Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Men And Their Trucks Part I

Dale Matson

Property Cleanup

I bought my first new vehicle in 1970. It was a Ford F250 four-wheel drive (4x4) pickup truck. Men frequently name their trucks and mine was “Big Red”. The price tag was $3,500.00 out the door.

Since that time, I have had several vehicles (all 4X4s) including 6 trucks. My first two trucks were Fords and my last four have been Chevys. I understand the loyalty of the Dodge owners too. There are other truck brands but the American trucks are a long American tradition. There is a great deal of brand loyalty, pride and rivalry. Some of this is carried too far with provocative Calvin cartoons on the back window. It is also common to see an NRA sticker on the back window. Young guys like to run through a mud puddle and let it bake on as an exterior coating.

Emblems (also known as badges) on the trucks tell an additional story to other truck owners. The badges tell you if it is a half, three quarter or one ton truck. The one-ton trucks usually are equipped with dual wheels in the back.  Farmers and ranchers prefer them to the lighter trucks. They are big and hard to maneuver in the city. Often there will be a few bales of hay in the back. I think this is for 'tax' purposes.

An additional badge tells if the truck is diesel. Ford is “Powerstroke”, Dodge is “Cummins” and Chevrolet is “Duramax”. Diesel is an expensive option. In the Midwest and wherever road salt is used, the engine will outlast the body. Additionally, starting diesels in sub zero weather can be problematic. In really cold weather, the fuel actually becomes a gel unless it has an additive. The advantages are the increased torque, mpg, and longevity of the diesel engine. The resale remains higher also and used diesels are as scarce as hen's teeth. Guys in gas trucks often have a “Flowmaster” type aftermarket muffler installed on their truck to make it sound more impressive. The best sound however, is the low ‘growl’ of a diesel engine.

Another emblem is the 4X4 decal. Most trucks are two wheel drive. Here’s a surprise to some of you. Not all Z71 off road vehicles (GM) are 4X4s. Having only two-wheel drive for me is not an option. Our cabin driveway is gravel and in the mountains. Mountain driving is less dangerous with a 4X4 with the additional traction and control one has. In winter, vehicles are required to carry tire chains in the mountains. If the roads become snowy you will have to chain up if you only have two-wheel drive. If you have a 4X4, most of the time you will not have to chain up. If it is snowing, use your 4X4 to get home.

Pickup truck cabs were primarily a single bench seat initially, later they went to what is termed a “Crew cab” configuration. This was essentially the addition of a back seat like a sedan. This made the truck much longer with the standard eight-foot box. To counter this the manufacturers began offering a shorter 6.5’ box to allow the truck to fit in the average garage. Some make an extended cab truck that is a narrow seat behind the drivers seat. One of the advantages of the crew cab is the ability of a man to “sell” the concept of buying a truck to his family. The first thing my wife checked with my latest truck was to see if the rear seat could accommodate three baby carriers for grandchildren.

Length can be a problem for trucks. While the average SUV can do a U-turn in an intersection with two lanes on the other side, a truck with a crew cab (even a 6’ box) needs more room. If I lived in a rural area, a crew cab with an 8’ box would work but it is not a truck made for running errands in a city.  

Part II is here:

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