It’s A Gray Area

Riding Hard

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Henry Ford once said that you could have any color of car you wanted as long as it was black. Fast forward to today and it seems like the automotive industry is saying you can have any color of truck you want as long as it’s white.

I watch a monthly internet truck auction and I bet that 98% of the used trucks they sell are white. I’m talking bucket trucks, welding trucks, flat beds, veterinarian pickups, plumber’s trucks even over the road tractor-trailer rigs. They’re all white! Twenty-five years ago most of the trucks were some tint of silver causing me to wonder if the executives of the automotive industry are color blind?

It wasn’t always this way. Nearly 60 years ago I learned to drive in a Chevy short-bed that was gold. My father traded it in for a GMC that was cherry-red. My Grandpa’s truck was also red. One of the best looking trucks I’ve seen, even to this day, was a 1952 Chevy pick-up painted light blue with baby moon hubcaps that was frequently seen around town. But the best looking truck I’ve ever seen was the first truck I ever bought, a 1970 Chevy El Camino SS 396 that was painted a dark metallic brown with tiny gold flecks that made it sparkle like a diamond. The roof was a beige vinyl that blended beautifully with the dark brown.

Normally I’m not a big fan of brown but this rig was a real head-turner and I don’t know why I sold it, other than the fact that we needed the money for the down payment on our first home. My wife sold her beautiful blue Camaro for the same reason and looking back I wish we hadn’t bought the house and kept those vehicles instead, even if it meant we had to live in them!

My last two pickups were a two-tone combination that you don’t see much any more. The first was painted a dark blue on the top with the bottom being silver and after that we bought a one ton that was tan on top and white on the bottom. At least it was white after we washed the truck on rare occasions, the rest of the time it was more of a manure brown. It could change color rapidly too, especially if the cattle were eating washy feed.

I’ve only owned one white truck and it was my Grandpa’s company Econoline we named Herbie. This was also the only Ford I ever owned. I paid Grandpa $600 for it and used it mostly to haul my sheep, so I suppose you could call it a “Ewe Haul”. Actually it a two tone because the side mirrors were both held on by blue masking tape.. As much as I hate to say this Herbie was probably the best truck we ever owned.

It’s no coincidence that as more and more trucks were white, people became a lot less friendly. This was because when people drove colorful rigs you always knew who was approaching and had time to decide if it was friend or foe which determined whether you waved or not. Now that trucks are all white you never know who’s coming until it’s too late to wave.

I worked at an Atlantic Richfield gas station that eventually became Arco and it was always fun to try and identify our incoming regular customers by the color. of their cars. There were orange Vegas, yellow Pintos, blue Nash Ramblers and older olive drab DeSotos, Edsels and Studebakers. Ford even had a color in the 60’s they called Anti-Establish-Mint.

From what I’ve observed lately it seems like Detroit has now decided that the next wave of color will be gray. How exciting! The problem is all the white and gray vehicles on the road are so boring people are falling asleep at the wheel. They’re having terrible wrecks and the occupants are ending up in the back of a black or gray hearse to haul them to the bone orchard. I suppose the car execs think they’re being really bold and adventuress by picking gray to follow white. I wonder what they are going to call their new favorite color, Mortuary Gray, Funeral Parlor Dull or Meat Wagon Monotonous.

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