“If you meet a Chevy truck guy, he definitely thinks Ford trucks are junk, and vice versa.”

That’s Patrick George, an auto writer who grew up in San Antonio and former editorial lead at car culture websites Jalopnik and The Drive, describing the never-ending feud between Ford and Chevy owners. 

Truck culture runs deep in Texas, where the truck you drive often says a lot about you. Most of us have probably made crass Teenie Weenie Committee jokes about dudes who tailgate you with shiny lifted trucks that never leave the pavement. Meanwhile, a less flashy pickup can make you seem rugged, adventurous, and handy, even if you’re not. You, dear reader, could be the dad in the elementary school drop-off lane who won’t be thwarted by a trip to Home Depot—never mind if it’s been a year since you’ve used that pickup bed for anything. 

Even in today’s era of loaded-up luxury trucks that can push six figures in price, the right pickup is such a strong signifier of working-class values that trucks routinely appear in Texas political ads. Just choose wisely here. We can tell the difference between a beat-up farm truck that’s done the work and a pristine F-150 you just drove off the lot. Someone, somewhere will roast your choice of truck—and bless your heart if you use that opportunity to wade too hard into the eternal Chevy versus Ford debate. 

“Car purchasing is often a strong expression of personal identity, and that’s especially true in the Texas truck market,” George continued. “We just take that stuff very seriously, more than other places I’ve lived. It’s even more heated than, say, Camaro vs. Mustang.”

Because of all this, Texas is ground zero in the war for truck owners’ hearts, minds, and smack talk, and the main event has always been between the two biggest truck makers, Ford and Chevrolet. They’ve been selling us full-size pickups the longest, and they’re the most likely to feature a sticker of Calvin peeing on the other brand. 

Texas buys the most pickup trucks—by sheer sales volume—out of any state in the country, according to the number-crunchers at iSeeCars. (Per capita, Texas ranked twentieth in a 2021 nationwide survey of pickup owners.) It simply makes financial sense for automakers to go all out on marketing trucks to Texans, given that trucks are high-margin vehicles that can easily be loaded up with enough bells and whistles to make a Cadillac blush. These posh amenities and the now-ubiquitous crew cab have broadened the appeal of pickups to where they’re unavoidable, even in big cities. Our state even gets specific call-outs in high-end trims with popular features that pander directly to our sense of state pride, such as the Texas Edition Chevrolets and King Ranch Fords. 

Chevy and Ford go to extraordinary lengths over other brands to win over truck-happy Texans, and their efforts feed back into the cutthroat vibe of our truck culture. CultureMap once chuckled at the speed at which Ford sent a press release celebrating the eighth year of its Built Ford Tough Texas High School Player of the Week football award after Chevrolet announced that its Silverado was now the official truck of the Texas Longhorns college football team.

One-upmanship is a 24/7 pursuit to these two brands, and it’s something I’ve witnessed firsthand as an automotive journalist who’s covered the industry throughout my professional life. One of the most amusing things I’ve ever experienced was an email war of words between Ford and Chevy reps in my work inbox. I had just covered Chevrolet’s latest Silverado 3500 HD pickup, and Ford’s passionate public relations professionals took issue with GM’s claim that the truck had the highest towing capacity in its class. It all came down to semantics, and neither side was content to let this one slide. Ford argued that some of its F-450s that could tow even more than the new Chevy’s 36,000 pounds were also Class 3 based on their gross vehicle weight ratings. Chevrolet argued that they were using old-school verbiage of “half-ton,” “one-ton,” and so on, directly comparing Chevy’s 3500 with the Ford F-350.

Most of this went down after regular working hours, no less, as I was The Drive’s night editor at the time. 

So, why is it always Chevy and Ford when there’s a wide variety of truck makers to choose from nowadays? Toyota can’t seem to break into the booming market for derogatory joke decals no matter how many Texas flags it affixes to its trucks. Both the Toyota Tundra and Sequoia are great trucks that are made right here in the state, yet culturally, they fly somewhat under the radar of the Ford and Chevy factions. 

Meanwhile, the Ram 1500 TRX is a legit supertruck for the blue-blooded bro—and notably, it features funny little illustrations stamped into its plastic components that mock Ford’s Raptor trim of high-performance trucks. Ram has been gaining market share among Texas pickup buyers in recent years, too. Yet Ram, just as it was when it was just a model name for Dodge trucks, remains an also-ran in Texan smack talk. 

We’re living in a boom time for great trucks, but be prepared to get laughed out of the room if you tell a True Ford Man about your rad new Nissan Titan. “Nissan? What even is that in Texas?” George said—accurately. “I think if you ever bring up the Honda Ridgeline, the state would issue you a one-way plane ticket to somewhere else and put you on some kind of secret list.”

I reached out to some industry colleagues who specialize in truck news for their take as to why we’re always obsessing over Ford and Chevy, and much of the credit goes to the Big Two’s longevity and volume in the full-size truck market. 

