History of Lifted Trucks

History of Lifted Trucks

History of Lifted Trucks

Tough conditions require tough trucks--and lifted trucks are no different. But did you know where the idea for everything from the truck you drive to the lift kit you choose (2-inch or 12-inch, up to you) came from?

The History of Pickup Trucks

You can thank Karl Benz for the vehicle that takes you off-roading or grocery shopping or carpooling or commuting or anything inbetween. He is responsible for the invention of the automobile AND the first truck, called the Motorwagen, around 1885. The history of the pickup trucks we now take for granted continued through the late 19th and early 20th century, with one development providing a stepping stone for others.

1893: Jack and Augustus Mack (recognize that name?) buy a carriage-making factory and quickly focus on wagons and experimenting with steam and electric motor cars 1900: The Mack brothers open a bus manufacturing plant, and make the first 20 passenger bus with a 40 horsepower engine. Called "Old Number 9," the first Mack vehicle initiated a long history of truck development 1908: Henry Ford introduces the Model T. Farmers quickly adapt the Model T by adding a cargo box to the back, essentially creating the first pickup truck. 1925: The first factory-produced pickup truck is introduced. 1946: The Dodge Powerwagon is the first factory-produced four-wheel drive truck. Aftermarket companies had been adapting Ford trucks by adding four wheel drives since the mid-1930s, but Dodge introduced the first factory-produced option. 1950s: All manufacturers offer four-wheel drive in their trucks. 1970s: California truck buyers start modifying pickup trucks to include wider tires and customized wheels.

The Beginnings of Lifted Trucks

The Dodge Powerwagon was inspired by the vehicles built and used in World War II, and that's exactly where the idea for the lifted truck began. Real world conditions in war meant trucks needed massive wheels and extended suspensions to get heavy weapons where they were needed. Those locations were often remote, which meant truck drivers would encounter all kinds of terrain that they would have to navigate. Enter taller and wider tires, which make it easier to get through mud or tough terrain. These kind of trucks worked well not just in wartime, but were quickly adopted by the construction and freight industries.

Though these wider and taller tires solved the problem of the terrain by increasing the truck's footprint, they also meant that the entire truck needed to be customized. Mechanics had to install heavier axles, differentials, and transmissions to keep up with the changes to the tires.

"Monster" Trucks are Born

Thank southern swamps and northern winters for the beginning of Bigfoot. Heavy snow and boggy Southern backwoods meant that trucks needed to be able to perform. To test them, car enthusiasts added exaggerated options and in the late 1970s, the first monster truck, Bigfoot, was born. The owner of a 4x4 business used Bigfoot initially to advertise for his business, but Bigfoot's popularity led to more and more monster trucks being created.

Soon, Monster Jam was born. Races, tugs of war, car crushes, wheelies, and all kind of customized vehicle playtime meant that those who were interested in seeing just how tall their truck could go had a place to show off. "Monster" trucks meant customized chassis, roll cages, and suspension kits that nearly defied the laws of physics. But it also meant that people were introduced to the idea of a lifted truck.

Lifted Trucks Now

At nearly any dealership or in any parking lot in nearly any town, you'll find a lifted truck. Ranging from a leveling kit to change the stock stance of a truck to incredible suspension kits that give huge tires room to move, lifted trucks are as unique as their drivers.