High gas prices are the hot topic at cruise nites this year. The whiners are wailing that the old-truck hobby is doomed, but they’re wrong. There are lots of fuel thrifty, gas pump passing pickups out there if you look for them.
As might be expected, some high-efficiency haulers are pigmy pick-‘em-ups, like the Bantam and the Crosley. But others such as the Model A closed-cab pickup and the early Chevelle-based El Camino offer plenty of elbow room.
If you’re interested in imported vehicles, you’re in luck. Small pickups were fairly common in overseas markets from England to Germany to Japan. Narrow roads, steep highway taxes and higher gas prices forced our neighbors in other lands to appreciate down-sizing way before we arrived at this moment in time.
If it’s rarity you don’t want to give up in going to a smaller truck, don’t worry. You don’t have to accept the commonplace. How many Plymouths do you really think were converted into Powell Sport Wagons back in the ‘50s? Not many. And the Jeep-like Crofton Bug lived just a short bug’s life.
You say you want special features that will enhance the utility of your little truck when you’re using it for chores? Well, an early International Scout will take you pretty far off road, while the drop-down bedsides on a VW Kombi Pickup will come in handy for working in the garden.
So, keep your cool. The classic pickup hobby will go on, even if a lot of us are forced to change our rides. Here’s our 10 picks for pump-passers.
1928-1931 Model A Ford: The “A” used to be the most popular collector pickup. The fact that it’s not anymore means prices have settled, which is lucky for you. According to Special Interest Auto (SIA) magazine, the Model A averaged 17 mpg for all types of use and when running at maximum efficiency made 21 mpg.
American Bantam: A nicely-restyled American Austin designed
by Count Alexis
de Sakhnoffsky. A pickup, panel and Boulevard
Delivery were offered. Both the Bantam and its predecessor were
derived from the English Austin Seven. According to SIA,
the car version averaged 35 mpg for all types of driving and
could hit 50 mpg at a steady 30 mph. Price was about $330.
Crosley: Made by appliance guru and Cincinnati Red Legs
owner Powell Crosley, this 120-inch long pickup was introduced
as the “Parkway Delivery” truck. The 1947 model shown
is the Gen II design with an 80-inch wheelbase, 145-inch length
and a 44.2-cubic inch 26.5-horsepower four cylinder. It had an
$839 list price and weighed only 1,180-pounds. Ads said the Crosley
pickup got 41-mpg.