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60-Plus years of truck improvements

After the Second World War, manufacturers began making pickups a little more comfortable. Today that comfort level hits new heights

When normal manufacturing resumed after the end of the Second World War, the Detroit Three automakers started paying attention to making half-ton pickup trucks not only comfortable, but much more capable as well. In the 67 years between then and now, that continuing effort has reached unprecedented levels and turned pickups into the biggest selling vehicle in Canada, both on and off the farm. And the model that’s been taking the biggest slice of that market pie for the past 36 years is Ford’s F-150.

The F Series made its debut in 1948 as the F-1. And comfort was what Ford wanted to talk about when it unveiled the truck on January16 of that year. In fact, the first line of the company press release emphasized that fact. “Driver comfort and efficiency were among the primary considerations of engineers and designers who created the 1948 Ford truck shown to the public for the first time today…” it read.

The F-1, Ford’s first new truck design since the end of the War eventually morphed into the F-100 and, finally, today’s F-150. But General Motors actually beat Ford to the punch by a few months when it came to introducing an all-new truck with an unheard of level of comfort for that era. In July of 1947, production of GM’s “Second Generation” trucks began. That basic style lasted through to the early part of 1955 and included what the company called its “Advance Design” cab.

The Deluxe version of the Advance Design cab included such frivolous creature comforts as an optional heater with improved defrosting capabilities.

Dodge managed to get its brand new truck announced ahead of Ford, too, when it released the B Series in December of 1947. It featured the “Pilothouse Safety Cab” and such innovations as shock absorbers to help it deliver a smooth ride.

Trucks today

Today, though, those early definitions of comfort are almost laughable in comparison to current models. At the North American International Auto Show in Michigan’s Motor City, the Detroit Three just released their latest and best pickup offerings. So this seems like the perfect time to take a look at not only where comfortable, half-ton pickups began, but how far they’ve come.

In this issue of Machinery and Shop you’ll find the latest news from the long-time players in the full-size pickup business, Ford, GM and Dodge. Along with that we tracked down a few classic images of the forefathers of the F-150, Ram 1500 and Silverado 1500. Enjoy. †

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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