Tonneau Covers: Past and Present

When you have a pickup truck, it is much more than a set of wheels to travel in. In fact, it is often viewed as both transportation and a tool with which to get a job done. However, as a "tool" your pickup truck bed frequently takes a bit of abuse. But, thanks to products like tonneau covers, you can protect your truck bed. But have you ever given thought to how the tonneau covers came to be? After all, it's not as if they have always been in use! Here is a brief history of tonneau covers.

Tonneau is actually a French word meaning barrel, cask or container. They were originally designed to serve as a protective cover for unoccupied passenger seats in convertibles, roadsters or pickup trucks. It was an optional element that allowed the vehicle's owner to use or remove at their convenience. They were first used in Europe, but were eventually manufactured in the US by Cadillac in 1910. Like today, the covers came in both a soft or hard version and opened using a hinging mechanism or by rolling up. Of course, as time has moved on, so have the tonneau covers and today they are used primarily for pickup trucks.

With time, it was found that covers offer more than just a protective covering for one's vehicle, although this is certainly a great reason to have a tonneau cover installed in your truck. Tests have discovered that a vehicle with a tonneau cover has minimal buffering, the turbulence caused when wind/air passes over the windshield, regardless of the speed at which one is traveling. In addition, some tonneau covers, in particular those that help insulate the cab of the truck, are capable of helping to retain heat and some are even designed so that they help reduce the amount of UV exposure the driver receives.

Tonneau covers come in a variety of styles and materials. The most commonly found are those made from cloth or vinyl that is stretch tautly then either snapped into place or held in place using a rolling system. A retractable cover is also made that is designed to be mounted to the truck and then retracts from the tailgate to the back of the cab. The retractable system is considered by many to be the most convenient, especially if you are not always concerned about covering the truck bed. For a heavy-duty tonneau, one will want a cover made from fiberglass or hard plastic. These heavier covers like the retractable ones, can be locked, but added bonuses, are that the hard tonneau covers can be designed to match the truck, can be designed to rise vertically or even to have multiple compartments.

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