Pickup Trucks and America: A Love Affair

By Alex Perdikis

Americans love their pickup trucks and have for over a century. Pickups symbolize hard working people who do it themselves, whether it’s on the job, the farm or DIY projects at home. Hauling supplies, tools and anything else that fits in the bed, the pickup is part of the country’s history. Here’s how it all began.

Adding a Cargo Box Wasn’t Enough

Henry Ford knew Americans needed a way to haul stuff around. In fact, creative owners modified their original Model Ts to add a cargo box. But, in 1917, Ford developed a Model TT with a chassis built to haul heavy loads.

The Model TT was manufactured with a sturdier frame to handle its one-ton rating. Still, if you wanted a bed on your Model TT, you had to build it yourself. That didn’t stop Americans, who by 1928, bought over 1.3 million of them.

Chevrolet Catches Up

Chevrolet’s first pickup arrived in 1918. Called the Model 490 because that’s how much money consumers needed to buy one, the Model 490 was a truck chassis. The earliest generation required the buyer to add a bed, cab and body. Chevrolet offered both half-ton and one-ton chassis options.

The Real Pickup Revolution Begins

The year was 1925. The pickup was Ford’s Model T Runabout. The Runabout was the first time Americans could buy a pickup built by the factory and ready to roll without modification.


“The Runabout was affordable at only $281, had heavy duty rear springs and a four-cylinder 40 horsepower engine.” — Alex Perdikis


Americans loved the Ford Model T Runabout with its pickup body to the tune of 33,800 pickups sold in its first year.

The Ford F-Series is Born

The  F-Series story began in 1948 when Ford introduced its brand-new line of pickups. The first in the series was designed to encompass both light- and heavy-duty needs to meet the requirements of everyone from farmers to construction companies. Early innovations included upgrades in the cab, rear window, hood, dashboard and fenders.

The F-Series is still going strong as Ford continues to introduce new features and upgrades each year.

Chevrolet Silverado Challenges the F-Series

Although Chevrolet had its share of pickup truck models over the years, it’s the Silverado that’s achieved legendary status. First released in 1999, the Silverado name originally described the trim work of its predecessor, the Chevrolet C/K pickup. The luxurious trim carried over into the new model and Silverado became its name.

Over the years, Chevrolet has introduced new features, and the latest generations of the Silverado have a fresh new look, and impressive luxury features you don’t think of when you hear the word “pickup.”

As American as a Pickup Truck

It could be the narrow roads and high fuel prices, but pickup trucks in Europe aren’t a common sight. In the U.S., pickup trucks are everywhere, representing hard-working people and a do-it-yourself attitude.

The pickup truck’s versatility makes it popular with everyone from workers on the site to suburban moms and dads. And with over 1 million sold the first half of this year alone, America’s love affair with the pickup hasn’t slowed down in the least.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.