In speaking and writing, I try hard not to use clichés. One, however, is never far from my lips; “the good old days.” We were just having a conversation the other day about these “good” old days, and after my friend and I were done talking, I hung up and thought about it in trucking terms and pondered, was it really that good?
Depending on your age, ‘the good old days’ can really be an entirely different decade, but for me, the time I refer to was the mid-’90s to the early 2K’s. In my late teens to early twenties, when I got my start in trucking, yeah, that’s my glory days. The early electronic motors, no emissions BS, logbook rules and enforcement we could live with and a ton of firsts for me in the industry. When I wax poetic about my best times in trucking, that’s where my mind goes.
I know many other drivers who would agree wholeheartedly that this was the golden age of trucking. It is hard to argue with them on that too. Just recently, as I was looking to add another truck to my operation, I was looking over the line-up at a Kenworth dealer and thinking how interesting it was that in 2021 I could still order the W900L with flat glass and a 42” Flattop bunk. The truck has been around in that basic configuration for almost 40 years. Hmmmmm, who says you can’t go back in time?
It was time to go retro. I made a plan and a spec that was going to look just like the dream trucks I had on my wall as a kid. Yes, I am, in fact, enough of a truck nerd to have a trucking poster on my wall. I poured over the specs and built a badass hot-rod K-dub. Well, at least I built the spec for one. But before handing over a down payment and a handshake, I had a weekend to wait.
As I looked over pictures and reminisced about trucks, I had driven way back when I remembered a few things, or should I say my body reminded me. I started on Saturday to have this pain in my hip, a pain I hadn’t felt in years. It was something I started getting when I drove a regular day cab KW… you see, my six foot two plus frame does not fit well into that cab. It is the same small cab that comes on the W900L I was ordering. My body was reminding me that it didn’t want to go back in time. So I approached the idea of a bigger opening by having my new truck genetically altered. There are companies that do it, and if you want the “old school” look, this is the only way to go. I then thought back to my friend Marlin and his tales of trying to live out of the 42” bunk while he drove coast to coast.
It turns out that in the past 20 years, I have become quite comfortable with larger storage and breathing room in a truck, so I decided to scrap the idea of the flat glass truck. Now I considered any of the three long hoods, from Western Star, KW or Peterbilt but with a bigger bunk. Classic style bigger room, this would work perfectly, I chatted with salesmen and got numbers to run with and now just had to make up my mind. It was while I was trying to determine which truck was right for me that I stumbled on some numbers. Fuel numbers from back in the day – non-aero truck numbers.
So apparently, I have also become accustomed to the fuel economy of a slippery truck. As much as I love to look cool, I really don’t want to give up any extra on the bottom line to do so. Again this is a personal choice, but I just want to keep my bottom line as healthy as it can be.
One avenue to add would be just buying an old truck, and I looked at that too. Then I did a 6-month stint in an old pre-emission 379. It had the cool factor, and it made the right noises but often some of the wrong ones. It often had wiring gremlins and all the other little things that pop up in 30-year-old equipment. My hat is off to all of you dedicated to running an old truck every day. That is a labour of love, but I just don’t have the time and patience for it anymore.
Back to the matter at hand, I also could not bring myself to buy another Aero truck. While I love the fuel economy and the room, I do not love the resale value. At this point, the ‘good old days’ were looking better and better because I can look back at them and don’t have to do anything but remember the good. In the present, I had a feeling I was going to have to make a decision that was gonna compromise my needs in some way - so I didn’t buy anything.
The perfect out for me came in a lease. An eighteen months walk-away full-service lease. In a year and a half, I can decide what to do. I have to say, as of right now, the numbers work out well, the comfort level is high, the fuel economy is great, and I don’t have to lift a finger just drive. I work on my business, not my truck which makes me feel the present and the future will be, ‘good old days’ just give it time.