Few things in this world are as uniquely American as the mighty full size pickup truck. Since just about the beginning of automobiles, the lowly pickup truck was doing things behind the scenes. While automobiles were to be used primarily as people transport, trucks were used primarily as goods transport or working. Doing the work that man and beast alike could not complete either efficiently or at all, the pickup truck was there to pick up the slack.
Starting out as a simple Model T modification, the pickup soon became a staple of the working man. From this foothold, the truck came into its own as a purpose built machine dedicated to towing and hauling anything conceivable.
From this dedicated platform there was evoultion. Slow at first starting with innovations such as a “three-man” cab and fully synchronized transmissions. From there the evolution continued onto feature such things as heavy duty suspensions and axles followed by the formidable and almost ubiquitously standard (in modernity) 4 wheel drive. This gave pickup trucks more utility and, with the adoption of V8 engines and automatic transmissions, a capability and simplicity to drive that opened up possibilities of ownership to those without the height to operate a clutch and those who lacked the torque to do that deed that needed done. Since the adoption of 4 wheel drive, the focus was to make trucks a better place to be for the working man. Power steering, air conditioning and soon the introduction of all power options and disc brakes for safety. In their midlife crisis, trucks became bigger, heavier, thirsty and more luxurious.
Power options became standard equipment and bigger and longer trucks were offered. Trucks that could hold a crew of 6 and all of their stuff in an 8ft bed. Truck’s that had the power to pull any hill despite load. Trucks that could do anything except pass a fuel station.
Then came the diesels. Diesel trucks gave torque when nothing else was required. What once took 7.5L of petrol chugging power could now be done by the gods of compression ignition for a much smaller fuel bill. All the while trucks were moving away from the construction site and finding their way into driveways as a second or third car. Then, in 1993, “The New Dodge” introduced into a booming population what was to become the trendsetter for the future of trucks, the Dodge Ram series.
This was a truck that proved it could be not only as comfortable but as practical as any vehicle on the road. It’s “big rig” style was unique and took the younger generation by storm. In the booming economy that was the 90s, Dodge trucks showed and taught people that it was ok to drive a truck on the daily because it was as much a statement of taste as it was a tool of prosperity. From this came pickups from every manuacturer trying to cash in on Dodge’s success by offering gussied up trim levels and moving their base truck audience steadily upmarket. Luxury trucks such as the Lincoln Blackwood would show up nigh on a decade later followed soon by others to create the “Luxury Truck” market. Trucks designed for status, not strategy.
All the while, the honest working man that needed a truck for hauling and pulling got left behind. Gone were order sheets with 3 suspension packages, 6 axle options and 8 engines. A man could no longer order a truck with rubber flooring, a bench seat and a radio with a manual big block V8 and a 4.10:1 axle ratio in the half ton market. Must move up to 3/4 ton or higher to get the horsepower and axle you need despite the fact that you don’t require everything else that truck comes with.
This brings me to the purpose of this essay. I work in a wash bay for a luxury car dealership. I prep wash cars before they go to full detail. Today we got in a 2012 Nissan Titan.
I often public ally denounce American Nissan for their offerings here in the states as the only exciting thing they offer is the Z series. But today, that talk will end. I found something in that Titan that changed the way I look at Nissan Trucks.
The dash had no ridiculous design ques. It didn’t look or feel chunky. It wasn’t pretending to be a luxury car. This was a truck with 4 doors, 2 bench seats, 4 wheel drive, a radio and little else.
This was a truck for trucks sake. It didn’t give a shit what you thought of it. It wanted nothing from you but fuel and purpose. The basic and simple dash was made of plastics that aren’t cheap looking or feeling like other manufacturers (looking at you Toyota), and I had to touch the door cards twice before I realized they too were plastic.
Good work inside designers. The cab is airy and easy to look out of and the back glass opens. With an acceptable tow rating because of a strong V8, and good ride for a simple truck, I would be hard pressed to find another I respected as much as I do this Nissan. The bumpers are even painted not that cheap grey plastic. Money was put in the right places for this truck and it shows.
Nissan, thank you for making a truck for trucks sake. Nobody in America will. Not without gaudy design or acres of grey plastic.