By on March 11, 2015
100_1423

The Cure for Gentrification? (photo courtesy: OP)

Zach writes:

Sajeev,

I would like your, and the B&Bs, opinion on my dilemma, but first a love letter of sorts…

I’m a proud owner of an ugly truckling, a 1988 Toyota single cab short bed pickup in all its carburated 22R goodness. The 4spd close ratio stick makes anything above 60mph interesting, but I’ve hauled 2200 lbs of radiators in it to the scrap yard, and other than having to hit the brakes to steer, it had no problems. No AC, no power anything. For a while I had a dump bed on it, which meant that trips to transfer station attracted every hispanic and african in the vicinity. I bought it for $700 from a gentleman who commuted around DC in it since new, and whose new wife forced him to sell it. I still run into him at the local HomeyD and he always looks longingly at it.

Unfortunately since I’ve finished renovating my rowhouse, it barely gets driven and sits rotting on the street. A couple of weeks ago I had to get the emissions inspected (in DC it gets a dyno drive cycle) and a hard brake line blew in the middle of test, causing them to rerun the test. I passed (!), but the drive home took two bottles of brake fluid and judicious use of engine braking.

I guess this is the long winded way of saying this truck as been most excellent to me in all ways and I feel terrible that it’s going to simply rust away on the street. Not to mention that my neighborhood, once a nice place to live once past the multiple muggings and burglaries, is becoming douchebag central as one of the hottest areas for development in the city, and so parking three vehicles (my 240 wagon, my girlfriends 850 wagon, and my pickup) has become onerous as the out-of-city asshats have no idea how to parallel park.

I’d like to get my fleet down to 2 vehicles (hopefully selling off the POS 850), but I’m way too attached to having a pickup in the city. Its utility is far greater than any negatives I can think of, but at the same time, I want something I can take my dogs to the park in, something the gf can drive to work in a pinch as well as something safer than a tuna fish can on wheels. Fuel efficiency really doesn’t matter to me (<3,000mi/yr, I put more miles on my bicycle), but price does since the damn thing won’t move most of the time.

So the DC Metro area is littered with 11th gen F150 supercabs used as commuters and while not being particularly attracted to the truck, they’re cheap and plentiful. On the other hand, I love me some Toyota, and I’d love to get the last good looking and right-sized Taco, a 1st gen double cab, but they must have made them out of gold. For roughly 2x that of a used F150, I can get an equivalently used Taco, which completely blows my mind. I’m not looking at mint examples either, and the enormous price differential is really pushing me to honestly consider abandoning my small truck love for a full-size. I don’t want anything the F150 supercab provides other than the back seats for the dogs and the bed, but a $4-8K price differential is a very persuasive argument in its favor…

Of course, the Taco is far more nimble and about 30″ shorter than the 6.5′ bed F150, but is the size, Toyota build quality, slightly greater fuel economy worth 2x+ the price of the best selling vehicle in America?

Sajeev answers:

Oh man, that 4th Gen Toyota truck is totally sweet.  I mean dumpy and crude, but I’d rock that bad boy in a gentrified yuppie-hipsterville portion of town all day.

That said, even baseline trucks have come a long way.  Take my daily driven 2011 Ranger, compared to 1990s models that are supposedly the same, it’s obvious newer trucks are superior: better interior electronics, refined engines, improved NVH materials, bigger brakes, safety equipment (like Volvo-esque seat backs Ford ripped off), and the list goes on.

That said, the last of the “good” Tacos was a terrible value in the used market for years, even worse now that newer F-150s fall into that price range.  Not worth it: those Tacos aren’t waaaay better than a modern Duratec (DOHC) Ranger, Frontier, or a newer F-150. If the F-150 fits in your parking space(s).

If you can safely park an F-150 in your world, buy it.

If not?  Try a Nissan Frontier, Duratec Ranger (2003+?, but no crew cab) or a Chevy S-10. No matter what, you’ll get almost the same quality of vehicle for less cash than the Taco. It’s close enough.

