Antique Pickups: Totally Amazing November 17, 2015

Antique-PickupsDriving an antique pickup allows you to be both stylish and practical,” says Terry Ehrich, ’49 Chevy pickup owner and publisher of Hemmings Motor News, in Bennington, Vt. Originally made to serve farmers, laborers, and factories, antique pickup trucks embody the notion that America was built on hard work. Today, however, a stout old Ford or Chevy is just as likely to be found leading a Fourth of July parade or piled high with antiques at a flea market.

One of the first pickup trucks, which rolled our of a Chicago shop in 1896, was nothing more than a motorized wagon. Though designs quickly improved, they failed to gain traction with the public. Then in 1917, Dodge realized that the light-utility trucks it was selling to the U.S. Army might appeal to civilians. Dodge’s new pickup was a hit and close to 30,000 had sold by the end of 1920. Before long, Ford, Chevrolet, International, and other makers were churning out competitors.

For years pickups remained working vehicles: During the 1930s, the sight of overloaded farm trucks heading
West to escape the Dust Bowl was a constant reminder of rural poverty. Since the Second World War, however, pickups have attracted a broader following, appealing equally to country farmers and urban professionals, for work and for play. Last year, automakers sold about 3.2 million new pickups in the United States, outpacing popular family sedans like the Ford Taurus.

Many people prefer the classic look of pickups built before 1960. But Nancy Kranick, president of the Antique Truck Club of America, reports that there is no “golden age” of pickups. When somebody is drawn to a specific year to collect a pickup from, she says, it’s usually because it triggers a memory about his or her youth.

Harry Moses, author of the book Pickups: Classic American Trucks, agrees. Even without the sentimental tie,
though, pickups have a universal appeal. “If it’s a nicely restored pickup, people will stop and look,” Moses says. “There’s something about it that touches people. It speaks to them, no matter who they are.

A Buyer’s Guide

Antiques Most collectors’ groups define an “antique” pickup as any model older than 30 years (as opposed to a “classic,” which can be as recent as 10 years). Prices for functioning trucks range from $1,000 to $30,000.
Condition and scarcity affect price. Collectors generally buy from individuals, not dealers, so begin by contacting the two major historic truck organizations or by looking at the three main publications aimed at antique truck buyers. Organizations American Truck Historical Society, P.O. Box 901611, Kansas City, MO 64190-1611; (816) 891-9900. Antique Truck Club of America, P.O. Box 97, Apollo, PA 15613; (610) 584-8282. Publications Hemmings
Motor News, P.O. Box 100, Bennington, VT 05201; (800) 227-4373. Old Cars Weekly, 700 E. State Street, Iola, WI 54990; (800) 258-0929. This Old Truck, P.O. Box 500, Missouri City, TX 77459; (888) 760-8108. Learn More Pickups: Classic American Trucks, by Harry Moses with photographs by William Bennett Seitz (Random House; 1996; $39.95).

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