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These Are The Most Legendary American Trucks Ever Made

Nowhere in the world is the pickup truck more successful than it is in the United States. They’re just about everywhere, and everyone uses them for a lot of things. Sure, they are mostly used as workhorses, but with how luxurious they’re getting, they can be family haulers too.

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There have been tons of different pickup trucks over the years. Some were good, some were bad and some were the absolute best. A lot of American trucks have cemented themselves in history as absolute legends, and all pickup enthusiasts swear by them. Here are 10 of the most legendary American pickup trucks ever made.

10 Dodge Lil’ Red Express

motor1.com

This is one of the most lovable, but legendary pickup trucks in all of Mopar’s history. Thanks to a loophole in increasingly stringent emissions regulations at the time, Dodge was able to get away with sticking those exhaust stacks next to the truck bed without any catalytic converters.

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The branding on the doors and the unique wheels also distinguished the Lil’ Red Express from just about any pickup on the road, and thanks to its 225 hp engine, it was also pretty brisk – it was actually the fastest American production vehicle from 0 to 100 mph in 1978. Sadly, less than 10,000 of these were produced, so they are quite rare.

9 Dodge Dakota

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Yep, another Dodge pickup. But, unlike the Lil’ Red Express, the Dakota is nowhere near as rare. We’re still struggling to understand why Dodge canned it.

RELATED: The True Story Behind The Dodge Shelby Dakota

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The Dakota pretty much invented the midsize pickup class, and it was one of the best in that segment back in the day. It was good at being a rugged workhorse, but for those who wanted their pickup to also be fun, there was always the Dakota R/T. And of course, there’s always the fact that the first generation Dakota was available as a convertible.

8 Chevrolet El Camino

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It’s important to note that the Chevy El Camino is not the first car-based pickup truck. That honor would go to the Ford Ranchero. Despite that, the El Camino is almost always the preferred choice when it comes to car-based pickups.

mecum.org

The El Camino was produced from 1959 to 1987, and was available in various different guises, including ones powered by Chevy’s best V8 engines of the time. Sadly, after the El Camino was discontinued, the car-based pickup concept never really took off. In Australia, however, it was a totally different story.

7 Ford F-1

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The Ford F-Series pickup truck just entered its fourteenth generation. Stuff like that simply doesn’t happen in the automotive industry. This legendary pickup truck traces its roots back to the quite small F-1 from the 1940s.

RELATED: 10 Little Known Facts About Ford’s F-Series Trucks

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This pickup was offered in a variety of different body styles, including a bus chassis and a cab-over-engine (COE) design. It’s certainly interesting to look back and see how much the F-Series has changed in its 72-year lifespan.

6 GMC Syclone

wikipedia.org

You can’t talk about legendary American pickup trucks and not mention the GMC Syclone. Even though they are quite rare nowadays, the Syclone was one of the first-ever performance pickup trucks.

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As Doug DeMuro pointed out a few years ago, the Syclone’s acceleration was on par with the Ferrari 348, which was on sale at the time. It also just looks cool and has one of the best names and logos you can think of from this era. Sadly, with being rare, they are also quite expensive.

5 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

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Before the Raptor came along, no other pickup truck was this serious about going off-road. But the Raptor changed that forever.

RELATED: 15 Things You Should Know About the Ford F-150 Raptor

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The new Raptor can put quite a few supercars to shame even on the road, but the original one is the one to have. It had V8 power, and it was just as (extremely) capable off-road. Aftermarket support is also plentiful, and not many pickups hold their value quite as well as this monster.

4 Dodge Ram 350 Cummins

bestcarmag.com

The Dodge D-Series pickups were succeeded in the 1980s by the new Dodge Ram line of trucks, which have since become legends in the pickup world. There are plenty of reasons why that is, but one of them is making the use of a diesel engine cool.

wikipedia.org

The Cummins turbodiesel in this generation Ram was built to last an eternity, and with 400 lb/ft of torque at just 1,700 RPM (a lot at the time), it could pull a lot of stuff. After Dodge did it, Duramax Chevys and Powerstroke Fords started appearing everywhere.

3 Chevrolet C/K

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Similarly to the Ford F-Series, this is where what is now known as the Chevy Silverado got started. The C/K series (“C” meaning 2WD and “K” meaning AWD) featured a lot of firsts in the pickup world back in the 60s.

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These included independent front suspension, giving this truck a more car-like driving experience. It also included a new style of ladder frame, allowing the cab to sit lower down. As the pictures above also show, these are quite popular for restomod builds.

2 Dodge Ram SRT-10

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This is not unlike something Dodge would do nowadays. In the 2000s, they wanted to stick the Viper powertrain into one of their other models, but the Ram was the only model where it fit. So they did just that.

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The end result was a pickup that could shame some serious sports cars of the time. The Viper powertrain in the Ram SRT-10 was paired with a 6-speed manual transmission (on the single cab version) and the world’s most obnoxiously tall shifter. The Ram SRT-10 may be pretty affordable now, but it’s sure to be a collector’s item in the future.

1 Ford F-150

motorauthority.com

Finally, the single most legendary American pickup truck of all time. The Ford F-150. As mentioned previously, this absolute pickup legend just entered its fourteenth generation.

RELATED: 10 Little Known Facts About Ford’s F-Series Trucks

motor1.com

It remains the best-selling pickup truck in America, with 100 F-150s sold every hour. That’s every hour of every single day. Well done, Ford. The F-150 has always been forward-thinking, and the latest one is no exception. From the fold-away gear lever, to the impending electric powertrain, the F-150 has no reason to resign from its spot as the best-selling pickup in America.

The pickup truck is one of, if not the most popular kind of vehicle in the United States. Millions and millions of them are sold each year, and it would seem as though each one is getting even more luxurious and modern. These were just some of the most legendary American pickup trucks of all time.

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