Ram's lead designer shows the evolution of the iconic American pickup truck.


Pickup trucks are an important part of the automotive landscape, but these work-ready vehicles have evolved immensely over the years. The Dodge Brothers built its first truck in 1917, and Ryan Nagode, Ram chief designer shows off the evolution of Chrysler's full-size truck lineup over the years culminating with today's powerful and capable 2020 Ram lineup.

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Just like cars got their initial start from horse and carriage, the pickup truck originated from horse and buggy, and, interestingly, the creation of plywood in 1928 led to a standardization of truck beds. The 1930s brought more style to the truck equation (such as this gorgeous 1935 Dodge KC pickup), while the real breakthrough in truck design and durability came during World War II with trucks like the Dodge Command Car, which in civilian form became the Dodge Power Wagon.

Through the '50s and '60s, Dodge trucks began to incorporate even more design, but as Nagode points out, these were still work-biased vehicles that sacrificed ride quality for brute strength. That all started to change in the 1980s with the introduction of the 1981 Dodge Ram, but the biggest year for Dodge (and the modern age of pickup trucks), of course, was the debut of the second-generation Dodge Ram in 1994.

Since then, pickup trucks have become as much of a status symbol as they are work vehicles, and the Dodge Ram went on to spawn specialty models including the Viper-powered Ram SRT-10 and the off-road-tuned Dodge Ram Power Wagon. In 2010, Ram Trucks became its own division under the Fiat-Chrysler partnership, and today the truck lineup includes the recently introduced Ram 1500 and Ram HD trucks as well as the Ram 1500 Classic. A Hellcat-powered off-road truck called the Ram Rebel TRX is expected to debut later this year.