What do the Chevrolet Kodiack/GMC Topkick, the Ford E-Series and F-Series, the GMC 4500 and 5500 and the Ram 4500 and 5500 all have in common? They’re super trucks — a range of medium-duty trucks that comprise classes 4-6 of the US GWVR.
GWVR stands for Gross Weight Vehicle Rating and is a scale of 1-8. The duty rating is provided by the Department of Transportations Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA. As the size of trucks have increased, these ratings are less accurate and used more as comparison numbers. In Canada and UK, however, other ratings systems are used in various provinces to provide more accuracy.
While there are numerous other super trucks around the world, this article will focus on the American versions and what each of them has to offer the North American market. There are specific models, such as the Ford F-650, and then there are lines of trucks, such as the Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC Topkick.
The Ford E-Series are full-size vans that have been around for over five decades. They’re second in popularity with Ford’s customers only to the Ford F-Series. The E-Series, or “Econline” was retired in 2014, but had the distinction of being the best-selling full-size van for over thirty years. A three-door van (with a few other options like a two-door truck or 4-door van) with a V8 engine and automatic transmission, the E-Series vehicle was the first full-size van to offer a driver’s side airbag.
The Ford F-Series, also known as the “Super Duty” line of vehicles, is a two-door or four-door truck with manual or automatic transmission and a gas or diesel engine. It’s still in production today, with manufacturing plants in Kentucky and Ohio. The F-Series is notable for its use as an armored car such as the Conquest Knight IV and the Didgori-2. The armored car versions are used by military and police as well as civilians.
Chevrolet and GMC have also produced their own medium-duty trucks (including the GMC 4500 and 5500) under the Kodiak/Topkick name. They were available as pickups, dump trucks, cargo haulers, and the like, for a range of businesses. Other companies provided conversion packages to amp up the already massive truck.
The Ram 4500 and 5500 are similar, a range of full-size trucks that has been available since the early 1980’s. They’re still in production in the U.S. and Mexico, available as a front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicle. The Ram series has been awarded the Truck of the Year award from Motor Trends for five years between 1994 and 2014.
In 2014, super trucks also began racing street circuits as part of the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road presented by Traxxas started by NASCAR’s Robbie Gordon. All trucks must be fitted with Toyo Tires (approved by the Department of Transportation). While they are allowed to make small changes to the vehicles, they are made identical so as to prevent teams from being able to spend more money than their counterparts. If you’re interested in seeing the super trucks in action, you can watch clips on YouTube or watch events on NBC.