Forgive us for the gratuitous use of the R-word, but stereotypes loom so large that it’s the easiest way to describe this automotive subsegment. Unfair, perhaps, and potentially offensive to some, but that’s the way it is. Decades of conditioning — helped by our friends in Hollywood — have led us to associate certain vehicles with a certain socio-economic group of rural land owners.
Frankly, who doesn’t want to own a patch of God’s green earth and tear it up on lonely dirt roads in a rear-drive American car? Let’s see a show of hands.
Anyway, we’re not here to cast judgement on anyone, nor are we here to talk about any tweet-worthy social issues. We’re definitely steering clear of that. It’s the cars we’re interested in.
Your author doesn’t live in the South or Midwest, not even a rural area, but those aren’t prerequisites for redneck car ownership. (Man, do I wish there was a better word for this.) But that doesn’t mean there’s not a ’79-’81 Trans Am, complete with eagle and louvres, resting on a neighbor’s lawn. Because there is.
Sometimes the bitchin’ old Pontiac makes room for an early ’90s regular cab Silverado dually, which is an imposing vehicle in its own right. Just think of the impressive rooster tails that thing could throw up!
Having grown up in the country, and having watched far too many Dukes of Hazzard episodes in my youth (thank you, TNN), there’ll always be a soft spot in my heart for any 1970s Ford pickup, any rear-drive Mopar, plus the second-generation Camaro and Firebird. Only later in life did I discover it’s hard to find anyone who shares my particular love of the Chevy El Camino — a vehicle that could come in handy in so many situations. What’s their problem?
Sure, the Ford Ranchero fits the bill, too — not the early Falcon-based ones, anyway — but they’re not nearly as thick on the ground as the ubiquitous final-gen El Camino (the ’81 model’s single headlamps and face full of chrome make it the pick of that particular litter. The later eggcrate grille looks too low-rent.)
Yes, I’m most certainly a fan of the redneck automobile, as long as it stays factory not-so-fresh. No cheesy add-ons, please. Do you count yourself a member of this particular club? If so, what’s your personal preference?
I think we’re already pretty well-versed in what this subsegment entails, but let’s just lay down some basic parameters. Older (but perhaps not that much older) affordable, rear- or four-wheel-drive vehicles made in American and most likely found outside of the Northeast and Northwest. Maybe you feel an import or front-drive vehicle falls into this category. If so, convince us.
[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars, General Motors]