Every gearhead trying to embark on a classic vehicle restoration has his work cut out in front of him. However, classic trucks are a different matter entirely. Their restoration is often on entirely new level, simply due to their purpose and nature. Having served as workhorses, often for decades at a time, most of classic pickups have at one point crossed the threshold of being worth saving. At least financially speaking. But since we gearheads are sensitive beings when it comes to classic vehicles, we often don’t care about financial aspects of a full blown restoration.
If, by any chance, pickup truck in question is one of the following 10 – restoration should be undertaken as soon as possible. Every classic pickup truck owner has a moral obligation towards the auto world society. After all, classic trucks aren’t growing on trees. There ain’t gonna be any more of them, and all of us have to do everything within our power in order to save as many of them as possible. Of course, all in accordance with means that are at our disposal. Here are 10 vintage classic trucks that are well worth saving.
1955-1958 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier
As vintage as vehicle can get – Chevy Cameo Carrier should be high on any truck aficionado’s list. But Cameos aren’t your average vintage pickups. They’re revolutionary vintage trucks. If you wonder which truck had reduced the stylistic gap between old school workhorse pickups and passenger cars, and when – look no further. It was the Chevy Cameo Carrier which had revolutionized the pickup in general, and instilled the idea of a more car-friendly workhorse, more than 60 years ago. And it was all done in one, rather simple move. Introduction of then new fleetside bed.
But fleetside bed with chrome-edged gap (between bed and cab) wasn’t alone in terms of more car-like updates. Full chrome front and rear bumpers were also uncommon in a workhorse beforehand, and so were optional features like radio and power steering. In addition, Cameo Carrier was the first Chevy pickup with V8 under its hood. In 1955, it was the 265ci overhead-valve small-block, while 283ci V8 came in 1957. Standard choice, however, was still 235.5ci straight-six mated to 3 or 4-speed manual transmission. Consider yourself lucky if you find the base setup, however, as most people decided to go with optional V8 and 4-speed Hydra-Matic auto.
Atop of that, Cameos were already rare. ’55 models were limited to Bombay Ivory exterior, and Commercial Red interior and bed. 5,220 of these had found their new owners that year. ’56 and ’57 year models added new color schemes, but their numbers dwindled regardless. Only 1,452 and 2,244 were sold respectively. Finally, by 1958 Cameo was playing its swan song. 1,405 of them were sold, and Chevy decided to discontinue the nameplate. Cameo did what it was supposed to do. It introduced the new, revolutionary car-friendly styling to the pickup truck world and it was time for C/K series to rise and shine. Task Force design went into well deserved retirement, and so did the stepside bed design.
1978-1979 Dodge Li’l Red Express
Austere and performance-sterile late seventies were more charitable than you think. They opened up the window of opportunity for numerous nameplates that couldn’t even dream of being in the mix for the fastest American vehicle beforehand. But still, who would have thought that a pickup truck would take the laurels?!
That’s exactly that happened in 1978, when Dodge morphed their “Adult Toys” Warlock truck into muscle-oriented Li’l Red Express. Someone at Mopar figured out that catalytic converter rule doesn’t apply to pickup trucks. That loophole practically put professional athlete that was Li’l Red Express into paralympic group consisting of every other car in the market. Unfair or not, Mopar’s performance-oriented half-ton D150 pickup packed 225 horses thanks to modified version of police (E58) V8 engine. 360ci four-barrel small-block (EH1) mill featured upgraded police cam, SuperFlow heads, dual-snorkel air intake, heavy duty valve springs, and modified A-727 TorqueFlite 3-speed auto transmission.
1979 models were slightly revised. They featured new flat hood and dual square headlights. Yet, their most important identity piece remained as dual semi-inspired chrome exhausts carried over unchanged. Of course, fastest American 0 to 100 mph vehicle for ’78 quickly caught EPA’s attention. That leads us to another change. ’79 year models also got the dreaded catalytic converter. Although detuned, they were still potent enough to tackle almost any car out there. Even the Corvette.
Dodge sold 2,188 units in 1978 and 5,118 models in 1979. As you can see, apart from being extremely potent, Li’l Red Express’ were also quite rare. Their price tag had a major role in that. Base D150 started at $5,168, and Li’l Red Express package added another $1,131. That wasn’t all, however. Li’l Red Express required additional upgrades beforehand, raising the total to at least $7,422 with more available options to follow.