One thing we get accused of more than anything else is for harboring some sort of prejudice against the not-so-popular makes. Dodge. International. Studebaker. Willys. We're talking anything but what came out of the Ford or GM plants. To say that there are diehard fans of those makes would be to put it lightly. The only problem is, there's just not enough of them.
I've often wondered if it was simply a matter of not seeing the forest for the trees. Were we legitimately ignoring the "other" makes as we've been accused?
I can tell you with certainty that there is no underlying conspiracy theory to only run Fords or Chevys. It all comes down to a matter of supply and demand. Those trucks sold better and lasted longer than the other makes and that's why you see so many. If it wasn't so, ask yourself why you don't see a whole aisle of 1960s Dodge trucks at any big car show.
Determined to bring a more balanced spread to the magazine, I made it my goal to find a handful of "alternative" trucks over the course of this past summer. After attending a half dozen events across the country with attendance totaling over 25,000 vehicles, I came back with less than 10 trucks, none of which met our criteria for what we look for in a feature vehicle. I was a little bummed as I really wanted to give the "other guys"some love, but at least I can honestly say that we looked and there's just not a lot of stuff out there that doesn't fall into the Ford or GM category. Those two held the marketplace for years and that's a simple fact. What's left on the road today reflects that better than anything else I can think of. If the numbers in 1970 are any indication, Dodge built nearly 40,000 trucks, while both Ford and GM cranked out over 300,000 light-duty pickups. Those numbers are pretty hard to argue.
That small blip in the truck market makes it difficult to justify, as a business owner, serving such a niche market. That means there's little to no aftermarket industry that supports the off-brands, making it even harder to rebuild, restore, or otherwise maintain something like a vintage International, Dodge, or Studebaker. When it comes time to replace the vent window rubber or the door seals or any of the other hundred rubber parts, where does one look? That makes things very difficult and in my opinion, what's maintained the Ford and Chevy dominance throughout the years. More trucks equal a larger market and a better business model to any would-be truck parts entrepreneur.
On the other hand, anyone willing to take on such odds is worthy of my respect and admiration. I'd love to hear from you guys who have done just that. Send over your pics, update us on your progress, and give me your tales of your trials and tribulations on what it takes to build a truck without the full support of an aftermarket industry. There aren't too many parts on my '68 C10 that aren't being reproduced, but I'm sure if it were a Dodge, that'd be a totally different story. So what's the solution? That's what I'd like to know!
I feel like we've got the year and make spectrum pretty well covered within our fleet of project trucks spread out amongst the guys here at CCT that it may well be time to start looking for an oddball, or rather alternative, make/model to tear into. What do you guys think? Is it time to think outside the box?