QOTD: What's Your Preferred Redneck Ride?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • MoparRocker74 MoparRocker74 on May 10, 2018

    I grew up in TN, even if I'm originally a Jersey kid. Coming from a blue collar background, a little redneck rubbed off on me...although its more in the vain of the Bandit, the Duke boys, etc. So my ideal 'redneck ride' would be your classic low buck hot rod. American, rwd, V8 power--likely hopped up, with a certain mix of wear and tear induced character but style and attitude. My top picks would be either a Plymouth Duster or a '72-93 shortbed 2wd Dodge truck. At least a 318 with mandatory cherry bomb glass packs, bonus points for old school sidepipes. Gotta have the California rake stance and some kind of Day 2 style mag wheels--Keystones, Cragars, slots, etc wrapped in RWL BFG T/As. Just get it running right, make sure the look isn't too fancy but has a certain character and have some fun raising hell.

  • Texex Texex on May 11, 2018

    Not to go all Gawker media on you... But, can we agree that "redneck" is a problematic term in same vein as "cracker", the "N" bomb and "cis"?

  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.