2016 in Review – Trucks

Haulers getting their due on show circuit

2016-39d-truck-hobby-photo-03In 1998, the automotive world underwent an historic change. According to figures complied by Wards Auto, that was the year that the production of trucks in North America exceeded the production of passenger cars. It was the first time automobile factories built more trucks than cars and it was a permanent change.

With more trucks being built and many being dressed up with aftermarket goodies, the number of trucks appearing in automobile shows and trade shows has been consistently rising. Anyone entering the SEMA Show in Las Vegas during the past few years has had to “run the gauntlet” of pickup trucks — with wild graphics, custom lighting and all sorts of trick tire and wheel combinations — that are parked along the entranceway of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Events aimed at professionals — such as the SEMA Show, the Shop Show and the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show — aren’t the only places where trucks and Jeeps are sharing space with classics, racing cars and hot rods. Local weekend car shows across the country are adapting to a changing hobby in which tuner cars, Resto-Mods, trucks and Jeeps are playing a much larger role. To attract younger car enthusiasts, the promoters of these events need to welcome the vehicles that younger enthusiasts drive. Trucks and Jeeps are among the most popular “rides” in this demographic.

1-ton-chevylil-red

Pickups have never been hotter in the collector vehicle market. Haulers like this 1947 Chevrolet 1-ton (left) and the 1978-’79 Dodge Lil’ Red Express are no longer being ignored.

The truck collecting segment of the old-car hobby is another area where growth is being experienced. The Baraboo, Wis. Truck Show is one of three annual events organized by the Southern Wisconsin Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society (www.ATHS.org). “We just did a show in Kaukauna at the end of May,” said chapter spokesperson Tim Blum. “That one was sponsored by Truck Country. Then, we do the Baraboo show in June and our Richland Center Truck Show will be Sept. 30-Oct. 1 this year.”

Blum’s commitment to putting on good shows grew out of his own passion for trucks. “I’ve been involved with trucks my whole life,” he explained. “Dad had an excavating business with dump trucks and then I got a few semis and I got my own dump trucks about 25 years ago. Eventually, I got into fixing old trucks and then my hobby became my business and I started restoring them.”

The Southern Wisconsin Chapter of ATHS alone has just over 100 members and last year 101 trucks made it to Baraboo. “We were hoping to top that in 2016,” said Blum. ”Some trucks are coming from an hour or two away.” According to Blum, trucks come to the show from Wisconsin, northern Illinois or eastern Minnesota. “We’ve got a couple coming from Iowa,” he said. “We take any kind of truck and any vintage; we accept anything whether it’s a show truck an old truck or one that just came out of a boneyard. People will sit and look at it and talk about it just as much as if it had a $100,000 restoration and looks new.”

2016-39d-truck-hobby-photo-02

Over 100 trucks of all types and sizes come to the annual Baraboo truck Show organized by the Southern Wisconsin Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society (www.ATHS.org).

Blum said that his chapter’s truck shows allow people who were involved with trucks to share memories. “They are collector items that bring back memories and good memories,” he observed. “This year we have Gene Olson’s bull-nose Kenworth and his high-binder, we’ve got a couple of real showpiece trucks and we have the Reo Mobile Media (www.reomobilemedia.com) semi-tractor that has a video screen built into its side so we can show movies tonight.”

Blum said the chapter was raffling off a Snap-on toolbox, along with a second prize clothing bag and a third prize tool bag. “We do not have any judging,” he pointed out. “How can you judge semi-trucks? They’re all unique and they’re all very different, so how can you say one is better than another one?”

COMMENT