Truck yeah

This blog has to start with music …

… though it is neither about country music nor the subgenre called “bro-country.” Even though Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah” isn’t entirely about pickup trucks, this blog is about the country’s leading selling vehicles.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the year-to-date sales of new U.S. vehicles through September, the traditional (but not so much anymore) start of the new car season:

  1. Ford F-Series, 595,656.
  2. Chevrolet Silverado, 425,556.
  3. Ram pickup, 361,086.
  4. Toyota Camry, 297,453.

(By the way: For whatever reason most of my life I have tied popular music to events in my life, such as family vacations. The first year I was paid to cover sports Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” was on top 40 radio, as was Waukesha’s Bodeans’ “Fadeaway,” while I was driving to Waukesha to cover my first state softball tournament. I think one of them was on while I tried to get a photo of the back of the softball team’s bus while driving on Interstate 94 with, of course, a manual-focus film camera. Don’t attempt that at home; I am a trained professional.)

Like almost everything else, truck ownership sets off, or perhaps more accurately exposes, a cultural divide in this country. I blogged previously about a question posed of Washington-area journalists — how many of them knew a truck owner — and how the questioner got his head practically bitten off by those who didn’t want to answer.

By now you’re probably wondering why I decided to bring this up this week. It has nothing to do with this:

This is a 1995 Chevrolet K-1500, now part of the Presteblog fleet. This style of truck was sold by Chevy and GMC for 13 years, following the previous design that was sold for 15 years.

This is a kind of truck I’ve always wanted for reasons revealed in the next paragraph, though perhaps there was some hypnotic suggestion involved from Max the copilot, because …

This truck includes several features on my list of proper things for vehicles in a combination you cannot buy new today. It has a 350 V-8, an engine that, speaking from past experience, is practically indestructible even if you take less care of it than you should. (The engine design dates back to the original Chevy small-block V-8, first produced in 1955. For a company known for sending technology into the world before it was really ready, GM got the small-block right.) It has real gauges instead of low-battery and low-oil-pressure idiot lights. It has four-wheel drive, though the kind the driver has to turn on and off through shifting a floor shifter. And speaking of shifting, it has the millennial anti-theft device, a five-speed manual transmission.

It is the first Chevrolet we’ve owned in 25 years, after I replaced my 1988 Beretta GT two years after purchase due to simultaneously making car payments and paying repair bills. (“Beretta” is Italian for “lemon” or the French word “merde,” I believe.) Our truck, built in Oshawa, Ont., is a pre-Government Motors Chevy, our first GM product since our blast-to-drive-but-too-small-for-a-baby-seat Pontiac Sunbird GT was retired for a minivan. But neither GM nor Ford nor Fiat Chrysler nor anyone else sells a new gas-V8-powered four-wheel-drive truck with a proper stick shift. (With a clutch that will give me a nice left-leg workout every time I drive it. Driving a truck with a stick is not like driving most cars with a stick.)

The previous owner said he did a lot of work on the truck, so while the outside looks like a 22-year-old truck, the mechanicals appear to have been upgraded (including a three-inch lift kit for previous larger tires), including a replacement transmission. (In our search for this truck, it amazed me how many vehicles were for sale with it-didn’t-come-with-the-vehicle engines and/or transmissions. Then again, I know someone who purchased a demonstrator Buick Regal that ended up with a replacement engine and transmission.) He used his for work; I plan on the same, though I do not intend to take it off road unless, well, you know.

I certainly hope it’s been mechanically improved, lest …

Readers will recall I once mused about what a journalist should drive due to a problem getting a particular photo. Well, here’s the answer to at least the issue of being able to get up high enough — to get on top of the truck’s topper, or stand in the bed, if the local authorities don’t want you getting a particular photo. Add to that a dashcam, public-service-band radio scanner, and 12-volt power inverter, and who needs an office?

Ansel Adams

According to a Facebook meme I saw yesterday, owning a Chevy means “I love America and may own guns.” That could apply to Ford as well, of course. It’s been said that you don’t actually need to own a pickup (or boat), you just need to know someone who has one. I guess we’ll

Our new-to-us truck shows off the emotional attachment some drivers have with their vehicles. The seller asked to start what he called “The Beast.” He had installed a MagnaFlow muffler and dual exhaust on it (thus most likely improving the engine from its 1995 listing of 210 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque), and he wanted to hear the engine and exhaust sound one last time. Driving is a sensory experience.



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