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Pickups - Mating Aesthetics with Functionality

xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
Enough of limiting each other to the comparison of one make/model to another, let us expand our horizons. What are some functional or aesthetic qualities of past pickups lost that you continue to lament? Which manufacturers have continued to offer those make-or-break features without which you could not live? Heck, why limit it to qualities of the past or present.... what features would you LIKE to see on a pickup?

Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    I own a pickup for one reason: Hauling stuff. LOTS of stuff.

    There are too many vehicles to count that are far more practical for daily driving, commuting, vacations, you name it, but nothing can compete with a pickup in terms of getting a job -most any job- done.

    To me, the functionality and versitility of the pickup's bed is the single most important feature of the truck next to the mechanics (suspension, drivetrain) that support it. Towing capacity is a real close second. I lament the loss of the perfect pickup bed: the 4'2" x 8'4" stepside from days long gone. Mine happens to be on a 1969 Chevrolet 3/4 ton camper conversion, but there are years and years of other makes/models with a similar bed. I can put two pallets of brick in there, a 2-ton stack of OSB, plywood, sheetrock, you name it, or even 1.5 yards of gravel, soil, etc., and it is the easiest truck to load, unload, and clean when hauling any of this cargo. Hands down. No modern pickup can even pretend to compete on all those levels, yet none of the modern pickups offer this bed. Why? They've sure picked up on other styling aspects of the 67-72 Chevy pickups - like their hood/fender lines.

    To me, a pickup obviously must be aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to be extremely practical and facilitate accomplishing the job. I have yet to buy a new truck because none can compete on the same functional level with my old '69. Sure, they have plenty of creature comforts and they ride like many cars, but I'm not looking for a car...
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,806
    Have to agree with that 100%. The looks of the truck really are secondary to me, other than I want it to look like a truck! We have a topic over on News & Views called Amatuer Redesign Studio where we digitally modify vehicles, and this "Mercedes pickup" was one of the projects:
    image

    But can it haul that load of mulch or lumber I need? And since I WANT to haul stuff, do I want a truck that looks TOO good??

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    And since I WANT to haul stuff, do I want a truck that looks TOO good??

    Exactly. When and if I ever finish building my house, I plan to get my Chevy in the garage for a restoration. Once that happens, I will not be using it as a real pickup anymore (except maybe to tow trailers) because it will be "too pretty" and I will not want to dent, ding, or scratch it with normal use. BUT, in order to realize that dream, I must be able to replace it with something newer. As it is, I have yet to find a pickup for which I am willing to drop $30+K and call a 'replacement' without snickering.

    Hahahaha. A Mercedes pickup like that (not to say Mercedes cannot make a good truck! Unimog, anyone?) would be cute to look at and fun to drive, but it would be no more functional than, say, an S10 or F150 that has been dropped to the ground and has 21" wheels with 2" sidewalls. A waste of a pickup in my mind...
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,806
    Opt for the "deep bed" version of the Titan :)

    image

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Put a diesel in that Benz...naaaah.

    Start with an ML and put a diesel in that, maybe.

    -juice
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Okay.... so now we get into the "aesthetics" part of the discussion! The Titan is certainly a capable truck, but it must be one of the overall ugliest trucks on the road. I can think of a few rigs that beat it, like the (Pontiac) Aztec or the (Nissan) Armada, but yuck. The good thing about it is that I would have no problem working it to death because keeping it "pretty" is a non-issue. But, I would have to have a lot of extra cash lying around to dole it out on such a hideous beast. The Frontier is a nice looking p/u (at least through '04), but certainly not a replacement for a full size.

    Ugh. The more I look at that photo, the more I loath the appearance of the bed. The truck looks rather good up to there, but there's far too much bed there in relation to the size of the wheel wells and the sharp lines on the otherwise featureless surface just accentuate that atrocity. Maybe a 4-door with an 8' bed would look more balanced, but Nissan doesn't offer one yet, do they? Maybe even some two-toning would break it up a bit. You could rent that space out for moving billboard advertisements....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Haven't seen a long bed Titan crew cab, but they do sell one for the Frontier.

    -juice
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Looking at the picture of that deep-walled Titan made me ponder.

    I've owned several full-size pick-ups, but since purchasing my Dakota in '03, I cannot think of ever going back to a full-size truck now. For one, the lift-over on the Dakota is nice and low. Despite having a smaller dimensional box, I have yet to be daunted by any chore or task. The Dakota's box size, although I thought would be too small, has fit the bill in every instance.

    Looks are not usually my number one concern when purchasing a new vehicle, but the flatsided Transformer's look of the Titan does pause me enough. The deepened box only makes it uglier, in my opinion.

    Dusty
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,806
    Sometimes I just like to have a bit of fun playing "what if" with the vehicles! Sure could pile a lot of stuff in that bed tho...LOL

    I don't think the body work on the Titan turns me off as much as the Frontier did with that "rivet look" on the wheel wells. I'm not overly fond of the looks of the side mirrors on the Titan, although that probably wouldn't stop me from buying it if the Titan fit my needs and desires in a truck.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Yeah, you sure could, but you could probably fit just as much in a bed that was longer and squatter (height-wise).....

