Hot Trends for Cool Looking Trucks
By Bryan Martin
I’m thinkin’ everybody reading Road King appreciates a cool truck, eh? But we might each differ a bit in our ideas of just what makes a truck cool. To some, it’s a rig with a super size sleeper, elaborate paint, and equipped with all the latest chrome and trinkets. Others prefer to see the looooooong wheel base, low-slung hot rods with more than a hint of bad attitude, while still others find the best way to ride “cool” is in a modern day rig that still sports that classic, vintage look that granddad’s truck had back in the ’70s.
Not so very long ago, throughout much of the ’80s, what got our attention were custom murals, four air horns, and a “Texas square” bumper. Not only was a wheelbase of 250” considered “long,” but if you had 6” pipes and a drop visor, you were stylin’ and profilin’. And don’t forget the lights — you had to hang ’em every place you could — on the cab, the sleeper, the bumper and even the air filters.
The ’90s got a lot of us to start takin’ a second look at trucks. Many fellas started thinking “outside the box” and had a vision that big rigs could be customized and given a unique look while still keeping the style sleek, clean and simple. A lot of recent trends were initiated by a few pioneers who sprang on the scene in the ’90s.
By the time we reached the end of the ’90s, and now well into the new millennium, the low profile look has been boss. Less is definitely more. A good bit of the lights and stainless are now gone, replaced by the smooth painted look. Air “bagged” front axles and “flip-up” front bumpers that scrape the pavement are seen more and more, and if your tanks ain’t draggin,’ then you ain’t truckin’! The 285” – 300” wheelbases have become commonplace and smaller, flat-top style bunks are perceived as a must for that hot rod look.
The most recent trend is a retro, nostalgic style. Take a late model or a new truck, give it one of those classic ’70s-style paint stripe jobs, old-school sun visor, painted fuel tanks or stainless full fenders, round headlights, traditional ‘round hole’ aluminum wheels and you’ll have a tribute to the classic trucks of yesterday.
So where do we go from here? I wonder what’s the next “new” in stylin’ your rig. Maybe it’s the “rat rod” look that’s gaining popularity in the car show circuit. That multi-colored, “hodge podge” of parts and pieces assembled together can form one cool truck. Most accessories come from swap meets, scrap yards, or antique and restoration houses. Because it’s usually done on a tight budget, it really showcases the builder’s personality and creativity.
Maybe the next big trend is something none of us have thought of yet. Who knows?
I reckon most looks will never go completely out of style. It’s likely we’ll always see past trends inspire future designs. But no matter what the look, we all need to keep on truckin’ and have fun!
Bryan Martin leads the Chrome Shop Mafia at 4State Trucks in Joplin, Mo.