Plymouth And Pontiac Pickups?
Please settle a bet. My friend claims Plymouth and Pontiac made pickup trucks. I say he's crazy.
Josh Nealey
via e-mail

Your friend is crazy, but he is also correct. Plymouth made fullsize pickups in the Thirties and Forties. They sold a Plymouth-badged version of the Dodge D-50/Ram 50 called the Plymouth Arrow in the late Seventies and early Eighties. They also made a version of the Dodge Rampage in a mini front-wheel-drive pickup called the Scamp. In addition, there were Plymouth Trail Duster versions of the Dodge Ramcharger sport utility. Pontiac made sedan deliverys from 1949 until 1958, although many of the later ones were only sold in Canada. Pontiac supposedly built a traditional pickup in 1928. Many of the mid-Fifties V-8 GMC pickups had Pontiac engines.

Keep Clam
I own a '99 Chevy Blazer two-door two-wheel-drive model. I've spent the last three years modifying it, but I can't seem to stop. Lately, I've been concentrating on the top part of the body. I made the Blazer look more like a hardtop by painting the B-pillar black and tinting the side windows as dark as I could get away with. I think the stock tailgate setup is pretty boring, so I'd like to do something really wild back there. The whole rear cargo area is filled with custom speaker and amp enclosures, so I'd like to show it off better at shows. My first thought was to just make the liftgate power-operated, but big deal; lots of newer SUVs have that feature. I think it would be really wild if the tailgate and liftgate were retractable. I'm stumped as to how I might accomplish that trick, so I'm hoping you might be able to give me some ideas. Thanks a lot.
Bud Sorenson
via e-mail

We hope you realize that what you've proposed isn't easy. To make a retractable or, in your case, a doubly retractable tailgate/liftgate will involve a lot of fabrication and some clever engineering. While contemplating your situation, we remembered an old Chevy station wagon we once owned. That barge on wheels was a '72 Caprice Estate wagon with fake wood trim and a "clamshell" tailgate. The rear of the wagon (especially the rear glass) was pretty radically curved. The glass half retracted into the wagon's long roof, and the tailgate retracted underneath the floor. The wagon had a rear-facing third seat, so it seems that the tailgate had to go all the way under the footwell. By the time we bought the old wagon, the motors and relays were getting tired, and sometimes it seemed like it just didn't want to close. You might have difficulty finding a non-rusted example to use as your starting point, but the same setup was used on all the fullsize GM station wagons in the early '70s, including Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. We think the disappearing tailgate appeared as early as 1971 and may have continued until 1976 or whenever that body style changed. To adapt this system to your Blazer, you'd have to carefully dissect the donor car. It would be a good idea to get a comprehensive factory body service manual for the donor car. These thick factory manuals (not the abbreviated versions sold in auto parts stores) have cutaway drawing and part numbers for all the body components. The glass part has a curvature that appears relatively close to your Blazer's current liftgate. You'd have to make the Blazer fit the wagon glass, not the other way around. The retractable lower section is very likely too wide, so it would have to be sectioned in the middle to retain all the sliding hardware. To keep things hidden, you might need to fabricate a deeper than normal rear rolled pan. Lots of measuring would be needed to be sure items, such as the gas tank, exhaust, and spare tire, didn't interfere. You might want to skip the spare tire and join AAA for roadside service. The headliner in your Blazer will need to be altered to accommodate the retractable glass. A key switch located in the rear quarter panel and/or a dashboard switch operated the original wagon versions. A remote fob operation would be the hot setup for your truck.