Pickup truck

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Pickup truck

A pickup truck is a light duty truck having an enclosed cab and an open body with low sides and tailgate."[1] A coupé utility has a pickup truck like shape, but is car-sized. Full-size pickups in North America are sold as ½ Ton, ¾ Ton, 1 Ton, and now 1½ ton which originally indicated the maximum payload of the vehicle.

In Australia and New Zealand the term ute, short for "utility", refers to any pickup shaped vehicle regardless of size. The same is true for the South African term "bakkie".

1937 Plymouth PT-50 with step-style body, priced at US$525[2]
Chevrolet S-10 compact pickup


A 1928 Ford roadster pickup with step-style box or well-body
  • 1925: The first factory-assembled pickup was based on the Ford Model T car, with a modified rear body featuring a cargo box, adjustable tailgate, four stake pockets and heavy-duty rear springs.[3] Billed it as the "Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body," it sold for US$281. 34,000 were built.
  • 1928: the Model A replaced the Model T. It had the first closed-cab pickup and a safety glass windshield, roll-up side windows and three-speed transmission.
  • 1932: Ford Australia produced the first Australian "ute".[4]
  • 1960s-70s: popular compact pickups in the US include the Datsun Truck (Nissan Hardbody Truck, Toyota Hilux, Chevrolet LUV, Ford Courier and Dodge Ram 50.
  • 1976: Dodge Warlock appears in Dodge's "adult toys" line.
  • 1980s: the Mazda B-series, Isuzu Pup and Mitsubishi Mighty Max appeared. Subsequently, American manufacturers built their own small trucks for the US domestic market: the Ford Ranger, and the Chevrolet S-10. The first mid-size pickup was the Dodge Dakota, introduced in 1987 with V6 and V8 availability to distinguish it from the smaller compact trucks which generally offered only four-cylinder engines..
  • 2005: a new wave of midsize pickups was introduced, either as brand new nameplates (Chevy and GMC), or as an upgrade in size from the previous generation (Nissan and Toyota).
Ford Ranger mid-size pickup
Toyota Tundra full-size pickup


Most full-size trucks can carry at least 1,000 lb in the rear bed and a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Some have two rear wheels instead of one and are referred to as duallies.

Sport utility truck (SUT) is a marketing term for a vehicle deriving from an SUV or crossover with the distinction of four doors and an open bed similar to that of a pickup truck—suitable for light to heavy-duty capability, depending on the vehicle. Examples include the Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Honda Ridgeline, Hummer H2 SUT, SsangYong Musso Sports and SsangYong Actyon Sports.

Coupé utility is a variant of the well-body where the rear body (truck-like bed) is joined to the front body (usually a coupe, hence the name). Examples include the Chevrolet El Camino, Ford Ranchero, Dodge Rampage, Plymouth Scamp, Chevrolet SSR, Honda Ridgeline, Subaru BRAT, and Subaru Baja. Almost all Coupé pickup trucks have disappeared from countries around the world. However they are still popular in Latin America, South Africa, and Australia. examples are Holden Ute and Chevrolet Montana.

Cab styles[edit]

First four door crew cab pick-up truck manufactured. Built by International Harvester.
  • A regular cab has a single row of seats and a single set of doors, one on each side.
  • Extended or super cab pickups add an extra space behind the main seat, sometimes including small seats.
  • Crew cab: also known as a double cab, features seating for up to five or six people with a rear bench seat and two full-size front-hinged doors on both sides. The Toyota Stout had a full crew cab version in 1960,[5] and the Hino Briska was introduced in 1962. Dodge followed with its own factory built crew cab in 1963.[6] Ford introduced its crew cab in 1965 and General Motors in 1973.[7] Through the 1980s, most crew cab pickup trucks were sold as heavy-duty (34 and 1 ton) models intended for commercial use, and custom vehicle builders such as Centurion built light-duty crew cabs for the personal-use market. Nissan offered the first US-market compact crew cab pickup in 2000;[8] Ford, GM, Dodge, Nissan and Toyota all introduced their own compact and 12 ton crew cab models in the 2000s as demand grew.
  • Cab-forward: The first cab-forward pickup was the Volkswagen Transporter, introduced in 1952. 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. The Japanese embraced this design because of its high maneuverability on narrow streets and fields. The smallest 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.

Bed styles[edit]

Hudson truck with running board step-style side
  • Step: early pickups had step-style or well body cargo beds, enclosed on three sides with body panels placed inside the wheel wells, with a hinged rear tailgate at the rear. In the late 1950s, the Chevrolet Cameo Carrier and the Dodge Sweptline were introduced with smooth-side beds. In 1957, Ford offered a purpose-built "Styleside" bed with smooth sides and a full-width interior at little extra cost.
  • Standard: the most popular bed.
  • Drop-side: has a flat tray with hinged panels rising up on the sides and the rear.
  • Size: the standard bed is 6.5 ft (2.0 m) long. Some vehicles have very short beds such as the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, SsangYong Musso Sports, or Chevrolet Avalanche.

