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Eight Cringe-Worthy Truck Trends From the '80s

There are a lot of memorable moments from the 1980s. Such as the release of Pac Man and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

001 80s truck

There are just as many cringe-worthy moments too. Yes, we're talking about you, Garbage Pail Kids.

Trucks were not immune from some questionable trends either. As cool as Marty McFly’s Toyota pickup was in Back To The Future, there were a lot of 4x4 trends in the '80s that are best left in the past. Here are the eight most notable.

1. DayGlo Paint Jobs:

002 hal front dayglo paint job

Using a truck off-road was less of a priority than making a statement in the decadent '80s. So, show-car paint jobs were common. They often had one of the following elements in them: one bright color oozing over the base color, a heartbeat stripe down the side, or checks. Twisted Customs made a tribute paint job for Hal Frost’s buggy that incorporates all of these different aspects.

2. Triple-Double Roll Bars:


It seems as though every truck in the '80s had a rollbar bolted into the bed. Typically, these bars were made from thin-walled tubing and bolted directly to the floor of the truck, providing a false sense of security should an actual rollover occur. The more tubes the better, with the most excessive having three tubes going down to the floor and two per side tapered down towards the back of the bed, thus the “triple-double” moniker.

3. Rows of KC Lights:

004 kc daylighter lights Those triple-double rollbars provided the perfect place to mount a bank of KC Daylighters. While there were other light brands available in the '80s, KCs dominated. Whether they were actually hooked up or not was less important than having them covered with smiling KC light covers. In fact, it might have been a better idea to leave them unwired since turning them on with the covers on the lights was known to start more than one fire!

4. Chrome:

003 chrome tube bumper

If chrome won’t getcha home, who even wants to go home? Everything that could possibly be chromed in the '80s was sent out to be plated, from grilles to rollbars to shocks. The problem was when load bearing components like leaf springs and hardware were chromed, it weakened the metal in the process.

5. Too Many Shocks:

005 dual shocks yellow boots

Before you could get four-inch bypass shocks for desert racing, the trend was to just add more shocks to keep them from fading. This trend was adopted by show trucks, who stacked rows of shocks into the fenders and across the rear axles of their trucks. These chrome shocks were like the bedazzled jeans of the '80s truck scene.

6. Neon Shock Boots:


Sure, a simple black or red shock boot can protect the shock shaft, but what kind of statement does that make? Neon shock boots match your girlfriend’s Madonna-like jelly bracelets and let everyone know you don’t bother with stock shocks. Bonus points if the leaf spring bushings and other polyurethane components were also neon.

7. Super Wide Tires:

006 super wide tires

There was no such thing as “too wide” in the '80s. Mickey Thompson Baja Belted and Dick Cepek Fun Country tires ruled the roads. These tires worked well in soft terrain like sand and deep snow, but the main motivation was looks, and they did provide a mini monster truck appearance.

8. Thick Leaf Springs:

007 super thick leaf springs

The leaf springs found on wagons were better than some of the offerings in the '80s. The priority was clearly elevation, with factors like ride quality and articulation not even a consideration. Even better was when each leaf was painted in alternating colors.



We don’t want you to think that it was all bad in the '80s. Here are some of the truck trends that we miss as much as the A-Team and Dukes of Hazzard.

1. Stepside Trucks:

008 stepside ford

Stepsides aren’t particularly practical, and they would likely look out of place on modern trucks. They conjure up images of early desert racing trucks like the Hay Hauler, or that cool Chevy that Patrick Swayze drove in Red Dawn.

2. Bench Seats:

009 bench seat

There are still a few trucks available with bench front seats, but they aren’t exactly like the La-Z-Boy couches found in trucks in the '80s. Bonus points if you have ever had your lady sit in the middle with the passenger seat empty.

3. Wing Windows:

010 wing windows

We understand that wing windows are an easy way for someone to break into your vehicle. That is a risk we are willing to take though for the ability to keep the cab of our truck cool without the need for air conditioning or having the windows rolled down and creating a tornado in the cab.


Check out our article where we predict Hot Truck Trends for 2016.




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