The Most Popular Pickup Trucks of All Time
Every month without fail, trucks top the latest auto sales numbers. The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America since 1982. Before that, Chevy reigned supreme in the truck world. With tens of thousands of new trucks pouring out onto our roads every year, it made us stop and think: What are the all-time sales leaders?
Unfortunately, that was a harder question to answer than we hoped. Although automakers kept detailed records on every car model they sold going back to the 1930s, few ever released any official numbers for trucks. Want to know how many Plymouth Volares that Chrysler sold in 1978? Easy. Finding numbers on Dodge’s pickups, however, is a tougher task.
Nevertheless, we scoured forums, books, and old records and put together a group of some of the best-selling trucks of all time. Here’s a look at the most popular trucks ever built.
10. 1987 Jeep Comanche
Despite its trucks taking on near-mythical status, Jeep was never a powerhouse when it came to the pickup segment. Its tough-as-nails Gladiator trucks were sold for over 25 years but rarely topped 30,000 units in a year. So Jeep’s reigning sales champ (at least as far as trucks go) is the 1987 Comanche, with over 38,000 sales. That year is notable for being the last year American Motors owned the Jeep brand. Viewing the Comanche as a threat to its new midsize Dodge Dakota, Chrysler would discontinue the Jeep truck after 1992. A Wrangler-based pickup is expected to join the Jeep lineup sometime after 2019.
9. 1999 Dodge Ram
It can’t be understated how important the Ram was to Chrysler when it debuted in 1994. The handsome truck took its styling cues from semi trucks. And its spacious, comfortable cabin put rivals Ford and GM on notice. By 1999, it was offering the distinctive “Quad Cab” rear doors, which made the hauler even more practical. With 428,929 sales that year, it was the high point of this now iconic truck.
8. 2016 Ram
It isn’t hard to see the family resemblance between the ’90s-era Ram and the current-generation truck. Despite being largely unchanged since 2009, Mopar’s full-size pickup is still the third best-selling vehicle in America. 2016 was a particularly good year for the truck. Roughly 489,418 buyers took one home.
7. 1950 Chevrolet
With their ruggedness, reliability, and car-like ride, Chevy’s 1947-1955 Advance Design trucks lived up to their name. At a time when Detroit was beginning to develop pickups separately from car lines, Chevy’s trucks stood out from the pack. From a sales standpoint, 1950 was the truck’s high point. An impressive 494,753 customers took one home. For perspective, the U.S. population in 1950 was less than half the size it is today, yet Chevy still sold more trucks that year than Ram did in 2016.
6. 1997 Toyota Hilux
In just about every market outside of North America, the Toyota Hilux is the only pickup you’ll ever need. Although the Tacoma we get in the United States is a fine, capable midsize truck, it’s not quite the hauler the rest of the world gets. To prove how popular the Hilux really is, in 1997 Toyota sold over 500,000 of them — in South Africa alone.
4. 2005 Chevrolet Silverado
The early 2000s were a strange time for cars in the U.S. On the one hand, quality was dipping as the industry hurtled toward a near collapse at the end of 2008. But until then, the good times were still rolling. In 2005, Chevy sold an impressive 705,980 Silverados, Chevy’s best sales year for trucks in the 21st century.
3. 2004 Ford F-Series
Ford’s 21st century sales record is over a decade old now, too. And like it usually does on a monthly basis, it beats Chevy. For 2004, the F-Series was much improved. Buyers loved its revised powertrains and new designs. They took home 939,511 trucks in that first year alone.
2. 1979 Ford
The late ’70s were a good time for truck manufacturers. The sixth-generation F-Series was on its way out by 1980, but that didn’t stop it from being incredibly popular. By 1979, the new (introduced in 1975) Ford F-150 was already outselling the base F-100 truck by nearly double. Combining the F-100 and F-150 with the heavy-duty F-250 and F-350, Ford sold a whopping 985,310 trucks that year, according to Ford Pickup Truck Red Book.
1. 1978 Chevrolet
To Chevy truck fans, the 1973-1987 C/K-Series truck is the first true modern pickup. Rugged, good looking, and comfortable enough for long trips, the C/K is a workhorse that’s still prized by owners to this day. The 1978 model year was the high point for this truck. And it might have been the high point of single-year truck sales to date. Five years into the C/K’s life, Chevy sold a whopping 1,317,466 models.
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