Classic Pickup Trucks Increase in Price and Popularity at Auctions

Prices for Classis Pickups Pick Up at Auction
By Larry Edsall for

On the third day of the 40th annual Barrett-Jackson classic car auction last week in Scottsdale, Ariz., the vehicle that brought the most money – a whopping $157,300 – was – wait for it – a pickup truck.

Of the 250 or so vehicles that sold that day at what’s billed as the “world’s greatest collector car event,” the highest bids weren’t on the featured 1968 Ford Mustang fastback. Or the 1965 Studebaker Champion Conestoga custom wagon. Or the Dodge Viper. Or any of the Chevrolet Corvettes. Or the 1969 Chevy Camaro SS convertible. Or the 1933 Ford Highboy roadster. Or the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr convertible. Or even the well-worn 1954 Buick Special convertible that was found in the Arizona desert. It was a pickup truck – albeit a highly customized 1955 Chevrolet 3100 — that was deemed worthy of the most money.

The ’55 3100 (pictured at top), nominated for a Goodguys award, features a new 6.2-liter LS2 Corvette engine, automatic transmission, custom suspension, power windows, power steering, four-wheel power disc brakes and air conditioning, as well as a Graphite Metallic Pearl painted exterior and red leather interior, with a mahogany-stained oak wood bed. The truck rides on 20-inch rear and 18-inch front wheels.

The cab of this 1940 Ford pickup was stretched 32 inches and suicide rear doors were added to produce a crew configuration, and the bed was shortened 10 inches to enhance its proportions. Power comes from a 500 horsepower, 5.7-liter, LS1 GM V-8 engine. The truck sold for $95,700 at Barrett-Jackson.

Spending $157,300 may pale in comparison to the $2.09 million someone would pay later in the week at the Gooding & Co. auction for a 2006 Ferrari FXX road racer, but there’s no doubt that pickup trucks have become genuine collectibles. The 1955 Chevy 3100 was one of 17 pickups up for bids that day, and the day before that was something of a “pickup truck day” at Barrett-Jackson, with nearly 50 crossing the block and finding new owners.

At an auction-week seminar on car collecting, McKeel Hagerty, whose family-owned company is the world’s largest insurer of classic vehicles, was asked what “sleeper vehicles” are just about ready to wake up the hobby. His response: 1950s and 1960s pickup trucks, which he said are an especially good way for newcomers to get involved because they’re relatively inexpensive to buy and spare parts are plentiful.

“Pickup trucks are a great way to start for young people,” Hagerty said, “and they’re remarkably easy to work on.” Hagerty also said you get the added bonus of practicality — you can use your classic truck for weekend home-improvement errands.

This 1955 Ford F-100 pickup was created for Sylvester Stallone's movie, The Expendables. Modifications by West Coast Customs included a 347 cubic-inch Ford/Edelbrock engine, revised suspension, a Ford 9-inch diff and flat black paint. The grille was inspired by the 1950 Mercury in Sly's 1986 movie, Cobra. The truck sold at Barrett-Jackson for $132,000.

Hagerty, who owns a 1962 International king cab pickup that formerly was used by a logging business, said at least two categories of classic trucks are becoming popular with collectors. In the first category are 1948-56 Fords with flathead V-8 engines, for which there are lots of parts so they can be “lightly hot rodded,” Hagerty said. In the other category are 1968-72 Chevrolet pickups. Hagerty said that by this time GM was making a better product than its competitors, and “the trucks have pretty good looks, too.”

A third category, made up of hard-to-find trucks, is made up of ‘50s and ‘60s models from manufacturers such as Studebaker and International Harvester.

Even those who tend to focus on the higher end of the collector vehicle market appreciate the appeal of classic pickups.

This aqua and black 1957 Dodge D-100 Sweptside pickup carries a 315 cubic-inch Hemi V-8 connected to a two-speed, push-button transmission. It also has two-speed windshield wipers and a hardwood bed. The Sweptside was a new body style for Dodge in 1957. The truck sold at Barrett-Jackson for $62,700.

“There’s a great romance to old pickups,” said Donald Osborne, a classic car collector, appraiser and writer. But, he warns, driving a classic pickup may not prove to be quite the romantic experience you might expect, especially compared with an automobile from the same era.

Driving an old truck may not provide the same smooth ride as floating down the road in a big, nautical Detroit sedan from the same era, Osborne said. Driving an old truck, he said, can be an “agricultural” experience.

Dave Kinney, who has bought, sold and appraised classic cars for many years and is the founder of a collector-car pricing guide now sponsored by Hagerty, noted that pickups from the ‘50s and ‘60s “are cheap to restore, and you can use them to move things around.”

While people would think you’re a rich snob if you flaunted your wealth by driving around town in your million-dollar roadster, “nobody hates you” when you’re in an old pickup, Kinney said. “No one thinks you are a rich bleep,” he said. “You get thumbs up, not middle fingers.”

Offered at the Silver auction, this three-quarter-ton 1964 International Travelette tow truck has a Chevy V-8 under its hood. Auction price not available.

This 1956 Volkswagen Type 2 three-quarter-ton Transporter pickup featured fold-down sides and tailgate and a lockable and weatherproof cargo area beneath the bed. The truck crossed the block at the Russo and Steele auction. The truck sold for $36,300 at Russo and Steele.


of course they are... they are getting more rare to find year after year. makes sense.

Although I am a big Ford fan...I would love to have a 1955-1957 Chevrolet 3100 short-bed. A Cameo would be icing on the cake. I would then drop a Ford 428 or 429 under the hood! To make up for all of the Ford Model Ts that are powered by a Chevrolet engine.

I would also like to get my hands on a 1978, or 1979, Dodge Li'l Red Express truck. They have a goofy kind of cool factor.

