The U.S. Postal Service is honoring a U.S. automotive icon — the pick-up truck. The stamps will celebrate four models: the 1938 International Harvester D-2, the 1948 Ford F-1, the 1953 Chevrolet and the 1965 Ford F-100.
The stamps were crated by artist Chris Lyons of Pittsford, NY, used Adobe Illustrator Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia, designed the stamps.
Pickup trucks date to the early 1900s, when automobiles first became popular in the United States. They made personally hauling cargo, which once was the job of horse-drawn wagons, easier than ever. By the early 1900s, several manufacturers first began producing light-duty trucks in limited numbers.
International Harvester supplied and maintained trucks on stateside military bases during World War I. In 1917, Ford released the Model TT, which had a one-ton chassis.
For 1918, Chevrolet introduced the Model 490 truck. But because drivers had to purchase their own cargo beds and bodies, these vehicles weren’t considered true pickup trucks. The first fully factory assembled pickup truck didn’t arrive until the middle of the next decade, when the 1925 Ford Model T Runabout with Pick-Up Body made its debut. A fortified version of Ford’s landmark Model T, it had a base price of $281, featured a steel bed, and was powered by a modest 20-horsepower engine.
Ford sold nearly 34,000 Model T pickups, helping kick start the popularity of pickup trucks. Automaker Studebaker used the word “pickup” in an advertisement in 1913, but the exact root of the term “pickup” is unclear. By the Great Depression, it had become part of the American lexicon. U.S. Federal Regulations currently classify the pickup truck as “a non-passenger automobile which has a passenger compartment and an open cargo area (bed).”
Known for its production of agricultural equipment, International Harvester also made acclaimed light-duty trucks. In the 1930s, the company introduced its D line of pickups. With its six-cylinder engine and half-ton payload capacity, the 1938 International Harvester D-2 was a strong, sturdy pickup. The model was also visually striking. It had a distinct barrel-shaped grille and its elegant styling mirrored the look of luxury automobiles of the era. By the end of World War II, pickups had become ubiquitous, especially in rural America.
The nation’s major manufacturers soon began designing well-equipped trucks that no longer resembled the bare-bones models they once offered. In 1947, Chevrolet rolled out the Advance-Design Series, the first all-new post-World War II pickup truck line. The new Chevys were roomier and more powerful than ever before. Advance-Design pickups, such as the 1953 Chevrolet, featured large windshields that provided drivers with excellent visibility, a distinctive curvy grille that bulged in the middle, and a six-cylinder engine.
Advance-Design trucks were America’s top-selling pickups for nearly a decade. The same year Chevy debuted its new line, International Harvester introduced its KB-Series of trucks. During World War II thousands of soldiers drove IH trucks, and once back home, welcomed the chance to own a stylish KB-1, -2 or -3 pickup. Ford’s F-Series also differed greatly from relatively sparse models previously available. Also known as the “Bonus Built” line, F-Series trucks were, in the words of Ford’s famous advertising campaign, “built stronger to last longer.”
Ford launched the new line with the 1948 Ford F-1. It included features like the roomy “Million Dollar Cab,” a sharp horizontal five-bar grille, and a six- or eight-cylinder engine. Ford sold more than 300,000 trucks in the first model year of the F-Series. In the 1960s and 1970s, International Harvester’s line of light trucks flourished.
In addition to the pickup version of the popular Scout, the company offered the C-Series, including the C-110. Most IH pickups of the era were available in a number of different wheelbases, a variety of engines, and with a larger, “Bonus-Load” bed. These models also offered a crew cab option, a popular concept introduced by IH in 1957. For the 1965 model year, the F-Series pickup got a facelift.
The 1965 Ford F-100 had a new grille that featured 18 small rectangular openings. It also featured what Ford dubbed “Twin-I-Beam” independent front suspension, which improved the quality of the ride, and a powerful six- or eight-cylinder engine. The F-Series is still in production today and remains the country’s top-selling truck line. As of 2015, there have been 13 generations of F-Series pickups.
Article Last Updated: June 10, 2016.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.