The question that the overflow of contemporary truck design solicits is this: What circumstances could trigger such a radical change in the previously stolid identity of commercial rigs? It would be tempting (to go along with the Freightliner claim) to conclude that the evolution of styles in our postmodern era-the emphasis on the play of visual effects, for example-has migrated even into the encrusted traditions of big-rig culture. Yet, even the automobile has been slow to respond to the postmodernist preference for surface dazzle, except perhaps for television car ads, where computer magic creates mesmerizing effects (think BMW). In any case, the stylistic restraint that historically characterizes American cars-particularly in the range of colors-remains unaffected by other rococo
aspects that mark postmodernist sensibilities. How many purple or lime green cars do we see on the road, as opposed to grays and whites? This is not the case with the big rigs, whose promiscuous splashes of color and daring engineering are nothing less than a revolution in truck aesthetics. Yet, given its longstanding tradition of stylistic sobriety, the trucking industry would seem an unlikely promoter of the splashier aspects of contemporary design.