I was pondering on writing about pickup sales in America and why they are so popular. Then a link from my daughter started off a train of thought that led me back to the late 1950’s and how we dealt with the problem of family and automobiles.
In 1959 my husband and infant daughter had a financial crisis. We could not afford to pay for a convertible and a new baby.
The solution was to sell the car. We found a buyer upstairs in our landlady who wanted something stylish.
We negotiated a deal where we got her 1951 Ford sedan, $1500 in cash and six months free rent.
Our 1957 Baby Blue and white ragtop Chevy convertible was getting about five miles to the gallon and her Ford needed a new engine.
We managed to get the Ford fixed by renting a block and tackle on a tripod and pulled the engine out for replacing it with a new short block.
This was done on the front driveway in a Bay Area city that has now become one of the more undesirable neighborhoods.
In those days airline electricians got paid about $5 dollars per hour and the rent for a one bedroom apartment was $85 per month.
We fixed the engine, and then took off traveling to Yosemite after Labor Day, and Mexico to San Phillipe which was so primitive in accommodations that we came back to the border to Calexico for a $5 per night motel room with noisy air conditioner.
Since we were children of farmers and knew how to fix almost anything, we thought nothing of maintaining our own cars and household machines. We could have justified a pickup, but buying new vehicles did not happen for some years.
Now the news articles state that big pickups are all the rage with men in suburbia, and electric cars have the negative factor of sparse charging outlets.
My question is why do men who live in cities and suburbia need huge gas guzzling pickups?
I watch the traffic while waiting for the bus, and most new looking pickups have nothing in the bed of the truck. They are not hauling tools, lawn mowers or building supplies.
Building contractors need heavy duty trucks and they are usually muddy around the wheels.
Those who take care of lawns have a pickup hauling a trailer full of leaf blowers, mowers and gardening tools.
A plumber usually has a panel truck or a specially built vehicle with signage.
The ego pickup is shiny from the Sunday morning ritual of washing it and polishing the hubcaps.
Why do these customers of the Ford 150 buy impractical vehicles?
The advertising is one factor. A man’s ego is so stroked by having a huge machine at his disposal that economy does not enter the picture.
The Ford Company may be making a profit on their big pickups, but that can be dangerous.
The auto companies need to diversify and phase out the gas guzzlers, but the frail egos of men who need to prove their masculinity by driving a huge machine will delay this process.