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Old 04-06-2021, 11:21 PM
AVB-AMG's Avatar
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Silly Large and Imposing Looking Pick-Up Trucks & Jeeps

Have you all noticed how in the past 15-20 years, pick-up trucks from Ford, Chevy, Dodge, GMC, as well as Jeeps, have become larger, to the current model year where they are enormous, as well as imposing? This design trend has been to not just increase their size, but to also give them a very aggressive look, almost in a caricature or cartoonish way, looking like an animal with a puffed-out chest, flanked by steroid-bolstered muscles. It has reached a point where the designs of these pickup trucks and Jeep grilles have evolved to make them appear more menacing, ominous, threatening and scary, with thrust-forward and swelled front-ends, creating a ridiculously tall, vertical scowling wall of a grille, along with a significant increase in overall size and weight. All of this is just from the truck manufacturers, before a customer makes any after-market modifications of their own, such as lifting up the vehicle’s suspension so the body rides even higher, installing oversized wheels and obscenely large tires, adding even more big-rig lights, silly grille masks, modifying the exhaust system to incorporate big-rig like, large diameter vertical exhaust pipes, the list goes on... These mega/hedonistic vehicles are problematic for a number of reasons. First their scale makes them not just imposing to other drivers in regular cars, but also makes them quite challenging, if not perilous to drive in congested traffic and urban environments with pedestrians, let alone trying to park them. Secondly, their intentional design aesthetic is not just imposing, but is intentionally outwardly hostile, anti-social and presents a massively brutal face of rage and intimidation. Is that the vibe that the owner/driver wants to give off to others? If so, why?

Augmenting and complimenting this trend, automobile/truck manufacturers, Auto/Truck Dealerships and Customers seem to gravitate to selecting exterior paint and trim combinations that create and result in what is known as the “murdered-look” on these pickups and Jeeps. This is when essentially everything on the exterior of the vehicle is black: body color, trim, tinted windows, wheels, even smoked plastic headlight shrouds. This gives the vehicle a very ominous, hedonistic look which apparently is desired and intentional. For the buyers of these types of pickup trucks, styling is more important that functional utility. A pickup truck is already a masculine symbol and has a muscular presence on the road. So, trying to make it visibly more so makes the owner/driver seem desperate for attention. Yet, some people and truck mfgrs/dealers will go to great lengths to make their pickups stand out, resulting in some really silly modifications, turning these already enormous pickup trucks into “hicktrucks”.

Making this point very clear, is a quote from a review for a 2021 Dodge Ram TRX pickup truck:

“New aesthetic design pairs chiseled form with extreme function
The all-new 2021 Ram TRX features an aggressive stance and an impossibly wide, muscular body wrapped over the top of it. Like a mixed martial arts fighter in a tailored tuxedo, the Ram TRX makes an impactful visual statement with an acute “hourglass” body design that features composite flares and fender wells that have been stretched to cover aggressive 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory 325/65/R18 All-Terrain tires. All-black premium LED headlamps, including twin bi-functional projector headlamps, are standard. LED clearance marker lights flank the front bumper, creating a menacing light signature that further sets TRX apart from anything on the road – day or night. A new, aluminum hood features bright LED clearance lights that are integrated in the hood scoop”.


As part of this trend, in recent years, a growing aftermarket industry has cropped up that produces modified masks that can be applied over or replaces the existing grille of Jeeps. They have silly names such as “Demon Front Grille, Angry Eyes Grille, Gladiator Grille, Spartan Grille, Shark Grille”, all finished in a matte black color. I know this is just a silly fad that will run its course before it fades from popularity, but what is driving the popularity of this trend?
I will speculate that this design inspiration seems to be guided by a number of influences, including:

• The front ends of 10-wheel, heavy duty tractors that haul detachable semi-trailers such as Kenworth, Freightliner, Peterbilt.
• The imposing design of military vehicles such as AM General’s Humvees and Oshkosh Corps. M-ATV Assault vehicles.
• Black is often associated with an overall badness attitude, along with demonic and evil events, and death.
• Many people tend to associate darkness with wickedness, villains wearing black clothing, with a good example being reminiscent of the aesthetic in the costume of Darth Vader in Star Wars with his black helmet and cloak.

As a related side-bar to this trend in American pickup trucks, is the practice of “rolling coal”. The author Lisa Wade, in her book titled: “Conspicuous Pollution: Rural White Men Rollin’ Coal”, coined the term “conspicuous pollution”, in reference to “rolling coal”. Rolling coal is the name given to diesel-engine pickup trucks where their owners have made modifications, including removing the catalytic converter, change the boost pressure and fuel richness. The result is that when the driver stomps on the throttle, the engine produces a plume of dense black smoke that belches out the exhaust pipe of these pickup trucks, engulfing any car and/or pedestrian nearby in a cloud of black smoke, causing them to choke on all of the black soot. These pickup owners/drivers may see this as a juvenile prank, as well as taking a stand against rampant environmentalism and strict emission regulations, and seemingly live to troll and taunt more environmentally-considerate road-goers.