Production and use outside North America[edit]


In the 1990s, the popularity of pickup trucks in the Japanese Domestic Market decreased in favour of sport utility vehicles, and also due to increases in taxes. Models dropped include the Nissan Navara, Mazda B-Series and Toyota Hilux from their Japanese lineup. The NOx law prevents trucks from being imported to Japan. Only a few trucks are offered in Japan, such as the Mitsubishi Triton (classified as an SUV by the government) and the Toyota LiteAce.[9]


Pickup trucks are must be registered as commercial vehicles in mainland China. In 2010, 378,000 new pickups were sold, up 48% from 2009. Great Wall Motor is the largest pickup truck maker in the country, with the Great Wall Wingle continuing to top pickup sales charts.[10] In China the vehicle is known as 皮卡 píkǎ, a sound borrowing from the English pickup.


In 2011 893,988 pickup trucks were manufactured in Thailand while domestic sales reached 328,219 units. Sales of the one-ton pickup trucks during the same year had 42% of the total market share. Toyota was the top pickup truck seller, having sold 121,888 units of the Hilux Vigo, followed by the Isuzu D-Max with 113,884 units in second place and Mitsubishi Triton in third place with 40,523 units.[11]


The largest pickup market in Europe is Portugal.

In the United Kingdom pickups are gaining popularity. The biggest sellers in the UK are midsize trucks like the Nissan Navara and the Mitsubishi L200.

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Main article: ute (vehicle)

Latin America[edit]

Popular are the Ranger, Chevrolet S-10, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok), Dodge Ram,Chevrolet D-20, Chevrolet Montana, Volkswagen Saveiro and Fiat Strada. In many countries in Central America, especially in farming towns, owners of pickup trucks often replace the metal cargo bed with a custom made wooden bed so it's more easily repaired when subjected to abuse.

Volkswagen Saveiro built and developed in Brazil 
Brazilian-built and developed Chevrolet Montana 

South Africa[edit]

In South Africa pickups are commonly called "bakkies" ("bakkie": singular). This is derived from the diminutive of the Afrikaans term bak - literally a bowl. Early pickups dating from the 1940s were sedans with a cargo carrier bin, added almost as an afterthought. A popular assumption is that the word "bakkie" was derived from the English "buggy" (a two-wheeled horse-drawn cart used for light duty farmwork). The word "bakkie" is used by all language groups in South Africa.

Pickups are popular in South Africa, the Toyota Hilux has been the top selling vehicle in the country for decades. Other popular types are the Isuzu KB series, the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50 and Nissan Navara (new Hardbody). Since 2011 the Volkswagen Amarok is a newcomer to the market. Larger types such as the Land Rover and the Toyota Landcruiser are also popular for the serious 4x4 user. The large end of the market is represented only by the Ford F250 which is available in limited numbers as a specially imported model.

Small "half-ton" pickups such as the Ford Bantam, originally a locally designed model based on the Ford Escort and later the Mazda 323, but now a Brazilian-designed Ford Fiesta are also popular. The Volkswagen Caddy, Datsun/Nissan 1400 Champ (discontinued due to emissions control problems, with 275,000 sold and replaced from 2009 by the Nissan NP200), the Opel Corsa and Fiat Strada are also popular.

Tata and Mahindra from India as well as various Chinese brands have entered the cheaper end of the market since the easing of import restrictions in South Africa.

Other uses[edit]

While pickups are commonly used by tradespeople all over the world, they are popular as personal transport in Australia, the United States, and Canada, where they share some of the image of the SUV and are commonly criticized on similar grounds.


Main article: Technical (vehicle)

Pickup trucks have been used as troop carriers in many parts of the world, especially in countries with few civilian roads or areas of very rough terrain. Pickup trucks have also been used as fighting vehicles, often equipped with a machine-gun mounted in the bed. These are known as technicals.

Pickup trucks have also been used as vehicles to ferry goods, or as utility vehicles.

Racing trucks[edit]

Pickup trucks have long been used in motor racing, especially trophy trucks in off-road races. Since its premiere in the US in 1995, NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series, has become one of its three national division alongside the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup, which both use cars; all three use the same spaceframe race chassis, while Camping World series entrants have a purpose-built truck body.

In Brazil, two racing series feature pickups. Pick-up Racing Brazil uses mid-size pickup trucks, such as Chevrolet S10, Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota. This series became known for being the first racing series in the world using only Compressed Natural Gas powered vehicles. The other series is DTM Pick-Up, with supermini-based pickups.

