Truckin’ The American Pickup

The American Pickup: 1905 – 1980

November 3, 2007 – April 30, 2008

pic_truckin1Few things are more American than the pickup truck. Today it sits in suburban driveways, urban job sites and rural farmyards. It’s a true AUV, an “American utility vehicle.”

The pick up truck was born in America. It traces its genealogy back to the turn of the twentieth century, when the automobile was in its infancy and trucks were little more than heavy motorized freight wagons.

The first trucks, such as the Museum’s 1910 Schmidt, were purpose-built like freight wagons, with flat-bed bodies designed to haul freight and bulk loads. Soon enterprising manufacturers like International Harvester, already famous for producing farm implements, created a “utility vehicle” that could haul passengers or produce. Its 1907 Auto Buggy is a wagon-like highwheeled car with seats that can be removed to create a large rear cargo area. For the farmer, it marked the end of hay-powered transportation.

pic_truckin2The first production pickup trucks arrived in the 1920s. Prior that time, buyers who wanted a light-duty truck had two choices: buy a truck chassis and build a custom box or convert an existing car. Thousands of owners purchased commercially-manufactured kits that added a cargo box their Model T roadsters. However, in 1925, Ford debuted he first modern production pickup, a Model T Runabout with a factory-installed “pick up” box.

Early production trucks were utilitarian in design. Manufacturers updated their cars on a yearly basis to attract buyers, but paid little attention to their truck lines. The situation began to change in the1930s as car and truck styling and marketing became more integrated. Pick ups of the period incorporated car-like features and styling cues on a robust chassis to create a distinctly unique vehicle that slotted neatly between the passenger car and the medium-duty truck.

pic_truckin3After World War II, the pickup truck began its climb into the automotive mainstream. Farmers and contractors demanded additional creature comforts like heaters, padded dashes and radios, while others began using their pickups for play, to haul campers, trailers, and boats.

Pick up trucks were becoming civilized; non-commercial buyers craved comfort and style. By the 1950s the pickup had found a home in residential garages. The popularity of new designs, like the Ford F Series and the highly styled Chevrolet Cameo Carrier, showed that Americans saw their pick up trucks as practical personal transportation and not just a way to haul lumber and plumbing fixtures to a job site.

pic_truckin4The American Pickup Truck features two dozen vehicles dating from 1907 to 1979. In addition, other pickups and work trucks from the Museum’s collection will be highlighted in other exhibitions areas throughout the building. Together, these vehicles chronicle the pickup truck’s development from a mainstay of the farm and work site to its current status as an icon of the American highway, owned, driven and appreciated by all segments of the population.

Truckin’: The American Pickup

Exhibition Vehicle List

  • 1907 International Harvester Auto Buggy
  • 1910 Schmidt Brothers Truck
  • 1911 REO Flatbed Truck
  • 1924 Brockway Farm Body
  • 1927 Ford Model T
  • 1934 Ford
  • 1935 International
  • 1936 Dodge
  • 1937 Diamond T
  • 1937 Plymouth
  • 1938 Willys
  • 1948 Chevrolet
  • 1952 Crosley
  • 1952 Dodge Power Wagon
  • 1953 Dodge
  • 1953 Ford F-100
  • 1955 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier
  • 1956 Chevrolet Stepside
  • 1959 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1959 Dodge Sweptside
  • 1960 Jeep FC-170
  • 1961 Studebaker Champ
  • 1963 Ford Econoline
  • 1970 Chevrolet El Camino
  • 1970 Chevrolet CST/10
  • 1979 Dodge Lil Red Express

Also on display…
Dr. Mel Wolk Featured Artwork

October 3, 2007 – May 25, 2008

Dr. Mel Wolk is a retired pediatrician and a self-taught photographer. Antique cars and rusted auto wrecks have always been a favorite subject and his digital interpretations of hood ornaments, fenders and other parts are the basis for this current art show at the Antique Auto Museum at Hershey.