A little over a month ago, I’m sorry to say my step-father passed away at age 92. He was an ideal companion for my mother and his passing will be felt dearly by her. I can’t claim to have known him all that well, but at the same time he was an attentive and caring person. He also liked to do nearly everything for himself rather than hire work to be done. As such, he owned a compact pickup truck to make all of his supply runs for lumber, tools and materiel. With his passing, I inherited that truck.
That’s right, a 1997 Ford Ranger XLT. What’s more, very low mileage. How low? Before driving it home from Tennessee, it had less than 20,000 miles on it.
That’s right, it turned twenty thousand miles on I-81 just before entering Virginia from Tennessee. The truck is practically brand new despite its now 18 years of age. What does that mean for me? I have nearly everything I wanted in a pickup truck: small size, good performance (not all that quick, but can get out of its own way), good economy at a measured 24 mpg while driving at the speed shown, and good handling, able to maneuver in tight places almost as well as my Jeep Wrangler and certainly better than the F-150 I previously owned. And that’s the reason for this article.
This site is called RoadWhale because today’s pickup trucks on average are far too large. I’ve covered this point excessively on the Pickup Trucks dot com website forums and discussed it here many times. In the case of the current line of full-sized trucks, I would class them as sperm whales, but I will grant they’re not quite that big. Class VIII 18-wheelers are about as long as a sperm whale, after all, and just as blunt, but I have no complaint about their size because they are truly used for the purpose of hauling freight across the country. Class VII is a similar-sized truck, typically on a single chassis rather than a tractor-trailer arrangement. Classes IV, V and VI are the supposed medium-duty trucks that tend to serve as anything from wreckers to the high-cube boxes used for smaller loads than would fill the typical tractor-trailer rig. They’re not as often seen on the Interstates but rather serve as more localized delivery for shop inventory. The problem here is that some heavy-duty pickup trucks come dangerously close to encroaching on Class IV capabilities and frequently share duty in that area, especially when towing trailers of construction equipment and even multiple vehicles on a single trailer. In fact, some of those heavy-duty pickups do require the driver to hold a commercial drivers license to haul a trailer at the truck’s rated limits. These trucks could easily measure up to the length of an orca or beluga whale—especially when towing said trailers. But if I’m not referencing the Class VII and Class VIII trucks as whales, then should I class the full sized pickup truck as the sperm and blue whales? They certainly approach their length when towing, after all. But then that raises the question of how I would class the mid-sized and compact trucks.
I’ve previously discussed the Hyundai Santa Cruz (http://roadwhale.com/on-the-hyundai-santa-cruz-in-response-to-a-comment-on-pickuptrucks-com/ ). This ‘truck’ is notably smaller than any of the current round of full-sized trucks and visibly smaller than even the more recent Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon. As a member of the whale family it would certainly qualify as a dolphin. So where would an older-style mid-sized pickup fit—especially one that is itself notably smaller than the Colorado but about the same size as the current Tacoma from Toyota and the Frontier from Nissan. Additionally, while the Santa Cruz might be roughly the same length as the Ranger above, it does offer seating for five with the extended cab and a shorter bed, in some ways making it more useful than a standard cab shown above. Still, would that then make the Ranger above also a dolphin? Or could it be an orca or beluga vs a full-sized sperm? If so, what about the Colorado, only slightly smaller than a full-sized pickup but enough so to rank a different species?
I’m asking these questions because I intend to put a personalized tag on this truck relating to its size by whale breeds. Sure, I could lump them all into Cetaceans, but for one thing the species name is too long to fit on a license plate. Additionally, I do still want to put ‘RD-‘ in front of the name and still have the whale type recognizable. RD-ORCA is obvious and even RD-DLFN should be simple to work out. Of course, RD-WHAL or RD-WHLE would work too, but becomes too generic. How about some honest suggestions here and explain why you’re recommending it.