Truck enthusiasts often hear the terms half-ton, three-quarter ton, and one-ton in the description of their favorite rigs, but what’s it all mean? The short answer – it’s a weight classification. Unfortunately the long answer is more complicated and is plagued by a history of shifting standards and marketing hype. Let me explain.
Back in the early days of trucks, the terms simply described how much a truck was rated to haul. You bought a half-ton truck and you can haul up to 1,000 pounds of cargo and passengers. Simple. Well as trucks became more popular and technology evolved, the terms became more of a placeholder, especially when truck makers began competing with each other in advertising.
Pickups gained their popularity in the late 1940s as GIs came home after the war and went back to work. Trucks had proven their worth on the battlefield, and the civilian market recognized the possibilities. Sure there were civilian trucks before this, but on a much more limited scale. What’s more, with the U.S. economy saved from the Great Depression of the 1930s, businesses actually had money to spend on equipment.
Nowadays pickup trucks are found in just as many driveways as on job sites. The boom of recreational pickup use has moved this discussion about weight classifications from the fleet manager’s office to the dinner table as Mr. and Mrs. Everyman decide what truck they need to pull their boat or fifth wheel RV.
So let’s dive in and sort out the jargon.
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