NOVEMBER 18, 2014: 70s TRUCKS–THE MISUNDERSTOOD AND UNLOVED REFUGEES FROM THE “ME DECADE”

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The 70s were a great decade for people and relaxed codes of social conduct, but not so much for Motor City’s finest because most vehicles from 70s Detroit are rarely considered to be classics by the current crop of car guys.

 

The game changed in 1973 when Middle East oil countries shut off the taps and created higher energy prices in North America.

 

 

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The price at the pumps jumped and so did the lineups at the pumps. There were even a few one-sided gun battles reported when frustrated unarmed motorists ignored the 2nd Amendment and cut in line in front of other armed drivers.

 

The result was a sense of panic for Detroit because they had bet their future on large cars powered by large engines and that model was not in vogue in 1973. New government rules also meant 5 mph crash-resistant bumpers became mandatory on the ’73 car models in North America.

 

The love affair between North American drivers and their vehicles was tested in the 70s when engines were neutered to meet tougher emission standards and performance took a back seat.

 

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The result was a decade where a well-defined automotive look and style was not embraced by the car community by comparison to previous decades. The same philosophy has been applied to the trucks from the 70s and they suffer from the same lack of love from car hobbyists.

 

 

Dodge brought in a brand new body style in 1972 after a decade of the Sweptline look from 1961 to 1971. The ’72 and up Dodge trucks had a radical makeover that sent Mopar in a new direction during the Me Decade.

 

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The trucks had bigger cabs and added other features like club cab options that expanded interior room and storage capacities.

 

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The 1972-and-up Dodge trucks had a better suspension that made them more comfortable for their primary passengers, most of whom were likely to be working guys.

 

These trucks were sold in big numbers and may even have contributed to the erroneous label of “Dodge” for every product from Chrysler, including the Plymouth models.

 

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Sure, calling all Mopars “Dodges” was lazy and inaccurate, but most of these misguided people got their cue from the 1972 and newer Dodge truck and its ubiquitous style that lasted ‘into the early 90s.

 

Chevy/GMC trucks also underwent a major facelift in 1973 and what a difference a year made for future hobbyists. The 1972 Chevy truck is an iconic part of the collector vehicle world and many of its fans consider this model to be the best-looking truck ever built by the General.

 

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Not so much for the squared-off 1973 and up Chevy truck, built in the midst of a gasoline crisis and with nowhere near the same level of affection as the curvier ’72 model.

 

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The lingering result was a hobby where the style of the post-73 Chevy truck was never embraced by anybody except Joe Rockford as a future collectible in the same way as its predecessor.

 

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Ford made subtler changes to its trucks in the 70s. The Blue Oval Boys kept a basic style through the 70s that made less of a cosmetic leap of faith in one year compared to the Dodge and Chevy trucks.

 

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Pickup trucks have always been a big seller for Ford and it would be fair to say the 70s models enjoyed a better ride from car guys from a collector point of view.

 

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We at MSCC firmly believe the 70s are an underrated decade when it comes to the automotive styles from that decade.

 

Our belief includes truck styles and we look forward to any opportunity to interview owners who enthusiastically embrace the 70s as their choice in the collector vehicle hobby.

 

Jim Sutherland

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