Everybody needs to own a white truck at some point in their life. Mind you, when I say white truck, I’m not talking about the color. I couldn’t give a rat turd about that. I’m talking about the lowest-optioned, barest-boned, utterly utilitarian beast you can buy. It’s gotta have a purposeful drivetrain, zero amenities, and tank-like reliability. In short, a fleet service vehicle. Almost every one I’ve seen with zero punches on the option card has been sprayed white from the factory, so I’ve always called ’em white trucks, no matter what color they’re actually painted.
I owned an almost-white truck once. The paint was white, so by my bent logic, it was a white almost-white truck. Mine was an ’89 F-250 4x4 Lariat. It had a fuel-injected 460ci engine, C6 transmission, BW1356 T-case, a Sterling 10.25-inch rear, and the Dana 44-based TTB front suspension. I didn’t mind the puny TTB ’cause my plan was always to stab in a Dana 60 from a similar-year F-350. I put a Banks PowerPack system on it consisting of full-length headers, an after-cat exhaust, and a high-flow intake. The engine had enough grunt to wake the dead. The C6 was virtually indestructible, but I put a B&M deep-sump pan on it just for good measure. I hung a Gear Vendor’s Overdrive off the back of the BW1356 so I could split gears while towing and keep the valves from floating at freeway speeds. To finish it off, I added a TSM Manufacturing disc brake kit to the rear Sterling. Then I drove that sucker into the ground. Almost every mile that truck travelled, it was towing or hauling something heavy. And for all the abuse I dished out to it, most of the problems I had were associated with the Lariat trim level:
The electric window switches, motors, and solenoids would constantly go out. I replaced the driver side three times and the passenger side twice. White trucks have roll-up windows. Worst-case scenario, the handle falls off and you have to use a pair of Vise-Grips at the drive-through. On the bright side, you’ll never be stuck in a hot cab with the windows up, and you’ll always know where your Vise-Grips are.
The door lock switches kept dying about every other month. I bought up my local dealership’s supply at pennies on the dollar and kept the spares in the glove box, but when my cheap stash dried up, I swapped in manual lock pulls like a real white truck should’ve had in the first place.
The heater core sprung a leak one day at 70 mph and flooded the passenger-side footwell with boiling-hot coolant and filled the cabin with sticky vapor. I tried to roll with the windows down to evacuate the plume, but—you guessed it—the switch picked that particular moment to fail.
The carpet, cloth bench seat, and fabric door panels got soaked with syrupy sweet-smelling coolant when the heater core fragged. The smell was enough to make me sick, no matter how many times I wet-vac’d the interior. That wouldn’t have happened with a vinyl bench, rubber floor mat, or plastic door panels. White truck for the win.
The headliner fabric separated from the fiberboard and would flop down in my field of vision before I got fed up and ripped it out. A solid plastic liner doesn’t flop in your face. Advantage: white truck.
One of the hubcaps flew off on a dirt road and the other got dented wheeling. Seriously, hub caps? No self-respecting white truck would be seen dead with ’em. Well, maybe poverty dog dishes.
I still need to get a proper bare-bones truck one of these days. When I think about it, you really only need one wire to make a 12-valve Cummins run. Maybe a late ’80s Dodge with power nothing and Rain X on the windshield instead of wipers. Or an old 6.9L F-350 that’ll go for 750,000 miles and has a body that would make a leper blush—something even more rudimentary and stripped down than a white truck. Maybe I’ll paint it gray.