An Ode to Small Pickup Trucks



Wood worker and boat builder Bill Thomas had had it and finally located a 1980s VW Bus/Syncro (bullet hole-free) pickup in Bosnia and had it shipped to England, where it traveled via freighter to Maine. After a total rebuild, he had a vehicle with an 9-foot bed, fold-down sides, and a capacious lockable storage compartment underneath.

 My cabinet- and guitar-making buddy Jim is nursing his elderly Ford Ranger long bed — fun to drive, efficient, maneuverable and very fuel-efficient with repair parts and tires quite reasonable. Whenever I have to haul a heavy boat out up a steep ramp, it’s my 1954 Willys pickup I go to: It's heavy duty, low range and collectively, offers 42 leaf springs in the suspension. It’s tougher than a boiled owl and reliable.

So what is this passion for elderly trucks? Nostalgia?

No, rather it’s the undeniable fact that in the nation that developed the utility, myth and mystique of the small utility truck, manufacturers have now decided to discontinue building them and to throw the working person who depends on these unique vehicles over the rail for profit.

Where Have All the Work Trucks Gone?

That’s not to say those vehicles aren’t out there in the rest of the world. On every continent outside of North America, you can still find real “work” trucks. Efficient, reliable tools that make their owners money. But here, alas, we are forced to select from a profit-enhancing array of lookalike, jumbo versions of a small child’s Tonka truck. Big-wheeled, rotund pickups equipped with more bling and easy to break distractions than used to be found in a pink 1955 Cadillac Seville with white leather seats driven by a pearl-wearing, silver-haired dowager named Maude.

Even the venerable and utilitarian Jeep has developed a middle-aged paunch rivaling in size of the Rubenesque Hummer — ready to be dolled up with available snorkel, winch and industrial jack for those dangerous missions to the mall.

10/17/2017 7:17:01 PM

I see fat-ass trucks everywhere. And I’m pretty confident I’ve hauled more weight with a standard transmission hatchback and trailer than 90% Of the shiny 4x4 fat-ass trucks I see in the road every day.

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