10 Of The Best Classic Pickup Trucks For Towing - SlashGear (2024)

Cars

10 Of The Best Classic Pickup Trucks For Towing - SlashGear (1)

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ByKendra Bruning/

The classic truck market reflects a bygone era of automotive design and engineering. Unlike today's market where manufacturers often focus on a few popular models with various variants, the past saw a wider range of distinctive models tailored to different needs.

When creating a list of the 10 best classic pickup trucks for towing, we considered four key factors: reliability, part availability, towing capacity, and the 'coolness' factor. In the world of classic vehicles, reliability is crucial. Any model worth considering should have already established a reputation for durability. Otherwise, you'll have a beautiful truck that's more of a display piece than a working vehicle.

Along with reliability comes part availability. Over time, even the most well-maintained vehicles will require repairs, and the ease with which you can source and fit replacement or aftermarket parts is important for keeping a classic truck on the road and operational.

While it should go without saying, towing capacity is a huge factor. While older trucks can't match the towing ability of modern V8 diesels, they should still be capable of hauling a respectable load.

Lastly, the trucks on this list all have a certain 'coolness' element. Good examples are models like the GMC Sierra Grande, with its history and distinctive style, or the durable Toyota Hilux which is known for its near-indestructibility. The charm of these vehicles isn't only in function but also in the story and style they bring to the road.

Chevrolet C10 (1960-1966)

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The Chevrolet C10 pickup from the 1960s is a favorite among classic truck enthusiasts. Its powerful V8 engine, strong chassis, torque, force, and stability for handling heavy loads make it a great choice for heavy-duty towing. During its production in the 1960s, the C10 underwent several enhancements, including an upgrade from a six-cylinder to a V8 engine, as well as the addition of a rear bumper and backup lights on the rear fender.

A major draw of owning a classic Chevrolet truck like the C10 is the ease with which owners can find replacement parts. Several manufacturers reproduce the original parts, allowing owners to preserve the truck's timeless look and feel.

With these parts, you can keep a Chevrolet C10 looking as if it's fresh from the factory for many years. The abundance of aftermarket parts also improves its towing capabilities, combining workhorse practicality with the truck's iconic retro style. These trucks are ideal for restoration projects, especially for beginners interested in working on something purely mechanical. While you can't simply pick up parts from a local auto shop, the convenience of having them delivered to your doorstep is very convenient. It's a great way to have a piece of car history in your garage, without the hassle of hunting through old junkyards.

Ford F-100 (1953-1956)

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Perhaps the most iconic truck on the list, the Ford F-100 was first released in 1953. It became a workhorse truck in many households and is still a classic today.

During its first production run, the original Ford F-100 came with a V8 flathead engine packed with slightly more than 100 horsepower. After 1953, Ford upgraded their engine with an OHV Y-Block V8, giving it a significant boost of 130 horsepower. Combine this with the classic look of '50s eras trucks, and you have an excellent classic towing pickup truck.

The 1950s F-100 also marked a shift in Ford's design approach, focusing on driver comfort. It featured comfortable padded seats, focusing on a balance between power, towing capacity, and a pleasant driving experience.

Decades later, finding an F-100 in top condition can be a challenge, but its popularity means there's a healthy market for reproduction parts and originals. As a result, you can restore an F-100 to look almost as if it's fresh from the factory, complete with original logos, mirrors, and engine parts. Many owners even take it a step further, upgrading the engine and internals to turn these trucks into modern roadsters. One famous example is housed inJay Leno's private car collection.

Dodge Power Wagon (1945-1968)

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In 1945, the Dodge Power Wagon proved that true power doesn't solely depend on the size of the engine or its horsepower. Like many trucks at the time, the Power Wagon's inspiration came from World War II vehicles. When the Power Wagon first hit the American market, it was dubbed "the truck that needs no roads". This opened up a brand new market for the American public as it was one of the first commercially available four-wheel drive trucks that drivers could get their hands on, and with designs inspired by military trucks of the time, these were built to last.

