Mapping the evolution of the pickup illustrates just how much we as people and as a society have changed. Ever since Henry Ford introduced the first pickup by modifying his 1917 Ford Model T Runabout with a convertible roof and a bare frame from the cab back, manufacturers have adjusted, toyed with, and manipulated the idea of what a pickup is and what it can be.
As evolution has carried the pickup through its journey of time, we have noticed a trail of physical change. Just as technology has taken the pickup through segments of change in both style and function, we have learned to appreciate the designs and styles of the past that have evolved into today's current late models.
We are seeing the early model pickups coming into the spotlight as the price of late-model pickups and SUVs seems to rise along with gas prices. An effect that is making early model pickups more and more attractive to custom truck enthusiasts.
When committing to a late-model project, the initial cost is a major hit. Then to break it down and customize it with suspension, wheels, tires, an interior, audio, body mods, paint, and so on will cost more than the initial investment of the vehicle. Plus, the resale value would not be very profitable.
Early model pickups range from late the 1920s to 1972. We have witnessed four waves of early model pickups, offered in either stock, mild, or wild custom form. Each generation put its own signature on the styling and customizing concepts of its pickups.
A pickup's styling trend seems to last a decade before falling into the norm pool. What was new yesterday is old today. It seems we have been running with the same years and models for years. That might be changing. We are noticing that some of the unpopular models of years past have stepped up into the spotlight. Who would have thought five years ago we would be salivating over a '66 Ford F-150 or a '62 Chevy C10? They've always been there for the pickin's, but we as custom enthusiasts were stuck in the stagnant muck inside the box. Once someone stepped outside the box and customized one of these-at the time ugly ducklings-they became accepted among enthusiasts as one of the hottest new models. And for those who jumped on the idea early and were able to get a pink slip cheap, they reaped the benefits as prices began to climb and climb with the new demand. It seems this dilemma has continued as far as up into the '70s and even '80s. The early model envelope is being stretched. Have you seen Truckin's Feature Editor Travis Noack's sick C10 "Red Rocker"?
As we have been out cruisin' this year's show scene, we are seeing a changing of the guard. A new generation of early model trucks has arrived. Beware.