All Hail The Pickup…….

I am back at the keyboard after a short sabbatical to address a couple of health related loose ends at the Cleveland Clinic which gave me time to reflect on what I see around me. These days, I see a heck of a lot of pick-up trucks prompting me to look into the popularity of these vehicles. Much has been written about these American behemoths (the full sized guys) and I could end this piece by suggesting it is simply utility. That doesn’t tell the story though so maybe just a little background on these ultra practical vehicles is in order.

The popularity of the pickup began to grow in the early 1900’s when the farming community discovered the utility of a vehicle configured in such a way as to carry just about anything needed to work small family farms. I can vaguely remember my grandfather back in the late 50’s hauling an entire crop of tobacco to market in a powder blue step side Ford. That was a big day in the warehouses as the buyers from the major tobacco companies walked the isles bidding on your efforts. Today’s trucks are bigger, pricier and a heck of lot nicer than in those days of vinyl, analog instrument clusters and manual transmissions on the steering column. On my daily drives to the gym, I like to take different routes through neighborhoods and note vehicles in driveways, a hold over from my policing experience. I am astonished at the number of pickups on display. Our local dealers have noted this as well, as the big three crowd their lots with the tremendous variety of trucks available these days.

In 2000, the top selling vehicles in America were the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Explorer and Toyota Camry, respectively. In 2022 the lineup has shifted to the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Toyota Rav 4 and the Ram, respectively. The Ram has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity as much for it’s opulent interiors as anything.

We’ve come a long way from a vinyl bench and 3 on the tree!

Trucks do enjoy incredible utility. You can have a tailgate that offers three kinds of access, built in toolboxes (Ram, and I love mine) and interiors that shame the competition in the car segment. Pickups are fitted out in the latest navigation systems, Bose listening, and all the latest in electronic gadgetry. The big three have frames rather than unibody, stiffer but balanced suspensions, depending on your need, and powerful diesels that can yank around 20 thousand pounds with ease, or smaller engines for the commuter. Pickups rule when it comes to depreciation, evidenced by the current pricing of used units. You sit up higher, see more, haul more and are safer in a crash as a result of the higher center of gravity. In a recent Consumer Reports polling of drivers in America, it was gratifying to note the Ram pickup was listed in three categories reflecting America’s opinion of the most loved brands. In comfort, the Ram was second behind the Genesis, sixth in driving enjoyment, and first in cabin storage. The Ram was the only truck that America mentioned! Unfortunately, it polled as the least satisfying in terms of ownership cost. I drive a fully loaded Ram 3500, HO diesel, and can confirm this ultra reliable monster costs a lot to own and operate. On the other hand I think I can see it smile when we back under our RV for another adventure. As the big boys like to say, the Ram ain’t afraid of anything.

38’ and 10,000#, no problem for Cirrus, the Ram

I have owned and enjoyed a variety of vehicles over the years, from Corvettes, BMW Z-cars, and Nissan 300Z’s to sedate family haulers. I have also owned a variety of trucks with a single disappointing model in the mix. I sincerely believe that as long as I can climb into a conveyance, it will be a pickup truck. Today’s pickups are not your grand-daddy’s old farm truck, but can easily slip into that role. All hail the pickup truck, a uniquely American tradition.

As a final point, where would country music be today if we didn’t have pickup trucks? Now that is something to chew on…….

Have a great week!


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