Car Throttle is an English (or British, I know there’s a difference but I don’t know what) website. I am an American writing for a foreign audience. This means references I make are foreign as well. Please stick with me, I need to give you a quick history lesson on early American Literature. Don’t worry, this will swing back to cars.
Sometime in the early 1850s, near Concord Massachusetts, this neckbeard named Henry David Thoreau grabs a notebook and walks out of his family home and goes to a cabin out by a pond and announces that he is going to rough it for a few years. He writes this book called ‘Walden’ and it becomes a triumph of American Literature. People sang its praises because it respects the simple and hard-working life.
The book was a lie.
Henry David Thoreau was only a two-mile stroll away from his parents’ house. He was never in danger of starving because his successful, clean-cut author-buddy Ralph Waldo Emerson sent him money so Thoreau could sneak into town, load up on groceries, and sneak back into his cabin.
But, the pseudo-legitimacy of Thoreau’s book Walden never hurt its sales or ruined Thoreau’s reputation. Americans were able to take Walden for what it represented, not by the dubious circumstances in its conception. Walden is one of my country’s best books on the moral, idealised American life.
So what does this have to to with pickup trucks? Watch this. You are about to read how seven passages from a book, written before the automobile was invented, explain America’s love affair with trucks. Damn, I’m good!
7. “It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life…” — Walden, Economy Chapter.
America is a contradiction of complex and simple lifestyles. A pickup truck is a drivable wheelbarrow. Yes, a very simple machine; a modern representation of the frontier life. Lo, it is forced to navigate an urban maze of steel and concrete. It is a warming ember of the virtuous country life operating within an oppressing and mechanised physical construct (a city).
TL;DR: Trucks remind us of open spaces.
6. “I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship, but a pastime.” — Walden, Economy Chapter.
Pickup trucks have come a long way from the agricultural beasts of burden in the 1940s. The truck became a symbol of rough and thrusting individualism when it was no longer needed by the common American head of a household. This began during the Green Revolution of the late 1960s.
You see, each family didn’t need a truck anymore because farming had gone - through the help of new fertilisation echology - mass-scale. Larger farms needed fewer workers which shut down smaller farms. Individual farming became recreational; a pastime. Think of all the people you know who have half-an-acre and call it ‘farming’. I’ll bet their truck has bluetooth and a spotless bed.
TL;DR: Pickup trucks are a representation of a farming tool instead of a legitimate farming tool.
5. “Walden is blue at one time and green another, even from the same point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes of the color of both.” — Walden, The Ponds Chapter.
Most trucks are split in half. They have a cab and a bed. Each part does two things and represented equally different concepts. A truck exists between Earth (the ground which it moves in its bed) and Heaven (the self-aware and diving animals which reside in a windowed display case) and ascends to win elections in Massachusetts, I.E. Scott Brown.
4. “…a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” — Walden, Where I Lived Chapter.
A truck is merely tweaked by engineers who are driven, by bean and boast, to improve designs for design’s sake. Trucks are not improved this way visually. Americans like visual cues to stay constant in their vehicles. While car designs will morph and change from year to year, truck designs won’t. Yes, cylinders deactivate and some camshafts sit above the head (ooooh), but the outline of the truck and the silhouette it casts to the earth remains old-timey. We like that.
3. “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” — Walden, Visitors chapter.
Pickup trucks seat three people on a bench seat up front; they always have. Yes, crew cabs exist with four doors and seating for six. Yes, there are extended caps with jumpseats in the rear for adventurous youngsters. But, the front bench seats always remains a staple of American trucks, no matter what. This number three is divine. It is. We’re going to heaven. Three. Yes, we are three. The God, the Father, and the Holy Spirit! Do you understand? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler. The Big Three: Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. All male trucks. Pee, poop, and sweat! Everything is three going forward. Three. Three. Three!
2. “As I came home through the woods with my string of fish, trailing my pole, it being quite dark, I caught a glimpse of a woodchuck stealing across my path, and felt a strange thrill of savage delight, and was strongly tempted to seize and devour him raw.” — Walden, Higher Laws Chapter.
Detractors are correct. We don’t need pickup trucks for daily-life in the U.S.A. Alaska is a different story, but that is a whole ‘nother story. The 18-wheeler brings our food and the municipal sewage sucker takes our brown away. What use is a pickup for uncalloused hands like mine?
Americans need pickups for feeling, but the feeling isn’t shallow. The feeling is key. Commanding a V with 1,000,000 torques gives you self-worth that only a father’s approval can match. On that natural high, you are ready to devour a forest.
1. “They mistake who assert that the Yankee has few amusements, because he has not so many public holidays, and men and boys do not play so many games as they do in England, for here the more primitive but solitary amusements of hunting, fishing, and the like have not yet given place to the former.” — Walden, Higher Laws Chapter.
Work is our amusement. Trucks combine work and amusement. Ford Raptor! America sees the pickup truck as both a source of amusement as well as a tool for labour.
If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: the pickup truck is a symbol for the American Dream. What is the American Dream? Don’t believe the hype, it is not riches. The American dream is merging work and play into one task. When your work is also your play, you are living the American Dream. A pickup truck will move all the contents of your house one day and fly though the air the next. Yee-HAW!