Q: What is a Pickup Truck?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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A pickup truck, or pickup, is generally a motor vehicle with an open cargo area in the rear. Typically a work truck, this type of vehicle is easily recognizable and has been in general use since the 1920s. A pickup truck's ability to work can be classified by many features, including its towing capacity. Tradespeople throughout the world routinely use pickups to transport equipment. These vehicles are also commonly used for personal transportation in North America.

The chassis for a pickup is typically constructed of channel or tubular rails and has the cab separated from the cargo section. This design allows the chassis to flex under stress, while preventing any warping of the sheet metal in the body of the pickup. Sheet metal is generally not a load-bearing component in pickups.

The first commercial pickup was the Model T Runabout, which entered production in 1925. It used the same chassis as the Model T, but the rear body was modified. The Model A replaced the Model T in 1928, which provided the chassis for the Model A pickup. The 4-cylinder engine for this pickup produced 40 horsepower (hp), which was a powerful engine at the time. Many full-size pickups today produce more than 400 horsepower.

A camper shell is a cover for the pickup truck's cargo bed, which is normally open. This cover provides a small living space during camping, which can typically be removed by the owner. Modified pickups are often used by law enforcement in areas with rough terrain, primarily in the Western United States. The U.S. Border Patrol uses pickups and sport-utility vehicles almost exclusively. Professional pickup racing is also popular in the United States. Other countries with racing series for pickups include Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Pickups are classified according to their payloads, and the current categories in North America include half-ton, three-quarter-ton, 1-ton, and 1-and-a-half-ton. These categories originally indicated the vehicle's maximum payload, however, the payload capacity of pickups has steadily increased while the category names have remained unchanged. A modern three-quarter-ton pickup typically has a maximum payload of at least 2,200 pounds, but this may be as high as 4,000, depending on configuration.

A pickup was originally intended to be a work vehicle, although it is often used as a family car in North America. The engines for these vehicles are often quite powerful and are usually designed to produce large amounts of torque at a low number of revolutions per minute (RPM). This design feature makes pickups useful for towing.

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