Home » Chevrolet Reviews »Featured »Hooniversal Opinion » Currently Reading:

When Trucks Were Trucks

Your narrator grew up in rural Michigan, where livestock outnumber people tenfold, and every household has at least one truck. My family wasn’t particularly brand loyal, but our trucks were always made in the USA, and were always single-cab bench-seat rubber-floor-mat work truck specials. Our trucks, be they Ram, Silverado, or F-150, had an AM/FM radio, maybe a tape deck if you were lucky, a pair of tinny speakers in the doors, a trio of safety belts, and an American V8 engine powering the rear wheels. Even four-wheel-drive was too fancy for our old farm. These trucks were used and abused, hammering through the fields, hauling hay, sheep, firewood, etc., but they were a necessary part of our daily operation.

What Trucks Mean To Me

Language shifts and changes to fit. It is occasionally possible for a word to completely have its meaning changed to be an antonym of its original meaning. Remember that decade or so when when ‘bad’ actually meant ‘good’? The connotation of the word ‘truck’ has wound its way through a strange journey from ‘inexpensive utilitarian transport, often on par with farming implements, used primarily to transport goods’ to the contemporary definition ‘exorbitantly priced luxury vehicle, often with all of the modern tech and seating for 6, used primarily to commute to an office building’. The trucks of now are too large, overpowered, and far too expensive.

Thanks to consumer demands for leather and premium audio, as well as legislative demands for active safety tech, the average price of a full-size pickup truck these days is in excess of $50,000. Where the truck was once an American institution, manufacturers have pushed prices well beyond what the average person can afford. Furthermore, if you’re spending fifty-grand on your truck, how likely are you to treat your truck as a tool to get the job done, rather than luxury barges to ferry your entire clan across town, usually with nothing in the bed.

In preparation for the launch of the new Silverado, Chevrolet invited us down to Texas to check out their ‘100 years of Chevy Trucks’ event. As part of the event, we were given ride-alongs in race-prepared autocross trucks, we had a chance to ask Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a question, we got to drive the new Tahoe RST performance SUV, and we were in the crowd to witness the unveiling of the 2019 Chevy full-size. All of that paled in comparison to one particular aspect of the program; Chevrolet pulled a few trucks out of their Heritage Collection and we were afforded an opportunity to get behind the wheel.

The quartet of vintage trucks on hand perfectly exemplify what trucks have, until recently, meant to us.

The 1926 Chevrolet Superior X Stake Truck

This is ‘truck’ at its most pure and unaltered form. This Superior X was only about 10 years removed from motor cars overtaking horse-drawn carriage as America’s primary transport, and in many off-the-beaten places they were still quite common, especially for agricultural use.

This truck made hauling supplies a slightly more rapid affair. Unladen it can probably hit about 45 miles per hour, but we were told by the heritage collection folks  that they aren’t allowed to take it to that speed because it starts shaking itself apart. Oh, and by the way, the truck only has a pair of drum brakes on the rear axle. Okay then, 30 MPH is just fine, thanks.

The single-carburetor side-valve 4-cylinder engine under the split folding hood makes a whopping 35 horsepower, and the floor shifted 3-speed transmission was cutting edge tech for the time. Even more opulent, this particular model was fitted with optional electric start. Even in Texas, the December cold has crept in, and the optional heater doesn’t seem to be doing much in the truck’s doorless cabin. Even loaded up with all of those options, this truck was just $550 when new (which equates to about $7600 today, when inflation is accounted for).  

This Chevrolet has far more in common with a farming implement than it does a modern truck.

The 1956 Chevrolet 3100 Series

I’ve worked at the Heritage Collection a long time, and this is maybe the second time I’ve seen this truck taken anywhere,” says Louis, the ultra-low-mile truck’s assigned handler for the day. This a pretty special occasion, then. From new this black beauty has been driven just 7,000 miles. It remains unrestored, but Louis said they occasionally replace old seals or rubber brake lines as needed.

