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It's Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback

Illustration for article titled Its Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback
Image: eBay
Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

It’s not exactly a secret that I loathe the current crop of pickup trucks. The so-called mid-sized trucks are too damn big, and absolutely overkill for a huge percentage of truck buyers. The average truck these days is bigger than the apartment I grew up in, and probably a lot more comfortable. The current Ford F450 is approximately 11,000 feet long, for example. Think about how much more maneuverable that truck would be without that giant pesky hood up front. The time for Cabovers is now.

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Illustration for article titled Its Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback

Given our nation’s obsession with pickups, it’s clear that they aren’t going away any time soon. So maybe it’s time for a rethink on what truck buyers actually need. Trucks keep increasing in size because every generation has to beat the previous generation on payload capacity with a larger bed. A larger bed means a larger cab, means stiffer suspension and a more powerful engine.

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Illustration for article titled Its Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback

Manufacturers are in a towing capacity arms race, and nobody really benefits. Does any civilian really need to be able to tow 21,000 pounds, or put 7000 pounds of stuff in the bed? Most folks, like myself, need a truck for odd jobs around the house, runs to Home Depot, and maybe the twice-a-year boat tow to the lake. I don’t necessarily need to put super heavy things in the bed, but many larger lightweight things. I need to be able to haul long wood posts or sheets of ply-board, maybe a cute rug for the dining room.

A forward-control style small pickup would be the best of both worlds for most drivers, as the truck’s maneuverability and visibility would be far greater than any other truck with a giant hood stretching out front, and it would still have the same capabilities of the larger trucks, but could fit a longer bed on the same size wheelbase.

Illustration for article titled Its Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback
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Cabovers, especially as they relate to the trucking industry in America, used to be quite popular, as the maximum length of truck and trailer was once ten feet shorter than what is legal now. Truckers could haul more payload with a longer trailer if they didn’t need as much space for an engine up front. In the end traditional big hood trucks won out because over the road truckers thought they looked cooler. In Europe, where more practical heads prevail, cabover tractors are the norm.

The same premise exists in civilian trucks as well. With the cab of the truck taking up the same section of wheelbase as the engine, you can have a more capable and easier to drive pickup. When you are sitting on the nose of the truck, you can see exactly where the nose is during tight maneuverability moments.

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Illustration for article titled Its Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback

People like to say that they like trucks because they sit up higher and can see farther ahead down the road. Sitting on top of a big turbodiesel V8 will give you that elevation you so desire. It’s the perfect idea. Truck lovers rejoice.

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Besides, this Econoline-based pickup is essentially still a van, and it’s always Van Time.

Illustration for article titled Its Time For Cabover Trucks To Make A Comeback
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The example shown here can be found on eBay, if you’ve been convinced by my arguments.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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DISCUSSION

chathamharrison
Chatham Harrison dba SPANFELLER DELENDUS EST

“Does any civilian really need to be able to tow 21,000 pounds, or put 7000 pounds of stuff in the bed?”

Whenever I ask that question on Jalopnik, thirteen dudes come out of the woodwork to tell me about their daily payload of cinderblocks, and how they tow the Space Shuttle on weekends. There is a segment of truck buyers who apparently need all that power, and another segment, with uncertain overlap, that might not need it, but absolutely insist that they do. Meanwhile, all I want is for someone besides FIAT to offer something like the FIAT Doblo Work Up, because that is how much truck I actually need.

It’s like going to a hardware store for a 12 oz. hammer, only to find that the smallest they carry is a 20 oz., the salesman would really love to get you into their bread-and-butter 32 oz., and have you considered a sledgehammer?