Hooniverse Weekend Edition – The Rebirth of the Panel Truck

Welcome to another edition of the Hooniverse Weekend Edition. Nissan Light Commercial Vehicles introduced their interpritation of the Commercial Van at the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Truck Show in 2010, and sales are (very) slowly starting to take hold. While GM and Ford continued to crank out their Express, Savanna, and E-Series vans, Nissan did a little research into this relatively untapped market.

Nissan found out quite early that most of the people who use Commercial Vans actually hate their trucks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why, as the domestic market vans from GM and Ford are based on some very old technology. I’ll start with the GM twins. The driving position in these trucks are miserable, with the left foot-well that is cramped because it has to make room for the left front tire and wheel components. The seats are an abomination, losing any support they may have offered after a short drive. And the ergonomics are haphazard at best. Yet, these trucks have been virtually unchanged since their introduction in 1996.

The Ford E-Series isn’t that much better, but at least they moved the front suspension forward so that is doesn’t intrude in the driver and passenger compartment. The E-Series is about to go out of production, but they have been around in its current configuration since 1992.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter only makes up less that 5% of the North American Market, and they are not without their detractors either. Support has been the main cause of customers anger, since these have been peddled as a Dodge Sprinter, a Freightliner Sprinter, and now are sold through Mercedes-Benz Dealers. It has been very confusing to past and potential customers as to where to go for parts and service. The pricing for the Sprinter models have been much higher than the domestic models, and that includes servicing. Early models have also had spotty repair records, along with a problem with rust in the northern climates.

So it was Nissan that came to the conclusion that the Domestic Commercial Van buyer would like a van that is more modern than either the Ford or GM models, and would have the option of a high roof version to compete with the overpriced Sprinter models. They also decided to make their van appear similar to their Nissan Titan Pickup model, even though there is nothing shared between them except the drivetrain.

To me they look like the Panel Trucks that were built before 1967, and so to honor the new Nissan NV “Panel Van”, I tought I would devote this weekend to showing several Vintage Panel Trucks taken from the pages of eBay, Hemmings, and other markets on the web. So, do you think the Nissan NV looks like the Panel Trucks of old?

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