100 Years Old!

100 Years Old! (Audio)

Yep… The Ford F-100 is 100 Years Old today!… Bappy Hirthday! On July 27, 1917, Ford introduced the Model TT. For $600 you got the chassis and drive train, and supplied your own body… What a hoot!

But look where the truck industry has taken us!

My first car was a Ford (Falcon) and I’ve owned a number of Ford Trucks in my lifetime… Let’s see. 1953, 1967, 1969, 1992… and if I had money to spend, this number would be much higher! Ford always seemed to set the standard of expectations for truck drivers and continues to be one of the most highly rated vehicles around.

Now… Just so you know. I’ve always had an affinity for trucks… I’ve owned them all, at least the big 3. Ford. Chevy/GMC, Dodge. A bench seat, standard shift, and an open road ahead!

With all the changes happening in the auto industry, I thought about the life that owning a vehicle has given me. Essentially, freedom to go. Here are a couple of thoughts.

  1. When learning to drive, mom would toss me the keys and say, “Let’s go.” And we went. Normally later in the evening, and while she would sit and mull through life, I got to go anywhere I wanted. Freeway driving through Houston, downtown, across the ferry, into the country… Mom would give pointers every so often, but sometimes these drives lasted 2-3 hours!
  2. Sitting in dad’s lap learning to work the steering wheel, but not the pedals. Legs were still too short! Or sitting beside him and learning how to shift the 3 on the tree. He would explain the downshifting techniques that let the car slow without tapping the brakes.
  3. Uncle Eugene tossing me his keys so I could take him to the river to fish. About a 1950 five window Chevy truck. “Don’t use all the gas. Pick me up at sundown.” Let’s see. I was 10, maybe 11… Loved the country experience!
  4. Hours spent driving the driveway, or grandma’s front yard. Learning to parallel park, 3 corner turns, shifting, starting, stopping…. Hours! And we never went anywhere!
  5. Taking dad’s 1968 Dodge truck on a date often required you hosing it down, inside and out, to get rid of the paper mill smell. Whew! Stink-a-dena… (you have to understand the reference…just saying!)
  6. My first car was a wrecked 1964 Ford Falcon. Blue. I bought a 1965 Falcon front end. Aqua. Married them together. Two-tone car! Rebuilt the carb. Cleaned out everything. And drove that car for several years. Then on to my brother, and then to a guy who needed parts for his racer.
  7. My last car bought is my current truck. It’s 14 years old next month and has over 305,000 miles.

Through much of my life, I’ve sat behind a steering wheel and rolled the miles down the road. Over 1.5 million if my calculations are correct. Some folks cannot understand this love for the road. But there is an escape from the stressors of life that happens when you “Head em’ up, move em’ out! Rawhide!” Of course, you have to understand the life of a 50’s child enamored with the cowboy experience. Getting on your old steed and hitting the trail.

I’ve shared before, but this really sticks with me. While sitting in a hotel lobby about midnight, and trying to get some school work done on a trip to the UK and Germany with my brothers and dad, a mother and daughter asked to share the table. There were about 800 high school students all over the hotel and occupying every spare inch. The daughter had just graduated med school and was entering her practice and the mom was a retired school teacher. Among the many topics we discussed, the mom could not understand why we drive so many miles in our country. After all, she walked a couple of blocks, hopped a train, then a subway, then walked a few blocks to get to the hotel.  We were in London. She essentially traveled the length of her country in about 2-3 hours.

We calculated her mileage and time window…
I told her that wouldn’t even get me out of state, much less across the country. 

Just across the channel was Europe with all of its rail systems in place and it’s easy to modify to that style of life. Could not the US do the same? Sure. It never caught on, for some reason. We went by horse, wagon train, stagecoach, train…and then roads spanned the nation.

It was after WWII, about 1956, that the Interstate Highway system was born and Eisenhower put the nation to work. Not only was it a boon for the economy, it changed the landscape by opening up areas to road travel as never before. Why Eisenhower? He traveled across the country in WWI on the Lincoln Highway and then experienced the Autobahn in Germany during WWII. He could see the power of a highway system that connected the far flung portions of our nation. [Source]

Timing. Need. Experience. Economy. Technology. All these reasons gave us the opportunity to enjoy road trips like no other time in history. 

Of course, history never stays the same.

I’m not sure what the next generation of travel will be like. More and more people are moving to the cities and it changes the dynamics of life. Rural life leaves many of us to think they are absolutely crazy!

Toll roads. Self-driving cars. Uber/Lyft. Electric and battery vehicles. The cost of owning and operating a vehicle…wow! Never mind the cost of parking it in a garage as you make a commute to work or shopping!

Makes me want to head for the hills!

There’s a 1955 Chevrolet pickup for sale across the mountains. $6,000. Powder blue. Clean. 6 cylinders. Not a computer on board! And it’s my birth year… I wonder… Could I make it across the nation in this?