Classic Trucks (1946-1986)
With World-War-2 nearly over, civilian truck production resumed in August of 1945. Unlike cars, trucks had been built continuously through the war years, making post-war production easier to start up than for passenger cars. Newspaper and magazine ads started promoting new 1946 truck models in the Autumn of 1945.
Chevrolet "Advance Line" Trucks
Chevrolet, along with GMC, were the first American manufacturers to introduce new post-war models. Debuting in May of 1947, Chevy's Advance Line Trucks started a whole new look for pickups, although mechanically they were mostly the same as the pre-war models. Ford and Dodge followed suit shortly after.
Chevrolet Chief Engineer John Woods explained how truck production was able to be started up before the cars were: "Before the war ended, the government permitted Chevrolet to begin production trucks for civilians on the same lines on which military vehicles were being built."
Dodge "Pilot House Cab" Trucks
With higher and wider windshields, door glass and rear windows, Dodge introduced their "Pilot House Cab" trucks in December of 1947. By adding 2.5" more in height, 6" more in width and 3" in length, the redesigned cab could seat three people.
Dodge engineers moved the engine forward and the front axle back, giving better weight distribution. Cargo capacity was added by increasing bed-side height.
Available engines for the B-series trucks were the 95-horsepower 218ci straight-six (standard with 1/2 and 3/4-ton trucks), and a 102-horsepower 230ci straight-six (standard equipment in one-ton trucks). A 3-speed transmission was standard in all models, with a 4-speed unit optional. The B-series Dodge trucks were built from 1948 through 1953.
Dodge Power Wagon
Designed for off-highway operations, the Dodge Power Wagon was one of the first mass-produced 4x4 civilian trucks. For decades, they have been called upon for pulling, snow-plowing, well-drilling, and providing portable power to remote areas.
Post-War Ford Trucks
Post-war Ford Truck production started with the continuation of their pre-war fender-mount headlight and "waterfall" grille trucks. In addition to the stake and pickup bodies, a 1/2-ton and one-ton panel truck were added, as well as a sedan delivery model.
In January of 1948, Ford introduced their new F-series truck line. Aside from drivetrain and 114-inch wheelbase, the new Bonus-Built truck series were completely different than the car-based trucks they replaced.
Prior to World-War Two, Willys-Overland was one of many struggling independent car companies. Their fortune changed after winning the bid to manufacture Jeeps for the U.S. Military. At War's end, Willys saw no need to resume production of its pre-war passenger car models. Instead, they continued to do what they did best; produce four-wheel-drive vehicles.
read World-War-2 Jeep 1941-1945
read Willys Civilian Jeep 1945-1953
Fitted with an upgraded transmission, the 1945 Jeep CJ-2A used the four-cylinder Go-Devil engine from the Army Jeep. The durable L-Head engine produced 65-horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 105 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. Although first year sales were just 1,823, a total of over 214,000 CJ-2A Jeeps were produced from 1945 to 1949.
read Kaiser-Willys Jeep 1954-1969
Jeep suspension had leaf springs front and rear, with a full floating front axle. This made them easy and cheap to "lift" with homemade and aftermarket suspension systems. By increasing the distance between the axle and chassis of the vehicle, larger tires could be fitted. This increased ground clearance and allowed Jeeps to drive through more difficult obstacles.
read CJ Jeep 1970-1986
Ford Truck vs Chevy Truck
The 2nd series F-series Fords, produced from 1953 to 1956, had a longer wheelbase, with longer front and rear leaf springs fitted to improve ride quality. The front suspension was set back to allow a tighter turning radius. A new cargo bed, measuring 6 1/2 feet by 20 inches, would be used all the way up into the eighties.
In mid 1955, Chevrolet countered back with their new Task Force trucks, which not only shared Chevy's passenger car good looks, but their hot new V-8 as well.
Chevy Task Force trucks rode on a new, wider six-crossmember frame, allowing longer front and rear leaf springs to be fitted. The standard half-ton 3100 series had a 114" wheelbase, which it shared with the smooth-sided 3124 series Cameo Carrier. The 3200 series trucks had a longer bed and rode on a 123" wheelbase.
Ranchero vs Camino
Built in response to the success of the Ford Ranchero, the first-generation El Camino was based on Chevy's full-size two-door station wagon body. Several V8's were available for the Camino, including a 348ci tri-power engine.
Ford Econoline Pickup
Shorter, lighter, and easier to maneuver, the Ford Econoline pickup was also less expensive than a conventional pickup. When Ford debuted their new line of cab-over light-duty vans and pickups in 1961, they were an immediate success.
The idea of placing seats above the front wheels (allowing the cab to be shorter and the bed to be longer) was not new. In 1950, Volkswagen introduced the forward control, rear-engine Transporter, which arrived in America in 1954. In 1957, the Willys-Overland company offered their 4-wheel-drive FC-150 and FC-170 cab-over pickups (the FC designation stood for forward control).