years between 1985-92. Unlike most vehicles, which usually don’t become collector’s items for decades, used Comanche prices are already on the rise as demand for the beloved truck soars.

1989 Dodge Ram
1989 Dodge Ram by Scheinwerfermann (CC BY-SA)

1989 Dodge Ram Cummins Turbo-Diesel

Despite its historic contributions, Dodge was more or less an afterthought in the 1980s truck market. That all changed in 1989 when Dodge dropped a gigantic Cummins turbo-diesel engine previously reserved for big-rigs and tractors into a D-Series pickup. These direct-injection straight-six powered pickups were far more powerful and advanced than any competitor’s diesel offerings. Although it only delivered 160 horsepower, it created 400 lb-ft of torque at just 1,700 rpm, an advancement that brought towing into the modern era. Today, turbo-diesel power is the gold standard for heavy-duty trucks.

1991 GMC Syclone
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1991-92 GMC Syclone

A bona fide muscle truck, the GMC Syclone was a low-production, short-lived beast of a vehicle that produced more horsepower than that year’s newest V8 Corvette. Officially, the turbocharged Syclone cranked out 280 horses, but it’s believed that GMC actually understated the engine’s power to make it less kryptonite-ish to insurance companies.

Related: 19 Cars Your Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Buy

Hummer H1
Sjo/istockphoto

Hummer H1

Like the original Jeep, the Hummer H1 was born from combat. Based on the military’s Humvee platform, the Hummer hit civilian streets in 1992. Massive, macho, and frequently maligned, the original Hummer was an unmistakable site when drivers first saw the towering, boxy trucks looming over them on their morning commute. Its original and most prominent fanboy was none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Related: 19 Awe-Inspiring Military Vehicles

F-150 SVT Raptor
F-150 SVT Raptor by NaBUru38 (CC BY-SA)

Ford SVT F-150 Lightning

Ford originally unveiled the high-performance SVT F-150 Lightning in 1993 as a regular-cab, two-wheel-drive pickup powered by a 240-horsepower, 5.8-liter V8 that could do 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. Production stopped in 1995 only to return four years later in ’99, but this time, the hot-rod truck was even more powerful and took only 5.8 seconds to vault from a standstill to 60 mph. By 2001, the Lightning’s supercharged V8 could generate a massive 380 horsepower, more than any production vehicle sold in America that year.

2020 Ford F-450
The Ford Motor Company

Ford F-Series Super Duty

The Super Duty concept has a long legacy in Ford history — the name first appeared in 1960 and was included in the F-Series in 1987. In model year 1999, however, Ford Super Duty became its own unique line. Success was instant and the F-250, F-350, and F-450 remain among the most highly coveted work trucks in America.

2005 Dodge Ram Srt-10
2005 Dodge Ram Srt-10 by Eddie Ford (CC BY)

2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10

In 2004, Dodge decided to see what would happen if they dropped a Viper engine into a pickup truck. What happened was the Dodge Ram SRT019, a regular cab Ram 1500 powered by an 8.3-liter 510-horsepower V10 Viper engine that could do 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. All that power was regulated by a six-speed manual transmission.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado
2020 Chevrolet Silverado by General Motors (CC BY-SA)

Chevrolet Silverado

The immensely popular Chevy Silverado takes its name from a trim package that was once available on both the Chevy C/K and the GMC Suburban. In 1999, the Silverado — which, in terms of performance and mechanical makeup is virtually identical to the GMC Sierra — emerged as its own model line. It’s currently in its third generation.

Ford Ranger
Ford Motor Company

Ford Ranger

In 1983, Ford replaced the Courier — which was essentially a rebadged Mazda — with the Ranger in an effort to stave off a relentless flood of small Japanese pickups streaming into the United States. Nearly 30 years later, the little pickup is in production again and as popular as ever. After ending production in 2011, Ford revived the Ranger name for 2019. Although it’s currently the smallest offering in Ford’s truck lineup, it’s almost certain that the automaker will unveil a sub-Ranger compact pickup in the next year or so.

No. 7: Ram Pickup 1500 Class
FCA US LLC

Dodge Ram 1500

The Dodge Ram was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, but buyers are still taken with the previous model — including its waterproof and drainable RamBoxes in the sidewalls of the bed. Contractors tend to like the 74.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, around 3,000 pounds of payload capacity, and nearly 14,000 pounds of towing for different reasons. Motor Trend magazine named the Ram 1500 "Truck of the Year" in 2019, marking the sixth time a Ram truck has taken the honor. It also was named the No. 1 full-size pickup truck by U.S. News & World Report (though it slipped one position this year). And don't discount an older Ram if fuel economy is important to you — the 2013 Dodge RAM 1500 HFE also landed a spot on Instamotor's list of used trucks with great gas mileage.

2020 FORD F-150
The Ford Motor Company

Ford F-150

In the history of American trucks, there’s the Ford F-Series and there’s everything else. First launched in 1948, the F-Series has been the best-selling truck line in America for an astonishing 43 years straight and the most popular vehicles of any kind for 38 of those years. The jewel in the F-Series crown is the F-150. Unveiled in 1975 as a compromise between the underpowered F-100 and the gargantuan F-250, the F-150 remains the undisputed king of America’s roads and work sites.

Related: 16 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About America's Best-Selling Vehicle