Silverado Beast

“The Beast’ is the one with six wheels, not two legs.

He, of two legs, is Tom the driver who loves every minute of this new experience.

This is a page I’m dedicating to my fellow ‘Petrol Heads’ who love their trucks with an unadulterated passion.  Extreme comfort to me is the full leather interior, heated front seats which move electrically in ten different directions, high quality sound system from Bose, separate heating and air con zones for both the driver and passenger and, especially, the high up driving view over one’s fellow road users. I’m sure some of you will say Hmm that’s all fairly normal but, from an Aussie perspective, these are all ‘top of the line’ extras to which I for one have not been overly exposed.


Trucks are trucks?…..Yeah right!

Do you ever wonder what determines things like style, layout, colors etc, when the big three (or four) truck makers prepare their offerings for the year ahead? How much of their planning and design is just change for the sake of change and are just being blasé  because of the brand loyalty factor which keeps customers coming back?

And what do we, as the buying public, expect of those manufacturers at the launch of their latest range? Bombarded with the newest ‘gimmickry’ it’s sometimes hard to judge what might be really useful and innovative or it is so ‘ho hum’ that they shroud their displays with offerings from the Bikini brigade.

With the above thoughts in mind it’s easy to shrug off even mild progress with throwaway lines like “Trucks are trucks” but to such banter I can only say “Yeah right mate” (Aussie sarcasm which implies total rejection of the comment) and propose the thought that American trucks are both mature in design and superb in their  multi purpose abilities.

When I think of the Allison Transmission of my four year old beast, I must say I have never driven anything so exquisitely in tune with hauling a medium load like a fifth wheel RV. I can choose between six speed automatic or six speed manual which is great for those long downhills….press the ‘Tow/Haul’ button in the end of the same lever and the freewheeling auto changes to a mild engine brake….if I shift to manual (M) and touch the brakes, the Allison kicks back a gear and slows me a little more substantially….touch the brakes again and another gear change occurs….smart? I’ll say!

When we bought the vehicle, everyone kept saying “Allison, best gearbox out there”. I hear this all the time so I believe it! You have to understand that I, as a newby to these vehicles, know no better.

My time behind the wheel of a British fire truck  thirty years ago is of little value within this new experience except perhaps that I had a reasonable understanding  of driving a heavy load albeit usually in a hurry.

So I climb into my warmed leather seats, press a small button which moves the seat into a pre determined driving position, check the view in my extra large rear vision towing mirrors and I’m ready for anything….well almost!

Two heavy duty batteries  crank the big 6.6 ltr diesel into life as a miriad of dash lights display the engine’s state of well being. The electronic information panel below the speedometer tells me another bunch of data whose parameters I can control….like how do I want the vehicle to lock its doors – do I want the lights to flash when I lock up and a dozen other (really useful?) minor controls……

When I’m on the road with the fifth wheel hanging on for grim death or just obediently following my every move, I truthfully hardly know it’s there. Save for the occasional undulation in the road surface, I give great added credit for my present driving experience, to the high quality of the American highways. Generally wide lanes, usually two lanes each way, the long acceleration lanes for oncoming traffic, good signage for everything including services…yes, an excellent road system.

While I get used to this new driving experience (America) I slip the cruise control into play at 60 mph and settle into the right hand lane for my journey. I find this really good for a couple of reasons, one is the fuel consumption stays around 12/13 mpg and the other is that my fellow road users are always passing me and therefore I am hardly ever touching the brakes or changing lanes to pass someone! I draw my feet back off the pedals, drop my armrests and enjoy the scenery….which is why we came on this journey in the first place.

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Passengers

enjoy a good level of comfort too but without the heated seats. The back of the front centre console is adorned with dual radio controls and headphone sockets as well as heating control and a 12v socket and drinks holder.

No passengers? the seats move forward to become a flat padded luggage area. One could also sleep there given a comfy single bed mattress.

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Click here for the next page ( ‘The Journey’ )


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