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Dekotora Works of Trucking Art

Dekotora is an emerging fashion for customising trucks that originated in Japan. It’s a craze that’s making motorways more interesting and truck stops brighter places to visit, as lorry drivers increasingly put aside their dull delivery work liveries and opt for artistic haulage vehicles.

In Britain, we are used to seeing lorries with ladies names on the roads, perhaps the occasional delivery worker who has added a neon name badge or fairy lights to his dashboard. In Japan, they go much further.

Dekotora trucks are fully customised by their drivers. This can include changing everything from the wing mirrors to the wheel caps. Dekotora drivers will spend serious amounts of money and time making ‘their ride’ both astonishing and unique. There are gatherings similar to car rallies or Morris Minor fan club meetings where people can exhibit their customisation work, and browse and admire the imaginative work of others.

Delivery Works of Art

The art displayed on the sidings of the trailers is wide ranging. You can see images from classical, modern and mythological Japanese culture, such as Anime cartoons, elegant dragons, gods on hazy mountain-tops, and soft-edged geishas. But not all the trucks have a benevolent air; there are many more decorations with an edge to them: snarling demons, stylish gangsters from Asian movies, and rock n' roll idols.

Changing Shape and Colour

But the personalisation of these trucks goes way beyond paint. Many vehicles feature additional wings and elaborate edgings, where mirrors and chrome are added to metal awnings, baffles, pipes, boxes and bumpers. On the front of the cab, grills are enhanced and flat-nose trucks (COE) are extended forward with a cosmetic skirting similar to a snow plough or ‘cow catcher’, except they are decorative rather than practical.

Some additions of chrome frames and wings are so enormous that you wonder how a working delivery driver can see well enough to negotiate traffic. These additions make the lorries seem muscular; some appear more like tanks than trucks, very much like Transformer robot toys before they change into android form.

The most striking elements of the decorations are the extra lights. The trucks wear multi-coloured, rippling and flashing sequences of lights and lit panels, so they resemble a slot machine or a fair ground ride. With lights along the length of the rails and neon components all over, this makes a Dekotora truck an amazing thing to encounter at night.

Interior Designs

But it's not just the outside of the trucks that get a make-over. Dekotora drivers are house proud and truck proud, and will work on the interiors, too. One idiosyncratic trucker has reconstructed a Victorian style drawing room in his trailer so when he takes a break from his delivery work he can relax in style on a plush sofa surrounded by red velvet, polished wood furnishings and panelled walls, all under a chandelier. It's an unusual thing to see associated with a haulage vehicle.

It’s a Strange Game

Making such changes is not a cheap affair, and it’s telling that increasingly drivers of Dekotora trucks are fans of trucking and use their vehicles for leisure alone, rather than for delivery work.

Although this sounds like a cult sensation, the Dekotora culture and eccentricity is spreading. There is even a video game in development in which you drive a decorated truck around a virtual city at breakneck speeds, aiming to complete your deliveries before working on the customisation your gaming vehicle.

The Dekotora fad is believed to originate from a series of “Truck Guys” (Torakku Yaro) films in Japan, but it now has a growing international appeal. So keep an eye out on the roads: you will certainly know when you see one!
About Author Lyall Cresswell :

Lyall Cresswell is the Managing Director of Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry across the UK and Europe. It can be used to buy and sell road transport services such as delivery work (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) and freight exchange.

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Article Added on Saturday, November 14, 2009
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