Collector car Corner – First ever four-door crew cab and extended cab trucks

Collector car Corner - First ever four-door crew cab and extended cab trucksHere’s an advertisement for a 1973 International Harvester four door crew cab, the very first manufacturer to offer a four door crew cab back in 1957. Known simply as “IH” to truck fans, the company stopped producing lighter duty pickups in 1975 to concentrate on its popular Scout SUV and heavier truck and farm machinery units. (Compliments International Harvester)
Collector car Corner - First ever four-door crew cab and extended cab trucks

In 1973, Dodge became the very first American manufacturer to produce an extended cab pickup. Called the Club Cab, the room behind the front seat featured two side-mounted jump seats or a longer tiny bench design, much to the appreciation of the additional passengers and family pets. (Compliments Dodge division of Fiat/Chrysler)

Q: Hello Greg. I enjoy your articles very much, especially those on trucks. My question is when did the very first four-door truck appear for purchase and also did GMC or Chevrolet ever make a four-door truck in the 1960 decade? How about extended cabs?

Thank you very much and I look forward to your response if you choose my letter for publication. I have always been a Chevrolet and GMC truck man. Respectfully, Franklin Heathscott, New Castle, Indiana.

A: No problem Franklin as both the first ever four-door truck and the first extended cab both have personal memories for me.

Let’s start with the first ever four-door crew cab truck. You would think Chevy, GMC, Ford or Dodge would have been the first, but this is not the case. A crew cab, also known as a double cab early on, could seat up to six full size adults thanks to the second row with full-size doors on both sides. The first crew cab truck in the U.S. was made by International Harvester in 1957 dubbed Travelette and later followed by Dodge in 1963, Ford in 1965 and Chevrolet in 1973. So, believe it or not, Chevrolet and sister GMC were the last to produce the crew cab model.

Collector car Corner - First ever four-door crew cab and extended cab trucks

An ad from International Harvester showing all of the company offerings, including the four-door crew cab pickup called Travelette. (Compliments international Harvester)

My connection to the International Harvester (known as IH Trucks) crew cab came thanks to a sprint car team I was good friends with from 1974 through the early 1990s. The team competed on the touch “Pa. Posse” tracks of Williams Grove, Selinsgrove, Lincoln and Port Royal in the central Pennsylvania area and showed up weekly in their 1970 or so IH Travelette. The driver was Maynard Yingst who along with his Yingst family won numerous championships and big races. Maynard then went on to national fame as the crew chief for Bruce Larson’s NHRA World Nitro Funny Car championship in 1989. Sadly, Maynard lost his life while at a race in Texas as crew chief for Chuck Etchells in 1993 to a brain aneurysm; the racing world was stunned by his passing.

Now, on to the extended cab, also known as a super cab. These pickups had extra space behind the main seat, sometimes including small jump seats on the side or a small bench style seat instead. In a pinch, you could squeeze several adults back there, but the comfort factor on a longer ride was certainly in question. As for the first extended cab truck available here in North America, it was manufactured by Dodge and called the Club Cab back in 1973.

Again, my connection was very personal, as I purchased a used 1973 Dodge Club Cab finished in a light blue color for $800 to tow my racecar back in 1979. It had a 318-V8 engine and three speed automatic TorqueFlite transmission. It never missed a beat in two years of towing and I ended up selling the pickup to my Uncle Bernie, who bought it for his son out in Arizona at the time. Bernie and his wife drove the Dodge Club Cab out to Arizona, and it was used as a daily driver and for fun on the weekends both on and off-road. It had close to 200,000 miles when the body pretty much gave way due to those severe Pennsylvania winters.

Today, trucks are big business and are used for hard work, daily use and/or play. All of the manufacturers offer extended cab and crew cab varieties, and all of them are now loaded with amenities that you just didn’t find in those 1950 and 1960 decade “farm trucks.” Everything from diesel and turbocharged engines are available and fuel mileage is greatly improved thanks to modern day enhanced MPG technologies. The more rare truck these days is the standard cab, with no room behind the driver and passenger.

Being you are a GMC fan, I’ll end with a pat on the back to GMC and the fact that from 1960 to 1965, GMC offered a V-12 engine that was pretty much two V-6 GMC engines hooked together with one common crankshaft. I wrote a column on this engine a while back and it is available on the Internet ala a Google or Yahoo search.

Thanks for your letter Franklin and wishing you the best in the future.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia or motorsports at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com).

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