Meet the classic trucks that started it all.
Classic trucks aren’t always the talk of the town at car shows, but things are changing. Vintage trucks may not turn heads like the Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger, but they hold their value well. For decades, classic trucks have delivered on power, strength, and capability despite the need for bigger and better.
And as an ode to all the grandparents out there who spent their years behind the wheel of these great monoliths, we’re highlighting classic trucks that personify a generation defined by hard work.
The Chevrolet 3100 came about after WWII. It was the first redesign of the classic Chevy pickup post-war and was marketed as a larger, stronger, and sleeker pickup. The 3100 came in three sizes: half, three quarter, and full ton. All of which were offered on both short and long wheelbases.
The same basic design was used for 3100s throughout its time in production, as well as in the early Suburban designs, too. GMC also rebranded this vehicle under a different name and sold it as their own as part of their partnership with Chevrolet. This redesign led Chevy to the #1 spot in truck sales during this time and still to this day, the Chevrolet 3100 models receive respect wherever they go.
Ford Broncos have been revered for their durability and ruggedness since they first rolled off the production line. Though some may not qualify the Bronco as a truck, the 2-door pickup and roadster models give it the essence of a truck.
The Bronco was originally developed as a direct competitor for other off-road vehicles like the Jeep CJ-5 but fell somewhere near a sports-utility vehicle. Though the Bronco’s design was simple, Ford offered optional features like a tow bar, snowplow, winch, and posthole digger for those who needed to get their hands dirty. Not only did Broncos deliver when the work got tough, but it also proved to be a smoother ride than any other 4X4 off-road vehicle at the time.
The partnership between GMC and Chevrolet at the time led to GMC’s classic truck taking on many names including C/K 1500, the Chevy C/K 10 and C/K 20, the Chevy Apache, Viking, and Spartan. Though we don’t see these designations today, the C in the name represented 2-wheel drive, while the K stood for 4-wheel drive.
The first-generation C/Ks offered light, medium, and heavy-duty pickups all with different capabilities from 1.5 ton and on. With the second-generation, GMC began considering more than just the truck’s power. GMC focused on delivering comfort and convenience. With upgrades to the insulation, interior aesthetics, and exterior design, the C/K delivered little luxuries to truck drivers that hadn’t been seen before.
As the years went by, the front grille would change several times to differentiate it from its counterpart, the Chevy C-Series. Other features would change to provide a smoother, more powerful ride including the suspension, brakes, and engine. The GMC C/K Series, though quite like the Chevy C-Series, helped diversify the truck market of the past and the future.
The Ford F-Series we know today spent decades in production fine-tuning its design and capabilities. Classic F-Series trucks were the beginning of Ford’s domination in the truck industry for good reason. Ford continued to innovate and improve upon their beloved pickups in several ways.
The second-generation F-Series was the beginning of three model numbers that Ford still uses today: F-100 the half-ton truck, F-250 the ¾ ton truck, and F-350 the one-ton truck. Each generation until 1966 offered more and more to truck drivers with new designs, dimensions, and features. By the fourth generation F-Series, the designs had changed nearly every three years and still convinced drivers to get behind the wheel regardless of what each model had to offer.
And that level of innovation is how Ford became the number one seller of pickup trucks.
The D-Series is Dodge’s equivalent to Ford’s F-Series. The D-100, D-200, and D-300 pickups were unique in that their redesigns were mild. With slightly wider tailgates, two headlight options, a new grille, and an engine update for the second generation, Dodge kept everything else about the D-Series relatively the same throughout its lifespan.
Dodge did offer a variety of “custom” packages. The Custom Sports and High-Performance Package was the first performance package for the D-Series that would later be replaced by the Adventurer trimlines. These upgrades included racing stripes, automatic transmissions, wood-grain accents, and more. Dodge also offered The Dude Sport Trim package during the 1970 and 1971 model years which included extra decals, details, and a “The Dude” badge emblazoned on the truck.
By the time the third-gen D-Series came around, Dodge redesigned the body style once more and would finally rebadge the D-Series into the Dodge Ram trucks we know today.
The nostalgia of these trucks alone brings back memories of days spent on farms, ranches, and long stretches of highway after a long day of work. They may not be muscle cars, but they sure capture the attention of generations before us and hopefully generations to come. May our future trucks be just as classy, capable, and remembered.
What classic truck is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!