By Bryan "Boss Man" Martin
Driving trucks being such a generational thing, just about all of us have childhood memories of our pop’s or granddad’s old 1960s, ’70s or ’80s model rig. And wouldn’t we like to have those Peterbilt and Freightliner dealership calendars back, the ones we saw growing up when we got to tag along on a Saturday parts run?
What seemed then like somewhat “simple” old Petes, KWs, Freightliners or IHs didn’t really take our breath away in those days, but that’s not the case today. Those bold, classic paint schemes and features are coming back strong on today’s custom trucks.
After all, let’s face facts. The “old school” look probably has more widespread appeal to just about everyone.
Don’t get me wrong. The exotic paint schemes, over-the-top interiors, low ridin’ style, and the “all paint” with low ground effects look have been the trend these past 10 years or so. Most folks can appreciate all the innovation and hard work that goes into these tricked out rigs. But the vintage look, with just a little attitude, can really get the blood a-pumpin’ too.
You can do the vintage/retro makeover for quite a bit less than the modern hot rod.
How could it not be cool to have a paint design with a name like Seminole, Nomad, Phoenix, Apache, Tacoma? These eye catching three- and four-color schemes are what we get paint requests for quite often these days – and we have sprayed our fair share.
Then you add a not-so-crazy sun visor, a shiny set of half fenders, rear light bar, a modest bumper and a set of 6-inch pipes … you’re good to go. You’re sure to fit in at just about any truck stop or truck show.
There are a host of other mods you can do to take it a step further. Things like old-style headlights; leave the two air horns on the roof instead of following the current trend of removing them; go with traditional hub and nut covers; leave a little stainless and diamond plate here and there; keep the light lenses amber instead of swapping out to white. Several retro grille designs feature the shutter or louver look for most trucks. You may also want to go with a tapered bumper instead of a square style and perhaps even leave the tow hook holes exposed. Go ahead; get crazy.
When you move in to the cab interior, a lot can be done, too. You can opt for the clean shifters with the glitter knobs or the two-stick shifter conversions. You might go for a three-spoke steering wheel in lieu of the ones with tricky spokes. Even a not-so-wide seat with mid-height backrests complements the overall look of your rig. For you 379 Pete owners, you can even pick up a 359 Corvette-style dash kit to really bring that old time feel to your interior – not to mention it is one heck of a conversation piece.
Take a look at the multibillion-dollar automotive industry. With the resurgence of the Mustang, the Charger, the Camaro and other “throwback” designs, I’m thinking we’re on the right track. America loves yesteryear and we truckers can certainly do our part to oblige ’em.
Writing this kinda makes me wanna break out some old Dave Dudley or C.W McCall albums and dig through those dark corners of the shop where we’ve been throwing things that “we might need someday,” and see what goodies I can uncover.
Until we meet again, may the memories of the old times fill your head with ideas for today. Drive safe and have a lil’ fun. LL
Send your questions to Bryan Martin at 4 State Trucks, Home of the Chrome Shop Mafia. You never know. In a future column, he could answer your questions and share some Mafia secrets. Write the Boss Man at firstname.lastname@example.org.