Pickup trucks are crucial workhorses that drive the American small, medium and large businesses alike.
They are actually more than that as revolutionary pickups have stepped out of their comfort zones and rediscovered the purposes that were unknown to them before. There was the number one truck in every single one of these new segments. Here are the most revolutionary trucks ever to have graced the American pavements and back roads alike.
First pickup truck
Ford Model T Runabout with pickup body
To date, this remains one of the most important and revolutionary pickups ever made. After all, this was the first small truck offered to the general population back in 1925. Until then, the only hauling choices were massive, slow trucks or carriages in more remote areas. Blue Oval obviously has a long history of making the most popular and best-sold pickups, and it all stems from the good old Model T. Runabout with pickup body was available in black in true Model T fashion of the time, but it was also offered in green. 56 by 40 inches bed wasn’t exactly large by today’s standards but it helped many farmers and small business owners regardless.
First light-duty 4WD pickup
Willys Jeep Pickup
Considering all the experience they had with Willys MB and later with Willys CJ-2A, it’s no wonder Willys-Overland Motors produced the first small 4WD pickup truck. Light-duty 4WD pickup wasn’t the unknown by the time Willys introduced their pickup, but other pickup truck players required the assistance from the third party manufacturers whereas Willys had them factory-made. One ton pickup was initially offered with 63-horsepower Go-Devil four cylinder engine which subsequently turned into 72-horsepower Hurricane engine. Later still, Willys pickup came with even stronger Super Hurricane and Tornado straight sixes.
First compact truck
Compact pickup trucks don’t account for as huge chunk of the market as they did in seventies and eighties, but there was the time when they didn’t exist whatsoever. Datsun was the first to figure that out and they decided to remedy the situation by converting their 1000 sedan into compact truck. The result were the Datsun 120 and 220 pickups with anemic yet highly efficient 4-cylinder engines with power outputs between 25 and 60 horses. Datsun 120/220 were able to tow small cargos at much less expense than their full-size counterparts, thus revolutionizing the pickup segment.
First fleetside bed pickup
1957 Chevrolet Cameo[/caption] There’s more to Chevy Cameo than just the first fleetside bed. It was the first pickup to accommodate then new 265ci small-block V8, and it was basically the El Camino’s predecessor. Small-block engine survives to date, and so does the fleetside bed design. In fact, very few trucks after the Cameo featured the stepside beds which testifies a great deal about Cameo’s innovative status at the time.
First crew cab pickup
International Harvester Travelette
No pickup truck until then offered the crew cab configuration. International Harvester Travelette was the first, although it used three-door config between ’57 and ’61. After the full redesign in 1961, C-Series-based Travelette became the first American 4-door, 6-passenger, 4WD pickup truck. Travelette’s work duty crew cab concept would remain intact until the nineties when most pickups in the market finally received it as an option. Travelette isn’t one of the most revolutionary pickups of its era for nothing, after all.
First car-based pickup
Innovative beyond comprehension at the time – Ford Ranchero is somewhat unappreciated today, especially compared to Chevy El Camino. Still, it remains the very first car-based pickup ever made and can be considered a design inspiration for all car-like trucks in the years that followed. It was full-size, compact and finally mid-size truck where it finally fulfilled its potential by being based on Ford Fairlane. Ranchero’s concept is something that current pickup truck market clearly lacks, but we’d still be surprised to see it make a comeback.
First independent front suspension pickup
First Generation Chevrolet/GMC C/K Pickup
Although all of these are revolutionary pickups, there are very few that have revolutionized the segment as the first gen Chevy/GMC C/K trucks. There were many firsts involved with them, but most notable is their independent front suspension which allowed for almost car-like driving mechanics to what’s traditionally a truck. Pretty much every single one of their competitors saw the advantage of the independent suspension and all domestic trucks had one by the mid-sixties. That speaks volumes about the first gen Chevy/GMC C/K pickups by itself.
Read more: 15 Of The Most Revolutionary Pickups Ever Made (Part Two)