TAILGATE TALK BY Will Wills
"Every feature of the design should be an expression of some useful purpose; otherwise, it is not justified. Any innovation which constitutes a distinct improvement, however strange and repellent it may seem at first, soon becomes acceptable from the standpoint of appearance. But if it is false, added merely for looks, away with it! It cannot continue to be considered good taste if it does not fulfill the condition of utility." -Norman L. Skene
Norman Skene wrote that in his 1927 Elements of Yacht Design. It was true before and it is true now. It is true of nature and it is true of machines. Find a bug or plant that has something on it for decoration. Sure, one Peacock might have brighter feathers than another, and might attract the babe Peacocks, but when it comes down to it, he still has to kick more Peacock butt than the other male Peacocks to keep his title. Fancy only gets you so far, and if all you have is 'Fancy'; it doesn't get you anywhere. You need a sharp beak too. Let me give you an automotive example.
Back when I was in grade school, one of the other kid's older brother would pick him up after school in a souped up VW Bug with an air scoop on the roof. We used to blow that kid a lot of crap because of that scoop. Then, we learned that the scoop was for a roof mounted oil cooler, which made sense because that was where you could get good airflow with a rear mounted engine. So, yeah, it was "strange and repellent" at first, and I don't know if it was really a good idea, but at least it was up there for a reason and so we accepted it.
And then, there was the guy with the fake plastic-chrome blower on the hood of his Chevette. That's not a joke--their really was a Chevette like that at my high school. I don't have to tell you that that Peacock had no beak: anybody that felt like it could embarrass the guy. And there were tons of other trinkets that signalled 'Goof On Board'. Slapper bars on a 200cid Maverick (I actually beat that car for about an eighth of a block--on foot); Thrush mufflers; a hand-me-down station wagon with Rocket mags on it. The list is long. Unfortunately I can't pick on the 4x4 crowd as much because there weren't any 4x4s at my highschool, and very few pick-ups. That tells you how popular the things have become in the last twenty years.
But there are plenty of things to pick on in the 4x4 crowd in recent times. Too-big tires that prevent any flex if the truck actually went off-road, for beginners. Then there are brush guards on immaculate SUVs that haven't seen anything more radical than a stray shopping cart. And don't forget the factory installed 'Off-Road' sticker on a truck that couldn't make it across my front yard. Flip through a catalog and you could come up with a couple thousand bucks worth of garnish that will make your truck look--um--different. But where are the meat and potatoes?
And you there, with the 5" chrome tip and 1" of tire around the edge of that 20" wheel. What is that for? Peacock feathers. I would be more impressed by a realistic looking 2.5" PIPE, realistic looking high performance tires and maybe a turbo whistle when it pulled away from a stop rather than a mad hornet sound beating on my inner ear. And the same applies to the offroad crowd.
Does an astute individual really believe that purple Durango on 44's decked out with chrome and powdercoat goes offroad? Heck no. That guy isn't even involved in the same pasttime as I am. On the weekend that guy is signing checks to his creditcard company while I am beating up my 31" Kumhos. You can tell if the guy parked next to you is speaking your language by what he drives (meaning, by what he has done to what he drives)--whether you're into street or offroad.
So let me sum up Norman Skenes paragraph with a single word of my own--honesty. If you want astute people to recognize your hard work, let it be because it works. If you follow that rule when you modify your truck, you will never go wrong.~TRS
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