This is, in our opinion, the most stylish truck Chevrolet has ever built, and that’s for a reason. In the early 1950s Chevrolet learned that their trucks were, by and large, being sold to small business owners. When the 1955 truck was designed, they asked their customers what they wanted. Many of them felt that a truck with advanced, modern, and eye-catching passenger-car-inspired design would help them to promote their services. You’ll find a lot of these old trucks with hand-lettered business names and telephone numbers on the doors, and that’s by design.  

The spread between this 3100 and the Superior X is astonishing. Huge progress was made in the 30 years separating the two. More than just the fact that the 3100 Series has doors, it’s incredibly comfortable, like cruising a sofa down the road. Granted, the drive route to test these trucks was short, only a few miles at best, but with a stunning 162-horsepower small block V8 under the hood acceleration is slightly more expedient than glacial.  

The 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne Half-ton

Floaty, bouncy, and vague are good descriptors for this truck. The steering wheel takes your inputs as suggestions and metes out a calm instruction to the front wheels to turn when they feel like it. You have to treat this truck as though it is an aircraft carrier. The throttle pedal is similarly lethargic in providing response from the engine through the chunky, slow-shifting automatic back to the rear wheels.

By modern standards it is an objectively worse driving experience than anything sold today, but were it not for that wave of nostalgia rushing over us with the first click of the driver’s door button. This is the kind of truck we grew up on, and the pure simplicity is endearing. The olive-painted dashboard matches one of the two exterior tones, and likely a Sears Coldspot refrigerator hauled home in the bed matched, too.

The seat is an overstuffed couch cushion that would take years of sitting to permanently imprint our bum. This low-mile truck has barely been worn in, and while not exactly uncomfortable, the seat springs still held enough of their original sproing to force our legs up into the bottom of the large rimmed steering tiller with every dip or crack in the road surface. The truck angles slightly forward, just begging for a bit of weight over those rear wheels. This Cheyenne was meant for hauling, and not much else.

The 1978 Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 Regular Cab

This is the pinnacle of truck. Even through the late 1970s, most trucks were two-wheel driven affairs, so a four-wheeler pickup like this Silverado was a specialty. This particular truck has been modified in a way that many of us would love to have it in our own garage.

Chevrolet Performance built this truck for the SEMA show back in 2013, and unlike most of the gaudy pseudo monster trucks they show off there, this tasteful truck cuts a practical figure. After living its life as a well cared for farm truck in Wisconsin, this 4×4 was treated to a full frame-off restoration. There are very few deviations from stock with this truck, excepting the choice of drivetrain – now powered by a 5.3L E-Rod V8 crate motor mated to a modern 4L70E automatic – and a 2-inch suspension lift. It looks mean and meaty with a set of 16×8 wheels on all four corners.

With very few miles since the restoration, this truck felt showroom fresh with tight suspension and steering no more numb than it likely would have been new. There’s still a bit of bounce over road imperfections, but it’s not nearly as floaty as the 1971 felt.

At partial throttle, you’d never guess this truck is anything but late 70s iconic pickup, but as soon as foot is matted into the loud pedal, hold on. With the E-Rod’s 336 horsepower available, this mega truck will scoot a fair sight better than it ever would have from new. In 1978, the most powerful small block available in this line of truck would have been the 400ci with a whopping 185 horses.

Progress is good, up to a point, but it feels like current production trucks are being made bigger and ostensibly better for the sake of ever bigger towing numbers. Chevrolet makes a point of noting that their Duramax HD trucks now have a bonkers 910 lb/ft of torque, and a hellacious price tag to go along with it. Does anyone really need a $70,000 truck with a 20,000 pound towing capacity?

This modern engine in a vintage platform feels like what trucks should have become. The average truck owner does not need anything more than this perfectly capable four wheel drive pickup. Like the majority of sports car owners that will never set rubber to race track, we’re convinced that the majority of truck buyers will never haul or tow anything close to what their truck is capable of, and would be perfectly happy with a right-sized moderate truck like this one.

Chevrolet may have brought us to Texas in an effort to convince us how great their new truck is going to be. By putting us at the wheel of some of their greatest hits, though, we’re now more convinced than ever that buying an old truck is the right move. For the average new truck price, you could buy a fleet of old work trucks, and an E-Rod LS3 for good measure.

