Archive for the ‘f-150’ Tag

12 Pickups That Revolutionized Truck Design

Trucks are thought of by many as being crude, primitive, agricultural implements with a bouncy ride and poor fuel economy—and they’re considered by the hybrid-driving elites as being generally inferior transportation implements. But if you live in a wood-frame house, have had plumbing or electrical work done, or have filled your tank with gasoline—among many other modern-day conveniences—you can thank pickups for facilitating the “American way of life.”

Whether from a standpoint of head-turning good looks, historical significance, or impressive engineering, we’ve picked out 12 pickups from the past century that changed the pickup game for the better.

1988 Chevrolet/GMC C/K Series
The styling of the ’88 to ’98 General Motors GMT400 trucks may seem sparse and plain by today’s “bigger is better” standards, but that simplicity and elegance is precisely why it’s one of the most popular body styles for truck customizers. Still looking modern more than a quarter-century later, the ’88 GM trucks suddenly made all of their competitors look dated overnight. Unfortunately, the boxy, angular dashboard design of the early models did not age as well as the exterior, but the clean lines of these trucks make them modern-day classics.

1994 Dodge Ram
Whether or not you’re a fan of the chunky, in-your-face styling of today’s pickups, you can thank Dodge for kicking the trend into high gear with the introduction of the ’94 Ram. Inspired by “big rig” Class 8 trucks, the ’94 model had an oversized grille and dropped fenders, mimicking the front end of big rigs. Especially among current HD trucks, the ’94 Ram’s influence can be seen in the large, prominent grilles common today. The ’94 was also significant in that it was the debut of the 8.0L Magnum V-10 in 2500- and 3500-series trucks. Its output of 300 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque is relatively modest by today’s standards, but at the time, it was the most powerful gasoline engine you could get in a truck.

1946-1947 Hudson Pickup
The Hudson brand may no longer be with us, but we can thank the icon of Detroit’s golden age for giving us one of the most stunningly beautiful pickups ever made. Following World War II, Hudson debuted its ’46 model pickup. Its sleek, low-profile lines reflected its primarily car underpinnings, and Hudson’s dedication to its car line and transition to its 1948 “Step Down” chassis marked the end for the handsome truck. The truck was also famous for its “three on the tree” column-mounted manual transmission when most trucks still had a floor-mounted shifter. Only a little more than 6,000 trucks were made in ’46 and ’47, making current-day examples extremely rare. We would love to see one of these get the restomod treatment, but we also somewhat wince at the idea of tampering too much with such an elegant design.

1999 Ford Super Duty Series
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and although the ’99 Super Duty may not subjectively be the best-looking truck on this list, it earns its spot by decisively defining the modern HD truck market. Prior to the introduction of the Super Duty, HD truck design largely mimicked that of the lighter-duty ½-ton trucks, with the only giveaways being eight-lug wheels, heavier-duty frames, and beefier drivetrain and suspension components. The Super Duty gave Ford’s HD models a completely distinct identity from the lighter-duty F-150, and a brawny look to match its capabilities. Ford debuted a V-10 of its own on the ’99 Super Duty in the form of a 6.8L V-10, a version of which is still sold in the F-650 and its cab-chassis E-Series vans. Early diesel models were equipped with the well-regarded and generally reliable 7.3L Power Stroke, based on an International Harvester engine design.

1939 Studebaker Coupe Express
The Studebaker Coupe Express was in some ways the spiritual predecessor of the ’46 Hudson with its sleek, low-slung styling. The ’37 model was attractive in its own right, but the ’39 model had a decisively more modern look, with fender-mounted headlights. Adding to the iconic look was a front-fender-mounted spare tire, rounded roof, and pontoon front and rear fenders. The M-series truck, which succeeded the Coupe Express, had a unique style of its own, but its blunter, more upright profile lacked the head-turning style of the Coupe Express.

1967 Chevrolet/GMC C/K Series
The ’67 to ’72 C/K series truck represented many firsts for General Motors’ pickups, including the first use of the renowned 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet small-block V-8 in trucks, the first GM truck to offer standard front disc brakes in 1971, and rear coil spring suspension (more than four decades before the introduction of the ’09 Ram 1500). The year 1968 marked the debut of the Chevy Blazer sport-utility based on the C/K platform, and its companion, the GMC Jimmy. The successor third-generation C/K trucks had a much longer model run than the short five years for the second-gen, but we give the nod to the ’67 to ’72 for the sheer number of innovations that debuted with that generation.

