Lament For The Pickup Truck

“What are you doing?” Mr. Hall shouted from his tractor. He owns the farm next to my friend Dan’s. Dan was hoping Mr. Hall wouldn’t come by that part of the field today.

Oh well. There was Dan, shoveling manure out of the back of his Ford Explorer. “I’m shoveling manure,” he replied.

The old man thought it over for a minute. Then he asked, “Why don’t you use your truck?”

“Don’t have a truck,” Dan explained with great dignity.

Mr. Hall eyed him. “You’re ill equipped for farming,” he said. Then he put the tractor into gear and rolled off.

It’s not Dan’s fault. Like most smallholders, he inherited the land from his grandparents—the land, and not much else. He bought his SUV from a family friend, for way less than it was worth. It fits his wife and two kids. Lay the seats down and it will carry fence posts and firewood. Spread a tarp down on the hatch and it can even haul manure.

Sure, Dan would love a truck. But like most smallholders, money is tight. Every truck he looks at falls into one of two categories: (A) It’s the right size, but so old it’s not worth the money. (B) It’s the right age, but so big that he can’t afford to fill the tank.

That’s the irony of the modern pick-up. It used to be that, if you drove a truck, you were either a farmer, a rancher, or some kind of handyman. It wasn’t a status thing. It didn’t make you tough or macho. It just meant that…well, you needed a truck.

While productive sectors of the economy like agriculture and manufacturing continue to decline, and the trades are starved for manpower, we’ve never had less of a need for pickups. Yet sales continue to rise, and spiked even more sharply in 2020.

Trucks are also getting bigger. Way bigger. Look at the old Chevrolet C/K. It’s half the size of the new Silverado. The 2021 Ford F-150 boasts a towing capability of about 13,000 lbs., or three dumpsters. Which is cool. But you know that 99 percent of the guys driving them won’t haul anything bigger than a 2×4 to patch up their front decks.

Meanwhile, the old-school two-door is going extinct. Most of the models you see on the road now are like SUVs with a tiny bed stuck on the back. The new F-150 looks like it skipped leg day. The 2022 Denali seems to have a vestigial tail. The Hyundai Santa Cruz has a trunk underneath the bed, which is only wide enough to fit two backpacks. The promotional photos show folks riding around with their bicycle hanging off the tailgate. You can’t make this stuff up.

Then there are all of the aftermarket “enhancements.” The whistling turbo. The roaring muffler. The glaring light bar. Folks pay up to $5,000 to make their diesels roll coal, which is a huge waste of fuel.

Car and Driver says the new Ram 1500 “sounds like it ate a band of demons.” Seriously, who are they marketing these things to? Not the farmer, who has to worry about waking up his kids when he goes to work at 4 a.m. Not the landscaper, who probably won’t get much business if his truck rolls up to the client’s house sounding like the Gehenna Symphony Orchestra.

[You can read the rest at The American Conservative. Peace and the Good!]

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