The United Kingdom has a Pickup Truck Racing series similar to a scaled-down version of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, built in the same fashion.

In the Czech Republic a Škoda Favorit/Felicia Pick-up was used in the Freestyle Championship. Cars were tuned by the MTX company from Pilsen.


Equipping pickup trucks with camper shells provides a small living space for camping without requiring a dedicated camper. Camper shells are usually not permanently attached to the pickup, allowing the truck to be used in an ordinary manner when not camping. They can also serve to create a weatherproof and more secure storage and transport space.

Slide-in truck campers, on the other hand, give a pickup truck the amenities of a small motorhome, but still allow the operator the option of removal and independent use of the vehicle.

Fire vehicle[edit]

Main article: Fire chief's vehicle

In the United States pick-up trucks have been used as response vehicles for fire chiefs, and also for fighting brush fires. These pickup trucks will mount emergency lights and sirens, and sport color schemes similar to the one used by fire trucks in the department. These pickup trucks are commonly fitted with a permanently mounted water tank, a gasoline-powered pump, and a hose reel. They also carry several axes, shovels, rakes, and portable water cans to enable firefighters to carry water to inaccessible areas in order to attack the fire.

Law enforcement[edit]

Main article: Police car

Pickup trucks have also been modified for use by local police agencies in areas where a cruiser is ill-suited for terrain requirements, such as in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest of the United States due to their mountainous environment and the Southeastern and Deep South of the United States due to the muddy conditions. The United States Border Patrol relies almost entirely on a fleet of SUVs and pickup trucks for use along the United States–Mexico border. Park rangers and park police officers often use them due to their off-road capabilities. Pickup trucks have also found a role in Search and Rescue operations, since they are designed to handle rugged terrain. Military Police officers often rely on pickup trucks and SUV type vehicles; typically, these are used in a perimeter security role for the base proper (administrative buildings, housing complexes, checkpoints, etc.).

In Guadalajara, Mexico, pick-ups are widely used by the police departments of the 5 municipalities, as they allow them to carry safely up to 6 policemen instead of the normal 2 that can fit inside a regular squad car.

The South African Police Service uses pickups extensively. They have an enclosed loadbed for transporting arrested persons as prisoners are seldom transported in police sedans.

Cultural significance[edit]

Old Ford pickup, used as a feed trough in southern Ontario.

In 2004, Democratic Senate candidate Ken Salazar campaigned with his green pickup truck; Salazar later won the election.[12] Even President George W. Bush was seen cruising around his Crawford, Texas ranch in a white Ford F-250 while vacationing, sometimes with foreign heads of state riding shotgun, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Texas is sometimes called the "land of pickup trucks[citation needed]", even charging lower taxes on pickup truck registration (agricultural use only) than on other types of vehicle registration.[13] Texans have 14% of the pickups in the U.S.,[14] and Dodge offers special editions of their pickup trucks, with names like "TEXAS EDITION" and "LONE STAR EDITION" (In 2002, Dodge was the first brand to unveil a Texas Edition pickup, though they were called "Lone Star Edition"; other brands followed suit), more commonly known as the "Big Horn" in other states. Many parts of the Deep South states and rural Mountain West states also have significant pickup truck cultures, high registration of pickup trucks, as well as tax cuts similar to those of Texas[citation needed] on pickups.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pickup". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  2. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (17 October 2007). "1937 Plymouth PT-50 Half-Ton Pickup". howstuffworks com. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "The History of Ford Pickups: The Model T Years 1925–1927". PickupTrucks.com. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  4. ^ "The Ute - Australia Innovates". Powerhouse Museum. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  5. ^ "Toyota Vehicle Identification Manual", Toyota Motor Corporation, Overseas Parts Department, Catalog No.97913-84, 1984, Japan
  6. ^ "Ram history page on Allpar". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  7. ^ "Chevrolet Avalanche press release". Archived from the original on 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  8. ^ "PickupTruck.com Nissan Frontier Review". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  9. ^ "LiteAce Truck". Toyota Japan. Retrieved 2013-01-12. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Chinese Pickup Truck Sales, Led by Great Wall Wingle, Surged 48% to 378,000 Units in 2010". ChinaAutoWeb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  11. ^ "www.proliance.co.th/presentation". Proliance Company Limited. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "salazarforcolorado.com". salazarforcolorado.com. Retrieved 2012-10-17. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Schedule Of Texas Registration Fees" (PDF). State of Texas. 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  14. ^ "Toyota Tundra sales outgrowing Ford, GM in Texas truck market". bloggingstocks. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2008-10-31. [dead link]