$100,000 Pickup

Some of the tailfinned cars of the late 50’s or early 60’s were some of the most beautiful cars ever made; the 1957 or 1960 Chrysler New Yorker for example. Even the somewhat overdone 1959 Cadillac is an iconic symbol of America’s prosperity at the time.

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@old_mopar_guy I have a different opinion of the tail finned cars of the late 1950s. I didn’t care for them at all. I was in high school when the cars came out and I graduated in 1959. The only two makes that I found attractive in 1959 were the Ford and the Studebaker Lark.
The late 1950s was not a time of prosperity. The nation was in the “Eisenhower Recession”
Cars didn’t sell well. I lived in an area where there were auto parts factories and there was high unemployment.
I remember driving a 1957 Plymouth and a 1959 Buick, and found these cars very uncomfortable. I am tall and the low seating position in these cars didn’t fit my body. The Studebaker Lark and the 1959 Ford I found very comfortable. For three days, I made 100 mile round trips in a bottom of the line 1959 Ford Custom for my employer and I found that car quite comfortable.

The Lark was a great car that the US market never seemed to appreciate @Triedaq. It was a comfortable car for 5 people comparable to pre 1958 full sized Detroit iron and the styling was much better than the overly chromed and bedazzling models from GM and Ford. It was comparable in style and comfort to the Mercedes Benz 219. The American market has long been leaning toward excess in most categories leaving Studebaker and Rambler/American Motors competing with used cars from Detroit.

The only thing in the article I found surprising is that a $100,000 light-duty pickup doesn’t already exist. I thought today’s trucks and SUVs were already ridiculously expensive, and if a $50,000 pickup (which already exists) is considered “reasonable”, a luxury model for $100,000 is surely just as “reasonable”.

I disagree with the author’s claim that people who use a truck for work would need or want these “high-end” models. Speaking as an HVAC repairman, I am accustomed to driving work trucks with hand crank windows, AM/FM only stereo, and no “upgrades” other than an automatic transmission. If an employer offered me the “opportunity” to drive one of these super-expensive pickups, I’d have to turn it down. Doing actual work with a truck means getting scratches in the truck bed, dents/dings/rock chips in the paint, etc. I would not want to be responsible for that.

Yeah, well I’m not so sure that was the reason. I lean toward the problem of poor quality of what they were building. The period where Americans seemed to prefer small cars was very short lived.

Sure quality was a huge factor. GM’s Vega and Ford’s Pinto - if built properly they could have stopped (or at least slowed down) the Asian invasion.


It’s even dumber than that. When the gas prices started shooting up during the W administration (remember when gas stations had to buy new signs because they only had room for a 1 in the dollar column?) the truck/SUV market crashed, and people were scrambling to buy fuel efficient cars. They offered me truly insane money for my old CRX even though it wasn’t the 50mpg ultra-efficient version. Car makers were in deep trouble because they didn’t have the product people were looking for.

Well we know gas is going to go up again. Heck, it’s already pretty high. I paid $3/gallon last night. It’s extremely short sighted to kill off most or all of a company’s car production in favor of trucks, because that market is gonna nosedive again, guaranteed.


History repeats itself. In the late 1950s when the cars became lower and grew fins, they became essentially four passenger vehicles. Because the cars were lower, the seats were hard in the center section because of the driveshaft tunnel. The cars were lower, wider, and longer, but held fewer people comfortably. Until 1957, Plymouths were often seen in taxicab fleets. That market went to Checker.
Now look at what has happened to pickup trucks. Years ago, I had an acreage in the country. I had a 1950 Chevrolet one ton pickup. I would buy hay right out of the field and would haul it home 50 bales at a time. I don’t think a person could get 50 bales of hay in the short bed of today’s crew cab pickup trucks. I could put my old Chevrolet pickup in the extra low gear and stretch fence. Stretching fence with today’s pickup would probably burn out the automatic transmission. My old Chevy probably had a 235 cubic inch splash lubricated 6 cylinder engine that produced less than 100 horsepower. It was geared for work. Today’s pickup trucks seemed to be built for highway travel.
What I am saying is that at the end of the 1950s, cars lost some of their utility as people transporters. Today’s trucks with the short beds have lost some of their utility as haulers.


Car makers could not turn their production completely around in 10 weeks to produce the smaller fuel efficiebt cars that buyers refused to buy in the previous years. And buyers went straight back to trucks and SUVs immediately after fuel prices fell back.

