Today’s Trucks vs. Yesterday’s

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It’s really interesting to do a side-by-side comparison of today’s trucks and the trucks of yesterday; it lets you see how huge they’ve become. Have a look, see for yourself!

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38 COMMENTS

  1. The lead picture says everything, it is a Redneck Pimpmobile. In fact I agree all the new trucks today are pimpmobiles. I want a truck, to ride like a truck and haul like a truck. If I want a caddy I would buy a caddy. I have a 2000 C3500 single cab, eight foot bed and it is tall enough for me. Michael67 has a good point. I keep my truck in good maintenance and good over all looks and I have been offered $10,000 for it. A twenty year old truck with 265,000 miles. It has the original engine and tranny. I won’t sale it. It has NO airbags or safety crap on it except seat-belts. I have pink slip daddy…

    • My 93 K3500 is a nice riding truck and a real workhorse with metal everything that’s plastic on my 2000 POS Z 71. Probably those $100 each Edelbrock IAS Performer shocks have a lot to do with that. You can ride along like in an old Caddy and when you get to a curve it suddenly feels like it’s a performance car. I nearly shit when Edelbrock sold out to Holley and those shocks went away. Everyone said they changed faster than the computerized shocks. I believe it and they just didn’t let the truck lean on a curve but went back to nice and smooth on a straightaway.

  2. When I took Blackie to Mexico I was assured I wouldn’t see another truck like it. They were right. The parking lots of big stores and banks have people out there watching over the vehicles and they would find me 3 places and motion me to come in at a 45 degree angle. That’s service that deserves a tip.

  3. How peculiar to me that there are NO compact trucks available at all. My 97 4WD Tacoma is a delight off road. It will fit in a much tighter space, turn in a much smaller radius, and being considerably lighter doesn’t hang up as easily. It even has a button to turn off the clutch switch so you can start it in gear if you’re up against a cliff and can’t afford any rollback. Of course you can’t even get one with a manual tranny now. On road, hey, you can even park it in a normal space. In 1989 I bought a new Dodge Dakota, for the express reason it was NOT jacked up to step ladder level like most other 4WDs were. I worked out of it, and could easily get up in the bed by stepping on top of a rear tire, and stepping over the side. Now, 2WDs are just as tall as 4WDs. As is quite often the case, things don’t always “improve” as they progress.

  4. I think it’s just people wanting a big comfy (and large engined) vehicle like we once could get in a car in the 50’s to the 70’s. Since we can’t have a truly large car anymore (thank you very little uncle sam) we get it in a pickup truck (or SUV).

    The high short truck beds are the tail fins of the 2020’s. Silly but people like them anyway….

    To be honest, I will probably get one if I don’t manage to get a dodge charger before they go away.

    • Hi Rich,

      I think you’re absolutely right about trucks serving as a proxy for the large, RWD/V8 sedans that are practically extinct due to the government. I love the power and comfort of today’s trucks but dislike the (to me) absurdly overtall bed walls and the height. I’m 6ft 3 so taller than most men and I’m not fat or gimpy but getting into – or getting at – things loaded in the bed of a modern truck is awkward for a guy my size. I used to be able to just climb into the bed of a truck – without a step ladder. If a guy as tall as I am can barely touch the floor of the bed without standing on his toes, there’s something awry. How does a guy who is 5 ft 9 deal with one of these things? Load things?

      But the jacked-up look sells, so it is what it is.

      • eric, now you know why I’m intent on rebuilding my 93 K3500 Turbo Diesel. With 4.10 gears it would get 18.5 mpg on much larger wheels and tires than it came standard with. You didn’t need any help getting into it.

        My neighbor’s new F 250 Powerstroke has a 2″ lift from the factory. It has rails or I might now have ever ridden in it. I don’t like it just because it’s so far off the ground and that’s not conducive to handling. It’s a family vehicle even though his wife has a crossover of some sort.

      • Maybe these vehicles are a way for the people to tell the gov’t to shove their regulations up where the moss grows. People are aware of the gov’t wanting the proles to drive tiny unsafe dinkyboxes while the gov’t refuses to use or buy such vehicles. And buying these large vehicles is the people telling the gov’t to shove it.
        Another factor to mention Eric is how do you check fluid levels without a stepladder or cherry picker. Makes filling the windscreen washer tank a monstrous job rather than a 3 minute job.