 

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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50 Comments on “Piston Slap: To Need a Gentrified Pickup?...”


  • avatar

    I would say look for a frontier or 2nd gen dakota crew. I love the Tacoma too but the prices are crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      OP here. I originally started looking at 2nd gen Dakota crew cab since they’re cheap, and I grew up driving my dad’s first gen Dakota convertible. Still have that truck in the family and besides my dad bitching about getting the V6 instead of the V8, it’s been pretty good. Probably the only 5spd convertible they ever made.

      I eventually started looking at the F150s simply because the area is flithy with used ones. Too bad I don’t want single cab long box, they seem to be going for a song…

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Too bad he’s in rustville ;

    That’s a nice old rig and he oughta be able to carry the dogs in the cab or the bed…

    -Nate

  • avatar
    jrmason

    Just don’t be disapointed when the “new” truck gives you more problems than that awesome old Yota. I have literally warped a hood from overheating a 22RE. It got so hot it seized up and wouldn’t restart. I left it sit over night and came back for it the next day with a trailer figuring it was done for. I bumped the starter just to see what it would do and she lit off almost instantly. I drove that truck another 2 years, and every time I popped the hood it would let loose with a violent bang to remind me just how tough that old truck was.

    By 88 carb’d 4 speeds were becoming quite the rarity even by Yota standards. fuel injection was introduced to the pick ups in 84 along with the 5 speed. I believe 88 was the last year of the carb’d 22R.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Now that the nice gentleman’s wife is no longer ‘new’ and you have certainly got your $700 out of the Taco, why not offer it back to him?

    A nice karmic gesture.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Getting rid of the truck to get a Frontier is almost pointless. I can see selling it with no replacement. Trying to parallel park a full size truck on the street is pretty miserable.

    When I had a truck like that people would occasionally knock on my door to try and buy it. I always wondered what they would have paid, since they didn’t speak English.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      I have had very similiar experiences. At the local brickyard I thought I’d done something wrong as several bucket loaders and forklifts suddenly surrounded me in the yard. Turns out they all just wanted to check it out and see if I’d sell it them ;)

      Another time I was dropping the gf off at the airport in it, and an airport shuttle bus pulls right in front of me. The African driver gets out and wants to know what year it was and if I wanted to sell it. I chat with him for a couple of minutes before I realize the shuttle bus is full of people and they’re all looking down at us probably wondering why the hell the bus stopped to talk to some dude in a ratty old pickup ;)

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    How about the last gen Chevy Colorado? They are newer and seem to sell for a lot less than any used Tacoma I’ve seen advertised. Granted, the 5-cylinder didn’t set the magazine comparison tests on fire, but as a used inexpensive pickup they seem like a bargain.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    Scour the internet for a clean proper bed for the Pickup, rustproof the hell out of it and throw on a canopy. Clean dry dogs in a reliable and loved vehicle.

    Or, heck, build yourself a wooden box/canopy if you like do-it-yourselfing. Style it like a cuckoo clock or something and drive all the hipsters crazy with envy.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      The rocker panels are shot on it as well, so it’s bit more extensive than a bed replacement. I did look into that, but they’re rarer than hens teeth in the area and I’m not paying 50% of the cost to have one shipped in unseen from a remote JY.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      Glad I scanned the comments before I made my own. You aren’t going to find anything like this without spending a kings ransom. What I did with an old Nissan was to make a flatbed from treated lumber. You can slide anything you want on top of that – camper, sideboards, etc.

      A visit to a sheetmetal shop and sheetmetal replacements get you back in the game. If you aren’t putting that many miles on it the salt damage shouldn’t amount to much. Weight down the back and put some snow tires on it and it can be the “no fear” winter commuter. My old 79 Datsun approves this message (wherever it is).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Tough scenario. Sophie’s choice between the awesome 240 and the equally awesome in another way Toyota pickup. Arthur Dailey had a nice idea to sell it back to the original owner for the original price, then you get free miles. If you really want to part with it and not sell it back to original owner I can probably get it sold real quick as I have a friend who is in to these and DC isn’t *too* far away.

