Driving a brand-new truck is a great experience. Cruising down the highway enjoying the new vehicle smell inside the cab and watching the gauges reflect the behavior of a fresh powerplant is indeed a comforting feeling. My analysis of cruising a dealer plate-clad hauler comes from jumping in and out of the cabs of several different new pickups during our Truckin' magazine Truck of the Year testing, and not as a registered owner of a brand-spanking-new pickup. In fact, I was recently reminded of why I drive a nine-year-old truck, when I stepped onto a dealer lot a few weeks back to check out some new Bow Ties and get an idea of what it would take to replace my old '95 Chevy.

I followed my boss, Steve Warner, to a local Chevy dealer to drop his new Chevy HD off for some service work and had a few minutes to roam the lot, while I waited for Steve to finish his paperwork. Trying to sneak past the salesmen, I quietly walked onto the lot and hid behind other vehicles while I scoped out a brand-new Chevy 1500 Crew Cab. I really like the looks of this truck and was happy to see Chevy come out with a 1/2-ton pickup with four full-length doors. I was curious to see what kind of numbers occupied the window sticker. After admiring the truck's roomy interior and scoping out the room inside the bed, along with the truck's facial features, I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and focused on the sticker price. Wow! This thing was much more than $30,000, and knowing me, it would not stay stock for long. I began to think how cool it would be to roll to the river in a roomy Crew Cab pickup, but then the hefty payment that would go along with it danced in my head and suddenly my lifted '95 Chevy Extended Cab with 98,000 miles on the clock didn't look so bad anymore.

After being floored by the price of this new ride, I walked back to my truck and Steve and I headed back to the office. On the ride back, I asked Steve how people do it. How do people afford these brand-new pickups, and how do they afford to put tons of cash into customizing them? His answer was either they have really good jobs and make a lot of money or they are in debt up to their eyeballs. After considering his response, I decided that the majority of them fall into the latter category. Thinking about a few friends who are slaves to car payments and always broke, I decided I would rather drive an older vehicle with some custom enhancements than a brand-new stock one. This way, I am comfortable with a low payment rather than strapped with a high one and a brand-new truck. The novelty of a brand-new truck wears off way before the payment goes away.

This leads me to another point in this month's Ground Zero. Why are people cutting up brand-new trucks? It seems ridiculous to me to take a brand-new '04 model truck and body-drop it on big wheels or lift it to the sky and completely lose the ride quality - not to mention void the warranty. I think customizers have slowed down on using new iron to make their rocker-laying dreams come true, but I am still baffled by the ones who continue to use brand-new iron to weld, grind, and fabricate. I am not saying there is anything wrong with it. All I am saying is that I am amazed at all the money that is being spent on trucks that go straight from the dealership lot to a fabrication shop and get cut up and hammered on the ground or lifted to the moon. It seems to me that it would make much more sense to take a five- or 10-year-old truck, go crazy on it, and reserve the new trucks for mild lowering and lift kits so they can do duty as our daily drivers and weekend workhorses.

In any event, it looks like I will have to wait a few more years to explore purchasing a new truck, and in the meantime, I will just be thankful for the truck I have. Until next month, keep hitting those switches, cranking good tunes (such as The Darkness and Spinal Tap), and cruising until your heart's content.