Ford makes the F-150. Ram calls them 1500. GMC makes the Sierra 1500, and Chevy makes the Silverado 1500. Why do all full-size pickup truck manufacturers use this number? Why is there a 250? Or 350, while the other 2500?
It’s about payload capacity
Manufacturers usually classify their trucks based on their payload capacity.
There are three sizes: a half-tonne, or 1,000-pound payload, a three-quarter tonne or 1,500-pound payload, and a one-tonne, or 2,000-pound load.
Today the numbers don’t really mean that. 1500 is a “half ton” measure. 2500 is “three-quarters of a ton.” 3,500 is “one ton”
For 30 years, the F-100, C10 and D100 were standard trucks that could carry 1,000 pounds of cargo in a bed.
In the 1980s as most truck owners wanted to haul more, the 1500 size became the most popular, so most trucks were given the name “1500” or “150”. That’s why the F-150 is the F-150, it can carry a payload of about 1,500 pounds.
Heavy duty trucks that have a larger payload capacity have 2500 or 3500 in their name to indicate that they can carry more. Today, the 2500 or 250 are heavy-duty, and can carry over 3,500 pounds. 350 or 3500 trucks can carry more than 5,000 pounds. The names, however, are vestiges of the 1950s.
Payloads and towing are different things, but you’ll need more payload capacity for heavier trailers.
Ford starts a stuck naming trend
After World War II, Ford started the trend. Ford in the 1950s was labeled the F-1 or F-2, up to the F-8. The F-1 is a truck with a payload of half a ton, or 1,000 pounds. The F-7 and F-8 Big Job trucks can hold an astonishing 22,000 pounds.
Then, in 1953, the F-1 became the F100, which lasted until 1983. In the 1980s, truck buyers demanded more and the F-150 became the standard full-size truck we know today, which could carry 1,500 pounds.
However, the 2022 F-150 has a payload of over 1,500 pounds. The new F-150 can hold 1,745 to 2,238 pounds in the bed.
Chevy uses C or K, and numbers, instead
Starting in 1959 Chevrolet launched the C/K series of trucks which continued for three generations. Until 2002 C or K meant “truck” in the Chevy language. C is the designation for two-wheel drive. K is a four-wheel drive truck. To make it confusing, C10 is half a ton, while C20 is three quarters a ton.
In the Chevy world, the C10, for example, is a two-wheel-drive, two-wheel drive half-ton truck. The K20 is a four-wheel drive three-quarter tonne truck.
Today, the Silverado 1500 or its sister company GMC Sierra can hold anywhere from 1,750 to 2,280 pounds in a bed.
Dodge use D, or C, or MD or call it the Power Wagon
Ram Trucks used to be Dodges, but Dodges goes through a lot of naming conventions and sub-brands. Dodge uses the same nomenclature, with the D100 being a half-ton truck, and the D200 being a three-quarter tonne. In the 1980s Dodge made the Ram (and Power Ram) D50 which had a payload capacity of 1,500 pounds. The original Power Wagon was a half ton or three quarter ton truck in the 1950s.
Today’s Ram 1500 can hold from 1,225 to 2,300 pounds in a bed.
Ram uses a different set of numbers in different countries, but with the same meaning. A Ram 700 truck sold in South America, for example, can hold 700 kilograms in a bed and a Ram 1000 can hold 1,000 kilograms.
But Dodge doesn’t always stick to the same rules as the others. For example, when the SRT-10 truck came out it didn’t mean 5 tons, but 10 cylinders because the truck was powered by Viper’s V-10 engine.
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