All pickups are cool. But some pickups are cooler than others.
The humble pickup truck is the backbone of America – the everyday workman’s vehicle that enables small business and farm living. It’s a vehicle ingrained in the country’s motoring history, as American brands arguably shaped the modern pickup into everything it is now. While pickups remain high-selling vehicles across the US and the world, some pickups have been far cooler than others. We’ve gathered ten of the best of them, ranging from the strangest to the coolest pickups around.
The BMW M3 is an iconic performance sedan – hallowed as one of the best drivers’ cars through the ages. But did you know that BMW built not one, but two M3 pickup concepts over the years? The first was based on the E30 M3 and was produced in 1986. It started out with a highly tuned 192 horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder motor originally, before being replaced by a 200-hp 2.3-liter unit. It interestingly made use of a convertible soft-top roof, and the vehicle actually found use as a transporter for BMW for 26 years before it was retired.
The second M3 Pickup was born from the E92 generation M3 coupe. The M3 Pickup featured the high-revving 4.0-liter V8 from the standard M3, and unlike the E30, it featured a hard-top roof that remained fixed. Though this one remained a one-off prototype, the concept has been emulated across the globe, with several self-made versions cropping up in Europe and South Africa.
Both M3 pickups featured load bins lined with aluminum tread plating, making them seem rugged enough for actual use. But with engines intended for high revving performance and relatively low on the torque front, they would’ve made rather shoddy production models.
Dodge building pickups is as American as the 4th of July. But what’s more American than that is building a Dodge Ram with the meanest engine you can find jammed into the engine bay. Some may have thought they were insane to do it, but the madmen at Dodge didn’t care in the slightest and built the Ram SRT10, fitted with the same V10 engine found in the Dodge Viper.
The 8.3-liter displacement V10 generated 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque and could sprint from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds in regular cab trim. As far as insane pickups go, this is one of the best, but we’re glad they built it.
In the early 2000s, reviving names and styling of retro American classics was a real trend. Strangely, though, the trend only ever seemed to be used for disappointing budget commuters, or high-end performance icons. The Chevrolet SSR was one such high-end pickup that benefitted from the retro-package. The SSR (Super Sport Roadster) was unique for more than just its retro styling, though.
Despite being a pick-up, it was also a convertible, and while that wasn’t an entirely unique trait, the fact that it was a hard-top convertible was truly unique. The SSR started out life with a 5.3-liter V8 engine generating 300 hp before it was upgraded in 2005 to a 390-hp 6.0-liter LS2 V8. Production was short-lived, with just 24 150 SSRs produced over 4 years.
While the Mercedes-Benz X-Class might not have been a fully in-house Mercedes project, the AMG G63 6x6 definitely is. As far as pick-ups and off-roaders go, they don’t come more battle-ready than the Mercedes-AMG G63 6x6. The 6 wheel drive off-road pickup originally developed for the Australian military features a 536-hp twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8.
On top of that, it featured portal axles, diff-locks, and a whole host of hardcore hardware. The load bay might not be the most practical of all the pickups here, but the G63 6x6 is a true badass of the pickup world.
OK, it’s a Ute more than a pickup, but they’re still technically in the same segment. Holden Special Vehicles (HSV for short) has produced the Maloo Ute since 1990, based upon the standard Holden Ute, but turned up to the extreme. In its latest incarnation, the HSV Maloo R8 LSA goes balls to the wall in aspects.
Powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V8, it generates a massive 550 hp and 510 lb-ft that's sent all to the rear wheels. It features huge NASCAR-derived 6-piston brakes, torque vectoring, and launch control on models equipped with a manual transmission. Considering utes are a dying breed, the HSV Maloo is a living fossil, and as far as we’re concerned, it’s awesome.
The Volkswagen Type 2 originally launched as a panel van and later as a minibus. But further on in its life cycle, VW launched the Type 2 Pickup. It was available in single- and crew-cab configurations and featured a deep load bin of rather sizable proportions. Despite being first launched in 1967, the Volkswagen Type 2 production continued until 2013 in Brazil, retaining an air-cooled engine until its dying days. File this one under ‘seriously cool’ – and if you’re lucky enough to own one, hang on to it!
Mini has a history of producing pickups, as the original Morris Mini was converted into a pickup too, once upon a time. But in 2014, Mini revived the idea by converting a Paceman to a full on pickup, dubbed the Paceman Adventure Concept. While it probably wouldn’t be much use for actually carrying any loads, the 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 184 hp ensured that when unladen, the Paceman Adventure was rather quick, breaching 62 mph from standstill in 7.8 seconds. Jungle Green paintwork and special off-road tires added to the utilitarian visual, but thankfully Mini kept this as a concept.
If you thought the Mercedes-Benz X-Class was the first bona fide pickup from the German brand, you’d be very wrong. The Unimog class of vehicles has been produced in pickup versions for decades, used for everything from military to towing railways carts, and believe it or not, even in motorsport. The Unimog U5023 series – the latest generation – features a 5.1-liter turbocharged straight-4 diesel, Euro VI-compliant engine generating 231 hp and 664 lb-ft. It features 8 forward gears, 6 reverse gears, and can ford through 31 inches of water. It also features 18-inches of ground clearance and can go pretty much anywhere.
We’ve already established that supercar-powered pickups are pretty badass – the F150 Raptor keeps that trend alive today – but Lamborghini was actually one of the first to pioneer the idea. Sure, the LM002 might often be considered an SUV, but it was actually more of a pickup, though a couple of full-on SUV variations were produced. The load bay might not have been useful for heavy-duty work – originally intended as a military vehicle – but considering it featured a 444-hp 5.2-liter V12 straight from the Lamborghini Countach, the LM002 will forever live in infamy as one of the coolest pickups ever made.