Lifestyle

The Pickup Truck: America’s Vehicle

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When I moved to Texas in 1992, the first vehicle I learned to drive was an old manual Chevy pickup with no power steering, no power brakes, and a column gearshift with only four gears (including reverse). It was so old the original bed had rusted clean through and was replaced with two layers of plywood, and even that had holes. We managed a small motel in Kerrville, Texas, and while old, the truck was the most reliable piece of equipment on the property. That thing was nearly impossible to drive for a lanky 15-year old first-time driver, but I loved driving that old truck. When the property was sold, it was one of the first things I asked my parents about, “Did they you get to keep the truck?” There was just something about that beat up pick-up.

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Photo: Pixabay.com

No matter what part of Texas you live in, it’s clear our love affair with trucks is nothing to scoff about, so much so even Toyota has built a plant in San Antonio to build its full-sized Tundra. It’s hard to imagine, but there are small oblivious bastions of pickup free portals in this country who honestly believe every truck owner is a smelly, good-ol’ boy that can’t tell his d’s from his b’s and is simply in need of an oversized gas guzzling man card. The truth is trucks are the most popular vehicle in nearly every state of our union. In 39 out of our 50 states, the Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle among consumers, according to everycarlisted.com.

What makes the pickup truck America’s vehicle? If I had to guess it’s because a pick-up is America summed up in four wheels, an engine, and some metal. The truth is, not every truck is a farm or ranch truck. Honestly, you can go to most major cities in our country and see shiny, never-been-used pick-ups with every tech gadget you can possibly imagine. Then a block away you will likely see an old beater that’s been used and abused because that is its job. Whether you’re a dude or a lady, driving a pick-up says something. Sure it’s a status symbol, but it’s also somewhat of a cultural icon.

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Photo: Pixabay.com

Living in a small farming community at the base of the Hill Country, trucks are the heart and soul of our little town. Out here the truck is what a horse used to be, with a few extra bells and whistles. A truck goes beyond a weekend toy for these folks, it’s their life. Everything they do is tied to a truck and in many cases, it shows. The dirt, dents and scars tell a story of a vehicle that has more importance than just getting from point “A” to point “B.” That is what a truck represents no matter where its rubber meets the road. The heart of hard work, rough hands, and long days stretching into quiet nights.

In 2013, Dodge secretly planned a Super Bowl ad for their Ram truck highlighting this idea to its core. The commercial was based on a speech given by iconic radio broadcaster Paul Harvey entitled “So God made a farmer.”  It became one of their most popular commercials and to this day resonates with most Americans of what a truck really represents. The commercial was so popular Dodge teamed up with National Geographic to create a photo book, “The Farmer in All of Us” with over 1,000 pictures taken of farmers and ranchers across the country. Take a look at the commercial,  it highlights several Hill Country farmers and ranchers.

Even though there are trucks that never see a day of “work” in their lives, it’s the idea that makes it so appealing. When talking to my wife about this article she said, “most of the people I knew with trucks never used them for ‘truck’ stuff, but they bought them because they looked cool and they thought one day they would probably have a use for it.” As she recalls, in college people with trucks became everyone’s best friends because at moving time, they were the only ones capable of getting anything moved.

Deep down, many Americans long for days gone by, and the pick up has been there throughout our history. No matter where you live, your politics, religion or beliefs the pick-up is as American as baseball and apple pie, and always will be.