Because LA is an alternate universe where the foreign cars imported in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s never rusted away, I was gifted a cute opportunity while walking around my friend’s neighborhood. Here is a single-cab pickup from the early 1970s, a Toyota Hilux, parked beside a single-cab pickup from the current era, a Ford F-150.
While taking these pictures (standing somewhat in the middle of a quiet residential street near Silver Lake), a woman drove up beside me and rolled down her window. Usually when I’m taking pictures of cars on the street, I try to prepare myself for a “what are you doing taking pictures of that car?” in a perhaps less than friendly tone. It’s often an owner, concerned if their car is getting cased, or whatever. Not this time. “You know, America started going backwards,” she beamed, “when we stopped having trucks like that!”
She’s not exactly right but not exactly wrong! It’s not as if America’s great campaign of deregulation, starving social services, cutting taxes, and funneling all our money to the military springs from us buying bigger and bigger pickups, but there was a postwar era of high taxes on the rich, of Hollywood superstars living in modest ranch houses not mega mansions, of relatively high buying power for the middle class, and our pickups in this era were small.
That said, even when people were happily gobbling up these little Hiluxes and companion Datsuns, they were also buying Chevrolet Impalas that stretched from one end of the block to the other, so it’s not like Americans developed a new urge to buy huge vehicles anytime in the past few decades. It’s easy to point our fingers at failed recent policies like CAFE, but that doesn’t explain the larger picture. There are plenty of other dumb government policies that push us to bigger and bigger trucks, like the chicken tax.
All of that is slightly tedious conversation, and does nothing to say how delightful it is to see an old pickup like this Hilux on the street, still moving and grooving, getting the job done as efficiently as possible.