Piston Slap: Gambling on Getting Lifted?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Kurt writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Appreciate your postings! Perhaps in future you or associates can find out why the USA (and by eventual inclusion, rest of world) has become infatuated with Lifted Trucks to point of lifting anything SUV or wagon under the sun (locally, we have folks trying to lift Foresters and Outbacks)?

Sajeev answers:

As someone who dodged a bullet during Hurricane Harvey, I’ll take my personal opinions about lifted trucks vs. terrifyingly shitty weather out of the equation. Going forward, the infestation infatuation with lifting anything on wheels likely fits into these categories:

1. Cars are Out of Fashion: trucks and SUV/CUVs are the rage, sorry for stating the obvious. And car body design takes some of the blame: I’ve spent many a Vellum Venom article lamenting analyzing the trend of raised cowls and pedestrian safety standards, seemingly pushing people away from modern chop-top sedans with terrible visibility. Taller cowls mean taller bodies, and stock wheels and tires often look lost in a sedan’s massive haunches.

2. More Products, More Marketing + Awareness: the speciality equipment biz has never been larger, if SEMA’s report is believable. Which means businesses of all sizes are jumping in the (lifted) band wagon. And promoting the hell outta them.

3. Readily Available, Easy to Finance: People with the money or credit (especially credit) can buy a custom, lifted truck that’s “cooler” than the stock ones on a dealer’s lot. New car dealers are taking their truck inventory (i.e. not KIA dealers) over to local truck accessory shops (or their own service departments, a good revenue stream for them too!) to lift those suckers with aftermarket suspensions, bodacious wheels, etc. and making a killing in the process.

Even if they don’t sell the new ones, what are the odds of any dealer having a lifted truck parked prominently in their used inventory with the promise of easy financing for most?

4. That Whole Grassroots Thing: ever heard of the Gambler 500? The rally race of $500(ish) junk cars is open to any vehicle, and just about anything will fly (so to speak) with a mild suspension lift, off road tires and extreme body modifications. The race exploded in popularity in 2017, as races showed up around the country. And every car enthusiast’s seen a Gambler-worthy vehicle in their social media feeds… PROVE ME WRONG!

We’ve covered all bases: from a $500 Panther, from lifted 6-figure trucks with easy credit, to companies like LP Adventure covering the middle ground (with dealer support!) we have all price ranges and socio-economic conditions covered. And don’t they look cool?

It’s a safe bet to gamble on this trend sticking around for a long, loooooong while.

[Image: Shutterstock user Chere]

Sajeev Mehta
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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Jul 08, 2019

    Here in the Midwest from around the mid 60s thru to the 70s it was all the rage to just lift the back of your car (although there were a few souls that did the reverse). Sitting still with the right wheels and all the car would look great providing the owner didn't max out the lift. Never got that though as I realized it would seriously compromise the cars handling. I thought doing the lift with bigger wheels/tires would be a better way to go, but even then the handling would be compromised. I get why folks lift their vehicles, but it's not for me. I like going fast through corners too much.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jul 08, 2019

    In my very youthful days I had a Ramcharger with a 3" lift, white spoke steelies and 31/10.50/15s on it. Took that thing everywhere and the only thing I wish were different was it needed wider tires because I broke a front disc on a rock one day. Traded it for a 427 Cobra replica that can't even clear a speed bump.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X '19 Nissan Frontier @78000 miles has been oil changes ( eng/ diffs/ tranny/ transfer). Still on original brakes and second set of tires.
  • ChristianWimmer I have a 2018 Mercedes A250 with almost 80,000 km on the clock and a vintage ‘89 Mercedes 500SL R129 with almost 300,000 km.The A250 has had zero issues but the yearly servicing costs are typically expensive from this brand - as expected. Basic yearly service costs around 400 Euros whereas a more comprehensive servicing with new brake pads, spark plugs plus TÜV etc. is in the 1000+ Euro region.The 500SL servicing costs were expensive when it was serviced at a Benz dealer, but they won’t touch this classic anymore. I have it serviced by a mechanic from another Benz dealership who also owns an R129 300SL-24 and he’ll do basic maintenance on it for a mere 150 Euros. I only drive the 500SL about 2000 km a year so running costs are low although the fuel costs are insane here. The 500SL has had two previous owners with full service history. It’s been a reliable car according to the records. The roof folding mechanism needs so adjusting and oiling from time to time but that’s normal.
  • Theflyersfan I wonder how many people recalled these after watching EuroCrash. There's someone one street over that has a similar yellow one of these, and you can tell he loves that car. It was just a tough sell - too expensive, way too heavy, zero passenger space, limited cargo bed, but for a chunk of the population, looked awesome. This was always meant to be a one and done car. Hopefully some are still running 20 years from now so we have a "remember when?" moment with them.
  • Lorenzo A friend bought one of these new. Six months later he traded it in for a Chrysler PT Cruiser. He already had a 1998 Corvette, so I thought he just wanted more passenger space. It turned out someone broke into the SSR and stole $1500 of tools, without even breaking the lock. He figured nobody breaks into a PT Cruiser, but he had a custom trunk lock installed.
  • Jeff Not bad just oil changes and tire rotations. Most of the recalls on my Maverick have been fixed with programming. Did have to buy 1 new tire for my Maverick got a nail in the sidewall.