        • Hi Joe,

          I agree; that’s part of it – but I still generally oppose punishing myself to punish the government! I love trucks; have owned (and own) trucks. There is much to like about the new trucks, except for their ride/bed height – which makes it awkward to load them. I am surprised more people don’t object in re this because I’m taller and stronger than most guys and it’s awkward for me.

          Remember when you could just drop the tailgate and sit on it?

          Without jumping up on it?

          • eric, more people don’t object to it because they don’t use the bed. In my younger days, I could lift anything my legs could stand up with. Getting that heavy thing into a pickup was fairly easy. Even if I could lift that much now, I couldn’t reach the endgate.

  5. Well, I ran a tape measure and surprisingly my 2016 Silverado is within about 1/2″ of the same width as my 1976 Sierra Grande. Of course the 2016 is a LOT wider than my 1989 because the 88-98 GMs were dramatically downsized which turned out to NOT be the way to go, market-wise. The 16 is of course much taller but it’s a 2500 vs 1500 and the 16 actually turns MUCH shorter even considering the 89 is an x-cab. I guess somewhere along the way the engineers figured out how to make the wheels on an IFS 4wd turn more than a few degrees left or right.

    The 2016 2500HD is actually more comparable to a K/30 of the 1970s and 1980s as far as load capacity. And the ride is horrible off pavement but of course it’s still empty right now.

    I really don’t like looking over the big hood because you can’t see anything within 10′-15′ in front. It’s more like driving a medium duty truck than a pickup. I would buy a brand new K/20 or K/30 square body in a heartbeat but of course you can’t, and good luck finding a surviving specimen that is something that you would want to take off with on a long trip.

    • If those trucks were downsized, why is it easy to get 4 across in the back seat? The bed is slightly longer than the ones before if anything. The frame on my 93 Turbo Diesel is huge and it hauls a couple tons in the bed with no problem at all and even with a heavy tongued trailer tied to it.

      • I’ve got a 1976 and a 1989 sitting out here in the yard. The 89 is about six inches narrower than the 76, which actually is nice when you’re out pushing through the brush. The inside of the bed is so much narrower that my old saw box made from a cut down grain drill box won’t fit cross-wise across the front like it did in the 76, so it has to go lengthwise inside one wheel well taking up a lot of space. I got given a decent old steel crossover box but it won’t fit between the bed rails on the 89. It’s mounted on the 76 that isn’t running right now.

        So what the hell – you think I can’t compare three pickups sitting out there side by side ?

        • I have a 76 with a crossover box. I never thought that box wouldn’t fit my 93 although I realize when they changed body styles the rear of the bed is narrower than the front. A friend made rails for an 89 I think. He measured the front and the side and knocked out a complete set of bed rails but it wouldn’t fit at the rear.

          I took a 93 toolbox and it fit an 06 Dodge. When it comes to tool boxes I’ll go back to side boxes since they don’t really take up any bed and are a lot easier to work with. I used to do some HVAC work and had steel side boxes. I’d use the lid on the box as a sheet metal brake which worked quite well. I’ll have to design different side rails since I found side rails were about the best thing you can have on a pickup. Something too wide for the bed, strap it to the side rails. I always have a rail above the endgate and can haul 33′ steel with no problem on an 8′ bed and an X cab. I make really stout headache racks with really big feet that set on top of the bed rails and nothing ever bends even with a ton of steel on top.

          • I need a rack over my canopy(topper) that extends down to the bed to carry the weight to the bed. You don’t live in Idaho Eightsouthman? I want it stout, if ya can’t have stout I don’t want it.

            • Cederq, I don’t build airplanes. Several extra pounds mean pretty much nothing to me for a truck that has a job to do. In fact, my trucks normally ride better after installing bed rails with 1/4″ tubing on top, a heavy 3/8″ headache rack frame and with 1 1/4″ square tubing cross bars doubled at the top and single at the bottom with sunfighter style inside attached to 1/4″ round stock and welded up tight, not just tacked. I always leave my truck sitting with the back to the sun that makes it much cooler inside.

