Pick Em' Up

Pick Em' Up exhibit

Pick Em' Up

Pickup trucks!

Who built the first commercial truck?  Panhard ET Levassor of France built the first gas-powered truck in 1893. The first American truck was the Morrison of Chicago, built in 1891.  It was also the first four-wheeled electric truck on the American scene. The first gas-powered American truck was the Winton Motor Carriage Company’s 1898 light delivery van.  By 1899, Winton was producing 100 vehicles – making Alexander Winton the leading automotive manufacturer of the time.
 
Another notable name in the industry is Duryea. Charles and Frank Duryea were building three-wheeled delivery vans in 1899 in their shop in Reading, Pennsylvania.  Possibly the first heavy- duty truck was the eight-ton monster driven by a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine powering electric motors at both rear wheels. This was produced by the Patton Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago in 1899.
White Company steam-powered trucks appeared in 1900. These trucks ranged from a three-quarter ton to a five-ton brute. The White Company produced gas-powered trucks by 1909, and they became known as the “mules of the motorway” by 1916.
 
Mack Brothers, today known for their over-the-road 18- wheelers, began their business building sightseeing buses in 1903. Two years later, Mack built a prototype 1 ½ - 2 ton truck and began their new future in truck manufacturing. 
 
Ford produced their first commercial vehicle in 1905.  It was more like a car with the rear third removed to carry a couple of bushels of produce. Ford later built a larger version of the Model T he called the TT, but Henry was not very interested in diverting attention from his assembly line auto production. Ford sold a Model T chassis to be fitted with bodies built by other companies to the specifications of the buyers. Those bodies were either early versions of woodie station wagons or pickup trucks.
 
International Harvester’s truck first appeared in 1907 looking more like a horse-drawn wagon minus the horse.  A high-wheeler like the wagons of the time, the International Harvester Auto Wagon customers were primarily farmers in need of a dual purpose machine.  They needed a light truck for hauling and two-row seating for family outings. Simply removing the rear seats transformed it into a truck. 
 
Ford was the first to mass produce pickups in 1925 (Model T Runabout with Pickup body). The Model T became the logical platform on which to build a truck bed. These were affordable and popular. Chevrolet, Dodge, and Willys-Overland soon followed with low-cost, reliable workhorses. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that Ford designed and built specific chassis and bodies for their trucks.
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