History of The Pickup Truck
The pickup truck initially emerged as a daily utilitarian workhorse with few
comforts. It was known for its durability and dependability under the harshest
of conditions. Since the 1960s, the pickup also has become a status symbol among
young drivers, and has evolved under some manufacturers as a comfortable, richly
appointed luxury vehicle.
Modern technology has made the pickup lighter, stronger and more fuel
efficient, with the average wheelbase of a 2009 truck being 126 inches. Options
of 4.6- and 5.4-liter V-8 engines are available.
Pickup cab styles
Pickup trucks have been produced with a number of different configurations or
A standard cab pickup has a single row of seats and a single set of
doors, one on each side. Most pickups have a front bench seat that can be used
by three people, however within the last few decades, various manufacturers have
begun to offer individual seats as standard equipment.
Extended or super cab pickups add an extra space behind the main
seat. This is normally accessed by reclining the front bench back, but recent
extended cab pickups have featured
suicide doors on one or both sides for access. The original extended cab
trucks used simple side-facing "jump seats" that could fold into the walls, but
modern super cab trucks usually have a full bench in the back. Toyota offered a
version of the with two doors (one each side) and two full
width bench seats to hold 6 people in 1954. Dodge introduced the Club Cab
in 1973. Ford followed with the SuperCab concept on their 1974 F-100. In 1977
Datsun introduced the first minitruck with extended cab, their King Cab.
GM, oddly enough, did not offer one on their full-size pickups until 1988. The
S-Series(Chevrolet S-10/GMC S-15) pickups has extended cab models in 1983.
A true four-door pickup is a crew cab, double cab, dual cab
or quad cab. It features seating for up to five or six people on two full
benches and full-size front-hinged doors on both sides. Most crew cab pickups
have a shorter bed or box to reduce their overall length.
International was the first to introduce
a crew cab pickup in 1957, followed by Ford with their 1965 F-250 (short bed)
and F-350 (long bed), Dodge in the same era, and Chevrolet followed with their
1973 C/K. The Toyota Stout had a full crew cab version in 1960.
Other Japanese makes offered crew cab versions of their pick-ups from the
Four-door compact pickup trucks are quite in vogue outside North
America, due to their increased passenger space and versatility in carrying
non-rugged cargo. In the United States and Canada,
however, four-door compact trucks have been very slow to catch on and are still
quite rare. In recent years seat belt laws, requirements of insurance companies
and fear of litigation have increased the demand for four door trucks which
provide a safety belt for each passenger. Mexican
four-door compact pickups are quite popular.
A cab-forward pickup is derived from a cab-forward van where the driver
sits atop the front axle. The first cab-forward pickup was the
Volkswagen Transporter which was introduced in
1952. It had a drop-side bed which aided in loading and unloading. American,
British, and Japanese manufacturers followed in the late 1950s and 1960s.
American manufacturers adopted this design only later, most notably on the
1956-1965 Jeep Forward Control and the first
generation Ford Econoline, Chevrolet Corvair Rampside and
Loadside pickups, and Dodge A-100.
While this configuration remains popular for large commercial trucks and buses,
it is largely regarded as unsafe in smaller vehicles due to the lack of a
crumple zone. In the event of a frontal impact, there is nothing in front of the
passenger cabin to absorb the force of impact, thus crushing the entire front of
the vehicle, occupants included. There have been many accidents in Europe
involving large trucks where the cabin was crushed when rear-ending another
truck at high speed in conditions with heavy fog. They remain popular due to
unimpeded forward visibility and flexible maneuverability, but have largely
fallen into disuse in the United States with the exception of purpose-built
school and transit buses, as well as garbage and fire trucks.
The Japanese embraced this design because of its high maneuverability on narrow
streets and fields. The smallest ones are 360/550/660 cc Kei trucks
based on microvans from Daihatsu, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan,
Subaru and Suzuki where the statutory limitation on length makes
a short cab necessary.
Pickup bed styles
Full-size pickup trucks are generally available with several different types of
beds attached. The provided lengths typically specify the distance between the
inside of the front end of the bed and the closed tailgate; note that these
values are approximate and different manufacturers produce beds of slightly
Most compact truck beds are approximately 50 in (1,270 mm) wide, and most
full-size are between 60 in (1,524 mm) and 70 in (1,778 mm) wide, generally
48 in (1,219 mm) or slightly over between the wheel wells (minimum width).
The short bed is by far the most popular type of pickup truck bed.
Compact truck short beds are generally 6 ft (1.8 m) long and full-size beds are
generally 6.5 ft (2.0 m) long. These beds offer significant load-hauling
versatility, but are not long enough to be difficult to drive or park.
The long bed is usually a foot or two longer than the short bed and is
more popular on trucks of primarily utilitarian employ (for example, commercial
work trucks or farm trucks). Compact long beds are generally 7 ft (2.1 m) long
and full-size long beds are generally 8 ft (2.4 m) long. Full-size long beds
offer the advantage of carrying a standard-size 4 ft×8 ft sheet of
plywood with the tailgate closed.
Sport utility truck
As mentioned above, some compact four-door pickup trucks are equipped with
very short beds or super short beds. They are usually based on
sport utility vehicles, and the bed is
attached behind the rear seats. The Ford Explorer Sport Trac< is an example
of this, as is the Ssangyong Musso Sport. Early very short bed trucks had only a regular cab.
Most pickup truck beds have side panels positioned outside the wheel wells.
Conversely, step-side truck beds have side panels inside the wheel wells.
Pickup trucks were commonly equipped with step-side beds until the 1950s, when
General Motors Chevrolet Cameo
Carrier and GMC Suburban Carrier
and Chrysler Dodge Sweptside
introduced smooth-side pickup beds as expensive, low-production options. These
smooth side panels were cosmetic additions over a narrow step-side bed interior.
In 1957, Ford offered a purpose-built "Styleside" bed with smooth sides and a
full-width interior at little extra cost. Most manufacturers followed and
switched to a straight bed, which offer slightly more interior space than
step-side beds, and due to better aerodynamics, tend to produce less wind noise
at highway speeds. Step-side beds do have the added advantage of a completely
rectangular interior, although most modern trucks with a step-side bed are that
way purely for styling.
General Motors calls the step-side
option sportside, while
Ford Motor Company dubs it flareside.
Another common designation until recently was "thriftside," so named for its