Did You Ever Wonder?

Did you ever wonder why some semis (as seen in great numbers on the interstate) have rear doors that look like flexible metal stamped in a diamond pattern?

Installed where it is, it can’t be for enhanced wind resistance, my go-to for all other truck-design elements. Is it a branding thing? No, apparently this “diamond pattern stainless steel door skin” has functional attributes:

  • Reducing sunlight/headlight glare (for the drivers behind)
  • Being easy to clean
  • Resisting corrosion

Did you ever wonder why not all semis have this add-on, as shown, for instance, by the other truck in the photo? Follow the money. The skin itself costs from $800 to $1,000/truck – I’m assuming these are USD – and usually comes in a package of trim upgrades running between $3,000 and $4,000/truck.

The source for all this? Jalopnik, self-described as follows:

Jalopnik is a news and opinion website about cars, the automotive industry, racing, transportation, airplanes, technology, motorcycles and much more. We aim to cover these things with honesty, transparency and cheerful belligerence that can’t be found anywhere else. [emphasis added]

Two things struck me about this website when I got there through my Google search. First, how niche it seemed, being all about cars and trucks and mechanical things that move. Second, how the first site that came up in my search–a wide-ranging aggregator that is not niche in the least–had referenced Jalopnik without explanation, as if everyone would know what that was.

As Jalopnik reports . . .

Indeed, the offhandedness of that reference was what made me click on the link to the source material. “What the heck is Jalopnik?” I thought. Because “offhand” is how I might tell a friend where I bought something.

I got it on Amazon.

I don’t explain Amazon (A good thing because, really, where would I start?). Instead, I just use their name, confident that my listener will know what I’m talking about. It seems that Jalopnik is in this same rarefied, everybody-knows-it category. Who knew? Besides everyone else, I mean.

Two things strike me. First, there oughta be a list, you know? Somewhere I can go to get up to date. To find out what everyone else knows and that I have missed.

Second, if I now hear someone refer to Jalopnik in casual conversation or read about them in a blog post, I can (and will!) just nod. You know, knowingly. You, my friends, can do the same. Because, dagnab it, we are with it. Oh, I think I just found some cheerful belligerence somewhere other than at Jalopnik.

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12 Responses to Did You Ever Wonder?

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – I’d never heard of Jalopnik or the reason why some semis have diamond pattern rear doors. Thanks for both bits of UFI (Unusual Fascinating Information).

    Jalopnik is a cool name. If someone who has a fixation on peace is a peacenik, then it makes sense that someone who has a fixation on cars, trucks and jalopies is a Jalopnik.

  2. barbara carlson says:

    …”this “diamond pattern stainless steel door skin” needs to have a name. DPSDS… a Dyptus pattern?

  3. Yes, I often have wondered about those shiny back doors on semis. They looked to me like insulating material, but the need for insulation was not necessarily reflected in the line of business advertised anywhere else on the truck. I think I have seen the treatment on smaller vehicles, too, I marvel at your ability to track down the answers to these questions that may not burn but certainly do niggle! Furthermore, I am (or will be) positioned to evaluate the effectiveness of the reduction in reflection and glare for following drivers. Your photo suggests that the stamped pattern works quite well. Although I am not sure how you took such a clear photo of the back of a semi unless the traffic had stopped and you were able to get out of your car to do that.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I have almost learned to use the Notes function on my phone, which helps me to record these niggles as I go. Remembering to check said Notes later is, sadly, entirely on me. As for clarity, I think the phone’s camera has top-notch filters that correct many human errors.

  4. Jim Robertson says:

    I have often wondered about those doors…….
    Now I know.
    Thank you, always need to learn at least one thing new everyday

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – 🙂 Yeah, a good target. And the next one is to remember what I learned!

  5. Tom Watson says:

    I wonder if the name came from the slang for an old car: “jalopy”?

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