    I hated the "rivet look" on monotone Frontier models, but it looked nice on the dual color versions, esp with a roof rack and skid plate/brush guard. The '01 model my father owns has an impressive amount of ground clearance for a little truck - very capable off-roader; much more so than a stock Ranger 4x4.

    Anyhow, I agree, Dusty. The ability to load cargo over the sides of the truck's bed is quite important. Another big plus to my '69 Chevy's step side. Now, this isn't one of those barely useable modern-day step sides. This thing has STEPS on it and they work wonderfully. It isn't the prettiest design in the world, but it is enormously functional. Considering all the comments I get on it ('67-'72 stepsides are rare around here, especially the long beds), there must be some aesthetic value to it. Another great feature of my truck is that the tail gate swings all the way down to a vertical position - completely out of the way. Granted, I don't have a rear bumper on it, but like I said... on some discussion... the truck is entirely original. This feature is great for off-loading gravel and it saves my tailgate from a lot of unnecessary dents and dings. If more height is needed in the bed, it's not too difficult to add 2' solid rails around it to give the depth. Most trucks can't carry more material weight than their beds can hold (like gravel, sand, soil), and solid items can be secured with a couple of tie downs... which again, can be secured at ANY POINT along the length of my step side.

    Regarding the full vs mid size pickups.... I'm split. I've considered replacing my '96 Subaru with a Frontier because of many reasons, but the biggest of which is the versatility of being able to tow a real trailer and/or load and the flexibility an open bed adds. Being a one-car family (daily use - I only use the '69 for real work), a flexible, reliable vehicle is a must.... that's why I bought the Subaru in the first place! A mid-size is a much more practical all-purpose vehicle / daily driver than a full-size unless you are going to be working the truck daily. I know many people who down-graded from a full-size crew to a mid-size crew or F-150 w/ the mini-bed when they became available just because of the reasons I mentioned above.

    But, I could never replace my '69 with a mid-size pickup or even a 1/2 ton. I would squash a mid-size with some of the loads I have hauled with my pickup. I have a photo I should post if I can find it.... I have 52 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" OSB in the bed and am hauling a 26' triple axle trailer with over 12K pounds of building materials - the entire first floor of my house. I expect I will make a similar trip with it again either this coming summer or the next, and while that is extreme, I haul many loads every year that a mid-size just couldn't survive. My favorite load is backing my Polaris 6-wheeler into the bed and closing the tailgate.

    So thus far it looks like a bed with good accessiblity is important. What else is a must in a pickup?

    -Wes-
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think Toyota uses a deeper bed in some Tundras, doesn't it?

    -juice
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    I am not sure.... I've never looked twice at the Tundras - they are too big for a small pickup and too small for a full-size (yet are priced as if they were a full-size). Oh, and the tail lights on the new ones.... hideous; they make the Titan's light clusters look charming.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Well, apparently there is a saying out there: Size doesn't matter. To what does that apply, anyway? In any real discussion, size always matters.

    Who out there has an opinion or story to share about size? Do you find crew cabs too cumbersome? Are short boxes useful on a 3/4 or 1 ton?

    From arguments I have read in other threads, the shortbox is a better option if most of the weight the truck hauls is on a trailer versus in the bed of the truck. I can see the point, but what about those times when you need to get two pallets of landscaping stones and you only have your truck? Two pallets will fit in an 8' bed, but not a 6'.... isn't it worth it to haul that extra 2' around just in case?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Depends on where you park regularly. And what it'll cost you.

    You can rent a pickup from UHaul for $20 a day on those occasions.

    -juice
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    I suppose, but coming from AK, I have found few to no places where I could not park a full length p/u. I'm sure there are those folks who do not feel entirely comfortable driving around in a vehicle of that size, and if so, it is a good point to argue. But if the driving adeptness is there and the purchase price differential is not significant between the long and short box models...

    What sort of restrictions on parking or price of parking would one be likely to find with a large pickup in your area, juice?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I commute to DC, so size does matter. :-)

    I stopped in Georgetown on the way home the other day, the only parking spots available were for compacts. Besides that you had to parallel park in the street, and good luck finding a large enough spot during rush hour.

    Turning cycle is also an issue, you can't do a U-turn on many of the roads here unless you have 4 wheel steering that some GM pickups offer (great idea BTW).

    Having said that, you're more likely to see pickups in rural or at least suburban environments, and there you're probably fine.

    -juice
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Ah, I guess I had not picked up on that (DC) before. I have been there once at a conference and have no interest in ever going back. One of my favorite past times is avoiding cities. lol

     

    Thankfully, I imagine that the likelihood of me driving in a real city with a full-size truck is slim. I did take my '69 on an 11,000 mile journey from AK to OR to PA and back in July '99, but at 17 feet, it's the truck equivalent of a coupe except it handles better. ;) After I made it to Indiana, mine was the oldest rig on the road by about 20 years and being canary yellow, I felt as though I stuck out like a pumpkin in a bushel of plums....
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269

    Nice! I can post again to my ancient discussion... the only one, I believe, that I actually started!

    To recap the things that I find most important about a pickup:

    1. The bed.
    2. The mechanicals.
    3. The appearance.
    4. The cab.
    5. Creature comforts. (distant #5)
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