But I am still perplexed. Frankly, while people are free to buy and modify pickup trucks as they wish, I do not share in the appreciation of this design and aesthetic approach and fail to fathom its appeal to some people. Yet, I understand and accept that people have been modifying, personalizing and customizing their vehicles ever since the end of World War 2, but why this menacing, angry aesthetic now in our country?

In America, cars have always been more than just transportation. They are an identity statement. As a long-time automobile aficionado who enjoys cars from the brass age, through the antique, classic, post-war, special interest and muscle cars, these pickup trucks that have appeared over the past twenty years leave me cold. I appreciate the imagination, creativity, and the many innovations in mechanical elements, technology, aesthetic body design, along with the quality of materials and assembly craftsmanship that has gone into making so many wonderful cars through the years. I certainly have benefited from advances in the electronic features for comfort and safety that are now being incorporated into current vehicles. I also recognize that in our wealthy society, many people have increased disposable discretionary income to spend on items, (including toys), that they enjoy. But these new, larger, intimidating and expensive pickup trucks are an enigma to me.

So, what is the appeal of these gargantuan-sized pickup trucks and Jeeps with their intimidating looks? Also, why are people choosing color, options, accessories and modifications that further accentuate these pickup trucks into bloated, angry, and dangerous presences? My guess is that there are a number of forces driving this trend.

I recognize that automobiles, of which pickup trucks are a subset, have long been associated as symbols for desirable human qualities such as sex, freedom, power, wealth and status. For years, social scientists have speculated that the types, styles and colors of the motor vehicles that we drive are very much connected with our personalities and speak volumes about their owners/drivers. So, the inevitable question is: have some American males who buy or lease these newer, larger pickup trucks suffer from some level of insecurity, possibly having lost confidence in their own masculinity? Are these pickup truck owners attempting to over-compensate for something? I speculate that most of these trucks are chosen primarily for show to stroke their owner’s ego, impress some other people. They fully admit that traditional true, regular work utility is far down on their list of priorities and that hauling a lot of stuff in the back bed of their pickup truck is rather infrequent. Sociologists studying this pickup truck design trend or phenomenon tell us that these gargantuan vehicles, and the antisocial behaviors associated with their drivers, are an identity statement and the term “hicktruck” seems to be an appropriate term.

By making these modifications these pickup truck owners, who are mostly white, many being working class men living in rural areas, but also some men who are well-off, is a way for them to send an intrusive, arrogant and nasty message to people they don’t like or whom they feel have not suffered as they have. Their pickup truck is a rolling raised middle finger to other drivers. I would not be surprised in one possible explanation for the motivation to buy, spec and modify these pickup trucks has a direct connection to both the social and economic power that these men used to command, but may have waned since the Great Recession and COVID-19 virus pandemic shutdowns. So, now they are rebelling and seeking some form of revenge and retribution to society, as well as perceived power over others, wherever they can get it, and these very large pickup trucks is one answer. This may also be part of the motivation and appeal for the all-black, intimidating, angry aesthetic for these pickup trucks, as well as the related rolling coal phenomenon.

However, I think it is a mistake to assume most of these pickup truck owners as being working-class and rural. These trucks can be very expensive, starting at $50k and up depending on factory options and customization. I think that many of these pickups are status symbols accessible chiefly to a more affluent, suburban white male clientele who are simply affecting an powerful cultural image with the symbolism of self-reliance and physical aggression, either consciously or subconsciously to counter their low self-esteem, insecurities and fuel their egos. In their imagination, the affected culture may espouse manifest destiny, with a view of the environment as something to be conquered and consumed, maintain rigid gender roles and nativism. Many have noted the strong ties between these trucks and American political “conservatism.” The modern hicktruck is a uniquely American phenomenon grounded in centuries of myth and fantasy exalting the frontier experience and deprecating the social order of the urban centers. Nostalgic heartland imagery often depicts the pickup truck as a lowly utilitarian vehicle used for pulling or hauling. Today’s trucks, chiefly symbols in service of an silly and sad affectation, live pampered suburban lives in wide garages with empty beds; their owners never using them as capital equipment in any meaningful way. I look forward to the passing of this unfortunate fad, which may be accelerated by the progress of upcoming electric vehicles, including pickup trucks. Time will tell…..
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Last edited by AVB-AMG; 04-06-2021 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 04-08-2021, 12:41 PM
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Did you get cut off by a brodozer or something?

I don't know why I read that entire wall of text. But I did, so I'm invested and might as well reply. Just like people who don't understand why enthusiasts drive old BMW's... if you aren't into it, you won't get it. Who cares how aggro the trucks look? BMW owners are always adding M aero package body cladding to give it a more sporty and "aggressive" look. Stop reading into it so much. I drive a V8, bright red, and loud X5. Am I compensating? Are you for your X5M?

Everyone in this country needs to worry more about what they are doing that might be bothering others, and less about what others are doing that might be bothering them. Somewhere along the line Americans lost the ability to care what others think of them, and gained the quality of caring more about what others are doing. I blame reality TV and social media. Holy crap I've become my father.

Exception to that is rolling coal of course. There's no redeemable quality to that and it infringes on others. But like all things, it's a very small portion of the brodozer drivers that actually engage in that. I've seen it only a handful of times and I live and travel in Texas.
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