Journal: What is a Truck?

What is a Truck?

By Yoav Gilad
September 5, 2014
20 comments

Photography by Yoav Gilad for Petrolicious

Yeah, it seems like a silly question and no, I’m not winding you up. Last week’s Land Rover video caused a bit of a stir because the word truck was used to describe the vehicle. Even here in the office, we had a lively debate with some purists insisting that a Land Rover isn’t a truck. Which is just silly.

Here’s the deal: back when the Land Rover was built there were only cars, station wagons, and trucks. There were no SUVs. Furthermore, the Land Rover can be referred to as a truck for one reason: its cargo space is unadorned and intended for cargo, not passengers. Take for example this Morris Minor, it’s a truck, right? And ultimately, if it’s not a truck what is it? But that’s not really the question…

The question is: what is a light truck? Oh and do you have a favorite?

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Denial Smith
Denial Smith
3 months ago

Now trucks are divided into many categories, from simple light trucks and pickups, vans to class 8 trucks that are used for large loads. I was recently looking for World American Truck Parts for the company as two trucks went down and it had a big impact on our business deliveries

Quentin Henderson
Quentin Henderson
7 years ago

I own (in England) the pick up version of this Morris Minor…..and I just call it ” my pick up ”

It’s about 2 years older than this van, completely unrestored, but road worthy!

Future Doc
Future Doc
7 years ago

SUVs, Vans, Minivans, open bed vehicles … all “trucks”. Chrysler PT Cruiser… was classified as a truck in the US to avoid regulations until its final production year. Any vehicle that is designed primarily for cargo or larger loads(ie not passenger use) is a truck. Sure, a lot of trucks can transport a lot of people, but even box-on-frame chassis that are then modified to transport people can be trucks. Buses are “trucks” to a lesser extent. So basically anything outside a private commuter oriented vehicle can be labeled a truck but trucks are often private commuter vehicles as well.

Truck is an ambiguous word for a vehicle which its purpose is specific to a task. Kinda like the difference between a “boat” and a “ship”.

Dave Mitchell
Dave Mitchell
7 years ago

First off, I think one thing that perhaps should be recognised is that in different parts of the world we call things differently. To me out here in Oz, the Morrie Minor is a panel van, similarly we don’t have such things as Pickups, we call them Utes and in fact they were first developed here not the US back in the 20s. Lastly the term SUV is a US thing which sadly has been bastardised and used world wide and covers a range of vehicles, but Landies, Range Rovers (Rangies), Mercedes G Wagons, Nissan Patrols, Landcruisers, Pajeros and even Jeeps are simply 4x4s not SUVs. Below proper 4x4s then there are a range of what we call soft roaders eg. BMW X5s, Audi A7s, Rav4s and a mryriad of other such vehicles.
SUVs are yet again another category of vehicles, which today most car makers seem to offer for the suburban family to carry a bundle of kids and stuff around in.
To us out in Aus none of these vehicles are trucks. Trucks by their definition are a totally different type of vehicle and used by Industry/commerce. They are usually a cab built on a separate chassis, with a tray for carrying a large payload.

Todd Cox
Todd Cox
7 years ago

Truck. It’s a funny word. I remember reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in my freshman year of high school and at one point the word truck is used, but used as a transitive verb. Have a look:

Definition of TRUCK
transitive verb
1
: to give in exchange : swap
2
: to barter or dispose of by barter
intransitive verb
1
: to exchange commodities : barter
2
: to negotiate or traffic especially in an underhanded way : have dealings
Origin of TRUCK
Middle English trukken, from Anglo-French *truker, *troker, from Vulgar Latin *troccare, probably of imitative origin
First Known Use: 13th century

So ‘truck’ predates the object that we generally associates with it by quite a bit; enough so that we could just as easily have called a Conestoga wagon a truck and been dead on. Or maybe have called a ‘truck’ a ‘hauler’ and been equally as accurate. So for those waving the US flag and somehow suggesting that we invented the truck, well, please step away and realize that’s about the furthest thing from the truth imaginable.

Further, the word ‘truck’ is a synonym for ‘stuff’. So to call any vehicle a truck at all is a little silly and doesn’t really do much to promote how we (in the US) use our language; too much of which is borne of ignorance of the words we assign to things. As a very young child I remember trucks being referred to as vans, or open vans. Arguably, an SUV would be closer to a van. And this particular style of van would be a trucking van; a van with the top off, a passenger area designed to haul ‘truck’ not people, and an open area to easily load and unload your ‘truck’.

Keep on truckin’. 😉

Brett
Brett
7 years ago

That Morris Minor is a VAN – simple. Regarding the Landrover, would you call a Willys Jeep a truck?!

rsdeo
rsdeo
7 years ago

Tacoma here, Hilux over there. What more could anyone want?

