Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
Nowadays there is too much knowledge in the world.
Let me walk that back. Way, way back.
Nowadays there is too much knowledge about what businesses want, in the world. Also, how people are killed in automotive accidents.
It is too often lamented that trucks, back in the day, used to look so much better. And if we're being honest, that's true. Just look at this gorgeous 1951 GMC truck.
My theory as to why trucks don't look this good anymore is twofold, and also tied to my "too-much-knowledge" hypothesis. On the one hand, businesses want maximum profits with minimum costs. And when businesses operate trucks as the backbones of their operations, as many businesses do, that requires a truck of minimum costs.
And "a truck of minimum costs" is just a really onerous way of saying "an inexpensive truck." A "cheap truck." One that doesn't require massive amounts of style, massive amounts of flair. One that can get the job done, and doesn't bother fussing with delicately sculpted wheel arches, swooping curves of a hood, or finely proportioned split windshields.
A truck that can get the job done, with no complaints, and that's about it. Trucks that aren't boulevard cruisers, oozing with style out of every orifice in their bodies, but that can haul big payloads to where they need to go.
Oh, and there's that safety aspect, too. You don't want a bunch of wood sticking out the top of the box, because in an accident it's likely to either splinter into a million pieces, forever disfiguring the eyes of poor little Jimmy, who happened to be in his dad's Rambler, heading off to the ol' fishin' hol', following directly behind a truck because he is a child and he doesn't know how to drive, what the hell is he doing behind the wheel of a car anyway, I'm pretty sure that's some child version of grand theft auto, when he gets too close to the back of the pretty truck because he loves it so much and then it stops short and he slams into the back of it and of course now he has no eyes.
Whew, that was a nightmare scenario.
Oh, and also, that hood doesn't contain any crumple zones. And that dashboard isn't padded. And that gorgeous steering wheel doesn't have an airbag.
But it does have the Club, so there's that.
So, yeah. Anytime anyone asks you why trucks don't look as good as they used to, just tell them the Ballaban Theory of Utilitarian...ness. People want cheap trucks that'll get the job done, and little Jimmy needs his eyes.
Sounds about right.
Big big thanks to Chris Perkins for these photos!