Designed to be rugged, durable, affordable and easy to maintain - pickup trucks truly represented the blue-collar workers. Whether you needed something to pull, carry or tow, a pickup was always the answer. Because of its humble roots and utilitarian lifestyle, pickups were never intended to be flashy and luxurious vehicles.
However, as time progressed, markets evolved and so did consumers’ preferences. People weren’t satisfied with the plain old pickup truck anymore. They wanted the same level of individuality and pizzazz offered in passenger cars. Thus, manufacturers started offering special and limited edition trucks that are different from their standard counterparts. Those vehicles have some features that regular trucks don’t, like unique trim packages, engines or details.
Here are 20 pickups that are so rare that most people have never seen or even heard about them, let alone ever driven one.
GM took an ordinary S10 body shell and installed a 4.3-liter V6 with a turbocharger, good for 280 HP. They added a four-speed automatic from a Corvette and performance biased all-wheel drive. The power figures don’t sound like much these days, but the Syclone did 0-to-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds - faster than contemporary Ferraris. Fewer than 3,000 Syclones were made - most in its signature black color.
The Dude, or “Dude Sport Trim Package”, was basically a toy for adults, just like the Raptor is today. It had bucket seats, a tachometer, an improved interior, and a powerful 383 V8 engine that came as standard with over 300 hp. It also had a “C” stripe that ran along the length of the truck on the sides. Only about 1.5K-2K Dudes were ever made back in 1970 and 1971.
For some reason, the Dodge management team thought it would be cool to offer a pickup truck with a convertible roof and roll bar. Dodge contracted the American Sunroof Company to chop off the roof, replacing it with a convertible top. The Sports Convertible was more expensive than the similar Dakota, which didn’t help the sales. Good luck finding one of these rare trucks today.
From 2004 to 2006, the Ram SRT-10 was one of the craziest, most powerful and fastest pickups Dodge ever produced. It had an 8.2-liter V10 engine with over 500 hp, making it capable of going from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds and the fuel economy was in the single digits. Of course, with the price tag of over $45,000, the SRT-10 wasn’t exactly a sales hit during the three-year production run.
The Jeep Gladiator Honcho was based on a regular Gladiator truck. However, Jeep added some fun graphics on the side and the “Honcho” name. They also included numerous interior details, special wheels, off-road tires, and a winch. Under the hood, a couple of engines were available, the optional 401 AMC V8 being the most interesting and powerful one. Despite aggressive advertising, they only made 1,500 Honchos in seven years of production.
The mighty Chevrolet 454 SS was one of the most menacing and powerful trucks of the 90s. Chevrolet's engineers took the ordinary 1990 Chevy 1500 pickup truck with a short bed option and added a massive 454 V8 engine good for 230 to 255 hp and 385 lb/ft torque, which made it fly down the road - and also drank fuel like there was no tomorrow.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is a legendary limited edition truck. The first generation, sold from 1990 to 1995 was extremely well-executed. The basic idea was to make a muscle similar to the Chevrolet 454 SS. However, Ford did it with more care and better engineering and fitted a lighter and smaller, but equally powerful engine. While never a best-seller, it paved the way for the second-generation Lightning - which was insanely fast.
Dodge was at the forefront of special editions and limited models in the 70s. The Lil' Red Express Truck is one of the most coveted trucks from that era. It was only in production for two years, 1978 and 1979, and in limited numbers. The importance of the Lil' Express lies in how Dodge found an interesting loophole in the strict regulations of the time, and thus circumvented the need for catalytic converters.
Lincoln's pickup truck was nothing more than a ridiculously expensive and less practical F-150. That's probably why it only lasted one year and only 3,356 trucks were sold. For some reason, they decided to cover the bed and there use a split tailgate. Also, the truck had a laughable 1,200-pound payload. No wonder the Blackwood repeatedly shows up on lists of the worst cars of this decade.
From 1964 to 1966 Dodge sold an interesting special edition - The Dodge D Series High-Performance Package - featuring a lot of Mopar go-faster goodies. It had the mighty 426 Wedge V8 engine with 375 hp, bucket seats, a 6,000 rpm tachometer, racing stripes, a performance transmission, and revised suspension. Unfortunately, the high price sealed its faith. Only around 50 models were made, with just 31 known to exist today.
Back in 1976, there was the Summer Olympics in Montreal, so GMC went ahead and produced the limited number of these Sierra Grande Olympic Edition. Only 630 of them were made and all had a distinct white and red color scheme. Power was the courtesy of 165-HP 350ci V8. Since they were available in only Canada you'll have to look at the Canadian classifieds if you want one.
Ford’s Bigfoot Cruiser had oversized wheels, a light bar, and an awesome front bumper. There was a problem though. Some of these started catching fire and they seemingly had a higher than average accident rate. Owners sued Ford, so all 300 units made were recalled and had their cool parts removed.
As you might've guessed from the name, this was a special edition of the extended-cab Ford Ranger with a 4L Cologne V6 and all-wheel drive. It was then converted into the SkyRanger via the services of American Sunroof Company. Who doesn’t want a convertible pickup with a superhero name? Apparently, no one does; roughly 17 were made.
Interestingly, Choo Choo doesn't refer to anything train-related; it's actually the third party custom shop that was responsible for changing the looks of this car. The “SS” moniker is a bit of deception, as they were just standard cars. It was just the outside that was all beefed up for appearances. A total of 4,950 units was built from 1983 to 1987.
This is probably one of the best rare pickups out there. Only 1.5K copies were made, 640 of which were white and the rest were red. It had 15-inch 5-spoke hollow alloy wheels, special bumpers, and fiberglass light bar. While it had good looks, that wasn't the best part of this truck. This beast had the 5.2L Magnum V8 that produced 175 horses and 270 lb-ft of torque.
That's right, GM experimented with an electric pickup back in the late '90s. It was just as useless as it sounds with its 72-mile range. 492 of these were made, but only 60 were sold to customers, while the rest were leased. Those that were leased all ended up being destroyed in a few years by Chevy. Turns out not even the company itself liked this truck.
We've already mentioned the Ram SRT-10, but did you know about the Night Runner version? It was a special, limited version of the SRT-10 truck with only 400 made. The Night Runner featured a blackout paint job, black 22-inch wheels, unique Night Runner badges, a black center stack, and center console bezel overlay. Interestingly, all Night Runners had a plaque with their serial number on the dash.
In the 70s, people formed a love affair with the pickup truck, and those basic workhorses started turning into lifestyle vehicles. Manufacturers then started offering more luxurious appearance packages for their trucks. One of those special models was the 1975 GMC Beau James with two-tone paint, classy whitewall tires, and wire wheel covers like on the Cadillacs of the era.
Ford’s Free-Wheeling’ editions were available on numerous models, such as the Bronco, Econoline vans, Courier compact pickup truck, and F-150. They had unique graphics with a five-color rainbow stripe suited to the lines of the car. This option was available for four years, from 1977 to 1980. Each year had its own style and was different from the previous model. Ford also offered numerous other styling details as optional extras.
The Blazer Chalet was Chevy’s attempt to turn a two-door compact truck/SUV into a motorhome by adding a cabin in the back. They equipped it with a bed, mini kitchen and pop-up roof. The combination was compact and well designed, but unfortunately, it was also expensive - which affected sales and production to such a degree that no one remembers the Chalet today.
Sources: Autocars, Motor-Junkie