“Ford and [Chevy’s parent company] General Motors were producing more trucks in the twentieth century than the others,” said Caleb Jacobs, truck editor at The Drive. “Pickups just weren’t the main area of focus for Dodge. The Ram name wasn’t launched until 1980, and even then, it was still seen as the third choice.”

Fleet sales play into the cultural numbers game, too. “Ford and Chevy have long been the front-runners in the truck market thanks to both years of consistently building good vehicles as well [as] the large commercial business for both of those companies,” said Tim Esterdahl, publisher of Pickup Truck + SUV Talk. “They each have a Fortune 500 company with just their fleet businesses.” Automakers like Ram, Nissan, and Toyota, Esterdahl noted, simply haven’t had anywhere near the manufacturing capacity or fleet sales of the main two.

This all checks out. A decent experience with the truck you use at work is always a compelling reason to buy one of the maker’s other products at home, as is familiarity. You get used to how one automaker does things—where they put buttons, how they design parts, and even what specialized fasteners they use if you work on your own vehicles at home. Things become habit. Customers tend to seek comfort in what’s familiar, and reinforce that with other purchases. You buy the model-specific tools and accessories. It becomes easiest to stick with what you know. 

With Chevy and Ford, that has led to a rivalry so entrenched in Texas that you start to see it even when it doesn’t play a part. Personally, I was all but certain that it was a huge deal for my Chevy Blazer–owning dad—who owned a series of Corvettes before I was born—to switch sides and buy a Ford Explorer. We’d looked at all manner of GM-built SUVs before then—newer Blazers, GMC Jimmys, and even the Oldsmobile Bravada—plus, Mom’s car was an Oldsmobile. Yet as my mom explained when I asked about it this week, the Explorer was the right deal on a good truck for us at the right time. My sensible Oregonian father just wanted to buy American. 

My native Texan brain somehow remembered this as, “CHEVY MAN BETRAYS BRAND LOYALTY, FAMILY IDENTITY SHAKEN TO THE CORE, ‘FIX OR REPAIR DAILY’ JOKES ENSUE.” Turns out, the Explorer was a great, reliable SUV that survived numerous cross-country vacations, and even outlived Dad. Dad even talked about wanting a Ranger in his final years, but ultimately never made the trade. 

It’s wild just how passionate other families get, though—and yes, becoming an ultra-loyal Ford or Chevy person often runs in the family. “My parents had very strong anti-Chevy truck thoughts when I was a kid, and they made sure to pass these biases down to me,” said Matt Hardigree, publisher of The Autopian and a Corpus Christi native. “Chevy trucks, in their mind, were inferior products. The great F-150 was an unstoppable force, in their minds, and my dad wouldn’t be seen driving a ‘Stinkin’ Chevy,’ as he was fond of saying. Rams were fine.”

(Hardigree noted that he has since tried to forget this parental programming, given that reviewing cars professionally requires an impartial look.)

Yet as Patrick George notes, there are many other reasons why some people become almost insufferably married to one truck brand over another. “Maybe they had a bad experience with a dealer or poor reliability, so they switched to a different brand and never went back,” he said. “Or it’s an engine-specific thing: I’ve met plenty of people who swear by diesel Ram trucks and nothing else. But those trucks, and Toyotas, are still distant behind Chevy versus Ford.”

Engine fandom isn’t limited to Ram fans, though. The fact that Ford has taken more risks with new technology over the years is yet another polarizing aspect of the brand for truck fans. “[Ford and Chevy] tend to take significantly different approaches to pickups, especially in recent years, as Ford is typically tech-forward while Chevy tends to be more traditional,” Jacobs explained. “The F-150 has offered turbocharged engines since 2011, for example, while the Silverado 1500 has largely stayed true to V8s. Drivers often pick their favorite of the two based on this, though not without considering what their dad and grandpa drove before them.”

Yet for both automakers, techy features are becoming a key component of the truck war, be it driver assists like Blue Cruise and Super Cruise, performance options, trick tailgates, or onboard power. 

Features are another way to court the favor of truck-happy Texans. Ford notably directed its Texas dealerships to lend out its Pro Power Onboard–equipped trucks—which can act as an onboard generator—after the 2021 winter storm that knocked out power across the state. Meanwhile, Chevrolet’s power six-way Multi-Flex Tailgate can transform into an easily accessible seat that’s all but made for that most Texan of activities, tailgating. 

So, who’s winning? Given that the Ford F-Series was the best-selling vehicle in Texas last year, per Edmunds, the numbers make it sound as though Chevy has some catching up to do. Yet this is a cultural debate, and you don’t necessarily have to own a truck yourself to have hot takes on which one is best. 

“My parents, of course, never owned an F-150,” Hardigree noted, despite their pro-Ford attitudes. “I’m not sure if they even ever rented one? The only truck my parents had was the diminutive Subaru BRAT, which my parents bought when they decided an old Volkswagen Beetle was not much of a family car.”