The trends and styles that dominate our lives come and go - and sometimes come again. For proof, look at fashion and hair styles; both have experienced the wild popularity of what was currently in vogue at any point in time, and then, sooner or later, what was hot was not, and those trends and styles were, thankfully, never seen again. Other trends and styles (think Classic rock music) have stood the test of time and have not only retained a foothold in our collective mindset, but have prospered. Good things just seem to be timeless, such as a vintage Corvette, an exquisite piece of art, or even a house that's rich in architectural style.
Truck trends have fared a little better. Remember all those popular straight-axle GM trucks that dominated the nosebleed crowd during the '70s and early to mid '80s? They remain a solid investment and are still heavily supported by the aftermarket. Straight-axle Fords? Ditto. Pre-'85 Toyotas with a solid front axle? How many of those trucks were seen running 36s and 40s during the mid and late '80s? I don't know, but there were a lot, that's for sure.
Remember when IFS trucks became semi-popular in the late '80s? I say semi-popular because many enthusiasts were reluctant to accept the new technology, and most aftermarket suspension manufacturers were wary of a tall suspension lift for IFS trucks. Many enthusiasts and industry naysayers declared that we would never again see multitudes of lifted trucks running 40- or 44-inch-tall rubber. You know the rest of the story.
On the other hand, the trend of equipping a truck with 12 chromed dampers, sporting contrasting neon-hued booties at each wheel has gone to its rightful place on the trash heap of style - I think. (Don't send me letters, it's my column). Likewise, bed bars with multiple main tubes - as many as six in some cases - are just a (bad) memory. It's a funny thing, style.
Anyway, what brings up the subject of trends is an article about the "new" trend of "drifting" I was reading about in Autoweek. Somehow, someway, some people have convinced themselves that sliding a rear-wheel-drive car around a corner is something they invented. I seem to recall photos of pre-NASCAR moonshine runners with the tails hung out on their whiskey-hauling fullsize American cars. They certainly weren't the first to cross it up and get sideways, but these drivers were perhaps the most visible examples of drifting.
I also find it entertaining that the new drifting craze leaves out approximately 90 percent of the drivers who would dearly love to drift their cars. Those racy-looking, spoiler/air dam/ground effects-equipped cars zipping around our highways simply can't drift because they're saddled with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive? Yes, please drift. Rear-wheel drive? It will most assuredly oversteer with power. But FWDs will snap their tail out under high-load cornering, then the tail will snap back just as quickly - and just as uncontrollably, I may add.
What does this have to do with off-road trucks? C'mon, do you have to ask? Powerslides around the corners of any dirt road is drifting in the purest sense. Full-tilt sideways action on a fire road or across a slick surface is more of the same: F.U.N. Beyond the fun of oversteer, the act of powersliding or drifting will tell you much about a truck's handling characteristics. In fact, getting comfortable with a truck gone sideways on the dirt can equip you for the time when the vehicle you're driving (car or truck) goes into radical oversteer on the pavement, such as when you hit a slick spot on the road.
Yes, the trend of powersliding, getting crossed up, going sideways, or whatever you call it, has found new life with the rear-wheel-drive import car crowd. But to real off-roaders, it never went away.
Until next month.