Looking at the mouth-watering choices on offer from various truck dealerships in Phoenix, you can’t help but marvel at the evolution of these range of vehicles. One short century later, the contrast between early pickups and the current models is nothing short of astonishing.
From humble beginnings, the American pickup truck has become a bludgeoning success in the 21st century. Today, it’s estimated that pickup trucks comprise 15 percent of the cars sold across the United States.
Just how did trucks manage to steal the heart of the American consumer and become one of the essential vehicles in the country?
The popularity of the pickup trucks began at the turn of the 20th century, but it wasn’t until the conclusion of the first world war that things really perked up. The substantial economic growth that followed saw the rise of Henry Ford with his legendary Ford pickups.
The legendary car manufacturer based the first pickup truck off the trucks used to ferry soldiers during the war. Only that was able to redesign them with a civilian user in mind. He did so by incorporating a pickup bed into the world-famous Model T, creating the first Model TT in 1917.
That move proved to be a masterstroke, and Model TT became an instant hit with the consumer. By 1928, the company had sold a whopping 1.3 million trucks, up from measly 209 units in 1917.
During this time, other truck makers, including Chevrolet and Dodge, had joined the market, feeding off the frenzy for civilian trucks.
A collaborative effort
Chevrolet joined the race for pickup customers in 1918 by releasing the Model 490. The truck consisted of a standard chassis on which a bed could be attached. That gave the customer the option of shopping for a bed from an outside manufacturer, a trend that quickly caught on the market.
Thanks to the Dodge brothers, the world was introduced to the one-and-a-half-ton pick-up truck in 1921. These brothers went on to create their first civilian truck in 1925 before Chrysler acquired them in 1928.
The company went to cement its place in the motoring industry by releasing the half-ton pickup. The half-ton models came with a choice of three engines, four-wheel hydraulic brakes and, upgraded safety features.
The need to have a say in the truck sector led to the manufacture of the half-ton, which went on to become the industry standard. The earlier launch of Model T Runabout by Ford in 1925, may have helped to set the stage as well.
Evolution of utility cars
Surprisingly, you have the Australians to thank for the rise of the utility cars. An Australian farmer’s wife wrote to Ford asking them to build a vehicle that was handy on the farm but classy enough for attending church services.
The car manufacturer responded by fitting a pick-up bed at the back of a Ford Couple. The coupe utility vehicle that result was released on the market in 1934 and is the front runner to the popular F-series that double up as both a family and utility vehicle.