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U.S. North to South: The cars of Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman street scene 2Main street in Bozeman MT 

After Glacier National Park, we continue south to a pit stop in Bozeman, still in the Montana state. This quiet little town offers good coffee shops with wifi, period buildings and leafy streets full of a certain Japanese brand of cars that people here can’t get enough of. The perfect opportunity for a snapshot of the local car landscape. You can check out the entire U.S. North to South series here.

Location of Bozeman MTBozeman MT location in the U.S.Ram 3500 Bozeman MTRam 3500 in Bozeman MT Bozeman street sceneBozeman main streetGMC Pickup Bozeman MTVintage GMC pickup

The Bozeman car landscape can be summarised in two words: Ram and Subaru. Not that only these two brands are present on the streets, far from it, but they are disproportionately successful here compared to other parts of the country. The Ram Pickup is the best-selling new vehicle in Montana in 2015 as you can discover in our Exclusive State by State U.S. rankings, and it shows in Bozeman especially the 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty variants. Roughly 40% of all vehicle circulating in Bozeman are pickup trucks (vs. a 15% national average), the most popular being (in this order) the Ram Pickup, Ford F-250, Toyota Tacoma, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tundra. The Dodge Dakota, now discontinued, used to be a smashing success here, looking at its frequency in town.

Toyota 4 Runner Bozeman MTToyota 4RunnerSubaru Impreza Bozeman MTSubaru ImprezaFord F-350 Bozeman MTFord F-250 Super Duty Lariat

As far as non-pickups are concerned, it’s Subarus, Subarus, Subarus everywhere in Bozeman, replicating a success we have seen everywhere so far in this North to South adventure: in Alaska, Seattle, Portland, Idaho and Glacier National Park. But here’s where it gets interesting: Bozeman inhabitants are clinging to their (sometimes rather old) Subarus like dear life and as result they account for a much higher ratio of the landscape as their new car sales market share would allow. Indeed, out of 185 vehicles surveyed in the leafy streets of Bozeman, an astounding 44 were Subaru – an incredible 24% of the park. Other nameplates strong enough to warrant a mention here include the Toyota 4Runner, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Explorer, Toyota RAV4 and FJ Cruiser.

Jeep Cherokee Bozeman MTJeep CherokeeNissan Juke Bozeman MTNissan JukeRam 2500 Bozeman MTRam 2500Chevrolet Apache Bozeman MT Pic1 Chevrolet Apache Bozeman MT Pic21958 Chevrolet-NAPCO Apache 31 in Bozeman MT

Finally over the couple of hours I explored the streets of Bozeman, I chanced upon a beautiful and very rare pale green 1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 suburban truck with a NAPCO four-wheel drive conversion. The Apache 30 Series was sold mostly as a pickup truck in 1958 and 1959, it replaced the Task Force Series and would be replaced in 1960 by the Apache 10 Series. You can see more pictures of the Chevrolet Apache 30 Series below.

1959 Chevrolet-NAPCO Apache 31 Deluxe Fleetside Pickup truck1959 Chevrolet-NAPCO Apache 31 Deluxe Fleetside Pickup Truck
1958 Chevrolet-NAPCO Apache 36 Pickup1958 Chevrolet-NAPCO Apache 36 Stepside Pickup Truck
1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 Panel Truck1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 Panel Truck 

As you can notice the correct appellation for the specific truck I spotted is Chevrolet-NAPCO. That’s because from 1956 to 1959, the NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts Company) “Powr-Pak” four-wheel drive conversion could be ordered directly from GM and factory installed on trucks with very few modifications to the original chassis. This conversion was mostly factory ordered on pickup trucks, only rarely on vans which makes the one I spotted in Bozeman rather unique. In 1960 NAPCO and GM parted ways when GM redesigned the front suspension on their 1960 pickup line so that it wasn’t easily compatible with the existing Power-Pak kits, this according to Wikipedia.

Tomorrow we drive south to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming – stay tuned!

Ram 1500 Black Bozeman MTRam 1500
Subaru Outback Bozeman MTSubaru Outback
VW Beetle Bozeman MTVW Beetle in Bozeman MT

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