It is a real chicken and egg problem. If people won’t buy sedans, car makers won’t build them. If car makers won’t build them, buyers can’t buy them.


I think its a great idea since the profit margin is quite high they don’t need to sell a ton to break even on the minimal but related development costs to offer higher trims.

I recall that Caddy built the CTS-V wagon(supercharged Corevette V8 coupled to 6 speed manual only) and only needed 500 sold to break even but managed to sell a paltry 2000 overall and the program was considered a success. I think profit was quite high.

A small bale of hay will be at least 40 lbs. so 50 of them is 2000 lbs. Which would put the truck right down on the axles . Also the stack would be any where from 8 to 10 feet high .

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I see many of the farmers around here buying 50-60 grand pickups with every bell and whistle imaginable including leather seats and so on.

These trucks then spend their lives out in the mud, beds beat all to hxxx, covered in cow manure in and out, and barely recognizable after a few years. It seems a shame to not just buy a lower end truck in the first place. Their choice since money is no object.

Farmers can also right it off as a business expense.

@VOLVO_V70. The truck had a 9 1/2 foot bed. It also had a GVW of 8800 pounds. I would start up by the cab, load on hay bales s, then move back, lay down bales to stand on and make the front stack higher. I would throw a couple of ropes around the load. However, the load never seemed to shift.
I bought the truck for $120 in 1972 from a person who had bought it the year before from a farmer but didn’t do much with the truck. After I had the truck for a while, I flipped up the seat cushion and found blueprints for the water mains in the south part of my community. The truck had a hit h on the back and little toolboxes on the side. I deduced that sometime in its life the truck belonged to the waterworks. It pulled around the compressor for the jackhammers and may have hauled broken up pavement in its bed.
The full torque of the engine came on at a low rpm probably about 1000 rpm. I think the truck weighed about 4800 pounds empty, so it could easily handle two tons.

No Volvo. In the mid 60s I often hauled 40 bails weighing 70 to 80 pounds on a half ton long wheel base Chevrolet pickup with no problem other than unloading several bails to drive under a 12 foot tall overpass. Loading that many bails takes some peculiar loading techniques but I never lost any hay, had an accident or damaged the truck.

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GM has tv ad every spring for 20% off truck retail price and savings are about 11k. so truck is 50k or so. this is 4 door 4 wheel drive. what kind of option package pushes it up 10k? not talking about diesel trucks here. stay with gas. i dont see how we can go from 60k to 100k. what magic options are they adding?

Car makers couldn’t even do it in a longer amount of time because they’d been sinking all their R&D into “make it taller, make it longer, and make it more powerful.” They’d been delighting in the fact that government average fuel economy requirements are more lax for trucks than cars, and then they got bitten. Part of running a business involves not just selling product today, but predicting what product will sell in the future. The country had already been through one oil crisis, and we kept messing around in the middle east, which meant we were virtually guaranteed to go through another.

There were 50mpg cars on the road in 1988. There was no excuse for not having them at least in the research pipeline in 2004. Especially since the Japanese car makers did have them in the pipeline and they made a killing while the American makes sat there with outlots overflowing with Excursions and Suburbans that they’d have had trouble paying people to take.

Yeah, they’re idiots too because as soon as gas prices go crazy again they’ll be right back at my door begging me for my old CRX and trying like crazy to unload the 12mpg bro-dozer they just had to have and that now no one wants.

It really makes you wonder how our species managed to come down out of the trees in the first place.

A friend of mine has several co-workers who treated themselves to one of those luxo-trucks. On more than one occasion, when he tried to put his duffel bag into the truck bed, co-workers shrieked in horror at the thought of ANYTHING sullying their immaculate truck bed.

At least those farmers are getting some use from the trucks that they bought. In my experience–and that of some friends–many of the luxo-truck buyers are merely poseurs.


@Rod_Knox. I am glad my hay hauling days are over. At my age, I don’t think I could lift an 80 pound bale of hay. I have enough trouble lifting a 40 pound bag of pellet salt for our water softener. However, the hardest problem is opening these “easy open” bags. I still have to get out my pocket knife.


Right. And just how long did the last “crisis” last anyway? It surely wasn’t long enough to justify sinking money into losing propositions. How long will the next one last? It would take at least a few years of sustained, significant price increases for me to consider a more fuel efficient vehicle than the one I have now…

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