Chevrolet offered pickup buyers two very different alternatives in 1961. And of course we know which approach won out with American buyers.
More on the Rampside here:
1961 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Rampside: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time JP Cavanaugh
I guess that advertisers (like debaters) offer the best arguments in support of their product (viewpoint). The load-distribution angle—which I hadn’t thought of—puts a good face on things:
Chevy identified the compact pickup market, but the real answer to that question came years later in the form of the various Datsun/Toyota/LUV/Courier trucks. Ford had 3 alternatives, the F-100, Econoline pickup, and the Falcon Ranchero. International was in the game with the 4 cylinder 900 pickup. Maybe the Ranchero was the closest to the ultimate solution?
From a longer perspective, compact pickups and car-based utes were almost always available until 1970. Pickups based on Ford T and A were definitely small. Studie and Hudson made utes in the 30s and 40s, and Willys had a very small ute in ’40-’42 . Dodge’s base half-ton was arguably compact in the ’50s with a 108″ wheelbase. Toyota and Datsun refilled the niche around 1968 when ALL the US pickups, including the Ranchero and El Camino, had grown too large.
I had an idea for a reply and I visited oldcarbrochures.com where I realized something interesting. Maybe I once knew it, but I long forgot.
The 95 pickup and Corvan barely made it until ’64 (I think final year production figures were minuscule). But while the Chevy Van was introduced for ’64, GM never made a pickup version, unlike Ford and Chrysler. It looks like you could buy an Econoline pickup through 1967. It’s a bit less clear, but it also looks like the Dodge A-100 pickup version ended after ’67 as well.
I can’t decide if it was odd or it was sensible that GM gave up the compact pickup market to Ford and Dodge for several years by not developing a pickup based on the Van. Anybody have any thoughts on this?
I didn’t have much to do today, so I did some digging and came up with a few potential answers to my own question. 🙂
a) the pickup versions of the Dodge and Ford weren’t really huge sellers, because…
b) the real-world pricing of van-based pickups wasn’t significantly lower than a basic, half-ton, full-size pickup
c) building a pickup based on the GM vans would have required a lot of new stamping dies (expensive) and sales projections didn’t make it viable
d) (this is a maybe) the El Camino came back on the Chevelle chassis for ’64 and GM didn’t see a need to offer two compact(ish) pickup trucks. If a C-10 was too big, just buy an El Camino, I guess.
The Aussies used the same vehicle for both panel van and ute remove the van top put on a short roof and you have a ute,
Almost every brand of American car up untill the early 50s had a ute counterpart, actually if it was built in Aussie they naturally made a ute version.
As a kid, I remember seeing a fair amount of those pickup trucks as a kid. I think even many school buses were of that same basic design.
I never liked those oval hood vents at all: I have no idea why.
The “lil tires” on the “Corvair p/u” look like toys..lol
Agree. In general, both look so fragile and delicate compared to today’s tall and boxy rides that would become their successors 50 years later.
The real boon to a Corvair pickup was also it’s worst downfall : the ramp side .
Once you’ve used it you’ll never be satisfied with anything else .
It was made of sheet metal and so tended to bend up (or down) badly with any real use .
Dodge’s “Pilot House” pickups were indeed very small for American made, the short wheel base made them easy to park and work into tight places, fun drivers too with far better brakes than Ford or GM .