A single-cylinder 1908 Brush is among the oldest trucks to be displayed. Images courtesy the Gilmore Car Museum
For all its popularity today, the pickup truck has not always been highly cherished in the past, with many examples used up and tossed way, and sadly little done to celebrate its work in building 20th century America. The Gilmore Car Museum, in Hickory Corners, Michigan, is doing its part to counteract that neglect with its upcoming exhibit, opening May 20, 2017, called Designed for Delivery: The Early American Truck.
This 1924 GMC potato truck demonstrates the technological developments of the post-WWI era.
The Gilmore says its exhibit will trace the development of the pickup from its earliest iterations as simply a horseless wagon to complement the passenger-carrying horseless carriage, through the crucible of the motorized battlefields of World War I, into the high-style years of the Great Depression, past the revolutionary Jeep of World War II, into the increasingly passenger-car-like luxury of the postwar years and finally up to the innovative light trucks of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The emphasis on style is evident in the 1936 Mack Jr. pickup, an attempt by the big-truck maker to break into the light-truck market.
As of this writing, 22 examples of light trucks produced between 1907 and 1963 are planned for display, including a 1907 Cadillac that was used as a delivery vehicle for Philadelphia’s Wanamaker’s department store, a pair of 1919 Dodge Brothers trucks similar to those developed for service in the Great War, a 1924 GMC Potato Truck, a car-like 1937 Studebaker Express Coupe, a 1954 Willys 4×4 pickup—descended from the WWII Jeep, a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino and a 1960 Volkswagen Single Cab Pickup.
The Second World War spurred truck developments even further, particularly with the introduction of four-wheel drive to the average American in the form of the Jeep. This 1954 Willys pickup helped market the wartime technology to civilians.
To see the Designed for Delivery exhibit, plus the balance of the Gilmore’s extensive collection and grounds, arrange a visit through its website or by calling 269-671-5089.