These Magnificent Work Trucks Are a Cornerstone of Pakistani Car Culture

Big rigs, cargo trucks and construction vehicles in America aren’t typically decorated with anything besides dirt and road grime. Some may add a saucy mudflap or a few extra lights, but that’s nothing compared to the work trucks of Pakistan. Regular, everyday work vehicles are covered in unbelievably intricate paintings and sculptures. Behold: the “Jingle Trucks” of Pakistan.

These vehicles are not only gorgeous, they also tell a story. Mountains, flowers, and Pakistani military generals are popular fixtures in the colorful murals you might see, but each one is pretty much unique to its owner.

Advertisement

Jingle Trucks, a designation allegedly bestowed on the machines by visiting military contractors, are decorated with elaborate crowns on top of the truck bed known as a taj. Elaborate paintings, woodwork and hand-crafted ornaments are used as a way to show the driver’s interests, passions and sense of pride. Not only are these vehicles a form of self-expression, according to Muhammad Shafi, a local truck artist we talked to, they are also a means to promote the driver. The nicer or more interesting your truck looks, the higher the chances of you landing that job as a driver and grow your business.

Naturally, there’s some competition between drivers, and each of their Jingle Trucks act like competing billboards.

Advertisement

This local cultural tradition has been around since the 1920s, basically going back to when the first Bedford cargo trucks were imported from England. According to Shafi, who has been developing his craft since he was only 12 years old, this trend is still getting more popular all the time.

In the city of Karachi alone, some 50,000 people work in shops dedicated to creating and maintaining Jingle Trucks, as reported by MyModernMet, which also reported that some truckers pay $2,500, apparently two years’ salary, for even a “basic” paint job.

Video Producer, Jalopnik

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

FINALLY! I grew up staring at these, wondering how they could carry loads of rice wider than the truck’s length... Last time I was there was 10 years ago. These vehicles national never seem to die and are still in use today!

Definitely a part of Pakistani car-culture. The designs mimic henna tattoos.

But Pakistani “car-culture” is fairly new; I remember in 1991 (at a wee 4 years old) there were ONLY horse carriages and a handful of rickshaws. If you had a car, you worked for the government.

Fast forward to 1999, and we want to go on a horse carriage ride purely for nostalgic purposes. Could not find one. Seriously. Only “moonjets” (motorcycles turned into trikes, with the back end seating 4!) and rickshaws.

Last time I was there, in 2010, there were cars everywhere. For every 100 cars, maybe you’d see one horse carriage.

As much as I love to see car culture grow, as a four year old, nothing fascinated me more than watching your “vehicle” raise it’s tail and take a shit while getting you from A to B.

“MOM THE TAILS GOING UP, WATCH!”

Advertisement

Advertisement