[Overhead “100” photo supplied by Chevrolet – All other photos copyright Bradley C. Brownell/Hooniverse]

  • Zentropy

    Good read. I sold my last pickup about the time my first child was born, figuring it wasn’t an appropriate “family vehicle”. I have sincerely regretted it ever since, finding good reason to need a truck on a weekly basis. My father has a ’67 International pickup, the restoration of which he’s been delaying repeatedly. I’m thinking it would be just what I need, if I can talk him into a good price!

    • P161911

      That’s funny, I bought a truck when my first child was born in 2011. I had a few beater trucks before (79 Ranchero, 84 Chevy K-10 longbed, 89 F-150 long bed extended cab 2wd). I bought a new 2011 Silverado extended cab 2wd V-6 work truck as my Daddy vehicle. I was buying GM due to a family discount (wife’s grandfather is a GM retiree) and wanted new due to the warranty, long term financing, and crazy rebates (under $20k after rebates). Of course the truck also replaced a BMW Z3 as my daily driver, which doesn’t work real well with car seats.

      • Zentropy

        Ironic. I sold my Ranger and bought a used BMW 325 sedan.

  • cap’n fast

    Great article. good read.
    I stepped into Mr. Peabody’s way back machine and recalled 2003 as a pretty good year. late in 2002, Chisler came out with the “cab forward” pickup design and i needed to replace the old ford. I found a local dealer had what i wanted in a pickup in stock with what i wanted as a package. they had about 50 of them just in. the price was a bit high for me but what the hell, i should just go and give it a try. when the finance guy(their new GM got involved and wanted a midweek sale really bad) went from $36.6K down to $28.8K i said ok and bought it. I still have it. pretty good truck. Built in Mexico. Diesel. manual trans. Useful truck. pulls the 11K lb. fifth wheel thru the Rockies. Heavy-7K lbs. empty.
    your right. just for grins, priced a new truck with the same package. $62K. not happening for me. emissions systems on new trucks are horrendous. the component parts are cheaply made, and the dealer techs doing warranty service are all young minions without leadership from gray hairs. I suspect that happened during Chislers involvement with Diabolical Bent. enough bitching.
    Doing the long term ownership/maintenance thing with this one. four doors and AWD. long term is the way. still no rust.

    • Alff

      Lucky you. I’m still driving the 2002 Ram I bought new that spring. Running strong at 150K miles, but the bedside rust is an eyesore. BTW, you got a pretty good deal. I think I gave $27.5 for a gas powered half ton SLT.

      I only need a pickup for a few thousand miles each year. I can’t justify laying out the prices they fetch today, so I guess I’ll be hanging on to this one for ever. Maybe I’ll fix the rust.

  • You can still buy a 45 MPH, doorless, 2WD, single cab, farm-capable, utterly utilitarian work truck for the Superior X’s $7600 adjusted price. It’s just called a side-by-side or UTV now.

    • P161911

      At the $7600, I don’t see the point when you can get a decent used pick up for the same price. Plus the truck is road legal. My dad was looking into getting a UTV or golf cart for their lake place to go from the house to the dock (about a 80ft. elevation change in 100 yards, there is a road and he is now 72). He ended up getting a rough but running 1996 Jeep Wrangler for less than $2400 after a few necessary repairs.

      • outback_ute

        $7,600 sounds really out of whack as today’s equivalent value. I bet the 1926 truck was not 1/3-1/2 a years’ wage at the time! (at a guess, I don’t know what the US number is)

        • Bradley Brownell

          For the sake of posterity…

          Average income for a male in 1926 was $1949 annually.
          At $550 the stake truck would account for 28% of the average man’s salary.

          Average income for a household in 2017 was $73,298 annually.
          At $7600 the equivalent stake truck would account for 9.64% of the average household’s income.

          • outback_ute

            Fair enough, I stand corrected

  • I_Borgward

    What keeps foreign manufacturers from marketing light trucks in the U.S. that are actually made for work, rather than posturing and suburban cruising? Why do our tax laws encourage people to buy high-buck Space Shuttles stuffed with electronics just to haul feed? Why do our regulations treat light trucks seperately from passenger vehicles, even if most are used as passenger vehicles 95% of the time?

