WORDS BY BEN DUNGAN
It was completed in 1985, but they sold it as a “1986 model”. I didn’t get it until 1993 – the summer before my senior year of high school. That’s when I officially became a truck guy.
My first truck was a Ford F-150. It was a full size pickup, with a dark shadow blue metallic exterior. It wasn’t fancy, but it was functional. Most everything was manual including the locks and the windows. Even the 4-speed transmission was manual.
It didn’t come with a backseat or an extended cab. Even the A/C didn’t work. Come to think of it, I don’t think the factory ever installed one.
It got me through my final year of high school, all five years of college and the first couple of years post-college. It went from Charlotte to Raleigh to Wilmington, and all points in between.
Even though I had it for nearly eight years, I only experienced seven summers. But our classic Carolina summers are not a walk in the park. You can count on them being hot and humid. Almost unbearable at times. But either I was tougher back then, or they just designed things better. I think it was the latter.
In all those summers that I drove that truck around, I don’t remember having a nagging feeling that having a functional A/C was a critical need. Between the window vents – those triangle-shaped side windows that you could tilt in your direction – and the floorboard vents, all it took was a slight crack of your side windows and you’d have air circulation and airflow for days. This is assuming you were driving at highway speed.
This made long road trips more bearable. The worst part was sitting at a stoplight or in traffic. But that was only temporary.
I ended up selling that old truck in the Spring of 2001. I switched jerseys and became a Toyota truck guy instead. This time I had a few non-negotiables: I wanted an automatic transmission, power windows and power locks. And an air conditioner was an absolute must. Of course, a car payment came along with it too.
But I still think about that old Ford truck from time to time. Although, I don’t know if I
could go back to it today. I like my amenities a little too much. I love the spaciousness
of my double cab and the convenience of the power windows and the power locks.
I also love my A/C. I can’t live without that now. The car payment, I can do without,
but I’m not 17 years old anymore. You have to pay to play.
As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have evolved. So has my body apparently – it’s grown
soft after years and years of cold air blowing in my face.
That old Ford was great. But I like the Toyota Tacoma I have now. Maybe it takes owning an old truck like my F-150 to appreciate the modern conveniences I now have at my fingertips.
But no matter the make, the model or the year, I’m still a truck guy through and through. I just enjoy the finer things in life these days. I like having options. Let’s face it, I like having cold air on standby with just a flip of a switch.