5 More Special Edition Classic Trucks and SUVs That Were Too Cool For Their Time
Take a look back 40 years or so and you'll find a pickup and SUV market that was stuffed to the gills with special edition classics. All it took was a little bit of creativity from the graphics design department, combined with an advertising brainstorm or two, and suddenly that plain Jane truck was sporting a completely different personality. Ranging from luxurious and mild to extroverted and wild, these unique vehicles captured the spirit of the times while draining just a few more dollars from buyer bank accounts.
We couldn't fit all of these obscure but wonderful pickups and sport-utility vehicles in our initial round-up, so here are five more amazing classic trucks that transcend time with their ultra-stylish flair.
5. Ford F-150 Indy Pace Truck
Although significantly less sought after today, there was a time when selling Indy 500 Pace Car replicas was big business. When Ford got the contract to pace America's best-known race back in 1979, it didn’t just want to highlight the all-new Fox platform Mustang that debuted that year at the front of the open-wheel pack, but also expand its Indy marketing opportunities as much as possible.
Enter the 1979 Ford F-150 Indy Pace Truck. If this full-size rig looks familiar, that's because it's based on the same general aesthetic evinced by the Free Wheeling pickups sold during the same period. Ford was taking advantage of the first opportunity in close to a decade to replace GMC as the 'official truck' at Indianapolis, and it proudly proclaimed that status in decal form across both doors (although buyers could choose whether to install the wording or not at delivery time).
The rest of the truck made black the base for the familiar Free Wheeling graphics, and outlined them with an orange border. A rollbar was also installed, along with a hefty dose of black trim. Officially, it was sold as the 'Indianapolis Speedway Official Truck Package," and a sizable number of these vehicles were built across almost every F-Series platform available that year. You could even buy an Indy 500 replica 'race wrecker' if you felt like ponying up for an F-350 with the 'real' towing package.
Ford would later actually put an F-150 at the front of the IndyCar pack in the form of a heavily-modified truck built by PPG for the series nearly 20 years later.
The 500-horsepower pickup (which had its engine supplied by Roush) would see action between 1991 and 1994
4. 1979-1981 GMC Street Coupe
During roughly the same time period, GMC was producing the Street Coupe. Built on the Sierra Grande trim level of its half-ton pickup, the truck offered a 'Fenderside' step box, body-color bumpers, blacked-out grille, two-tone paint along the sides and hood, and of course the requisite striping.
The Street Coupe didn't offer any performance upgrades to go with its sporty looks, but it did come with a major publicity campaign fronted by none other than James Garner, who prominently featured GMC pickups in his television show 'The Rockford Files.' In fact, the character of his father on the show was frequently seen tooling around in a Sierra Grande, which the junior Rockford would borrow from time to time.
GMC would later experiment with offering the Street Coupe package in a very different format by applying it to the 1984 GMC Jimmy—specifically, the compact S10 model. This time the Street Coupe took the form of an aero-friendly body kit (including a power bulge cowl hood), in addition to its rocker panel striping.
3. Chevrolet Wild Put-Ons / Mod Bods
Throughout the 1970s, Chevrolet made a consistent effort to spice up its otherwise utilitarian offerings in the truck and van segments by providing buyers with a startlingly wild list of graphics and stickers that provided these vehicles with a full body make-over. Known as 'Wild Put-Ons' and 'Mod Bods,' there were styles and themes to fit every occasion. Want a full-length image of a hawk streaking down the side of your C10? No problem. Feel the need to celebrate the upcoming American Bicentennial with a super-block image of the American flag attached, billboard-style, to your fenders? Chevrolet had you covered with the 1776 package.
There were also flames, eagles, 'little' eagles, a faux-pinstripe look called 'wheels,' and a giant 'SANDMAN' decal whose cultural reference has been lost to the mists of time.
One of the most intricate designs was called 'Feathers,' and it wrapped both SUVs and pickups in a psuedo-Aztec look that still occasionally shows up on the secondhand market today.
That being said, these decals wore hard on trucks that were used for their intended purpose, which means that most who want to replicate the original look of the Wild Put-Ons have to resort to replicating their graphics with more modern vinyl.
2. 1976-1979 Dodge Warlock
While the Lil' Red Express might get all the press, Dodge figured that not everyone was keen on hater stacks sprouting up behind their truck's cab. Included alongside the Express was another one of the brand's 'Adult Toys,' the Warlock, which looked very similar to the slightly more extroverted sibling, minus the identifying door decal and vertical exhaust pipes.
In fact, the Warlock would beat Lil' Red to market by two years as Dodge worked on refining the unique 360 cubic inch V8 that would be exclusive to that truck.
The Warlock (and later Warlock II) was offered in several different colors, but prominently featured a stepside box and oak slats along with gold trim, sporty wide rims and tires, and bucket seats. Although it didn't benefit from the same catalytic converter avoidance loophole that the Lil' Red Express drove through, guns blazing, it did handle better than other pickups at the time thanks to its performance rubber.
1. 1977-1979 GMC Desert Fox
Walking the line between a Feathers Blazer and a Free Wheeling Bronco was the GMC Desert Fox Jimmy.
Also offered with its full-size pickups, the Desert Fox package added a sophisticated striping setup that stretched across the hood, fell down the front fenders, and extended all the way back to the tailgate using a low-key mix of pastel burgundies, browns, and tans. The interior was decked out in either red or buckskin.
The pickups further benefited from a Hickey rollbar, while the Jimmy shared with them a brushguard for the grille and front bumper.
GMC fully intended Desert Fox buyers to actually ply the dunes in these trucks, which meant you could equip it with a host of overlanding gear including mounts for water cans and a winch to go with the standard CIBIE off-road lights.
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