Why the Hispanic market is fascinated with trucks and why that legacy will never die.

By JVJ – Featured in Motor Trend Espanol

Automotive brands such as Ferrari and Mercedes have long been status symbols of success but move on over to other parts of the world and what you’ll find are opposites. Take, for instance, Mexico.

Just a hop, skip and jump away from California, low slung lines, and the need for speed comes secondary to full-size utilitarian dreams. Maybe it’s the practicality of having a truck or the fond memories of their forefathers in those same vehicles, but either way, trucks are all the rage – and the ultimate status symbol – in a country that spans some 760,000 sq. Miles.

Now don’t get it wrong. Trucks aren’t the top choice for everyone there, but they win the majority vote. From Chevy to Ford, those two brands of trucks have long been symbols of success and modes of transportation that signify that you’ve made it big. From entrepreneurs to common folk, trucks are at the epicenter of luxury, and where you’ll find mansions and millionaires, you’re sure to find trucks tucked away in their collection – if not standing at the front of them. But that vision isn’t confined just within the borders of Mexico. 

A fascination with classic work trucks can be found throughout the world, and during a recent visit to Gage Auto Center (Bell, CA), the trip shed some light on just how serious it can get. As we pulled up, the front lot looked more like a small car show. There were five late model 70’s Ford PU trucks. All of them flawless. Some were period-correct restorations; others were restomods fitted with big wheels and LS7 motors. Nonetheless, each of them historical gems preserved by its owners with passion and pride.

Now the only reason I was even able to find the place was because of a friend who had recently pumped close to 30K into a truck that would have only fetched a few thousand dollars. I went there curious and left hours later with a deeper understanding of truck culture.

When I asked about the mindset behind the builds, the responses were unlike any I’ve heard before. Having a 20-year background as an automotive lifestyle specialist, I’ve listened to everything from the asinine, “I don’t know. I just built it” to the ever so cocky, “I built it (or bought it) because I could afford to.” But the responses I heard from these proud truck owners brought about an ideology that was enlightening.  

“These aren’t just any old trucks,” said Cavalero Gonzalez, owner of the red and white, period-correct 1971 F150. “These are status symbols that carry a tradition of pride and history.” As our conversation continued, I asked him to elaborate on the topic, and his words echoed an even deeper note as he said, “These trucks are a token of respect that pay homage to our forefathers. These are the same trucks that helped raised large families and support their surrounding community. It’s our way of paying respect to our ancestors and a reminder that we can’t forget where we came from.” 

Then the conversation took an interesting turn. As we walked inside the shop, a Lamborghini Aventador was up on the lift. It had bumper damage, and in the process of repair, as we got closer, Mr. Gonzalez said, “You see this. This is a car with no soul. Sure it’s pretty and fast but it has no substance. No value. This is not wifey material; it is not a keeper.” It turns out that was his as well.  

The rest of the afternoon was spent talking with a few of the other truck owners, and they all echoed the same sentiment. This is a culture built on heritage and pride. Whereas many cars become a part of the collection, these trucks are a part of the family. Trucks may be cheap in short sight, but they’re also the same vehicles that carried more than bails of hay or thousands of dirt pounds. These trucks are symbolic of the time when their forefathers put in hard work with little pay and much pain, but these are the trucks that funded their family’s survival – and that’s an expensive price to pay for something as simple as a truck.