    SO MANY QUESTIONS. In the meantime, enjoy your $70,000 USD pickup.

    • P161911

      Because of the Chicken Tax: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tax

      • I_Borgward

        Yes! Thank you for playing the straight man on that.

        • outback_ute

          Thing is the chicken tax does not apply to many countries that have trade agreements. They also need to make the leap to invest in certification costs; I remember reading that VW were looking at 100,000 sales as a minimum to bring in the Amarok.

          The fact that so many manufacturers have dropped the plain single cab says a lot.

    • I_Borgward

      relaxed light truck regulations
      + protected market
      + tax advantages
      = accountant says, screw the Mercedes, can you dress that F-350 up some more?
      There’s something driving new pickup design all right, and it ain’t your working man.

      Now get off of my lawn!

      • crank_case

        In fairness, the Mercedes is a dressed up Nissan

    • Foreign manufacturers marketing work vehicles in the US: It actually does happen, but not much, and they tend to be knockdown kits assembled in NAFTA countries, or US-specific product. Examples are the Mercedes-Benz Metris and Sprinter, and the Nissan NV200/Chevrolet City Express and Nissan NV (that one’s interesting, it’s a US-specific product based on the previous-gen Titan). The Ram ProMaster City (Fiat Doblò) and Ram ProMaster (Fiat Ducato) are also European-specific product imported and modified for our market, the Ducato being released well before Fiat’s merger with Chrysler, and the Doblò not long after.

      Tax laws… I think some of those loopholes were closed in the wake of people starting sham businesses to buy H2s? That said, there’s a fair amount of opposition to telling businesses what they need to do their job…

      Treating light trucks separately from passenger vehicles is because light trucks legitimately have higher capability and therefore need looser standards… the problem is that there’s no real gatekeeping on accessing that capability. And, Americans want large, V8 (or V8-like driving experience), body on frame sedans. The large V8 body on frame sedan exists, it just got taller, got more towing capacity, more payload, and is called a crew cab 5.5′ bed full-size pickup.

      (This is why I think a CDL should be required for anything that calls itself a light truck and is manufactured after a certain date. That also solves the problem of things like Chrysler getting the PT Cruiser classified as a light truck to help their truck CAFE averages – they’d have to count it as a car to sell any.)

  • GTXcellent

    Nice read Bradley, but I guess I’ll have to be the contrarian to your general point.

    A little background – My family has always had a pickup. I bought my first pickup before I could legally drive. I think I’m at 9 of them – the earliest a ’65 C-10, up to my current ’12 F150 SuperCrew.

    An old pickup is AWESOME – unless they’re being used to do actual truck stuff. Pulling my car trailer with the SuperCrew is wonderful. Built in trailer brake control, sway control, 420 ft/lbs of torque – it’s an absolute dream. Back up just a couple of trucks ago to my ’97 Dodge Ram – even with a 360 and aftermarket brake control – not quite white knuckle, but you sure had to be paying a LOT of attention to what you were doing. I can’t even imagine trying to pull the same trailer with my 1970 CST-10. Everything is bigger now – people have bigger boats, bigger campers, bigger pants sizes – trucks need to grow.

    I absolutely get what you’re saying – about the current generation of urban wanna-be cowboys who simply view trucks as a status symbol and never haul anything more than luggage in the bed. But for those of us who actually need a pickup, why can’t we have heated leather seats and navigation and every other creature comfort available?

    • To be contrary to your contrarianism, some ’70 pickups work just fine with car trailers.


      • outback_ute

        Can you compare the towing experience against a modern truck?

        To take GTX’s point further, an old pickup would be great as a weekend-warrior machine, as in using it for actual pickup work, but for an everyday, all-day machine give me the modern one every time. There is something to be said for the refinement that reduces fatigue at the end of the day.