Tim W
Tim W
7 years ago

To paraphrase former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien:
[quote]A truck is a truck. What kind of a truck? It’s a truck. A truck is a truck. And when you have a good truck, it’s because it’s [i]truckin[/i]’.
[/quote]

KStewart
KStewart
7 years ago

Actually, the word truck was around long before the automobile, so the stir around it being used for something that is not a “pickup truck” as known in the US is a bit absurd. I have to disagree with TJ Martin about accurate definitions. We may have invented the concept of the “pickup truck” as it is known today, but we picked a word for it that was invented by someone else, so don’t have any claim to the word truck and how it is used.
From Websters Dictionary:
Truck
Noun: a wheeled vehicle for moving heavy articles: as
a : a strong horse-drawn or automotive vehicle (as a pickup) for hauling
b : a small barrow consisting of a rectangular frame having at one end a pair of handles and at the other end a pair of small heavy wheels and a projecting edge to slide under a load —called also hand truck
c : a small heavy rectangular frame supported on four wheels for moving heavy objects
d : a small flat-topped car pushed or pulled by hand
e : a shelved stand mounted on casters
f : an automotive vehicle with a short chassis equipped with a swivel for attaching a trailer and used especially for the highway hauling of freight; also : a truck with attached trailer

Verb: to load or transport on a truck intransitive verb
1: to transport goods by truck
2: to be employed in driving a truck
3: to roll along especially in an easy untroubled way

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa
7 years ago

Jeep maybe the original, but sometimes practicality is important, and the more recent Wranglers of lost a bit of that. Once, a few years ago, I drove a Defender in difficult terrain. A few weeks later I took a Wrangler there. Both were new cars.

The Wrangler did everything fine, but it took me a lot more time. Simply because it was so big, with tyres poping out on the sides, that I had to be extra careful passing a narrow rural road with a rock wall on both sides.

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa
7 years ago

Well that previous comment is a bit offensive…

I think the european definition ‘seems’ better, but driving in the US puts everything one thinks in perspective. Both can be right. But the Morris is definitely a van.

TJ Martin
TJ Martin
7 years ago

ertyul [ as well as ML ]

Not to be insulting or anything … but what do y’all in the EU /UK know about …. trucks ? Answer ? Bupkiss ! We [US] invented them … we developed them … we’re still refining them … now y’all are trying to be more like us by building and buying them yourselves . But when it comes to expertise as well as accurate definitions y’all still need to be looking our way for the correct answers … FYI … for any UK types on site … sorry to dispel all the JLR Hype & Hyperbole … but JEEP did it first [ 4wd SUV’s as well as Luxury SUV’s.. along with I might add the first commercially available 4wd car .. the Jeepster ] .. not Land/Range Rover who’ve been trying to play catch up for decades while the rest of the world keeps passing them by

TJ Martin
TJ Martin
7 years ago

Well … if you truly wish to be pedantic about it . A truck must be defined as a body on frame [ vs Unibody ] utility vehicle of any type … including … Pickups .. body on frame SUV’s , Panels .. Vans … Crew Cabs etc regardless of the size . [ the El Camino’s /Ford Ranchero’s back in the day as well as all the unibody SUV/CUV/AAV etc things today … along with all those ludicrous unibody P/U travesties crowding the road do not qualify as a truck … they are Cars with truck like appendages ]

So is the LR Defender a truck ? Damn right it is ! [ will it still be in the future is the question … and according to JLR/TATA that answer is a resounding … NO ! ] Land Cruiser ? Yup ! So is the Mercedes G-Wagen despite the price tag and all the luxuries …. etc .. etc …. etc

ertyui
ertyui
7 years ago

I totally agree with the definition from the english fellow. we have the same one here in France. And i am pretty surprised that you guys are not aware of this global european( i think) definition

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
7 years ago

I ran into this all the time over the many years of driving a ’65 El Camino.

That car sure was a great work truck. Man, I miss that old pick-up; the bed was nice and low, making it easy to load and unload my gear.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
7 years ago

I think the truck question will vary according to where you live. Here in the UK truck is generally a term used for a large cargo vehicle such as a big rig and not the pickups that fill American roads. Pickups are pretty rare here and are usually just referred to as pick ups and we would call that Morris Minor a Van. SUV’s and the like are considered cars here.

Using the US definition I would probably go for the Range Rover Classic as my favourite.

Aaron McKenzie
Aaron McKenzie
7 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

Which brings us to next week’s question: “What is a ‘lorry?'”

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa
7 years ago
Reply to  Aaron McKenzie

In school, in Portugal, I allways learned that a truck is a lorry; like sidewalk is pavement, chips are fries, and eggplant is aubergine

R Craig
R Craig
7 years ago

A van. Fools.

Future Doc
Future Doc
7 years ago
Reply to  R Craig

Vans are classified as a “light duty truck”…at least according to the Feds