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The Christmas Truck

Jesse McGraw

The classic red truck hauling a tree home has been a staple in Christmas decorations. Here’s some trucks that have assumed the mantle of Christmas truck.

A Christmas Classic in Many Forms

Ever seen that classic red truck that’s hauling a Christmas tree? I’m sure you have, because I’ve noticed it everywhere. That red Christmas truck shows up as ornaments, throw pillow designs, wall décor, scale models, and even in real life during Christmas parades with Old St. Nick behind the wheel.

Truck in miniature Christmas scene
Truck in miniature Christmas scene

The Christmas truck design just spurs this nostalgia of simpler times. Back when you went out and found your own tree, chopped it down, and brought it on home to the delight of the family. It sounds a lot more interesting than our new tradition of pulling the tree out of a box and building it out of metal and plastic.

So, what exactly is this truck we see everywhere on Christmas? Is it a Dodge? Chevy? Ford? Well, we sifted through the tons of different Christmas truck products available today and gathered a nice little bunch of different models that fit the bill. Let’s take a look at all the different classic truck models we found and, who knows, maybe you can fix up a life-size Christmas truck yourself for around this time next year!

Ford Model 50

1935 Ford Model 50 - carsforsale.com
1935 Ford Model 50 - carsforsale.com

First up is the classic Ford Model 50 pickup truck. While the Model A truck popped up occasionally, the Ford Model 50 design shows up multiple times as the red Christmas truck. The Model 50 first hit the market back in 1935 with an updated design to match cars of the time and one engine option, a Ford flathead V8 that made just 85 horsepower.

Chevrolet Half-Ton Pickup

1939 Chevrolet Half-Ton Pickup - carsforsale.com
1939 Chevrolet Half-Ton Pickup - carsforsale.com

Chevrolet, not to be outdone, also had an updated pickup following the Model 50’s release. Starting in 1938, Chevrolet released an updated pickup design commonly referred to as the classic Half-Ton. This was the first truck developed with the help of Chevy’s new Art and Color Department. Those swept fenders and side headlamps are iconic design points among many Christmas truck decorations.

Dodge Job-Rated Pickup

1946 Dodge WC pickup - carsforsale.com
1946 Dodge WC pickup - carsforsale.com

Another pre-war truck we commonly see hauling home a Christmas tree is the early Dodge Job-Rated pickups that ran from 1939-1947. While its aerodynamic design is similar to other trucks of the time, the front grille design is unique and is found in multiple decorative examples. Fun fact, the Dodge Job-Rated era was the first light duty pickup truck produced with available four-wheel-drive back in 1946. That’s pretty handy for hauling trees through snow, just saying.

Willys Jeep Truck

1954 Willys Jeep Truck - carsforsale.com
1954 Willys Jeep Truck - carsforsale.com

Following the success of the Willys Jeep during the war, Willys went into developing their battletested models for civilian use. One of the models that came about was the Willys Jeep Truck in 1947. The Jeep Truck was basically just a Willys Station Wagon with a truck bed instead of the extra seats. There are a few direct examples of the Willys Jeep Truck as the iconic red Christmas truck, but there’s also a few poorly designed ones that just happened to look like this model too.

Chevrolet 3100 Advance Design

1948 Chevrolet 3100 - carsforsale.com
1948 Chevrolet 3100 - carsforsale.com

The Chevrolet 3100 Advance Design is probably one of the most recognized classic trucks around. Starting in 1947, Chevy released this memorable truck with its horizontal 5-bar grille, more rounded profile, and headlights integrated into the fenders. This model also featured a fresh air heater and defroster system, which probably helped its notoriety as one of most common versions of the Christmas truck.

GMC Series 100 New Design

1948 GMC FC-101 - gmc.com
1948 GMC FC-101 - gmc.com

Now, anyone that knows cars knows that GMCs are basically repackaged Chevys with “better build quality” and fancy gimmicks. So, while the GMC Series 100 “New Design” pickup may just be a Chevy 3100 of the same year, that truck’s front is pretty distinct. Instead of the 5-bar on the Chevy, GMC’s truck features a 3-bar grille design with a “handlebar mustache” framing the area. It may be a minor difference, but there’s plenty of Christmas truck examples featuring this classic GMC grille.

Dodge B-Series Pickup

1949 Dodge B1-C-116 - carsforsale.com
1949 Dodge B1-C-116 - carsforsale.com

You may have seen some Christmas truck ornaments with a flat face and 3 silver bars, almost like they weren’t even trying that hard to be realistic. However, this was an actual classic truck design from Dodge starting back in 1948. The B-Series pickup were the first of the “Pilot-House” Dodge truck era. While the visibility and work ethic were great selling points, the truck was about as aerodynamic as a wall. The whole flat front assembly was composed of 3 bars over some vents for a grille and the headlights were housed within the same area rather than a part of the fender. Their design got a little nicer over time, but at least you know that those odd-looking Christmas trucks were supposed to look like that.

Ford F-100

1955 Ford F-100 - carsforsale.com
1955 Ford F-100 - carsforsale.com

While the previous F-series trucks have made appearances as the Christmas truck decoration, the original Ford F-100 is probably one of the best examples of the subject. The second generation Effies, as Ford enthusiasts lovingly call them, first hit the lots back in 1953. The horizontal grille that incorporated its large headlights is an unmistakable classic truck design. More often than not, you’ll witness the F-100 in its Christmas truck form with a white painted grille to match some snazzy white wall tires.

Chevrolet Task Force

1956 Chevrolet Apache - carsforsale.com
1956 Chevrolet Apache - carsforsale.com

Another generation of the Chevrolet pickup truck made the list, this time in the form of the Task Force generation. Back in 1955, Chevy updated their truck designs to the stylized Task Force models. The 5-bar grille design was replaced by an eggcrate grille, the body was more squared off with smooth edges, and the once pronounced fenders were pushed into the body of the vehicle. While the Chevy 3100 and Chevy Apache make a notable number of appearances as the Christmas truck, the earlier Advance Design trucks show up so much more.

Ford F-100 Redesign

1958 Ford F-100 - carsforsale.com
1958 Ford F-100 - carsforsale.com

Last on our list is a redesign of the F-100. Ford followed Chevy’s approach and in 1957 Ford integrated the fenders into the body and created more squared proportions for their truck. The horizontal grille design from the F-100 was expanded with and eggcrate design and quad headlights. The F-100 as a Christmas truck is commonly depicted carrying a Christmas tree while suiting it’s festive two tone red and white paint job.

No, That’s Not Quite All

Christmas truck ornament
Christmas truck ornament

You may be looking at your own little red Christmas truck and feel that it more closely resembles an old Volvo Sharpnose truck or even a brand new 2021 Ram 1500. Truthfully, this holiday design concept known as the Christmas truck wanders into so many different avenues that there’s too many to list. Heck, there’s even versions of non-trucks like Volkswagen Beetles and famous station wagons from Christmas movies that follow the same motif. If you’ve got a pretty nifty Christmas automotive decoration or have your very own life-sized Christmas truck, be sure to share it with us here at the Daily Driver!

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Jesse McGraw
Jesse McGraw

Jesse's life-long car obsession began when he started collecting Hot Wheels as a child. He’s constantly keeping up with the latest car news and diving deep into automotive history. His automotive journey began with a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, only recently replaced by an impeccable 2014 Kia Soul. You can find him modifying and racing cars in video games when he’s not playing paintball or writing about cars.

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