QOTD: Trucking Great Nineties Design in America?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed 1990s car design on Wednesday’s Question of the Day entry. We spent three weeks talking about the good and three weeks talking about the bad. But those discussions were limited to body styles other than trucks — and by extension, SUVs. Great news! The Dacia Sandero restriction is now off the table.

The rules for today’s truck and utility game are thus:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a domestic manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Dodge Ram 50).
  3. The only eligible body styles are trucks and SUVs.

Your author’s truck pick today was easier than most of the selections for Nineties designs.

It is of course the GMT 400 series of trucks from General Motors. The replacement of the C/K trucks was a long time coming, as GM sold the platform between 1973 and 1991. 1988 saw the debut of the new GMT 400 pickups.

GMC offerings were now called Sierra, and Chevrolet’s C/K had trims of Cheyenne, Scottsdale, and Silverado. SUV models retained the old C/K platform through 1991, switching to GMT 400 in 1992. It was then GMC invented the new Yukon SUV, though Chevrolet continued with the K5 Blazer line. Yukon and K5 were all two-door versions at the time, while Chevrolet and GMC used the Suburban name for long-wheelbase four-door models. It wasn’t until the 1995 model year that K5 vanished, and the Tahoe and Yukon models both offered four-door availability on a short wheelbase. GMT 400 continued through 1999 for most models, and into 2000 for a select run of the Tahoe Z71 and Tahoe Limited. Common today, they’ve aged gracefully in areas with no salt.

Perhaps still common enough to slip under the design radar — but they’re lookers.

Let’s hear those American truck and SUV selections.

[Images: Ford, General Motors]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Sundance Sundance on Jun 13, 2019

    My favorite was and is the GMT400. In 2000 I imported a 1996 Chevy Suburban 6.5liter turbo diesel in black with grey leather to Germany (from Canada), added Alcoa wheels with moderate all terrain tyres and was happy. Wonderful car. But with the fuel price of today (in Germany) I'm glad that I sold it years ago.

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Jun 13, 2019

    I'm of an age (40) where I'm supposed to be nostalgic for the 1990s. I'm really not nostalgic for this time in any way. I was an awkward teenager living in a part of rural America, where I didn't belong. I had dialup Internet, and a job configuring modems and Trumpet Winsock for people as a consolation prize. People liked it when I fixed their computers, but otherwise treated me like a nerd stuck in a redn#ck world -- which is exactly what I was. (I even pulled up the "1990s rock anthems" channel on Spotify, and disliked most of the music the same way I did in the 1990s, despite the better sound quality.) I left for college in 1997, and found my people. I haven't been back since, except for holidays. I never liked the trucks and SUVs of the 1990s. They were thirsty, dangerous (both to their occupants and for bystanders), and they were generally driven by people I didn't like who couldn't keep them shiny side up. About the only car I like from the era was the Honda Accord -- we had two Accords (1991 and 1997), and a 1995 Honda Civic sport. They made pretty much everything else I experienced automotively in that decade look obsolete. My dad was a GM & Volkswagen man from the time he got his driver's license the 1960s until he bought his 1991 Honda Accord, and he never too GM seriously again. The only valid reason to drive a truck at that time was if you actually needed one. I lived in a rural area and used trucks for truck things from time to time, and it's hard to imagine the level of personal and financial masochism required to daily drive one of those things when Honda made cars. I drove F-150s and F-250s on the farm, but couldn't fathom driving one unless I had a specific task which required that vehicle that day. The automotive landscape of 2019 is much better. We have 30 years of technological improvement, and it shows in every aspect of every vehicle. Plus, I have friends, family, sex, and a modest amount of money. I can't leave the 1990s far enough behind!

  • Tane94 Yes and yes to both questions. GM and Fird have long used built-in-China components in their vehicles -- the GM 3.4L engines used in past SUVs being just one example. Why is the US so scared of China's manufacturing prowess? Why is the US so scared of China's ascendency to world super-power? Look at China's high speed rail network, including mag-lev trains, and then US trains. I would buy a China-built vehicle with no trepidation.
  • Theflyersfan Adding to what Posky said (and for once, I kinda agree with what he wrote), and as an auto enthusiast it kills me to think this, but why should auto makers care about enthusiasts any longer? Hear me out... It can be argued that the first real enthusiasts were those coming home from WW2, having served in Europe, and fell in love with their cars. And Detroit responded. That carried over to the Boomers and Gen X. The WW2 generation for all sakes and purposes is no longer with us. The Boomers are decreasing in number. The first years of Gen X are nearing retirement. After us (Gen X), that's when we see the love of cars tail off. That was the generation that seemed to wait to get a license, grew up with smart phones and social media, got saddled with crippling home and student debt, and just didn't have the same love that we have. They for the most part are voting on do-all CUVs. Yes, automakers throw us a bone with special models, but they tend to be very expensive, saddled with markups, high insurance rates, and sometimes rare. Looking at you Audi and Lexus. Friends of mine who currently have or have just raised teens said their kids just don't care about cars. Their world is not out in the open and enjoying the moment with the roar of the engine. It's in the world they created for themselves at their fingertips. If they want bland and an appliance, that's what will be built.
  • Kosmo Nope. Not ever. They are not our friends.
  • Aja8888 No, only Chinese food.
  • Rochester Assuming a quality build, competitive pricing and reliable service, then of course. The only people who think otherwise have a distorted (and shamefully manipulated) sense of nationalism. It's just a car, not an Olympic medal.
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