        In recent times I’ve had the chance to drive base work-truck versions of a new Mitsubishi Triton (2.5L turbodiesel, 6-sp auto) and a 10-yo Toyota Hilux (2.7L petrol, 5-sp manual) with about 170,000 miles, both were plastic everywhere, vinyl seat, rubber floor, bare metal rear cab wall versions and remarkably similar. The Mitsubishi had the luxuries of a reverse camera, bluetooth etc, and the TD engine made the main difference in having more torque and more gears, but otherwise they both had hard suspension (which I don’t mind), very little storage space (which is a hassle) and drove reasonably well.

        Not the same roadholding/grip as a passenger car or CUV which is mostly due to the tyres but partly the suspension setup, and something I imagine a lot of people overlook especially when putting their family in either a pickup or pickup-based SUV.

        • “Can you compare the towing experience against a modern truck?”

          Nope. No idea. It can comfortably tow a heavier load at freeway speeds than can an MGB, an MG Metro, or a SAAB 96 V4 if those help as points of comparison.

          • outback_ute

            Hmm, who would have thought that a pickup makes a better tow rig than a sports car ;-} I’ve seen quite a few MGB’s with tow bars, I don’t have one for my Imp but they are around. I’ve been thinking of making a ‘back half’ trailer… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c0cf25bae14d216e17b479e57b30d994a6e191ffeb44b400decd73f152ac083.jpg

            • crank_case

              Sure MGBs are practically tractors. 😀

            • “Back half” trailers can be handy but in my experience a flatbed is more versatile.


              • outback_ute

                I have a folding trailer with a 8×5′ deck for that sort of thing. I thought you were going to say a ‘back half’ trailer is heavy for what it is.

                • They certainly can be heavy but I’ve just taken that as the price paid for either a stylistic choice or a “what we’ve got” necessity. I’d like to see more mismatched sets, such as a Spitfire trunk being pulled by a TR6, but I imagine a lot of people with a TR6 already have the additional makings of a TR6 trailer, perhaps several.

                  • You took the words right out of my mouth. My personal experience with MG-Bs is that no matter how many parts cars you have it never seems to be enough.

    • crank_case

      I can see both points of view for sure, it really depends what you’re using it for. A real basic hose-it-out truck makes sense tipping about on the farm, but if you’re on the road for long periods it makes sense to be comfortable. I know it’s not technically a truck but a friend of mine works in motorway electrical maintenance and uses a Commercial Land Rover Discovery 4. He can spend long days on the road, travelling one end of Ireland to the other and back (it’s a small country but still) and the comfort really reduces the incredible fatigue, especially as the job can be physically tough when you get there.

      He’s often towing a massive trailer so assistance with that is handy, the 4WD and assisted climb/hill descent stuff actually gets used and means he can get off the motorway rather than parking up on the hard shoulder, which improves the safety of the job.

      It’s not a cheap vehicle, but he builds it into the costs of his business and it pays for itself.

  • P161911

    But what is the starting price of the 2WD V-6 work truck Silverado?
    Full size trucks have to have the broadest price range of any vehicle. The difference between the 1/2 ton 2wd, V-6, short bed work truck and the 1/2 ton V-8, 4X4, 4 door, super deluxe ZXLT-71 King Dude version can be $40,000 or more. Not too mention the 1 ton diesel Super Doody high end versions.

    • outback_ute

      Base F250 is about $34k, more comparable to the sort of vehicle Brad is talking about at the start. Not a V8 but if complaining about overpowered modern trucks, dare I say ‘adequate’?

      • Bradley Brownell

        34K is still a hell of a lot more than I can afford.

        Oh, and by the by, good luck finding a base F150 on a dealer lot.

        • wunno sev

          they’re all over the place! sure, i’m in Texas where trucks are king, but check this out: i hit up cars.com and searched for brand-new F-150s within 150 miles of me (i’m in Waco, so i need to stretch my tendrils to Dallas and Austin to get a reasonable selection). sorted by price: the cheapest result is $21,632, and the first 20 results are all under $23k. that’ll get you a brand-new, full-size, properly work-spec pickup truck that can do everything a 30-year-old truck can do, but one billion times more safely, comfortably, and efficiently.

          i agree that people buy way more truck than they need, but i disagree that they can’t get the trucks you’re describing. it’s not the manufacturers pushing truck prices beyond what the average person can afford, it’s the typical truck buyer. the manufacturers are just giving them what they want.

          but if you want (or can only afford) a simple, “honest” truck, go get it. it’s still there, it’s better than it’s ever been, and it will be there as long as work crews need something to beat on.

