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10 Obscure and Beautifully Designed Vintage Trucks

Nothing like owning one of the great classic trucks

Updated May 11, 2017

Modern pickup truck markets across the globe aren’t what they used to be a few decades ago. US market, on the other hand, still rolls at a steady pace. Moreover, there are a few promising for the next model year. And while modern trucks look cool, powerful and fashionable in most instances, it’s the vintage trucks we’re paying our respects today. We’ll bring you no less than 10 vintage classics which would easily put much more prominent vehicles to shame thanks to their beautiful design cues. They’re a true vintage classics which are largely forgotten by now and that’s something that doesn’t sit very well with us. Enjoy the sheer poetry of these trucks’ lines.

Mercedes-Benz 170 Pickup (W136)

Years: 1947-1955

W136 series were first produced between 1935 and 1942 but the WWII devastation urged Mercedes-Benz to resume their production. It was cheaper that way, and that was exactly what war-torn Germany needed at the time. W136 pickups are extremely rare today, but they still appear from time to time. Powered by 38-horsepower 1.7L in-line four petrol and correspondingly powered diesel engines (from ’49 onward), Mercedes-Benz 170 pickups were somewhat anemic given their purpose. However, they were able to develop an adequate speed. So much so that the cargo would simply get dumped at high speeds. Not only that, but the truck would also go into body roll given the sudden change in its weight. Maybe they weren’t the most practical trucks, but they were some of the most beautiful ones for sure.

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Studebaker Coupe Express J5

Years: 1937-1939

Coupe Express was based on Studebaker Dictator and continued where its role model left the stage. There were a total of some 5,000 units produced over the course of three model years which makes the J5 rather rare. It can be said the pickup wasn’t very popular back in the day, but that doesn’t have anything to do with its design. Problem was the price which was somewhat steeper than that of its competitors. At least it offered the optional Borg-Warner 3-speed overdrive transmission and Commander six flathead engine with around 100 horsepower and healthy amount of torque.

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Peugeot 403 Pickup

Years: 1955-1966

Peugeot isn’t necessarily known as a pickup truck manufacturer but they were known for producing a few back in the day. 403 pickup was powered by 1.45L petrol or 1.8L diesel in-line fours making 65 hp and 48 hp respectively. 4-speed manual all-synchromesh transmission was standard across the line, but ’57 and latter models also offered an optional electro-magnetic Jaeger automatic clutch with it. While Peugeot 404 pickup was a worthy successor, we can’t simply make a pass on this meticulous model.

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Hudson Big Boy C28

Years: 1939-1942 and 1945-1947

Long before the company merged with Nash effectively forming the AMC, Hudson used to produce some capable pickup trucks. Hudson C28 based on Commodore sedan came in half-ton and three-quarter ton variants. Officially, only larger of the two were known as “Big Boys” back then, but the name kind off stuck with all of them today. They were advanced vehicles for their time having the independent front suspension and column-shift manual transmission among other things. They were powered by 100-horsepower and stronger straight-sixes, and were designed by the first female designer in America’s automotive industry. Maybe that’s the reason “Big Boys” are so wonderfully curvy.

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GAZ M415 Pickup

Years: 1939-1941

You probably didn’t expect Soviets to be capable of designing such a classic vintage pickup truck. Me neither, but that’s exactly what they did. GAZ M415’s production was prematurely cut by the WWII, and less than 5 of them have survived out of 5,000 or so produced. They were largely based on equally flashy GAZ M1 passenger car and were powered by 49-horsepower 3.3L Ford L-head-4 engine. GAZ M415 is the proof that vintage trucks and cars alike can appear in places we wouldn’t have assumed were capable of spawning them.

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Willys Pickup

Years: 1937-1942

While Willys Jeep pickups still garner much attention, their pre-war predecessors have basically fallen into obscurity. That’s what happens when one model gets the cult status – other simply slides under the radar. But Willys pickups were strutting their stuff before the Jeep and Gladiators. They were simple and cheap, and that’s one of the reasons their design has become a classic. If you’re up for a vintage pickup truck restoration and you’re thinking outside the box, may I suggest one of these smiling ones?

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Austin A70 Pickup

Years: 1948-1954

Like many of the listed pickups, Austin A70 too is based on a passenger car. Most Hampshire and Hereford models were 4-door saloons or 2-door estates, but 2-door pickups comprised for a healthy base as well. 4-cylinder pushrod engine wasn’t that powerful – only 67 horsepower, but it was retained during both generations of production. Although pickups and other passenger car models did share the same platform, pickup’s rear end (including the bed) was designed separately. Compared to most of their coevals, Austin A70 Pickups were somewhat more refined and plushier.

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Dodge C Series Sweptside

Years: 1957-1959

Fins weren’t really a pickup truck territory, but Dodge C Series Sweptside had them regardless. Maybe it was called Sweptside because Special Equipment Group swept the floors of many assembly lines in order to create it. Of all the vintage trucks, this one features the most details and parts from various platforms (including the aforementioned fins). American car buyers had some flashy tastes back then and Dodge lacked the means to deliver. This is what they came up with, but Sweptside didn’t exactly bring down the house. Only 1,200 of them were made and they’re extremely rare. Partly due to being ungrateful when it comes to restoration.

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Opel Rekord Pickup (P I and P II)

Years: 1957-1963

We couldn’t decide whether we liked the classy PI or PII’s beaming smile more, so we ended up listing both generations of the Opel Rekord Pickup. P I was produced between ’57 and ’60, while P II continued until the ’63. They were powered by 1.5L and 1.7L 4-cylinders at first making 44 hp and 54 hp. Second generation models generated 49 hp, 54 hp and 59 hp out of the same engines. They might not be as rare as Sweptside, but they’re certainly forgotten vintage trucks with sublime flowing lines.

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Nash “Haul Thrift” Pickup

Years: 1947-1955

Hudson wasn’t the only AMC tributary with the pickup truck in their portfolio. Nash had a pickup as well, although it’s quite rare these days. Nash “Haul Thrift” pickup was intended for export so that might be the reason. In any case, most of them are heavy duty one and a half-ton versions although half-ton and three-quarter ton models can be stumbled upon at times. “Haul Thrifts” were based on Nash Ambassador chassis and powered by the Ambassador six-cylinder petrol engines. making 104 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Although technically export-exclusive, Nash dealerships could have ordered them for their own use. That’s the reason many of them remained in the US. Most of them ended up becoming tow trucks.

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Nikola Potrebić
About

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much.

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