In my recent article on the Ford Ranchero, which I christened as the first “car-pickup” generated numerous Truck Round-Up reader responses, including emails from Gabor Korthy, Augusta, Maine, and Guy S. (Sam) Colorossi, Orting, WA, who both centered on the 1941, 1942, and 1946 Hudson pickups as the first “car-like pickup,” well ahead of the 1957 Ranchero.
When I wrote about the 1957 Ranchero in a different column five years ago, some readers asked if the 1957 Dodge Sweptline was a car-truck model and should be recognized as such. I’ll deal with this situation, too.
Let’s start with what I define as a car-like pickup: specifically, the pickup in question MUST be built on a car chassis and include car-like amenities.
As for the 1941-1942 pre-war Hudson pickup, I’ll immediately give Hudson its just due. These pickups were available in 116- or 128-inch wheelbase lengths and, most importantly, were built on the Hudson Commodore automobile chassis.
Hudson’s total vehicle pre-war production was very good as 91,769 Hudsons were sold in 1941 followed by another 40,661 car and truck units in 1942. Production for 1942 was down due to the government mandate that stopped all commercial car/truck production from 1942 to 1945 to concentrate on the war effort.
To sway just a bit from the main question, Hudson was one of the top WWII military producers, noted for its aircraft parts, naval engines, and anti-aircraft guns. The Hudson "Invader" engine powered many of the landing water craft used on the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Hudson also built over 33,000 20mm naval cannons and airplane wing control units called Ailerons, the latter a flight control device built to control the aircraft wing directions used in a flight roll moves.
By 1946, car production started up again full swing. Only the long wheelbase Big Boy pickup was offered, and total Hudson sales went right back up to 95,000.
As for pricing, you could buy a 1941 Hudson Pickup for $723 while the “Big Boy” 128-incher cost $775. In 1942, it cost $907 for the smaller pickup and $960 for the “Big Boy,”—quite an increase that year. Engine availability included flathead six and eight cylinder engines, many with dual carburetors.
Also, when compared to the Hudson cars of the day, these pickups sure look identical to the front end car designs, so again I give Hudson an official pat on the back for being the first “car-like pickup” ever made.
These 1941 and 1942 Hudson Pick-ups were known as The Gentleman’s Pickup, and unlike other pickups of the day with floor shifters and drab interiors, Hudson’s Commodore influenced pickups included a “three on the tree” column shifter, independent front suspension, and other Commodore niceties. Values are impressive, as I’ve seen these ’41, ’42 and ’46 pickups in number one condition going for upwards of $65,000 at Mecum and Barrett Jackson.
Now to the 1957 Dodge D-100 Sweptline.
I’m not sure what the Chrysler Corporation stylists were thinking, but it seems like they threw in the towel with the Sweptline’s bed design to get this Dodge Pickup to market quicker. I clearly see the ’57 Dodge Station wagon two-door design on the back half, and I remember this motif as my parents bought a $2.00 chance to win a Dodge Wagon at a big Bloomsburg, PA fair back in 1957.
The Dodge Sweptline, (also called Sweptside in 1958 and 1959), was a pickup from the start utilizing Dodge’s long bed truck cab chassis. So there’s no chance it could be included in the first car-like pickup truck discussions. Although most Sweptlines were V8s with a torqueflite automatic transmission, they were pickup trucks underneath. Additionally, the Sweptline’s exterior included many of its car design cues, like chrome trim and two-tone color schemes.
Through the years, this Dodge Sweptline pickup has become a darling of pickup truck collectors thanks to its now very unique looks. (Notice I now use the word “unique” instead of ugly.) As for value, the 1957 Dodge D-100 Sweptside Pickup is currently listed at $50,500 by Hagerty Insurance values, and in number one Concours condition, I’ve seen them go even higher.
Additionally, in 1957 Dodge used the D-series nomenclature for the first time, and two engines were available, a 230-inch, 120-horse flathead six or a 315-inch, 204-horse V8. The D-200 and D-300 Dodge pickups had truck like design rear beds, and they sold much better than these D-100 “Swept” models.
The reason these Dodge Sweptlines & Sweptsides are worth so much is because the Sweptside never really made it to the “official” Dodge truck mass production assembly line as the 1,200 built were mostly hand assembled when it came to the body.
So, that’s it this week as I now recognize the Hudson 1941, 1942, and 1946 pickups as the very first “car pickup” while the 1957 Dodge Sweptline was not a car pickup.
Thanks again to Gabor and Sam for your letters.