It started out with the back of a '74 Ford Pinto I bought for $200 (hatchback didn't even lock, but who would look in that kind of car for an expensive mountain bike, right?). High school was the time period then, and riding was just entering my life in great ways- mountain biking the ND badlands.
Then I graduated to a '84 Bronco II, still shoving my bikes in the back, often with other bikes packed in contorted ways around it, all of them robbing each other of paint with each long drive to whatever trip destination was the current adventure. Like the Pinto, it was nice to have a bike with for when the vehicle decided not to run.
After the Bronco came what is still the vehicle that's logged the most outdoor trip memories, my old Grand Caravan (many of you remember). Now transporting bicycles in (on) the van had many methods. My Surly 1x1 often just stayed in it instead of the garage, so when I was driving and not cycle-commuting, I'd have it on hand for any impromptu rides that may have come up. During trips, my friends and I packed into the van up to 7 people, their bikes (which often included a mtb as well as a road machine), climbing, and camping gear (plus tools, water, food, and maybe piles of homework if we were feeling responsible.) This meant that sometimes the bikes would get lashed onto the roof (no roof rack- we were aviation students with serious bills and no notable income), or to whatever sketchy old strap-to-the-hatch bike rack someone had borrowed from someone kind and older who "had a good bike rack in their garage that they really didn't use anymore." Sometimes this mass of rack/straps/bikes/locks would be covered in a ratty old tarp held together with duct tape and bungy cords (which had to get re-configured at about every 5th truckstop or so), since we would no doubt be driving out of ND in the butt of a winter blizzard to reach sunny UT in March. Many excellent trips with excellent people in that van. Some of the best.
The van was eventually laid to rest at 208,000 miles, which was actually a bit early for it's kind, but it had seen a lot of outdoor trip drama. With the van gone, my Nissan Frontier that I am still driving entered the scene. While I'm certainly of average earnings, I've finally reached a point in my life where I don't have to treat my valued bikes like garbage to move them around anymore, and that's a good thing. My pickup has a lockable topper, and with the help of my father-in-law, within that topper is a custom 4 bike rack welded from angle iron he had laying around (he's a project junkie), and fork mounts I'd purchased for previous homemade racks (usually made of wood, that would dry up and fall apart, but I still had the fork mounts). In addition to our pickup, my wife's new vehicle just received our first fully lockable roof rack setup. So there should be no reason to be shoving bicycles into whatever spaces are left after packing in other trip gear and people anymore.
With the new capability comes goals too. Even though there was a lack of great ways to take care of bicycles in past ventures, it's clear that the poor early years of needing to get creative to pull off the bigs trips were many of the greatest outdoor years thus far. These vehicles/racks were purchased to get out there. Time to get planning, heal from surgery, and haul some bikes to see some country.