America is a nation that loves pickup trucks. Big pickups for running businesses and farms, little pickups for light-duty hauling and tailgating parties, and all the sizes in between. That’s why all the Big Three Detroit companies sell trucks with histories that go back for generations.
However, not every truck ever made has stood the test of time. The following three trucks all failed for one reason or another, and the stories of how and why are fairly interesting.
The Lincoln Blackwood
Ford likes to boast that the F-150 has been the top-selling pickup truck in America for 30 years running. Well, that streak was about halfway in place back in 2001, so it made sense to them to expand into a new market: luxury trucks. After all, a truck can be a status symbol in the U.S., so why not make a luxury F-150 and sell it through Lincoln?
Unfortunately, the company made a big mistake by offering the Blackwood in only one configuration with one drivetrain and one trim level. Full-size pickup trucks have tons of customization options, but the Blackwood had none. This was a real problem even though it wasn’t supposed to be a workhorse. Also, the Blackwood didn’t even look like a workhorse, which is something you need if you’re buying a truck to look rugged.
Chevrolet 454 SS
Off-road and dirt racing are popular sports, at least in some parts of America, so why shouldn’t there be a sporty truck built to handle a muddy track? That was the idea when Chevrolet debuted the 454 SS back in 1990, a variant on the GMT400 line. It only stuck around for four years, mostly because the 7.4-liter V8 engine only produced 230 horsepower. That number was barely better than what the normal 400 engines offered, and it was much less than what you needed for a sporty design.
Image via Flickr by DeMille Productions
1978 Chevrolet/GMC Truck with Diesel
For this entry, it wasn’t so much the truck that was the problem as the engine. From the late 70s to the early 80s, Chevrolet and GMC trucks were available with one of the infamous Oldsmobile diesel engines, engines that soured Americans on diesel-powered passenger cars for decades. The designers who made it only had experience with gasoline engines, and so the engine wasn’t strong enough for the extra pressure and the first few couldn’t filter water out of the fuel line. On top of that, few owners and shop mechanics understood what makes a diesel engine different.
Add it all up, and you get a truck with barely better fuel efficiency than gasoline and terrible reliability. On the plus side, converting the engines to run on gas is relatively easy.
Some trucks get chapters in the history books, but others only get a footnote. America may love its pickup trucks, but that love is not enough when it comes to terrible engines or bad design decisions.