As truck sales climbed over the past couple of decades, automakers attempted to expand their truck lines, and profitability, by offering something unique. Sometimes they succeeded (the Cadillac Escalade), but more often than not they missed the mark. And while these vehicles seemed like a good idea at the time, sales proved otherwise. Larry Printz, the Virginian-Pilot
1982 Dodge Rampage
The PowerPoint pitch: Chevy has its El Camino, Ford its Ranchero; both are based on midsize cars. Let's offer better fuel economy by using a compact car platform.
The reality: While Chevy and Ford employ 8 cylinders, the Rampage has only 4, meaning it can't possibly live up to its name.
1989 Dodge Dakota Convertible
The PowerPoint pitch: Since truck buyers use their vehicles for recreation rather than work, why not sell a convertible pickup truck?
The reality: People buy trucks for their utility, or the image of utility, while convertible buyers want a sexy ride, not one that looks like a large tool box.
2001 Pontiac Aztek
The PowerPoint pitch: SUVs go off-road, so we'll offer an integrated tent and a center console that doubles as a cooler chest.
The reality: A vehicle designed by committee and marketing studies, it seems no idea was worth ignoring. The result: It looks better with the tent erected.
2002 Lincoln Blackwood
The PowerPoint pitch: People are buying pickups as fast as they can be made. Surely they want an over-the-top luxury pickup.
The reality: With a cargo bed lined with aluminum and carpet, topped with a cover that can't be removed, it's better for hauling polo mallets than garden pallets.
m 2004 Chevrolet SSR
The PowerPoint pitch: A convertible pickup is still a great idea, if we make it look good and use a hardtop retractable roof.
The reality: Sure, it looks good, but the SSR's lofty price tag — more than $40,000 — and minuscule 4-foot bed renders it a trophy truck, not the real deal.
Looking back and looking forward
In the end, even the best ideas often are not welcomed, at least initially. Jeep introduced the Wagoneer in 1963. It took another 25 years for SUVs to gain widespread popularity among families. So, one of these pickup ideas could be revived. You never know.