When Was the First Pickup Truck Built?

by Rob Wagner

The first pickup truck can trace its roots to the turn of the 20th century when farmers modified horseless carriages for heavy work. These were not trucks as defined today. Even when the Model T debuted in 1908 and was quickly chopped to provide a cargo bed, it was not considered a formal truck, which emerged more than a decade later.

History

Ford Model T Runabout pickup truck.

The first factory-produced pickup was a Ford Model T Runabout with a cargo bed in the rear. Although it debuted in April 1925, many Model Ts had already been converted by owners to pickup truck use by 1918. Companies employing horse-drawn wagons to deliver goods and haul waste material recognized by World War I that motorized vehicles were a permanent fixture and were much cheaper to maintain than horses, thus paving the way for future mass production.

Significance

A Ford Hercules pickup truck originally built as a passenger car.

The pickup put the final nail in the coffin of the horse-drawn wagon and has served since then as the world's most-common motorized workhorse and family passenger vehicle.

Function

A 1928 Chevrolet pickup truck, which also began life as a passenger car.

The World War I-era pickup truck was a utilitarian, no-frills vehicle manufactured for the sole purpose of hauling goods from one place to another.

Types

A 1929 Dodge Merchants Express pickup.

While Ford pioneered the factory-produced pickup, Dodge marketed an upscale but tough pickup-style vehicle that saw work in World War I as cargo trucks, ambulances and light repair trucks.

Features

A 1923 Studebaker modied as a pickup truck.

The 1925 Ford pickup was equipped with a front mat, jack, tire pump and a tool kit containing a screwdriver, tire iron, monkey wrench, spark plug wrench, end wrench and hub cap wrench.

Size

The 1925 Ford pickup truck featured an L-head, 4-cylinder engine that generated 20 horsepower on a 100-inch wheelbase.

Fun Fact

Although Ford offered more popular trucks, Dodge was more innovative, offering its Screenside Commercial vehicle that was basically a truck with safety screens on the side and built on a car chassis with a rated 1,000-pound payload capacity.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation