Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Fancy Pickup Trucks

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation



I came late to pickup trucks. I bought my first at 33, even though I’d ridden in and driven several before then. I mean well worn, rusted bed, magnificent, no frills vehicles used as tools. Those were the trucks of my youth, and I respected the men who drove them.

I decided on a 1983 Datsun. I bought mine shortly after my brother annihilated the owner of a local dealership during a No Interest sales drive. I use the term annihilated loosely here. Much like furniture stores, jewelry dealerships, and gambling casinos, car dealerships seldom lose money. They just make less than they want from time to time.

When I showed up on a rainy Thursday, driving a Bellsouth corporate truck, no salesperson ventured outside. The owner wanted to prove a point so he vowed to make the sale. When I mentioned Rick, a look of resignation appeared. He mistakenly thought I was a relentless horse trader like my brother. Lucky for me.

I bought that truck because it was a good deal, and I did enjoy driving it, but I found a myriad of uses for a truck within hours of driving it home, and instantly began getting calls from old friends needing help moving heavy stuff. I also found it valuable for transporting 13-year-olds from place to place during baseball season.

Rick and I could get the whole team into our truck beds. I hope the statute of limitations has expired on endangering children. What we were doing would get a hefty prison sentence these days. Or maybe cancelled.

I owned a pickup off and on for several decades, finishing with an ancient one my friend Terry basically gave me. That Toyota was so decrepit no one but Quigley, the Greatest Dog That Ever Lived, would ride shotgun. And, like all my trucks, it was light on accessories.

I bought a cheap cup holder from Walmart for each of my trucks so I could rest a coffee cup and have a place to put loose change and cassette decks, which evolved into CDs. That’s all I needed.

I thought about old pickup trucks while watching TV recently. An ad for some new four door monstrosity raved primarily about the magical tailgate that would do numerous things. My last truck’s tailgate fell off if you lowered it incorrectly.

Trucks once were signs of working men. Now they’ve become part of the religion of Capitalism. People, men mostly, buy into some fantasy about trucks and the simple life and the romantic notion of the West. But nobody’s buying that truck.

The one with the fancy tailgate costs about 100k. We should have realized when the first bed liner was installed, the basic pickup truck jumped the shark. Now we see computer screens, tool boxes, bed covers, rear seats, and the same driver assistance devices available in cars. Imagine some old farmer admitting a computer helped him back up his livestock trailer.

Real working guys can’t afford new trucks unless they mortgage their children, dogs, and guns. While visiting Ireland a decade back, I didn’t see any trucks. Working men and farmers drove compact, fuel-efficient SUVs, and did just fine.

And they could parallel park without assistance.

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