In the world of cars and trucks, models come and go. Sure, you have the basic models that have stood the test of time (Ford F-Series, Toyota Hilux/Tacoma), but there are countless variations of those main models and some that, unfortunately, are gone for good. But we can dream, and we've compiled our list of trucks we'd like to see come back in one form or another. As boutique custom vehicle builders, including Icon, have brought back mouthwatering restomod trucks and SUVs based on the classic Ford Bronco and Toyota FJ40, anything's possible with enough ingenuity and money.
Below, in no particular order, is our list for what we'd like to see back in the showroom.
Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler
Of the trucks on our list, this one probably has the best chances of making it to the showroom. You may remember the Gladiator concept from a few years ago, which previewed the front-end styling on the forthcoming JK Wrangler. If you're willing to shell out a little extra, you can essentially build a Wrangler pickup now, with a kit available from Mopar, and other aftermarket sources like American Expedition Vehicles. However, Jeep chief Mike Manley has gone on record saying he'd love to see a Wrangler pickup, so it's not out of the realm of possibility for the next-generation model.
It's been only a few years since the Ranger has been absent from Ford showrooms, but we already miss it. We can appreciate Ford's argument of economy of scale for concentrating on the F-Series, but we still think there's a market for a compact-to-midsize truck. Evidently, so does General Motors, as a new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are coming within the next 12 months. We're hoping strong sales of the new GM twins might give Dearborn a change of heart.
Who wouldn't love to see a revival of Ford's definitive hot-rod truck? Ford is positioning the F-150 Tremor as the spiritual successor to the Lightning, and it works on some levels. But the Tremor was developed outside the direct involvement and oversight of SVT, which we feel is a necessary ingredient in a proper Lightning. Ford SVT did give us the wildly popular (and awesome) Raptor, but we'd like to see the revival of an SVT-tuned street performance truck.
It's clear the Jeep team has a soft spot for the Jeep FC, based on the concept revival. We see many obstacles to putting it in production, not least of which is crash safety, which has spelled the end of most other forward-control light trucks and vans. Regardless, we still like it, and wished someone would build it.
1/2-ton Power Wagon
We give Chrysler a lot of credit for bringing back the Power Wagon in 2005. It's about to get even better for 2014 with the addition of the 6.4-liter Hemi and coil-spring rear suspension. But we'd like to see the off-road treatment applied to a Ram 1500. Clearly, the idea is there in the form of the RamRunner concept and Mopar package, but the stiff sticker to separately purchase and install those components puts it out of reach of most truck buyers. A model similar in execution (and price!) to the Raptor, but with Ram's own unique style and flavor would be ideal.
Okay, we know this is one model that's not coming back, with Hudson being out of business for more than 50 years. Short of a Chinese investor group buying the naming rights and building cars again, this one's not coming back. The main reason we mention Hudson is that the company made what we think is one of the best-looking trucks of all time. Possibly two of the best-looking trucks of all time, if you count the original 1937 Terraplane truck and the later 1940 model. The truck's carlike proportions and profile make them undeniably handsome. When you see these trucks fixed up at custom shows, they're head-turners.
Primarily known for heavy-duty trucks, International briefly got into the light-duty market with the 1010 and 1100-series trucks in the late '60s and early '70s. These were handsome, rugged trucks powered by AMC engines. Not especially fast or glamorous, the International light trucks' fate was sealed when the fuel crises hit, and the trucks' reputation for being on the heavy and thirsty side relative to their peers spelled the end. The Scout SUV continued to be built until 1980, but that was the end of International's light-duty experiment.
Although not quite as svelte and sleek as the Hudson, the Studebaker truck had its own unique style that continues to make it a favorite of truck enthusiasts and restorers. The Coupe Express was one of the most iconic models for the company, and restored examples are still highly sought by collectors. But even Studebaker's "regular" trucks were known for their unique style, from the iconic 2R models, to the Transtar, and later Champ model, characterized by its unique inverted trapezoid grille.
The Dodge A100 goes back to the era when all the Detroit Three were building pickup variations of their vans. Available with up to a 318 V-8, these humble workhorses were mostly powered by variations of Chrysler's Slant-6 engine, from 170 to 273 cubic inches. The A100 was ultimately supplanted by the B-series Van, and the more conventional Ram D-series trucks that ultimately became Ram trucks. A ProMaster cab-chassis with a flatbed is probably the closest we'll ever see to something like the A100 coming back.
Chevrolet Corvair 95
Yet another lovable oddball, the Corvair 95 reflected a much more adventurous era at GM. Before the "Unsafe at Any Speed" controversy unfolded, the entire Corvair line looked like an advanced, forward-thinking American response to the Volkswagen Beetle, Microbus, and other rear-engine European models with a larger, more powerful air-cooled flat-six and handsome styling. The 95-series pickup was basically a truck variation of the Corvan/Greenbrier, with a super-cool side-loading ramp/gate. Modern safety standards and the heat management limitations of an air-cooled engine prevent a literal revival of this ever coming back, but a van/utility pickup smaller than the Express in some form would be cool.
The Chevy Cameo gets credit for bringing truck design into the modern era decades ahead of its time. While most other trucks of the time had flareside rear fenders, the Cameo introduced fleetside rear fenders, which were flush with the width of the front doors and fenders of the truck, giving it a carlike look. To achieve that sleek look without excessive expense, GM engineers applied fiberglass outer fenders to the Cameo's bed. Since then, composite outer bed panels have been used on many other trucks, but ironically, mostly for flareside or sportside variations.
Chevrolet El Camino
This one is a no-brainer, and an idea that came oh-so-close to showrooms in the form of the Pontiac G8 ST. Although we did get about two years' worth of G8 sedans before the Pontiac brand was killed off completely, the G8 ST never made the trans-Pacific journey from Australia, where it has been sold as the Holden Ute for decades. We're hoping that, with the comeback of the Chevrolet SS sedan, it could bode well for a limited run of coupe utilities under the El Camino name.
Dodge L'il Red Truck
One of the most flamboyant-looking trucks from the mid-'70s, the Dodge L'il Red Truck is prized in the Mopar enthusiast community. As its name implies, it was painted an unmistakable fire engine red and had a flareside rear bed and twin stack exhaust pipes, like a Class-8 big rig. But unlike the big rigs, the L'il Red truck was powered by Chrysler's 360-cubic-inch LA small-block V-8. If you're so inclined, Chrysler restoration and parts company Mr. Norms does offer a Red Express package that gives you most of the look of the original in a modern package.
Chevrolet 454 SS
Before the Ford F-150 Lightning ruled the road, Chevrolet laid down big-block power in a 1/2-ton with the 454 SS. Its original output of 230 hp and 385 lb-ft may sound laughably tame when your run-of-the-mill 5.3-liter 2014 Silverado is now producing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, but at the time, it was the most-powerful 1/2-ton you could get. Power was later increased to 255 hp and 405 lb-ft. Chevrolet recognized the significance of this truck with the Silverado 427 concept shown at SEMA in 2006, complete with a rip-snorting LS7 V-8 right out of the Z06 Corvette. Fastlane, a speed shop based out of Houston, Texas, will essentially build you your own 427 SS, but be prepared to shell out $34,000 on top of the purchase price of your base Silverado. A short-bed, regular-cab Silverado with the new 420-hp, 460-lb-ft L86 6.2-liter V-8 and a 4.10 rear axle would come tantalizingly close to this formula with vastly improved fuel efficiency to the original.
This is another one that comes so close, yet remains so far away. With Ford's announcement that it will cease manufacturing operations in Australia in 2016, the chances of its Aussie-only cars surviving are virtually nonexistent. Motor Trend's Angus MacKenzie and Arthur St. Antoine recently experienced one of the last of the Mohicans with the Ford Falcon XR6 Ute, which would make an awesome modern-day Ranchero revival. But there's a greater likelihood that we'll see the Ranger return to the U.S. than this unicorn ever galloping across the Pacific.