California Automobile Museum celebrates pickup exhibit with tailgate party

Classic pickup trucks are on display at the California Automobile Museum through Sept. 11. On Sunday, the museum is hosting a tailgate party.
Classic pickup trucks are on display at the California Automobile Museum through Sept. 11. On Sunday, the museum is hosting a tailgate party.

The California Automobile Museum is throwing a farewell bash for a special exhibit paying homage to the pickup truck, that great workhorse of American farms, construction sites and, in recent years, urban roadways.

The museum at 2200 Front St. in Sacramento will host a tailgate party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, as part of the exhibit, “The Pickup Truck: Where Utility Meets the Everyday.” The showcase, featuring a wide range of trucks dating from the 1920s to today, opened April 23 and is scheduled to run through Sept. 11.

The tailgate party will have food for sale, including ice cream, plus interactive activities for children on site. Museum officials are encouraging attendees to come dressed in their truck-inspired garb.

The hoods on some of the trucks will be open, with the museum setting up special photo op sites within the exhibit. Owners of some of the classic pickups also will be available to take questions.

Public party attendance is included in the price of entry: $9 for general admission, $8 for seniors ages 65 and up, $8 for active/retired military personnel (with identification), $4 for students (with identification) and $4 for ages 5 to 18. There is no admission charge for children up to 4 years old.

During the exhibit’s four-month run, pickups on display have included a 1925 Dodge from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, a 1931 Ford Model A, a 1951 GMC, a 1956 Ford F100 and a 1957 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier.

Museum officials said they wanted to show the evolution of the pickup truck from an everyday work vehicle to its place in today’s automotive culture as a popular recreational vehicle.

Museum spokeswoman Brittany Cordero said the exhibit has been very popular with museum visitors throughout the spring and summer.

Over the past 50 years, pickups sold in the United States have evolved from boxy, mostly American-made vehicles for farms and construction sites to sculpted, feature-loaded vehicles that not only continue to do heavy hauling but are commonly seen today in urban parking lots.

Over the past generation, pickup producers such as Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge and Ram have seen stiff competition from overseas manufacturers, including Toyota with its Tacoma and Tundra pickups and Nissan’s Frontier and Titan trucks.

Among full-size pickups, Ford and Chevrolet continue to battle it out for supremacy in California and nationwide, as shown by a relentless stream of commercials during the recently concluded Summer Olympics.

“Pickups, along with crossover sport-utility vehicles, have been the hottest sales segment for nearly the past two years,” said Len Brewster, a Detroit-based auto industry analyst. “It’s a distinctly American segment, and Americans find use for pickups for just about every occasion.”

In 2015, the Ford F-Series was the top-selling full-size pickup in the Golden State, with 44,369 registrations, according to the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association. The Chevrolet Silverado was No. 2 with 39,157 registrations.

And yet the pickup segment is one of the few motor vehicle sectors that California does not dominate. That distinction goes to Texas, the nation’s No. 1 pickup market. According to industry tracker IHS Markit, there were 341,589 new pickup registrations in Texas in 2015, representing 14.14 percent of the national market. California was a distant second, with 186,650 registrations representing 7.73 percent of the U.S. market.

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Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover