Sometimes, it’s the young working class who reflect why trucks are the greatest aspirational vehicles in the United States. Many don’t have their dream truck yet, but when they tell you about it, their eyes light up and their voice and tone changes. It doesn’t matter what type of truck, or what badge it carries, either.
What matters is how they believe that day of beloved ownership is getting closer. And when it arrives, a portion of their lives will be complete.
On the 2016 Luke Bryan Farm Tour, one man in his mid-thirties explained why the day he buys a new truck will be the day he’s “made it.” This now humble farmer recalls his prior days, caught up in a whirlwind of vice and vixens; in a life devoid of a future. He returned later to his family’s cattle operation broken and exhausted; a significant humbling when the ground finally dropped out from under his empty pursuits.
“Yeah, but you couldn’t tell me nothing then anyway; swore I’d never come back, swore it,” he said. “I did what I wanted, what I pleased, and low and behold, didn’t get nothing.”
His vision today involves seeing the family business he long rejected to a successful future. A new truck, in his mind, represents that future come true.
“I know it’s only a truck, but it’s something; like I might be the kinda man people respect in something like that,” he reasoned. “These days, you can fit your tools and your kids in a pickup- there’s enough room – so maybe, I don’t know.”
What Is It About Trucks?
Sure, there are those typical dream cars, all of which are fast and lavish, but trucks capture our hearts like no other vehicle can. In the auto industry, there is an expression that goes to the effect of “everyone (secretly) wants a truck.” And it’s true. They are alluring in so many ways, far beyond the towing and payload specs. Trucks are alluring because they are the mechanical extension of who we are and what we value.
“Here in Montana where I’m from, trucks are mandatory because a lot of people need them for their ranch or their job,” explained Jeremy Pulse, Founder of Throttle Down Kustoms. “If you hunt, fish, or camp, a truck is the best way to get to where you’re going and haul your gear.”
“Roofers, painters, electricians, farmers, carpet and flooring folks, landscapers – they all have them,” added Matt Mylan, Director at GMPartsCenter.net. “Can’t really do those jobs without a truck or, at least, a truck makes it easier.”
The Good Life
Chevrolet recently worked with Harris Poll to gather more insight into why trucks hold a special place in our hearts. Although Chevy conducted the poll, it is not brand specific. Ford, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan owners can just as easily relate, as can those who own both bigger and smaller trucks. Over a thousand pickup owners across the United States weighed in, and the responses offer a wealth of explanation.
One of the biggest insights is how people name their truck, with “Betsy” and “Big Red” among the most popular. And Betsy and Big Red are instrumental in making us better friends and citizens, according to the data. Turns out, trucks are great for performing good deeds.
For example, over thirty percent say they often use their truck to help a friend or family member with a task. Another thirty percent say they regularly use their pickup to support a local school or a charitable cause. Overall, Chevy’s survey finds 89 percent use their truck to help others, be it moving a stalled car or hauling a new couch. Truck owners know this more commonly as “hey, I’m moving next weekend, can I borrow your pickup?”
Now 18 years ago, my Father went home to The Lord. That summer of 2000, I often drove his old Silverado down the rural highways of Northwest Iowa. Such emotions are best described by Lee Brice in his 2012 song, I Drive Your Truck. In a similar way, 45 percent say they plan on passing their pickup down to a child or loved one. Further, nearly 60 percent say they consider their pickup a part of the family, while another 60 percent say they “cannot live” without theirs.
“People keep trucks a long time. Most of the owners I know have owned one for 10 plus years,” Mylan explained. “When you keep something around that long, it’s easy to think about all the ‘stuff’ that’s happened with your truck and your family.”
“A lot of people use them for vacation and travel; maybe they tow a trailer, or use it for getting the kids around in the winter,” Pulse added. “So trucks are definitely important to the family.”
Red Dirt Rich & Flint River Paid
Fans of Cheers may recall how Diane Chambers explains why she took the job (one certainly beneath her) at the bar. In her mind, she wanted to experience that slice of Americana. The slice of Americana that sees Norm in contest with his job, Cliff with his encyclopedia brain, and Coach being . . . well Coach being Coach. Between repressed feelings for Mayday Malone and feuds with Carla, she experiences Americana alright.
If Diane attended a Midwestern State Fair, or NASCAR race; visited any number of hunting and fishing expos or Sunday morning tailgates; if she visited the NFR in Las Vegas in December, she would see the slice of Americana that is trucks. What Chevy’s survey really reflects is how these vehicles are inexplicably woven into the fabric of our lives, and how they remain universal insignias for our best memories.
“All the trips you’ve taken, that time your son-in-law borrowed the truck and ran out of gas, the time you got it stuck on a trail . . . stuff like that,” Mylan continued.
According to the survey, 26 percent learned how to drive in a truck. Another 10 percent say they have brought their newborn children home from the hospital in a pickup. This likely explains why 38 percent said say they love their pickup more than any other object they own.
More Right Swipes?
Single folks should consider adding a truck photo to their online dating profile. According to the survey, nearly 40 percent believe driving one makes them more attractive and popular. Is this true ladies? Does it really make us guys more attractive?
“That’s kind of funny to me because it sounds like a country song or something,” Mylan said. “I’ll bet most Toyota owners don’t think it makes them more attractive because Toyota trucks are kind of ugly.”
“The polling people should look into that,” Mylan added.
What do you love about your truck? Share with us on Twitter.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.