5 TV Trucks We Miss the Most
TV trucks might not have gotten the same celebrity treatment as their automobile equivalents (we're pretty sure General Lee posters outsold anything with a cargo bed by a factor of about 50 to 1), but that doesn't mean there weren't more than a few hardworking small screen heroes that we miss inviting into our living rooms.
Which ones are still lodged the most deeply in the collective pop culture psyche? Check out our picks for the TV pickups that we miss the most.
1. 1994-2002 Ram 1500: Walker, Texas Ranger
Ah, the '90s. It was a time when justice, at least on TV, was administered with a swift karate kick from a late-career Chuck Norris that somehow also taught us all a lesson about ourselves in the process.
It was also an era where a Texas Ranger's brand loyalties could shift at the drop of a 10-gallon hat. Despite an early agreement with General Motors that saw Season 1 Walker drive a GMC, it wasn't long before the lawman had kicked the K1500 to the curb and pocketed the keys to an extended-cab Dodge Ram. This truck, which featured the big rig styling that shocked the entire industry after its 1994 redesign, remained the face of the show for the rest of its astonishingly long eight season run. It wasn't long before criminals learned to fear the bull's-eye grille bearing down upon them in the rearview mirror almost as much as they would Walker's big black headwear.
The Dodge ties extended past the regular series into the 2005 TV movie, "Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire." Released three years after the show had ceased production, it saw Walker graduate to a fire-breathing, Viper-powered Ram SRT10 pickup.
2. 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46: The Beverly Hillbillies
The Beverly Hillbillies was the kind of high-concept 1960s humor that felt completely comfortable making fun of an entire subset of the American population that was hopefully too rural to even have electricity, let alone a television. Insulated from any kind of cultural backlash, Hollywood pumped out nine incredibly popular seasons charting the progression of the titular Clampett Hillbillies from have-nots to millionaire oil tycoons.
So important was the 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 to the progression of the Clampett family that it's even mentioned in the show's theme song. The truck itself was a cut down roadster that had been modified by famed star car builder George Barris. The truck-from-roadster conversion was a common one in the pre-war era, and Barris embellished it with all the small touches required to give it the down-home personality the show was looking for (including a pretty sweet couch mounted in the cargo bed).
3. 1980-82 GMC K2500: The Fall Guy
The Fall Guy was a five-year hit on ABC's action-packed early-'80s schedule that posited a world where a Hollywood stuntman (played by Lee Majors) could expand his empire by working part-time as a bounty hunter. You know, the gig economy and all that.
A major part of nearly every "get the bad guy" plan seen on-screen was Majors' 1981 GMC three-quarter ton truck. This pickup would take a major pounding from flying through the air, bounding over boulders and off-road trails, crashing through walls and just generally doing things a stock truck would be able to do maybe once before exploding into a big ball of flames fueled by melting '80s plastic. As a result, producers spent significant amounts of resources building and re-building the GMC, finally ending up with a mid-engine design that could handle the near-constant aerial stunts without buckling or tipping at the worst possible time.
The truck also featured 35-inch off-road rubber and a 6-inch lift kit to go with its bitchin' light bar, and some models showed off GMC's Sierra Grande appearance package, too. Oh, and of course it had a secret human-smuggling compartment carved into the side for transporting fugitives, because that seems totally and 100 percent legal. Why not just get a crew cab, Lee?
4. 1993 Ford Ranger: King of the Hill
Can a cartoon truck become an icon? It can, if it's being used in the service of the propane and propane accessories industry like the 1993 Ford Ranger driven by Hank Hill in Mike Judge's King of the Hill.
The truck was drawn in a few different styles throughout the animated show (including an '86 model in its final appearance), and Hill often referred to it being 20 years old, making its exact vintage a little tough to determine. Hank's love for the Ranger was much easier to pinpoint, however, as he clung desperately to the clunker despite it threatening his marriage and eventually breaking down on a train track, where it was destroyed by a speeding locomotive.
5. 1979 Dodge Power Wagon: Simon & Simon
Another eight-season stunner was Simon & Simon, a show about a private eye outfit run by Rick and A.J. Simon. Ostensibly, the brothers were polar opposites: A.J. had a taste for the finer things in life (and a college education), while Rick was a rough-and-tumble former Marine who lived on a boat in front of his bro's house.
It made sense, then, that while A.J. flossed as many classic cars as he could, Rick would cling to an orange Dodge Power Wagon for the duration of the show. The Macho package truck had a big battering ram bumper, a roll bar and intimidating blacked-out rims, and Rick never missed an opportunity to smash it into whatever object (house, car, etc) was most convenient for advancing the plot.
Sadly, the Power Wagon would not make a triumphant return in the 1995 reunion movie "Simon & Simon: In Trouble Again," probably due to the fact that it's hard to work a pickup into a story that centers around a stolen yacht.