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25 Concept Trucks That Scream 1990s

The 1990s brought out the wildly creative side of automakers, whether they were designing a production vehicle or a one-off showoff. While digging through the Story Cars archive, these twenty-five concept trucks definitely visualize the vibrant and charged nature of this decade.


#1) 1990 Dodge LRT

Dodge had a popular hit in '78 with its Li'l Red Truck — a vehicle now in demand by collectors. It had a macho truck image and good performance from a converter-free 360-cu.-in. V8. The Mopar folks are trying to recapture some of that magic with their LRT (Little Red Truck) convertible based on the V8-powered Dakota.

#2) 1990 Ford F-150 Street

Based on a full-size F-150 model, the Street gets its don't-mess-with-me Hulk Hogan stance from a low profile and big 16-in. wheels. The truck is lowered 4 in. in front and 3 in. at the rear. The roof height is chopped 3 1/2 in. Then the suspension was set up to create a nose-down, "bad" attitude.

#3) 1990 Ford Fiesta Bebop by Ghia

Fiesta versatility was the theme in 1990, which created the Fiesta Bebop. This jazzy Fiesta-based concept was a dynamic pickup design geared to sports-minded drivers.

#4) 1990 Ford Surf

The debut of the 1990 Ford Explorer Surf Concept was at the 1990 North American International Auto Show in all its purple glory. Ford fields two concept trucks — the Surf, a no-roof, no-tailgate version of its new Explorer 4x4, and the Street, an exercise that goes head-to-head with California customs in creating a mean and nasty street image.

#5) 1990 GMC Mahalo

The Mahalo convertible pickup concept was based on the coming 1991 Sonoma compact pickup. Featuring a three-tone paint job of a coral body, accented by a diagonal sea-spray design in seafoam green, edged in white. The lowered body wore special ground effects, rear spoiler, bed cover, custom mirrors, and front air dam. The two-seat cockpit color scheme was a continuation of the exterior combination.

#6) 1990 GMC Transcend

Based on the GMC Siena pick-up, the Transcend featured a retractable roof that stowed away behind the seats or covered the top at the push of a button. The cab and cargo bed were integrated for a smoother appearance.

#7) 1990 Jeep Freedom

Built on the chassis of the Jeep Cherokee Limited station wagon, the Freedom was a proposal for a two-door convertible Jeep, similar to the 1985 Cherokee Targa. Painted a color dubbed "Viper Red." The four-wheel-drive Freedom featured a powder-actuated roof and a sporty rollbar behind the front seats. The Freedom was powered by Jeep's 177-horsepower Tech Six.

#8) 1990 Nissan Gobi

The futuristic Gobi was released at the 1990 Detroit Auto Show and consisted of an egglike cocoon segmented into divided zones. Thus the "whole" is not a single boring shape. The driver's seat location is designed as an "orthopedically fitted work station," and the glovebox is a removable canvas bag attached via velcro. Typically wasted, space under the truck bed is used for four rubberized lockable storage compartments that hold skis, soda, camping equipment, and other items.

#9) 1991 Isuzu Como

The Isuzu Como was one of the stars of the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show. Designed by Simon Cox - the man who would create vehicles like the Cadillac Cien and develop Cadillac's ultra-sharp styling - the Como was a crazy mix of supercar and pickup truck which Isuzu called a "grand sports-utility vehicle." The Isuzu Como had a mid-mounted 740 horsepower V12 engine derived from F1 race cars, dramatic gullwing doors, a four-seat cabin, and a decently sized rear cargo bed.

#10) 1992 Fiat Cinquecento Pick-up by Pininfarina

The 1992 Turin Motorshow was used to present a series of concepts based on the Fiat Cinquecento. Concept of two-seaters open pickup, on Fiat 500 mechanicals; young lifestyle for a car that can be, with the aid of purpose-designed accessories, transformed into a minivan, a berlinetta, a pickup, a convertible, or a coupé. This pickup version was an all-wheel-drive utility version with a rear rumble seat.

#11) 1992 Ford F-150 SuperFlare Concept

Listed as a presented vehicle at the 1992 Detroit Auto Show, this Ford concept truck remains a major mystery. What is known is that it has sleek running boards that transition into a headache rack with what seems to be auxiliary lighting.

#12) 1992 Pontiac Salsa

The 1992 Pontiac Salsa concept vehicle was designed in GM’s Advanced Concept Center in Southern California. This vehicle transformed from an all-weather, five-seat hatchback to a five-seat convertible or a two-seat panel delivery truck. Each module has several potential spin-offs.

#13) 1993 Chevrolet Highlander

During the 1993 auto show, Chevrolet gave Chicago a hint of the forthcoming 1994 S-10 extended cab pickup truck with its Highlander concept. Painted in chartreuse and purple, the two-tone exterior featured a custom removable roll bar, a sliding driver-side second door, a roll bar with driving lights, and a tool compartment on the left side of the bed. The power train consisted of a 4.6-liter V-6 with an automatic transmission.

#14) 1994 Ford PowerStroke

Ford built this wild 1994 Ford PowerStroke Concept Truck to promote their Power Stroke Engine. It was featured on the cover of "American Dream Cars, 60 years of the best Concept Vehicles". It was also featured in Ford Racing' video games. Besides showcasing the brand's forthcoming design language, the Power Stroke housed Ford's upcoming turbo-diesel 7.3-liter V-8 engine, which would soon make its way to production bearing the Power Stroke moniker.