1940-1941 Ford Pickup
Debuting just before the onset of World War II, the ’40 and ’41 Ford pickups were a meaningful improvement over their predecessors, with a wider cab, sealed-beam headlights, and mattress-type seat springs for improved comfort. Although still nominally based on Ford’s car models, the trucks’ frames were made from heavier 10-gauge steel. Most of these trucks were equipped with Ford’s 90hp flathead V-8, although some models had a four-cylinder tractor engine, and some a straight-six from Ford’s car line. The handsome styling of E.T. “Bob” Gregorie’s iconic design makes this truck especially sought after among both vintage collectors and customizers. Due to the disruption of World War II, the pickup carried on largely unchanged until the introduction of the F-Series in 1948.

1946 Dodge Power Wagon
When you say “Power Wagon” among millennial truck enthusiasts, the ’05 model immediately springs to mind. No disrespect to the modern-day rendition, which is also among one of our favorite trucks, but it’s not the original. That distinction goes to the ’46 model, a civilian adaptation of the Dodge WC-series military trucks. Powered by a 230-cubic-inch flathead six-cylinder, the Power Wagon certainly won’t win any pink slips at the dragstrip, but with its low-range transfer case and four-speed manual transmission, there were few trails the Power Wagon couldn’t conquer. The original WM-300 series model sold into the early ’60s, when it was replaced by the “sweptline” body. In addition to the pickup, ambulance, “carryall,” and other variants were produced, making the Power Wagon suitable for almost any utilitarian purpose.

1955 Chevrolet/GMC “Task Force” Series
The ’55 Chevrolet and GMC trucks made our list for being one of the most popular body styles among classic truck restorers and customizers—and for being the first GM truck to offer the venerable small-block V-8 from the factory. This generation also saw the debut of factory air conditioning and a factory-installed four-wheel-drive conversion. Among the memorable variants of this generation are the Chevrolet Cameo, GMC Suburban Carrier, and Chevrolet Apache. The Cameo is credited with introducing the “fleetside” flush-mounted outer bedsides, concurrently with the Ford “styleside” to the truck market.

1956 Ford F-100 “Big Window”
Although the Ford F-Series itself dates back to 1948, the second-generation model deserves credit for setting the stage for the future of the F-Series lineup. The second-gen F-Series marked the beginning of the use of three-digit numerical designations for trucks, such as the F-100, F-250, and F-350. It also marked the transition from Ford’s well-proven flathead V-8 to the new “Y-Block” overhead-valve V-8. One of the most sought-after examples of this generation is the ’56 model, known by many as the “big window” version, for its large wraparound rear window. Seatbelts were also first offered as an option on the ’56 model.

2015 Ford F-150
The 2015 F-150 gets a place on our list for being the first all-aluminum-bodied truck, a radical change in the traditionally conservative segment. The only non-aluminum piece of the body of any significance is the firewall. Showing Ford’s confidence in its choice of material, all the outer fenders, as well as the bed, are made of military-grade aluminum. Incognito testing in some rough environments like mining and oil fields proved the ruggedness of the material. The new F-150 is also significant for having the smallest-displacement engine of any fullsize truck in recent history with the 2.7L EcoBoost V-6. We were initially skeptical when we heard of Ford’s plans for this engine, wondering if it had the moxie to move a fullsize truck. We were pleasantly surprised by the announcement of its 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque—and even more surprised by its seat-of-the-pants performance—delivering a 0-60 time of less than 7 seconds in many instrumented tests. Towing capacity with the smaller EcoBoost is still a respectable 8,500 pounds.

1978 Toyota Pickup/Hilux
The lone import on our list earns its spot by being the model that singlehandedly forced General Motors and Ford to develop a smaller pickup of their own. Introduced to the U.S. market in 1978, the simple, rugged pickup offered no-frills functionality and soon established a well-deserved reputation for bulletproof reliability. Toward the end of its production run in 1983—just before the introduction of Toyota’s fourth-generation truck—the 2.4L 22R engine debuted. With a carburetor, it produced 98 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque, very respectable numbers for its day. The engine received fuel injection in the fourth-generation truck to become the renowned 22RE. It would be five years before Chevrolet came out with the S-10, and Ford with the Ranger. Chevrolet offered the Isuzu-based LUV compact truck starting in 1972, but it was the Toyota pickup that was the real game changer for the segment.

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/autos-trucks/12-pickups-that-revolutionized-truck-design/ar-AAbI0eu#page=13

Marchionne: Next Wrangler won’t be all-aluminum

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler won’t be all aluminum, according to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne spoke to reporters at the SAE Foundation’s Annual Celebration last night. He was the guest of honor at the event where he received the group’s 2015 Industry Leadership award.

According to a report in today’s Detroit News, Marchionne said that company tests showed the costs of an all-aluminum body outweighed the weight-saving benefits.

