Back in the days before I had any real responsibilities, most of my weekends slipped by in the garage. In those days, daylight turned to dark unnoticed, as I spun wrenches on my ’66 Chevy. Sometimes I’d stop to eat.

My neighborhood, like many of yours, was built out of car waypoints. For those of us young people who spoke the car language, it’s how we navigated our world. There were Chevelles, GTOs, classic trucks and more sprinkled around. They never seemed to move, so we referenced them like points on a map. One of these was notorious: a mossy ’55 Chevy 2-door post that sat, open to the elements, almost exactly halfway between the high school and the auto-parts store where all the local car-guy kids worked, shopped or just loitered. Leaning against its rusty front bumper was a spray-painted wooden sign that was about as friendly as the hollow end of a shotgun. “NOT FOR SALE,” it read, in all caps.

I imagine that owner had good reason for that sign, but for the car kids who dreamed of owning that car — which was all of us — it was a constant reminder of what we couldn’t buy even if we could have afforded it. The Tri-Five was off-limits, and every time we went to the parts store, we were reminded.

My friend Josh lived just up the street from the no-sale ’55. His hot rod was a 1969 Chevrolet C10, handed down to him from his dad. Those trucks were common among the younger crowd, as they were numerous, cool and cheap. He used to scream by that ’55 in his C10 on the way to the parts store. He still has the truck, along with a few others, and used to always wave to me from it when I still had my ’72 Chevy K10 and we’d pass each other. About once a month he posts a video on social media of that truck smoking the tires, or a picture of his daughter sitting in it. Twenty years on, it’s like a member of his family.

That old ’55, on the other hand, up and disappeared one day. Maybe it sold, or maybe it was finally just shoved inside. Nobody among the local car-guy crowd seemed to know. It, along with our trips to the old brick-and-mortar parts store, simply slipped away unnoticed while we were focused elsewhere.

A new market

Our question of the month focuses on the truck market — specifically the boost in truck prices out of the Arizona auctions this past January. Once again, nicely done GM pickups and SUVs, especially from the 1967–72 era, saw increases across the auction block. When will the upward trend slow down? See what ACC readers had to say about it on p. 40.

For me, the key question there was this: Should a classic truck be worth the same amount of money as a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air? This year, at least in a few cases, they were.

To me, that’s a fundamental shift in the market. Seeing something as iconic as a Bel Air bring a price on par with a 1972 Chevrolet truck is an indication of a seismic jolt in our world. It’s like a movement of neighborhood market waypoints that had for years sat undisturbed.

Tracking trends in the market requires equal parts sociology and economics — a lot of times, experiences are what drives prices — or, in the case of the Tri-Five Chevy today, a lack of them.

The truck market is booming because they have been ubiquitous across several generations. As such, just about everyone has a tactile memory of one. Conversely, Tri-Fives have been off-limits to an entire generation of collector — the collector who is now starting to spend money in the market. As such, prices are leveling off on the Tris and moving up on the pickups.

What’s even more interesting to me is the types of trucks that have been bringing solid money. Correctness doesn’t seem to factor in here as much as it might for, say, the Corvette world. Today’s truck buyers aren’t as concerned with what’s right versus what’s cool. That will change as this market gets more sophisticated, with the best trucks bringing good money because they’re both sharp looking and correct. There is no Bloomington Gold or NCRS for trucks, but I expect there will be.

I still want a Bel Air and I probably always will. I still think the “Two Lane Blacktop” ’55 Chevy is way cooler than anything Steve McQueen drove, including the “Bullitt” Mustang.

But given a choice between any of those cars and my old ’72 K10, I’d take the truck and not look back — even if the responsibilities of adult life doomed it to sit in front of my house, holding up a “NOT FOR SALE” sign and serving as a reminder of carefree weekends and lost time.

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