GAYS MILLS - I haven’t been shopping for a truck recently and I don’t think I’ll be going anytime soon. I’m the proud owner of a 34-year-old vintage truck (a 1984 Ford F-150) that serves me well. Although it is not an absolutely necessary vehicle for me, I do enjoy having it and find things to haul for myself and others, in a light-duty way. Before this truck I got by for years with what I called my $50 dollar pickup, a very serviceable homemade utility trailer.
Pickup trucks started out as the epitome of utilitarian ‘wheels,’ vehicles with their work clothes on, ready to serve, to tote and deliver, literally. And for a long time, that was their only role on farms, ranches, businesses, highways and byways. Somewhere along the way, pickups have become much more than practical workhorses. They now confer a certain status. And with that, they have become much more expensive.
I was a bit shocked when I noticed that pickup trucks were easing into the upscale market. I shouldn’t have been surprised; the trend has been going on for quite a while. But spare me! Does everything we buy these days have to have an ‘upscale’ or ‘high end’ category? And I’m thinking the answer to that is yes.
What got my attention was an article I saw last fall as the new 2018 trucks were being unveiled. A man was pictured sitting in the cab of a pickup with a huge grin on his face. The cab looked like the cockpit of a 747 and in fact the article mentioned that this very truck could be used to tow a fighter jet, let alone a trailer load of cattle or construction supplies.
The sheer towing and hauling power of modern full-sized trucks is impressive, and really what trucks started out being about. Add to that some luxury features like two-toned leather heated (and massaging!) seats, heated steering wheels, backup cameras, panoramic glass roofs, and pretty quickly you’re in luxury territory. While the average base price for everyday work trucks is about $33,000, luxury models, started up from a long menu of options, average $45,000 and can go much higher. Top of the heap according to the article I saw was a fully loaded Ford F-450 Super Duty listed at $94,455. A friend recently showed me a picture he took of the price tag on a new truck: $101,000!
New truck sales are now about double the sales of new cars. This is a little confusing because there are many categories of trucks including vans, minivans and SUVs—the modern versions of station wagons. Actual pickup trucks are used as family cars now with their crew cabs and so on. Truck owners often cite increased safety of driving a truck, built as they are, high and heavy. That’s the trucks that I’m referring to.
So picture yourself at a stoplight between a huge heavy duty pickup and, say, a gas-sipping compact Chevrolet Spark. You’re sitting between a vehicle with as much as 500 horsepower and one with 98. It can be a visual shock if both vehicles are driven by young women and their kids, out on a grocery run. The contrast can give a fella a headache.
Anyway, summer will soon be here and my vinyl seats will be heated again.