“Because of the difference in cost, not just the new material but the actual assembly process, I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum,” Marchionne was quoted as saying.

The decision could have been fueled by the difficulties Ford Motor Company faced in producing the latest-generation F-150 pickup. The problems, including the tearing of aluminum body panels in the stamping process, caused delays and constrained early deliveries of Ford’s moneymaker.

The announcement could boost the prospects for Toledo, Ohio, which is spending millions of dollars trying to keep Wrangler production in the city.

Marchionne didn’t give any hints, but said Toledo is one of just two sites being considered for the next-generation of the Wrangler.

During his comments, Marchionne also spoke about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest actions.

“We need to work with the agency in a very cooperative and open way to make sure that we can meet their requirements for their new stance,” Marchionne said. “We have no option but to comply with their requirements and we will. I have nothing to hide in this process. I just want clear rules.”

He said the agency’s increasingly aggressive stance will increase automakers’ costs as they try to meet new demands; and that he will not be testifying at the NHTSA’s public hearings scheduled for July 2.

Speaking about the new Jeep Renegade, Marchionne confirmed that several issues, including some software problems, were limiting availability of the Italian-built small Jeep.

Read more at: http://allparnews.com/index.php/2015/05/marchionne-next-wrangler-wont-be-all-aluminum-28735

Ram grille change no big deal?

Opinion/Analysis:  it seems to me that the uproar over the new grilles on the Ram Laramie and Rebel is a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill: a task made more difficult because it starts without a molehill.

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette and Allpar’s Daniel Bennet have written about the change, saying it’s a sign that the Ram brand is suffering from an identity crisis. Their argument is that Ram trying to further distance itself from Dodge by moving away from the crosshair grille and the ram’s head badge.

The more likely reason for the change is to let buyers know this is a new Ram pickup [as alluded to by designer Greg Howell].

How long has the Ram pickup used the same general grille design with only very small changes that most consumers won’t even notice? Since Ram became a separate brand five years ago? In fact, the same general grille design was used on the last model year of the Dodge Ram pickup.

Maybe it’s time for a change?

The fact the new grille’s first appearance on a regular production truck came on the top-of-the-line Laramie is an indication that Ram is looking to persuade owners of earlier premium Ram pickups to trade their old truck by making the new truck visibly different.

When I was young, grille changes were an annual event, making each new model distinct from those that came before. Automakers don’t do that any more, but a change after six years seems reasonable.

The use of the prominent “RAM” on the Rebel’s grille is similar to what Ford has done on the Raptor, which has a big “FORD” on the grille instead of a blue oval. It sets the special truck apart from other models.

As for the large RAM on the tailgate, name a pickup brand that hasn’t done this at one time or another.

In short, there’s no identity crisis required to explain the change.

As far as establishing a brand identity, I would imagine that if you asked most male consumers to complete the phrase “Guts, Glory…”, most would say “Ram.” They might even try to sound like Sam Elliott. That’s successful branding.

Worries about losing the classic Ram logo would seem to be unfounded. A look at the interior shows the familiar shield is right in  the center of the steering wheel. Considering that it’s much less costly to change a small badge than it is to change a grille and tailgate, one would assume any effort to rebrand would include that change.

Consider the ProMaster City. While the big ProMaster was already in production, it would have been easy to change the small van’s grille and badging. Yet the ProMaster City has Ram shield badges front and rear.

Now consider at the two brands’ product lines: Ram has pickups, chassis-cabs and commercial vans (ProMaster City is clearly targeted at businesses). Dodge has passenger cars, family minivans and SUVs. The only Dodge fleet vehicles are special purpose, such as the Charger Pursuit and the Durango SSV. There isn’t any overlap, even in the same showroom.

It was Chrysler, not Fiat, that originally pushed for a retail network in which as many dealers as possible sold all the Chrysler brands.

If anyone is worried that Ram is phasing out the Ram logo, the first question that comes to mind is “Why would they?” The brand name is Ram; what else are they going to use?

It’s unlikely that Bob Hegbloom, Sergio Marchionne or Olivier Francois lose much sleep over whether dealers or consumers call the truck a Ram or a Dodge Ram. FCA US and people can call it anything they want as long as it changes hands from the first group to the second group in large quantities, and Ram U.S. sales last year were the best since the all-time record year of 2003 and missed setting a new all-time Graham/Dodge/Ram sales record by just 9,583 sales.

In the end, the grille change isn’t a quest for identity or an escape from the shadow of another brand. It is a relatively inexpensive styling change made by a brand that seems comfortable enough in its own skin to try something new.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2015/03/relax-ram-grille-change-no-big-deal