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Is the Golden Age of Trucks at an End? Is the Golden Age of Trucks at an End?

Is the Golden Age of Trucks at an End?

It’s tempting to hitch up your suspenders and yell from your porch “back in my day, things were made out of metal and would last you a lifetime! Now everything is plastic junk,” but the reality is more complicated. 

The truck industry certainly does not make things the way they used to, and there’s a lot more chrome now than there used to be, but that’s not necessarily bad. Some qualities in trucks have disappeared or become obsolete, while many other areas have improved. The greatest improvement is that of safety, ranging from improvements to seatbelts and airbags, to sensors and backup camera.

At Camera Source, we strive to make the road a safer place. You rely on your backup camera, sensors, navigation, and monitors for safety and convenience. Here, we’ll give you an overview of how trucks have changed over time, and how you can continue to improve your own truck.

change in us trucks over time

How Trucks are Better Than Before 

Trucks have gotten better, in some very serious ways:

Reliability & Durability 

Many of the trucks that were built before 1990 had a different design ethos, meant to last for a lifetime, rather than until the next model year. Product design has shifted in many areas over the years, reliability, and durability often taking a back seat to bells and whistles.

That said, it’s not always the case that something old is going to be more reliable and durable. In fact, many contemporary models of diesel trucks will last an extremely long time if well maintained. Often, old vehicles are given more TLC than new ones, which can create a bias in quality. 

Trucks are Safer Than They Used to Be 

It is indisputable as you get into newer vehicles, they become safer. Auto accidents can be an awful experience, and you never want to be in one, but the evolution of truck bodies and frames has made contemporary models far safer than the ones before. 

New technology has made safety features that don’t just mitigate the damages of accidents, but actually helps to prevent them, like lane departure alerts and backup cameras. Fortunately, Camera Source can help those with older trucks increase the safety and comfort of their truck. 

Trucks are More Comfortable Than They Used to Be

Comfort was not a priority in many old models of diesel truck, and a newer model will likely be far more comfortable. Ergonomic seats, climate control, and a smooth, quiet ride are commonplace in most designs. 

Trucks are More Powerful Than They Used to Be

The evolution of engines, while not necessarily becoming more durable or long-lived, has indisputably resulted in more powerful engines. The evolution of the diesel engine has resulted in trucks that pull more, provide more torque, and are better equipped to handle difficulties on any job site. 

As far as diesel, The 5.9L Cummins and the 7.3L Powerstroke are arguably two of the best diesel engines of the past thirty years. Both of these engines are products of the 80s and 90s, so that doesn’t mean good engineering is dead and gone for the future. 

average us vehicle co2 emissions

Trucks Have Fewer Emissions & Better Fuel Economy Than They Used To

Old vehicles are almost universally gas-guzzlers. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, fuel economy is not the only thing that matters in a truck purchase, but modern engines, diesel and gasoline, both have lower emissions than old ones, and get much better fuel economy. It’s nothing to compare with a hybrid, but trucks are more fuel-efficient than ever before. Engine technologies such as turbocharged engines (Turbo) and gasoline direct injection (GDI) allow for more efficient engine design and operation. Cylinder deactivation (CD) allows for use of a portion of the engine when less power is needed, while stop-start technology can turn off the engine entirely at idle to save fuel.

How Trucks Haven‘t Improved

All that being said, certain things don’t improve with time:

Trucks Are More Expensive Than They Used to Be

Trucks are not cheap, especially diesel trucks, but you can consider them investments. If you plan to buy one new off the lot, expect somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000+.  Even when factoring in inflation, trucks are significantly more expensive than they used to be. This is likely due in part to economic recession and market trends. While the price of trucks has increased, so has the technology that goes into their design and operation. The overall quality, safety, and fuel efficiency of trucks has increased, so it makes sense that price increased as well.

Trucks Used to Be More Durable

The safety of newer vehicles comes at a cost. Newer trucks use more aluminum and plastic to make the vehicle lighter and safer in the event of a crash. Older truck models were made out of steel. This is part of the reason they had such poor fuel economy (steel is heavy), but aluminum and plastic are not quite as durable as steel, and this can be something to consider. 

A Golden Age for GM?

Many people state that the golden age of General Motors production was from around 1940 to the mid-1970s, but that’s up to some debate. Certainly, GM created many interesting models during this period of time, but they were often way more interested in selling models and creating unique designs than they were about creating vehicles that would last a lifetime. There are many quality models from this era, but some clunkers too, so go in with your eyes open. 

How to Improve Your Truck

Many people online will tell you that one design is better than another, or that one way of making vehicles was the only way, but often nostalgia overpowers good judgment. One thing is certain: Safety is the first priority. Camera Source has your back— with high quality backup cameras and technical support when you need it.