- OBS stands for “Old Body Style,” referring to the rugged and boxy-looking trucks manufactured between 1988 and 1998.
- Many people are drawn to OBS trucks because of nostalgia, customizability, and durability.
- Unfortunately, OBS trucks are dated and don’t perform as well as most modern vehicles — at least, not without heavy upgrades and retrofitting.
If you’re big on trucks, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the letters “OBS” before. The term was created by truck enthusiasts who wanted to categorize classic trucks between the ‘80s and the ‘90s, and its use has spread outside of the truck community since.
Now, OBS trucks are back in fashion — but what exactly makes these dated vehicles so attractive anyway?
What Does OBS Stand For?
OBS stands for Old Body Style. It loosely refers to the trucks that rolled out between 1988 and 1998, but trucks from the mid 1960s through the ‘70s (square body trucks) are also extremely popular in some areas. Generally speaking, OBS is a term that’s used exclusively for trucks made by American manufacturers, such as Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford.
Examples of OBS Trucks
Examples of OBS trucks include the 1990 Chevy C/K 1500 Series, the 1994 Ford Explorer, and the 1999 GMC Suburban. These vehicles differ from modern trucks in how they’re bulkier, boxier, and amongst older drivers, nostalgic.
Here’s a closer look at their specs to give you an idea of how they perform.
1990 Chevy C/K 1500 Series
- Engine Specs: 4.3-liter V6
- Weight: 5,600 lbs
- Max Payload Capacity: 1,711 lbs
- Power: 160hp
- Torque: 235 lb-ft
1994 Ford Explorer
- Engine Specs: 4-liter V6
- Weight: 4,053 lbs
- Max Towing Capacity: 5,200 lbs
- Max Payload Capacity: 1,050 lbs
- Power: 160hp
- Torque: 220 lb-ft
1999 GMC Suburban
- Engine Specs: 5.7-liter V8
- Weight: 4,820 lbs
- Max Towing Capacity: 6,500 lbs
- Max Payload Capacity: 1,980 lbs
- Power: 255hp
- Torque: 330 lb-ft
OBS Trucks: Why Are They Popular Again?
OBS trucks are making a comeback because of their distinct look, customizability, and dependable performance:
One of the biggest reasons why OBS trucks are gaining popularity in the 21st century is because of their distinct style. Truck designs have evolved over the years, and what was trendy 30 years ago has become a classic look in the modern age.
However, not everyone likes the box-like design of OBS trucks. Enthusiasts love them, and they’re a good fit for people looking for a ride that stands out from modern vehicles. On the other hand, they’re not the best pick for those who want trucks with a more up-to-date look.
While nostalgia plays a massive role in the rise of OBS trucks in the 2020s, many younger drivers are drawn to the appeal of older trucks.
Easy to Customize
Here’s a pro that some also consider as a con. OBS trucks are old, so if you get one, there’s a good chance you’ll be replacing a lot of the vehicle’s dated parts.
Getting an OBS truck up to par could dent your bank account, but you’re free to mix, match, and customize it to your heart’s content. Plus, old vehicles are usually easier to work on.
A lot of add-ons, decals, and body parts are attached with adhesive or bolts. This makes removing and swapping body parts like mirrors, ornaments, and grilles a cinch. There’s also a whole industry for aftermarket parts, many of which are compatible with OBS trucks.
Rugged and Durable
Last but not least, it’s arguable that the biggest appeal OBS trucks have is that they’re exceptionally sturdy and have a very rugged, outdoorsy look.
These trucks boast good off-road capabilities without sacrificing too much driveability in the city. While they’re not as powerful as modern tricks, they’ve got a lot of power. This means they have high maximum payload and towing capacities despite their age.
OBS Truck Cons: Problems to Expect
One of the biggest, most glaring flaws of OBS trucks is how dated they are. Their age gives way to a lot of complications, from performance that’s not up to par with newer vehicles to weathered interiors and lack the modern safety features.
Relies on Aftermarket Upgrades for Good Performance
Trendy or not, driving and maintaining an OBS truck might be harder than driving a modern vehicle. Remember, there’s a 30-year age gap between OBS Chevy trucks from the 1990s and the more modern Chevy trucks from the 2020s.
It should come as no surprise that more dated trucks won’t be as well-equipped and powerful as the ones from today.
For example, OBS trucks aren’t anywhere near as fuel-efficient, safe to drive, comfortable, or powerful as newer models. After all, the technology used to make them (along with the technology installed in them) is much older.
A 1994 Ford Explorer has a combined MPG of 17, whereas a 2023 Ford Explorer has a combined MPG of 24. Similarly, it costs approximately $186 a month to drive the 2023 model, while it costs around $260 a month to drive the 1994 model.
Lower fuel efficiency can hike up gas costs exponentially, so be wary.
Plastic Interiors Require Replacement
Another flaw that’s common across many OBS trucks is how the interiors of these vehicles tend to look cheap or low-quality.
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OBS truck interiors might have been trendy at the time, but technology has come a long way since the ‘90s. Now, more materials are used to create the interiors of vehicles, including nylon, leather, vinyl, and polyester.
This doesn’t even factor in the possibility that the cabin might be weathered and cracked on OBS trucks after the early 1980s, so there are bound to be parts in the vehicle’s interior that have wasted away. These parts will need to be replaced.
Lacks Modern Safety Features
Because OBS trucks are old, most of them don’t have all the modern safety features that keep drivers in the 21st century safe. For example, truck models from the early 1990s might not have airbags because airbags were only mandated in 1998. Even though you can legally drive without them, you’d be putting yourself in an unnecessary amount of danger if your vehicle doesn’t have them.
If your truck lacks other crucial safety measures, you might have to invest in them as well.
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