#15) 1995 Nissan XIX Concept

XIX was built on the all-wheel drive Nissan Sunny platform of the time, which in America is known as the Nissan Sentra. The preference was given to the all-wheel-drive chassis so that the high ground clearance of the car was of practical importance. They did not reinvent the wheel with the engine either - they installed the time-tested "four" SR20DE with a capacity of 150 horsepower.

#16) 1995 Plymouth Backpack

Plymouth released the small Backpack pickup truck concept in time to appear at the 1995 Chicago Auto Show. The 2+2 Backpack featured a MoPar 2-liter OHC 4-cylinder engine that produces 135 horsepower based on Neon underpinnings.

#17) 1996 Citroën Berlingo Coupe de Plage

Built in cooperation with Bertone, the Coupe de Plage was intended for younger crowds frequently visiting the beach. Powered by a 103-horsepower 1.8-liter engine from the Citroen Xantia, the Coupe de Plage's top speed was 102 miles per hour. The rear pickup bed could be equipped with two beach reclining chairs for sunbathing after the rear window could be electrically lowered.

#18) 1997 Audi Al2 Open End

The Open End was the fun version of the Al2. It was a two-seated, two-door, semi-cabrio-pickup ;) The car sits a bit higher than the "standard" Al2. Please not the 5-spoke rims. The spokes are doubled. Wonder where you have seen that before? Look at the A6 Allroad quattro factory rims. They are similar. Not exactly fun to clean, but cool-looking.

#19) 1997 Dodge T-Rex 6x6 Concept

First seen at the 1997 SEMA show, the Dodge Ram T-Rex 6×6 began life as a factory-stock Ram 3500 1-ton regular-cab pickup truck. Design to be an extreme off-road machine with class-leading tow/haul capabilities, the T-Rex featured V10 power and tandem-mounted dual rear axles. Mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, the 8.0-liter engine produced 497 horsepower and a stout 593 lb-ft of torque.

#20) 1997 Ford Powerforce Concept

The 1997 Ford Powerforce Concept could be viewed as a somewhat delayed response to the big rig looks of the Dodge Ram 1500, which had debuted just three years earlier and shocked the entire industry with its brawny personality. With integrated bull bars, a chunky front end design, and a V10 engine of its own to go up against Mopar's three-quarter and full-ton ten-cylinder option, the Powerforce was dramatically different from the F-150 at the time. That was intentional because the Powerforce was intended to point the way towards what Ford's new Super Duty lineup of trucks would have to offer commercial customers and those who needed extra towing and hauling power.

#21) 1998 Dodge Big Red Truck Concept

The heart and soul of The Big Red Truck is the new Cummins 24—Valve Turbo Diesel engine. Now offered as an option on production Dodge Ram 2500 HD and 3500 pickups, this engine has a new electronic fllCl system which helps provide cleaner, quieter operation. The new 5.9L inline six-cylinder Cummins kicks out 460 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,400 rpm and maintains it all the way up to 2,700 rpm with its standard five-speed manual transmission. And with 235 horsepower at 2,700 rpm. The Big Red Truck really hauls.

#22) 1999 Dodge Power Wagon

Dodge’s Power Wagon concept vehicle, shown in 1999, was inspired by the 1946 Dodge model of the same name. The modern pickup truck prototype was built off the Ram chassis and featured 35-inch wheels. At 77-inches high, the Power Wagon was a full 3- inches taller than the production Ram. Like its 1940s predecessor, the Power Wagon included bumpers, fenders, and running boards separated from the body. A 250 horsepower, 7.2-liter diesel in-line 6-cylinder was teamed with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

#23) 1999 Ford Ranger Powerforce Concept

The Ranger Powerforce was constructed on a 2-door Ranger 4×4 chassis. Painted in vivid tangerine, its interior is standard Ranger upholstered in grey cloth. In addition to the Powerforce nose, hood, and fender well flares, Ranger Powerforce rides on 17″ cast alloy 2-piece wheels with custom tread pattern 33×12.50R-17 BFGoodrich Proto T/A tires. The sills and bed top rail are clad with matte grey plastic, and there is a black cloth bed cover.

#24) 1999 Nissan SUT

Spun from a Frontier Crew Cab platform, Nissan’s SUT (Sport Utility Truck) concept blended SUV and pickup traits through a nifty flip-up liftgate behind the second row of seats. That portal separated what Nissan Designers described as the “clean” and “dirty” zones.

#25) 1999 Toyota Celica Cruising Deck

The Cruising Deck pops off the newest Celica’s rear hatch, installs a rumble seat and a picnic-table sized rear spoiler, and heads for the sun. (Maybe that’s where the designers have been spending a little too much time…) The trucklike bed can be pulled up and fixed on to the spoiler to create a deck chair, believe it or not, and the Cruising Deck has a side-hinged tailgate for parties out of bounds. A hitch for towing watersports vehicles has been installed, too. A 1.8-liter four with 187 horsepower provides power, and a six-speed manual is the gearbox of choice.

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