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They may call 2017 pickups primitive 52 years from now

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POSTED March 20, 2017 12:44 a.m.

Remember the good old days when pickup trucks were cheaper than cars and defined the terms “basic” and “Spartan”?

Back in 1965 a Ford F-100 was simply a pickup. It wasn’t an office. Vinyl was upscale and the only leather in the car was the real deal on the bottom of your shoe working the gas pedal and brakes. The air conditioning was a roll down window. And the music system of choice was an AM radio where you could get one of two stations anywhere in the Western United States — KRAK Country out of Sacramento and Wolfman Jack on XERF-AM out of Ciudad Acuna just south of the border.

The base price was $2,395.

The year 1965 was when Ford rolled out the Mustang with a starting price of $2,427.

Today the Ford F-150 starting price lists at $26,540 and the 2017 Mustang starting base price is $24,145. Of course back in 1965 they didn’t have rebates per se. Today — depending on when you buy — the manufacturer rebate is more than the price you paid for an F-100 pickup in 1965.

Fifty-two years ago there was definitely more get up and go in a Mustang than a Ford F-100. There were also a lot more “creature” comforts in the Mustang. Today’s F-150s put the  Lincoln Continental back in circa 1965 to shame when it comes to everything from the ride and luxury touches to sheer status.

Times change. That’s obvious.

But would anyone back in 1965 imagine pickup trucks becoming family cars unless it was a farming household?

Pickup trucks drove like pickup trucks. You didn’t need weights to build upper body strength since power steering was still considered an extravagant option as most buyers had the frugal outlook of a Sam Walton and not the sensibilities of Blake Shelton laying down $72,000 for a fully loaded 2017 Ford Raptor.

Riding in a pick-up truck 52 years ago was hot in the summer given most weren’t sold with AC and cold in the winter even when the heater was working. You felt the road and you heard the road. You either froze touching the seat in the depth of winter or stuck to it while sweating bullets in the summer.

The big advantage in 1965 was the lack of mini-vans and SUVs on the road meaning if you rode shotgun in your dad’s pickup you were high above everything else on the road save for trucks.

Now for the shocker. People in 1965 actually bought pickup trucks so they could haul things. They weren’t status symbols. They weren’t babied and waxed every week. They were work vehicles.

And if someone in suburbia bought a pickup they were likely to buy a Ford Ranchero or Chevy El Camino. They weren’t exactly a heavy duty vehicle as carrying the typical haul from a Costco shopping trip today would cause rear-ends to scrape bottom going over speed bumps.

The advent of small pickups — they really didn’t start taking hold in the United States until the Datsun invasion — turned the 1970s upside down. I went to Lincoln High in Lincoln — think Ripon High but with about 700 students with just under half of them in FFA. It was when country boys — those on working and hobby farms — were the ones who drove small pickups to school and the girls from the country drove bigger pickups.

It was a much more innocent time. Juniors and seniors actually went dove hunting before school and left their shotguns on gun racks locked in their pickups until someone in charge figured this might not be a wise idea.

Pickup trucks were rarely jacked up and they certainly weren’t lowered. Excess chrome was considered bad form. What was considered good form was a dirty truck. After all it went down dirt roads, hunting out along rice fields, and down to the creek. You did clean them up if you had a date for the dance after the Friday night football game.

This was back when you actually asked people face-to-face for dates and it was a big deal to have your picture taken. Believe it or not the world got along fine without Twitter and Snapshot or the ability to take selfies every five minutes or post every mundane detail of your life on the Internet.

It was back when gas was 40 cents a gallon, self-serve gas stations were an abnormality, an attendant cleaned your windshield and checked your oil even if you bought just two gallons of gas. You also usually drove off with either Blue Chip stamps or a free drinking glass. Today you’re lucky if the gas station bothers to change the water used for washing your windshield once every two days.

Before I wrap up this trip down memory lane, you’ve got to wonder what people will be saying about pickups and cars 52 years from now — assuming Elon Musk doesn’t succeed in making them obsolete.

I can almost hear it now. Back in 2017 you could actually legally buy gasoline in California it cost $3.89 a gallon and the base price of a Ford 150 was $26,540 instead of $255,000. You actually had to steer the stupid thing. And if you can believe it people occasionally hauled stuff in them instead of having their purchases delivered by drones but then again they were nothing but basic transportation with no thrills technology that lacked virtual climate control.

Pickups were indeed primitive compared to today’s rides in 2069.  

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