Automatic four-wheel-drive was achieved by asking your passenger to step out and lock the front hubs…
Luxury and hi-tech systems abound in the 4x4s that show up in the local media test fleets.
When I stepped out of one of the more loaded examples the other I got to thinking about yesteryear.
Some might refer to them as the good old days – judge for yourself.
I remember – not that long ago – four wheeling in a truck when the standard transmission shifter was so loose, you didn’t know you were in gear or neutral.
Anti-lock brakes were when you lost your master cylinder to a stick, while (independently minded) power steering kicked in when you hit the corner of a rock so hard it ripped the steering wheel out of your hand and if you weren’t carful your thumb as well.
Traction control came in the shape of new tires. Automatic four-wheel-drive was achieved by asking your passenger to step out and lock the front hubs. The parking brake was a log shoved under the rear tire. Soft suspension meant your shocks were blown. Off-road suspension meant you spent more time hitting the roof with your head and back than you actually spent on the seat, which if you were lucky had some remaining padding still in it. Your seat belts would tighten up on every bump and if you didn’t stop you would be suffocated.
You would be lucky if your radio would bring in a few channels on the AM band only! And the CB radio might just reach the driver in front of you. Wheel articulation really indicated your leaf spring was broken in half. Air conditioning was driving with your windows down and trying to breath in between dust clouds.
GPS was your buddy screaming out, “I think it’s this road”. Most people used to sleep in the back of their trucks. However, I remember one time after a long day of four-wheeling pulling into an open area by a river where I found a nice sandy mound. With the aid of my flash light I quickly spread the sand out with my arms making a flat area in which to put my tent. It was about 5:30 am when I first noticed the red ants crawling all around my sleeping bag. I was tired so killing the one at a time was not a big deal until I saw many climbing the side of the tent. I quickly climbed out of my tent to discover the soft sandy mound I found was actually a giant anthill.
The vehicles of today have the capabilities of descending steep hills without even putting your foot on the brake and you could disconnect your sway bar end links to allow for more articulation. Ability to stop on a hill without rolling back is nice. Comfortable seats are really an improvement, especially on long trips.
Although we can’t relive the past, it’s important to remember technology is there to help us. There is no replacement for common sense, so don’t let your truck drive you, drive it and be safe.
If you have any fun and not-so-fun truck tales to share, please drop me a line.