  • Fuhrman16

    Actually, from the little research I’ve done, pickups haven’t gotten all that much expensive. For example, a base model V8 Dodge Ram from 20 years ago had a MSRP of about $18,975. Adjusted for inflation that’s around $28,000. The base model V6 Ram truck today costs $26,495. That is currently the cheapest full size pickup on the market, followed by Chevy ($27595), Ford ($27610), Nissan ($29780), and Toyota ($34770).
    Chevy, Nissan, and Toyota offer midsize pickups that do cost less (around 21 grand for the first two, 24 for the latter), but their base model versions make due with kind of under powered four cylinder engines.
    It seems like if you want a modern pickup with a old school pickup feel, it looks like the Nissan Frontier V6 is your best bet. It’s very similar to size, weight, and power of a V8 pickup from 20 years ago, and starts at a reasonable 25 grand.

    • Sjalabais

      It’s interesting how in your numbers lined up above Toyota jumps out as significantly more expensive with its base offering. How do they justify that?

      • wunno sev

        because we’ll pay it. Toyota trucks have a fantastic reputation and the residuals on a relatively small Toyota Tacoma is much better than even a full-size Ford or Chevy.

        I’ve had my eyes on the local little-truck market lately, because I want one. a 20-year-old Nissan pickup – a Hardbody, good little truck – will sell for half or less of what its Toyota contemporary will fetch in the same condition.

        • boxdin

          I dislike toyotas because every couple of years they recall a few million trucks for “spare time separation” which is actually the frame rusting out from underneath.
          This has been going on since the beginning of recalls. To me its fraud.

      • Fuhrman16

        Beyond their good reputation that wunno has stated, the Toyota also comes standard with a V8 while the American companies start out with V6s. The Nissan also comes with a V8 as standard.

        • wunno sev

          the base spec on the Toyotas can be a bit higher for the other stuff, too. the cheapest Tacoma around me is ~$500 cheaper than the cheapest F-150. that’s a mid-size, four-banger truck (160hp) vs a full-size truck with a turbo six (290hp) and an aluminum body for a ~2% price difference. but the Toyota comes with power windows, bluetooth, cloth seats, fancy touchscreen radio, and some other niceties that we take for granted. the F-1fiddy is what you’d buy for your work crews to smash up around site: vinyl seats, hose-out floors, windy windows, zero trim in the bed, etc.

          we have a few F-150s and Rangers at my work, and they’re wretched. the interiors hold up well, but they’re totally devoid of pleasantness. it’s fine for a work vehicle, but for my own use i’d bump the Ford up to a usable spec before comparing prices to a Tundra. (i just did that comparison, and it’s $5-6k cheaper to buy a V8, 10-speed F-150 with a cloth interior than it is to buy a work truck-spec Tundra.)

          • Sjalabais

            That all makes a lot of sense. The classic triple T of “trust thy Toyota” doesn’t otherwise translate into so large differences in new car prices. Used, yes, new – not that significant.

            • wunno sev

              i dunno. that 5-6k is like 20-25% of the price of the Ford, and the Ford gets more gears in the box, better gas mileage, cloth seats, and significantly more power (~400hp vs 310). the F-150 i found is a significantly better truck for significantly less money.

              • Sjalabais

                The question is if it stays that way. Starting with the first generation Focus, Ford of Europe has build a lot of very reliable cars – at least by the stats. Some of them rival the English build Toyotas. I’m faced with this right now as I am considering a new van, and a Ford Galaxy/[letter]-Max would probably fullfil all my needs. Yet I am still somehow reluctant to include them in my searches, partly because I don’t want a maintenance desaster, partly because I don’t want to drive a vehicle I may meet in traffic.