              My sides go above the top bar so I have a place to have holes in it to accommodate rope and straps and also have 1″X1/4″ tubing from top to bottom on each side. With long, thick feet on top of the 1/8″ bed rail bottoms, you have a nearly indestructible bed without adding that much weight. I have pockets about the pockets in the rear with a 1 1/4″ square tubing connecting them and a piece of 5/8″ sucker rod curved down toward the endgate for added strength with 1/4″ flat strap holding it away from the square bar.

              I use heavy wall square or round tubing between the ends of the frame in the rear and heavy round or square tubing for a bumper that attaches to the frame in 3 places via 4″ 1/4″ strap or square tubing all the way to the ends of the bumper.

              I had a 55 Chevy someone had put one of those specialized made for it rear guards all the way across that included the hitch. I stopped to turn onto the road. A guy behind me didn’t and knocked me out into the road he hit me so hard. The Chevy had a tiny shiny spot center of the endgate and the 64 Ford station wagon was totalled. When in doubt, make it stout. Sorry about being in Texas. I need the vehicle to properly build parts for it.

              • I have pockets above the pockets in the rear and heavy bolts that go through the pockets to the bottom in front plus a bolt in the center and one on the back of each foot. I often take an eye and to use as a nut for the mounting bolts that gives you several more places for strap and ropes. I often make a rack under the rail for a dammit jack with a lock on it. I swear my next build will have a lockable storage for hand tool boxes between the inner fender and the front of the bed all the way to the side boxes. Lock it and forget it and don’t use padlocks, use a flush mount lock that are not common to every tool box or similar.

                I have opened other peoples tool boxes with my keys since there are so few type of keys cut for them. REcently, I walked up to a bunch of guys trying to get into a pickup nearly identical to mine with some slim jims. I reached through the crowd, stuck my key in the door and gave it a little twist that unlocked the door and walked away. They all stood there staring at me. I don’t worry about losing my door key since I have an extra with nearly the entire top removed with just enough metal I can hold it to unlock the door and keep it in my wallet. Beats hell out of a hide-a-key you always find in the bottom of the bed or don’t find at all if you have it on the frame. I used to take a tywrap and use it to keep a key on the frame but the key in the wallet is much easier and I never leave home without it.

                • Eight, I had a 1972 Dodge van and my mom had a 1986 Dodge Charger and our keys would unlock and start each others vehicles. . I have used my current Chevy truck keys to unlock other Chevys… makes ya go Ummm, will my ride be out there when I get back?

                  • Ced, I had the same thought back in the early 60’s when the key went missing for my dad’s 64 Chevy car and I started it with the key for my 55 Chevy pickup.

                    I came back out of the store and they were working on another truck nearly identical that had the front hub that had destroyed when he drove it in and touched the curb.

                    I asked the guy with the truck I’d opened where he lived. He said “Why?”. I said “Well, I’d rather have that long bed of yours than mine”. He didn’t even smile. No sense of humor.

              • Maybe a trip to Texas may be in order, iffn’ ya let me take you out a proper TEX-MEX dinner after ya get finished with what I want…

          • Well, I wish the crossover box on the 76 would fit on the 89 because it is 4wd and the one that runs right now. It would be a hell of a lot more convenient. When I got given the box, I intended to put it on the 89 but it wouldn’t fit so I dropped it into the old 76 instead.

            I could just go buy a box to fit the 89 but then it wouldn’t fit anything else. Someday I hope to find a decent k/20 to use for a firewood pickup, and just sell off the 89. It runs and drives nice but between the x-cab and the IFS it is like trying to turn around a school bus in the woods. Not to mention 1st/reverse on the five speed are so fast that you have to use low range to do almost anything except drive down the road.

            • Anon, that’s one of the reasons I like my old 93 with a NVG 4500 transmission. It’s a heavy duty 3 speed(with a low first gear)with underdrive and overdrive. 2nd was too high to start but on a slope I commonly started in 2nd and then shifted to OD. You didn’t need to use the low side of 4 wheel drive very often with that underdrive first gear. It specifically says “not to be used as first gear” and the shifter shows an underdrive, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and overdrive. I have a 2500 and it’s a NVG 3500 transmission with 1 thru 5 on the gear shift indicator.