There were 60 some pickups in the auction that day, 2 different collectors selling off thier pickups. I think the best looking truck I saw was a red 1953 Studebaker, looked so much nicer then the bulky Chevy's and Fords from that time. In fact the 1968-1972 Chevy's that are mentioned in this article were designed by Studebaker prior to Chevy buying Studebaker. In my home town you can see 40-60's trucks parked in driveways through out the town. Some in original paint and others look shiny new.

@ Daave. Lucky guy. It would of been cool to see these vehicles up close. I can't imagine having the spare cash to pay 157,000 for an custom pickup.
I do love the style of the mid '50s Ford and Chev trucks.

The first year 1995 Tacoma is also getting hard to find and will soon be a classic.

Thank you Toyota!

I have been looking for a 78 Little Red express myself. Old trucks are hot now!

Dave, the 1967-72 Chevy and GMC pickups were designed by Harry Bradley when he worked as a General Motors stylist. Studebaker had nothing to do with those trucks. Also, Chevy didn't buy Studebaker when they went out of business.


If toyota trucks from 95 are becoming harder to find... maybe they should work on their reliability? 80% are still on the road... 20% were lucky to make it home.

no no no the toyota trucks run fine, they just rust away, it will be a long time if ever a jap inc. prod. last long enough to became a clasic to be worth that kind a $$$, hell even a toyota 2000 isn't worth that much .

Tacoma a classic, that's a good one. I bet the Camery will also become a classic.

I know of an old farmstead in the midwest with a 30's era Stubebaker. That was a cool looking pickup.

My all time Favorites:

1955 Chevy 3100 Apache
1955 F100

If I had both, I would put the new 5.0L or the V6 Ecoboost, heck probably the v10

Love those trucks!

I don't know whether it will ever become a classic or not, but I love the first Ram pickups Dodge built in the 90's.

I love that Desoto Front grille on the F100. Desoto front grille on a '49 Mercury is another favorite just like the movie Cobra.

It seems Stallone get's all the cool cars. Lol!

My mistake, I checked and GM did not buy Studebaker, they bought the plans and design of the Studebaker truck when Studebaker went out of business, thanks for catching that Bob

Studebaker did build a very limited number of diesel 1 tons in the early 60's. The trucks used a Detroit Diesel 3-53 industrial engine, and could be considered the first light duty diesel trucks built in the U.S..

A 1966-1977 Ford Bronco, with uncut fenders, would be a nice truck. Heck, I would even take one of the first generation Chevrolet Blazers or Dodge Ramcharger/Plymouth Traildusters that had the complete top, all the way to the windshield, that comes off. Only 4X4s of course.

GM did not buy anything of Studebaker.The Studbaker dealer that bought the tooling and built Avantis after 1964 also bought the rights and tooling to build Studebaker Champ and Transtar trucks,but didnt do anything with them.GM Canada sold engines to Studebaker after their own engines were ceased in 1964.That is the end of the GM/Studebaker connection.

Eastern Va. Looking for '55-'56 Ford F-100. Any ideas?

the '55 3100 is such a sweet ride. i would love to drive down pacific coast highway in that bad boy. only if i had $157,300. i'd be winning.

I would like to get my hands on a 1946 to 1968 Dodge Power Wagon. It would look cool parked next to my 2005 Dodge Ram Power Wagon.

I am having to part with my 1951 Chevrolet five window pickup. She is 90% restored to original, but I know others want to hotrod them. We have enjoyed zooming around the countryside for 15 yrs, for she reminded me of my FIRST loved pickup. I will share a picture if you want. Ann

I have a 1977 Chevrolet Silverado Camper Special 3+3
crew cab pickup. We purchased it new. Have the original
sales brochure, owners manual, parts & repair invoices.
All receipts ect catalogued in binder. Mileage 90,665.
Overall condition is very good. Need to sell. Have Pics.

I am the second owner of a 1968 GMC 1500 short bed pickup
It is 98 % original with nearly every option that was available including a 283 2brl. cu in engine with turbo 400 auto (both rebuilt @ 100,000 miles);174,000 miles showing; PS; PB (disc front): A/C; tilt steering wheel; Cruise control; full gage package with tach, vacuum gage, and speed alert. Bucket seats and console;other options include oem bumper guards(all chrome); and compassplus more; Has absolutely no rust and new original color (red) paint (base/clear coat). Although I do not show the truck, it could be with only a couple improvements. Daily driver.

Thanks for the information about the auctions very helpful.

Have a 1948 chevy pickup all original with 6 cy engine, 3 on the colume, good body (repainted, no rust), original wood in bed, original type tires and wheels. Looking for what it's value is.

I HAVE A 1955 cHEVY TRUCK IT HAS BEEN RESTOERD THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT BUT THE CAB I had the frame built and had it all finished it a beautiful in two tone blue and white the seats are chekered blue its beautiful I would like to sell this truck I love it but need to sell HAS BIG BACK WINDOW I WOULD LIKE AT LEAST 75,000FOR IT IT IS ONE ONE A KIND YOU WILL NOT SEE THIS COLOR ANYWHERE

NUMBER IS 905 382 3929

I would offer u 18,000 and no more if its in the condition you have posted. I really thing 75,000 is enormously high for a '55 3100 when the cab is only thing original.

I have a 86 Chevrolet Silverado For Sale,, Been garage kept MOST of the time. 305 4bl.carb. Automatic Transmission,Duel Shocks on front, duel gas tanks, power windows, cruise control, tilt wheel, AC, original wheels, New tires, bed liner, Looks Great..


Awesome post.. thanks for sharing nice post... really good post...

The comments to this entry are closed.