  • Maymar


    I used to own an F150 pretty identical to this (albeit grey over Bordello Red) – basically no options but the 5.0L/4A. Except for a lack of AC and some absolutely pitiful fuel economy, I was quite taken with it, I miss it, and it’s defined what I want a truck to be, but I would take a new truck over it in a second. I mean, not so much a chrome laden faux luxury sedan, but today’s base truck is pure and simple enough (comparable feature content to my subcompact, which is in the realm of all I want), while being considerably better than my poorly maintained rusttrap.


    I was also a little pleased to see a Ranger not too dissimilar to this in a video Ford posted of the complete Ranger lineup. There aren’t enough trucks on steelies anymore.

    • hove102

      Yes. More basic trucks. More trucks on steel wheels with manual cloth seats and manual transmissions. More trucks that are just uncomfortable enough to remind you of what you’re driving’s true reason for being.

    • Zentropy

      My dad has an F150 like that one pictured, albeit dark green with a 300-I6 and a five speed. No carpet, no headliner. Good, solid truck.

  • crank_case

    If you wanted something truly utilitarian, I wonder could you get your hands on one of Gordon Murrays flat pack “Ox” trucks and get it road legal in the US under kit car / small builder laws?


    • The trick I think would be powertrain – the Ox is designed around the Ford Transit 2.2 Duratorq FWD powertrain.

      You might be able to get the transmission from a 2.3 Duratec FWD Transit, and then use a US-market 2.3 or 2.5 Duratec engine?

      • crank_case

        That’d probably work alright.

    • I_Borgward

      My inner Luddite/DIYer squeals at the sight of it! Endless configuration possibilities. I wonder what a beast like this would cost to assemble in the states?

      • Alff

        Golly. Now I want to assemble one of these.

        • According to the site, “three trained (but not necessarily expert) people can put an OX together in approximately 12 hours” from a flat-pack kit. With that in mind it’s a pity Lemons now frowns upon forward-control vehicles.

          • Vairship

            Perhaps there should be a new flavor of LeMons for only these vehicles. And the race starts with having to assemble your vehicle.

          • Rover 1

            “trained (but not necessarily expert)”
            sums up the average level of expertise here on Hooniverse.

  • njhoon

    I have an 06 Nissan Frontier 4×4 king cab from new. It might be the perfect truck for me since it tows more than I need, has been good mechanically, the 6 ft bed holds 90% of what use it for. Its survived going through streams with 3 ft of water, 2 ft of snow, home depot and grocery store parking lots, my mother in law….

  • ptschett

    I don’t understand the meme amongst enthusiasts that pickups are suddenly too big now, or crossed that threshold sometime in the recent past.
    Full-size single rear wheel pickups have been hard up against the 80″ width limit where wide-vehicle clearance lights are required for something like the last 50 years. (This is why you see the added lights on things like the Ford Raptor now, or the Quadrasteer GM’s of a decade ago.)
    That ’70’s 4×4 is practically just as tall as a current 4×4.
    A regular cab 8′ box truck of the ’70’s is practically as long as a current extended-cab short box or crew-cab super-short box, and where the current trucks are longer there were good reasons… e.g. those ’70’s trucks with the straight-across front bumper were good for keeping overall length short, but a deeper front bumper is better for crash safety and more curvature is better for aerodynamics, and it’s not like the front wheels could have been pushed back into the cab.
    I grew up driving ’70’s Ford F-150 4×4’s of the regular-cab 8′-box variety and honestly don’t notice that my new Ram 1500 quad cab short box is any meaningfully bigger.

    • Alff

      The people (including myself here) who perpetuate this meme are old enough to have driven 70s/80s trucks when they were relatively new. Thirty years later it’s a lot harder to get up and down from the load floor umpteen times a day. Pride being what it is, it’s a lot easier to blame the truck than one’s old man body.

      • Bradley Brownell

        I’m 30. I want an early 90s S10-sized truck.

        • Alff

          Somewhat irrelevant to the discussion of full sized pickup model bloat but okay.

          • Bradley Brownell

            But relevant to your “only old guys think they’re too big” style comment.

      • I refuse to comprehend any part of your argument.

