The world can seem so divided. We live in a time where there’s a constant news cycle and it always seems to be delivering dreadful stories. It’s even worse if the subjects of those stories impact you personally. This week, we found out there’s one thing that can bring everyone together, and it’s a good classic American pickup truck.
This week, we’ve shown you how the second-generation Dodge Ram changed truck design and why the Cummins 5.9-liter 12-valve diesel is a legendary engine. We also explained why the clean, simple, and classy General Motors GMT400 design is another American truck superstar. The trucks of today may be hulking beasts with less outward visibility than a submarine, but in a not-too-distant past, pickup trucks were just as beautiful as they were functional.
Adrian’s design breakdown of the GMT400 welled up fond memories from other fans of classic American iron. PlatinumZJ looked back and gave us a story that will give you a sensible chuckle:
Excellent article! My father bought his first Suburban in the late ’80s; he traded it in 1990 for a two-tone red and white Suburban. I remember the ‘fuel injection’ badge on the back door (it had two doors instead of a tailgate) being quite a conversation starter. I always liked the velour, and really liked the look of the fancy captain’s chairs in the front. The dashboard design was interesting; it had the ‘modern’ plastic upper part but a lower part made of metal, just right for a kid with a magnet collection. I do wonder why it had a giant fuel gauge where most manufacturers would have put a tachometer, but if I’m remembering correctly the tachometer may have been some kind of special option.
I also remember when such large vehicles weren’t common. We were at a fancy restaurant for some big occasion, and Dad decided to use valet parking. After dinner, while we were outside waiting for the valet, some ladies who had been enjoying themselves a bit too much stumbled outside. They were astounded when the valet drove up with the Suburban; one of them assumed that such a truck must belong to the restaurant, and blurted out “Where do they take people in that thing?” The valet told her he had no idea, and that she should ask the truck’s owner.
Meanwhile, Andy Individual figured what happened to the buttons in cars:
“GM was also in the habit of using two buttons where one would do”
So that’s where all the buttons went. They got used up!
Nsane In The MembraNe shares their own story. Adrian really got people in the feels with that piece:
As a fellow elder millennial I couldn’t agree more. There aren’t a whole lot of vehicles I’m deeply nostalgic for but the GMT400/800 and a lot of the Ford equivalents (until the late 90s F150, that thing is hideous and too busy) just do it for me, and the “why” is very simple.
A lot of us have fond memories of being schlept around in these when we were kids. In my neck of the woods (and I’ll acknowledge I’m showing some privilege here) Explorers, Expeditions, Suburbans, Tahoes, etc. were more or less standard kit for families. I was taken to countless soccer games, Six Flags trips, birthday parties, etc. in the back seats of these trucks. I can hear Flagpole Sitta just thinking about it.
And then they had a resurgence when we all reached driving age because they were all long paid off, still running, and our parents (incorrectly) thought bigger meant safer. My high school parking lot was loaded with 90s trucks and SUVs in the late 2000s. My first car was a 96 Explorer that got passed down to me and that thing meant the world to me as a teenager. I could do whatever I wanted! Drive anywhere. Smoke in it. Pile 5-7 friends in. Park it and hop in the backseat with my girlfriends. Fill it with cases of beer my friends’ older siblings had bought for us. Etc.
Basically this is a long winded way of saying a lot of us did a lot of growing up in these trucks. I get why there’s a market for pristine examples on sites like Cars and Bids…because now a fair amount of us have some money to spend, are having kids, and get a kick out of buying an as close to showroom example as possible of what we spent our formative years in.
Finally, we have a message from Crank Shaft, who wants to see our wonderful Jason recover without having to worry about the horrors of navigating the American healthcare system:
You know what’s bad design? Our health insurance deductible and coinsurance system. Emergency surgery costs a fortune out of pocket. If you haven’t heard, our beloved Jason Torchinsky suffered such an event on Monday and will experiencing the financial pain right before the holidays. Please help ease his burden by donating to the Torch Medical Expense Fund today.
I want to thank all of you for your continued support and love! Your awesome comments and generosity makes our days, weeks, and months. Have a great weekend.