The Power Wagon had a straight-six engine with under 100 horsepower. It may not have been the most powerful on paper, but what made this truck a legend was its drivetrain. It was able to take the limited power of the smaller engine and create an incredible amount of torque. In addition, it had excellent ground clearance, shocks, and tires that made it a beast both on and off the road.

Over time, it will eventually become increasingly difficult to find parts for the Power Wagon. However, many of these classic cars are still hidden away in garages or partially dismantled for parts. Luckily, a large surplus of replacement parts is available, which means these trucks can be enjoyed for many more years to come.

GMC Sierra Grande (1970s)

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Since its founding in 1901, GMC has been a significant name in automotive history, notably manufacturing the Rapid in 1902, which was one of the earliest pickup trucks. Debuting in Detroit, this truck was essentially a simple design: a seat and an engine mounted on a frame. While it's a little bit too classic to make this list, the 1987 GMC Sierra Grande is one of the best classic pickups that you can still find today.

The Sierra Grande's first generation spanned from 1987 to 1999. While this might not seem long ago to those of us who grew up in the '90s, it's been over 35 years since the Sierra Grande first hit the streets. The Sierra was an upgraded version of the GMC C/K series and when first released gave consumers multiple options on how to equip it depending upon the intended use. With abundant options like 2WD or 4WD, V6, V8, or 6.2-liter diesel engines, there were even choices for luxury interior options designed for comfort.

The 1999 Sierra Grande was the last model of GMC trucks that had that classic beveled boxy look before they adopted the larger sleeker modern look of trucks today, following suit with most other truck manufacturers and modern truck design.

There are plenty of Sierra Grande parts still available, making it an excellent towing truck with a unique look. If properly maintained, it can become a true showstopper on the road.

Ford F-250 Highboy (1967-1977)

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The Ford F-250 has been a workhorse in the F-Series since its introduction. Similar to the F-150, the F-250 essentially looks the same on the outside but typically has the power to outperform its little brother in almost every aspect. Notably, the 1967 model year marked a shift for the F-250, as Ford began to balance raw power with an emphasis on ride quality and the overall driving experience.

The 1967 Ford F-250 was originally kitted out with an inline V6 or a V8 giving it up to around 200 horsepower. This is much higher than the average 100 horsepower of the F-100. From 1968 onwards, the engine options were upgraded further, giving the classic car an average of 200-250 horsepower allowing it to haul almost anything you could possibly want.

The designation "Highboy" isn't an official term when it comes to the F-250, or even trucks for that matter. Ford fans gave nicknames to their trucks based on the model shape, such as bumpside, dentside, or highboy depending upon the actual framework. The "bumpside" models had a pronounced bump, the "dentside" trucks had a groove in the frame, and the highboy refers to the offroad capabilities of the F-250. When searching for this classic car it may not have this specific designation in a listing, but if it's a four-wheel drive F-250 you can consider it a highboy.

Toyota Hilux (1968-1978)

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If you're in the market for a tough and trustworthy towing truck, the Toyota Hilux should be on your radar. When the Hilux first hit the market in 1968, it blew everything else away with its power and towing capacity. It had a 1.5-liter straight-four engine, and later models would later be upgraded to a 1.6-liter. In its prime, the first-generation Hilux could haul over 1,000 pounds.

While this isn't as impressive as the latest generation of Hilux with its 2.8-liter turbo diesel engine, there's something about the classic body and the all mechanical features of the original Hilux that makes it incredibly fun to own and drive.

There are a few things to fault with the Hilux, however. As more generations were released, each one improved on the previous generation until it gained a reputation as one of the most indestructible cars in the world. If you're a fan of the BBC's "Top Gear" show, you may be familiar with the Hilux's reputation. The three hosts ran the truck through every punishing test imaginable, and ultimately, left it on top of an exploding building. Remarkably, the Hilux not only survived but was still operational, though understandably worse for wear. Since then, Toyota has continuously improved its design, but it stems from this classic vehicle's framework and original design.

International Harvester Scout (1961-1980)

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International Harvester might not be a household name unless you've spent time on a farm or have a thing for classic American trucks. The company made durable, tough tractors, as well as farming equipment. In the 1960s, International Harvester ventured beyond the fields and into off-roading with their highly successful commercial truck, the Scout.