        • Alff

          I can accept that. I was taught to treat the elderly with respect.

    • Maymar


      I think there’s a bit of truth to it – if nothing else, some combination of trucks getting more aggro (making them look more intimidating/larger), safety standards leading to extra bulk, the increasing popularity of crew cabs, and fewer RWD trucks (or RWD trucks being more likely to have the same ground clearance as the 4WD trucks).

      • outback_ute

        ptschett said 4wd trucks are the same height, but 2wd ones have definitely increased in height – cab floor, bed floor, bed sides.

      • Scoutdude

        In the old days the trucks were designed as 2wd since those were the vast majority of sales.Then they figured out how to strap a driven front axle in them. Since the 2wd trucks were often using dropped I beam front ends that meant the truck had to sit higher in the front out of necessity. To compensate out back they stuck in a set of blocks. Now trucks are designed first as 4wd since that is the meat of the market and the 2wd versions end up at almost exactly the same height.

        • Maymar

          I may not like it, but I can’t argue with a rational explanation.

        • Alff

          Interesting thought. My 2002 Ram is the last generation of stock 4×4 that has an obvious front to back rake. Maybe that’s around the time the market really shifted.

    • 0A5599

      I have a long bed Supercab Super Duty in the driveway for a few months now, and I’ve surprised myself with how many parking spaces it won’t fit into. Length, sure, but also the width. Using the drive-up ATM requires pulling in the non-power-folding mirrors (the big ones for towing) on both sides; I’ve never had to do that on my older SRW full sized trucks.

    • P161911

      My biggest complaint is bed height. I have 3 standards to compare. My dad has a 2000 Dodge Ram (base 2WD work truck). My 2011 Silverado (2wd work truck) has a bed height that is 3-4″ taller than my dad’s Dodge. We recently had a 2017 Silverado (2wd work truck) loaner when the Volt was in the shop. The 2017 had a bed height 3-4″ taller than my 2011. Some of this could be blamed on bigger tires, 17″ vs 15″ but not much. Overall trucks aren’t that much bigger than decades ago, but the bed height and cab height has increased dramatically in the last 15 years or so and shows no signs of slowing down. Soon step ladders will be dealer installed options.

      • Alff

        Bingo. For a work truck the ideal load height is as low as practically possible. That number gets higher as load capacity/towing capacity increases. This is the practical trade-off the industry has made over the last 15-20 years.

        • P161911

          But load capacity and towing capacity has NOT dramatically increased, at least for the 1/2 ton models. I could see this being the case for the 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks.

          • Alff

            For some reason, I’ve assumed that they had for several years. Probably because trucks feel so much happier towing auto transporters than older ones did. Your post made me go look at capacities. You are right, the ratings haven’t changed much … and I am very surprised.

            • P161911

              US towing ratings are notoriously conservative or at least really different than the rest of the world. We want to be able to tow 12,000lbs at 85mph up a steep grade. I guess now you can tow the heavy loads without blowing out the automatic transmission before 100k miles.

              New trucks are just too tall! I’m 6’1″ and built like a gorilla with a 37″ sleeve length. I want to be able to reach something in the middle of the truck bed without climbing in or needing a ladder. Can’t do it with new trucks.

      • outback_ute

        Perhaps you need one of these? It is a Razorback body with a hydraulically lifting bed, on a VW T4 or more recently Fiat Ducato (aka Ram Promaster), although I am not sure if they are in business any more.

  • The 85 F150 was perfect for me. I drove it all over central Texas hauling horses. Bench seat and rubber mats but it did have AC and auto. Hand crank windows with wing vents. Pretty easy to get in and out of. I’d take the same truck with a few safety features like air bags.

    • Alff

      For me, the ideal combination of utility+comfort+reliability in pickups for me came a few years later. Electronics for fuel injection and transmission control were sorted but built around engines that hadn’t changed much for thirty years. I would happily drive early 90s Fords forever if decent trucks and parts were more common.

      • Absolutely agree with you. The 90’s Fords are just the right combination of practicality and reliabilty yet keeping the “square” styling of the previous decade.