Pick-ups are widely regarded as a symbol of the “Land of Liberty”. Among the many vehicles on the roads, they are by far the closest ones to the horses used to conquer America. And just like horses, they are suitable for transport but also for the needs of the countryside and life out in the open. Almost immediately these small vans – half car and half truck – appeared on the US market, but their unmistakable charm manifested itself fully at the beginning of the post-war period.
The three large American groups have produced millions of these vehicles, often saving the name but changing the style completely along with the engine. The Ford S Series, a legendary object first launched in 1948 that everyone knows, has had infinite variations and improvements, including the introduction of the fascinating wooden models, the development of a more squared off shape in line with changing fashions and also more muscular versions with larger and more powerful engines.
At the start of the post-war period, the still antiquated-looking Dodge VC was transformed into a fascinating working vehicle in the 1950s, and from the beginning of the 1980s it made a leap in size and performance until becoming, with the RAM, an absolute monster complete with the powerful V10 from the Viper sports car. Crazy enough to leave half of the rear tyres on the street at every traffic light.
In terms of charm, Chevrolet is up there with the very best: launched in 1939, its Silverado pick-up, made even more charismatic with their steering wheels in the same colour as the body, was available in single or twin cabin version capable of satisfying every need. In short, for those looking for a modern-day horse, there is only one choice with prices that, in collecting terms, have risen sharply.
Just how much pick-ups are a part of everyday life in America – but not only there as we’ll see next week when we look at what Europe and the Far East have to offer – can be summed up by the scenes in the film “Cars”: the now elderly Smokey, a Hudson pick-up truck from 1939 and veteran of the Piston Cup, becomes a useful companion for Lightning McQueen while Dexter Hoover, unable to compete, becomes is a skilled race official and flag waver on the track.
Let’s face it: we’ve all been tempted by the thought of having a pick-up at some point in our lives. There’s still time…