The Scout was known for its vast array of options, features, and customizability. Any surviving models can differ widely depending on the year and model that you find. One of the major selling points of the Scout was that it had so many different configurations such as removable tops and seats. This allowed drivers to use it as a towing truck, work truck, offroad, or an everyday driver.

The Scout became a common site in rural America during this era. Sadly, its production came to an end just before International Harvester shut down. The Scout is still considered an incredibly versatile classic car and may be seeing a resurgence. The Scout model is currently owned by VW and there are plans to revive the classic design.

Chevrolet 3100 Series (1947-1955)

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If you want an enduring classic for a towing truck, then look no further than the Chevrolet 3100. It's one of the most popular and classic designs for a pickup truck ever made. Even if you're not familiar with its design, from the name alone, you'll probably immediately recognize it the moment you see it. This is because when Hollywood wants a classic truck in their films, they typically feature the Chevy 3100. It's been in several hundred films from modern-day blockbusters to classic films, making it a head-turner whenever it hits the road.

Under the hood, the 3100 series was equipped with an inline six-cylinder engine which gave it about 123 horsepower. This makes it suitable as a light truck with decent towing capacity. The truck remains a favorite among classic truck enthusiasts and continues to receive updates. For instance, in 2013, TBRT Engineering introduced a new towing hitch for the 1955 model, a significant upgrade nearly 60 years after the last one rolled off the production line.

Today, the 3100 series trucks are highly prized as collectibles, with original parts adding to their value. Thanks to the truck's popularity, there's no shortage of aftermarket parts and rebuilt or refurbished showroom models. This makes them not only great for towing, but also a sure way to impress fellow car enthusiasts.

Dodge D100 (1969-1978)

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The 1969 Dodge D100 marked an important moment in truck history, bridging the gap between the design of retro trucks with the contemporary look that we're used to today. Previously, pickup truck models focused on a more utilitarian design, often featuring the curves associated with classic cars. The Dodge D100 began the move toward the more modern square look that became prevalent among vehicles in the 70s and beyond.

The Dodge D100 was the second generation of the D series that would ultimately become the currentDodge Ram in 1981. When looking for a modern-day everyday driver, the Dodge Ram is a solid all-around truck. For classic truck enthusiasts, however, finding a working rust-free D series is where the magic is.

Powered by a V8 engine, the D100 had about 160 horsepower at the time of its manufacture. It was available in both automatic and manual transmissions, featuring a two-wheel drive, single-cab design. The Dodge D100s had cabs that featured bench seats and maintained the classic truck look before pickup designers began to opt for larger cabs and luxury seating of modern-day trucks.

Dodge fans will love the classic look, power, and history of the D100.

Jeep Gladiator (1962-1988)

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Last, but certainly not least, is the Jeep Gladiator. Jeeps have some of the most iconic shapes in automotive history, instantly recognizable worldwide. However, in 1962 the auto manufacturer released the Jeep Gladiator, a pickup truck that looks nothing like the Jeeps we know today.

The Gladiator was equipped with four-wheel drive and a V6 engine, offering considerable towing capacity. It had a similar aesthetic to trucks of the time with a curvy truck bed and a more modern boxy-framed cab. The Gladiator also came in various configurations, including covered cabs, open beds, or stake models, making it suitable for almost any type of work.

Although today the Jeep Gladiator is mostly a blast from the past, it's getting a revival. In 2020, Jeep redesigned and rereleased the Gladiator with a modern design. It has the box frame that Jeeps are known for paired with a contemporary look. You can still find some old parts for the original versions, but it's getting harder to source parts, especially with the production of newer models.

The good news is that Jeep has created a concept truck in combination with its performance parts division, Mopar.The collaboration resulted in a concept for a contemporary-looking Gladiator that pays homage to the past. While currently just a concept, Mopar is in talks to begin producing conversion kits for those who want the classic Gladiator look paired with modern technology.

10 Of The Best Classic Pickup Trucks For Towing - SlashGear (2024)
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