              • Yeah, but I got that K1500 for $800 😉

                I’ve had a bunch of pickups and trucks with the SM420 and SM465. I have used first/low to start on a steep hill or with a heavy load. That first shift is tricky; the 420 was smoother about it than the 465. I’ve even double clutched down into low when necessary.

                OD wasn’t a big deal on mountain roads or back when the speed limit was 55. But my 1980 K/10 had such high axle gears that you could cruise at 80 mph easy. Heck, you could drive 55 in 3rd (labeled 2nd: L123).

                • Anon, the 98 Turbo Diesel K2500 I bought last year was $850. I might have paid too much. It’s rough but still runs with 342,000 miles.

                  • At the time I bought it, I didn’t even know that there were two different five speeds. Some neighbors got divorced and I bought his old junk pickup just because it was 4wd (which didn’t work at the time and neither the rear brakes).

  6. Good for them that they are building what the market is demanding. I suspect this will not go on much longer.

  7. I have heard, but can’t confirm, that one of the big reasons trucks are so high off the road is various jurisdictions passing laws limiting the amount of after-market lift that can be installed.

  8. The difference is even more stark if you check out a pickup from the 40’s/50’s. My 49 F1 was a full size pickup in its day- yet it is about the same size as an older S-10 or Ranger. My 57 Ford F-600 is about the same height and length of a modern crew cab long box truck- too big for daily use.

    I find these older units and “compact” trucks a far handier size than the modern stuff- running errands, hauling an engine or an axle or a load of firewood is no problem and they are far more maneuverable and easy to park.

    If you need more capacity- get a trailer to go behind it. If I want a bigger truck I use my International Loadstar 1600 (cue Tim Allen,” Arrh Arrh Arrh…)

  9. On the e-truck front, Bloomberg reported that a supposedly operable Nikola model displayed at a demo in the past actually had no drive train. But @nikolatrevor, who is spewing Twitter threats at Bloomberg for reporting this, wouldn’t lie to us about anything else. No, never!

    Meanwhile, the other notorious company that misappropriated a great inventor’s name, Tesla, is in the news for a fiery crash in China involving unresponsive brakes. Internet users are speculating that “a system upgrade automatically started while the car was driving” but no definitive cause of the crash has been confirmed yet.

    What a horror. Ever had Microsoft Windows launch a mandatory update, just when you were about to start a movie for guests? This is not a hypothetical; it happened at a party I attended.

    Now imagine your electric vehicle mistakenly starting a software upgrade while cruising at 80 mph. “Drive by wire” morphs into “Look Ma, no brakes!”

    Like a 737MAX on wheels, as it were. Has a bloody mind of its own …

  10. Difference is now with how much cars cost and the avg income, manufacturers are realizing they can make Trucks THE family vehicle, and are making them everything Lux cars are but with the added bonus of being rugged, able to carry a ton of stuff, tow, go offroading, and just badass.

    I still remember working as a lot attendant at my sisters ex’s fathers lot, there being a ’98 F150 (4spd w/overdrive, no tach so you have to listen to the engine, etc), and how base and spartan it was, although I had fun with it.

    Godfather had an ’04 Ram 1500 with a V8 (Forget which), and I’ve driven the company box truck before (E450 V10), and all those were radically different in fit and trim compared to my Ram 1500 or the few F150’s I’ve driven.

    Again, lots have changed between then and now, people want more bang for the buck and the big 3 (+ ‘Yota and Nissan) are there to offer

  11. Eric – I’ve been keeping an eye on the used pickup market on eBay and Craigslist, specifically Jeep J10/J20 and International Harvester pickups and Scouts. The prices in the last year or so have gone nuts, even for a disassembled rust bucket. $30 for an early 70’s pickup that is, admittedly, in really good shape but we’re still talking ’70s pickups. I see Scouts being advertised for $50000. J20 for $30000. One restoration house is asking $250,000 (yes, quarter million) for what is probably better than what rolled out of the factory but still a ’70s base. $5000 for a disassembled Scout. I don’t know if that’s what people are paying, but people are sure asking. A few weeks ago I missed out on a ’75 IH pickup for $6 – shoulda jumped on it I guess.

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