    Honestly though I think this is your situation:

    240 wagon – probably solid
    850 wagon – PITA
    truck – good runner, needs brake work, probably a PITA to park in an urban area.

    I use my 240 as a Sunday car, I personally wouldn’t dream of relying on it for primary transportation. Since the 240 is a wagon, you could use it for minor cargo hauling and probably don’t need the truck. Either gf gets the truck (which I assume she doesn’t want) or sell the truck and replace it with a Taco (or something else) for your primary (although this still probably presents parking issues) and keep your 240 as a secondary ride.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      My ’93 240 is a great car. I bought it as well for $700 from a 400 lbs pizza delivery guy. Luckily the MAF went on it shortly after he bought it, so the seat was still in good shape ;) I’m pretty sure it has the oil cooled pistons, and being a 93 it also has ABS, R134A factory AC and an air bag. A bit safer than my Toyota and fits five people, four dogs, two bikes, and pinic supplies.

      The ugly truckling is near and dear to me, but it’s not particularly safe nor comfortable in the DC summers. That’s how I ended up with the 240…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have an MY93 as well, although I have the sedan. I find the A/C a bit lacking, how does it work for you?

        • 0 avatar
          drfritznunkie

          The AC is “sufficient” in exactly the opposite way the heat is “sufficient” in the 240 ;) It works. It’s no Crown Vic (or in my case, Grand Marquis) AC, but I really think a light tint would go miles on making it less of a greenhouse.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Sell the 850 and truck and get a P2 or later XC70?

      I mean, obviously a Volvo guy, so stick with it.

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        The answer is to sell the 240 and the truck and replace them with a 245T wagon: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=volvo+245t

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        There’s a world of difference between RWD Volvo and FWD Volvo. The P2 cars are similar to the 850 and have similar drawbacks.

        • 0 avatar
          drfritznunkie

          My 850 is a 97 GLT, and I think the only option missing from it is the rear jump seats. It’s nice, but not endearing like a 240. The 240 has character and charm, the 850 has heated seats and cup holders. And it throws so many ODB codes it’s on the EPA exception list, so as long as my CEL isn’t on, it doesn’t matter (in DC) if the drive monitors have passed.

  • avatar
    Mike

    Don’t forget to look up the Ford Explorer Sport-Trac. They seem mostly forgotten, but they’re smallish, 4-door, and not a bad looking little truck.

    Hopefully, they’ll be priced right, too.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Keep what you got and look for excuses to drive it.

    Want to go get coffee on Saturday morning? Drive the Toyota.

    Need to make a run for something small? Drive the Toyota.

    Hankering to smoke a cigar and don’t want to stink up the house or decent vehicle? Crack a window and drive the Toyota.

    Signed,

    Owner of a 2004 F150, bought and paid for, but only pressed into hard service a few times a year. Got to keep her running some how.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    Just sell it and don’t replace it with another truck. Sell the 850 too and replace it with a better car. You said you feel bad owning a truck you don’t use anymore, so how would the situation be improved by replacing it with a different truck that you don’t need and never use? Zipcar in DC has pickups for the 6 times a year you still could use one.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      Zipcar is fine when you’ve got windows of need of a half-day or more and when you know a day or so in advance that you’ll need it. The times when my gf has had issues with her car (and not the 850, her previous car, a 2001 Jetta was a total POS) and had to use a Zipcar, I’ve had to go pickup the car from a ways away or drive her to it since I’ve almost never been able to reserve one within walking distance. And I live in one of the most densely zip-car’ed areas of the city.

      So Zipcar is great for occasional usage, but IME, it sucks when you need to depend on it. Hence why I’d like to go from 3->2 vehicles, and have the second be a truck for myself, a supercrew+ for my three pitbulls, and an automatic with A/C for my gf, so if the gf ever needs to, it can be pressed into service.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        OK so with 3 pit bulls an extended cab compact isn’t going to work. Bet the neighbors love that too huh?!

        Something I’ve considered for my own dog needs is a reg cab truck with a sealed insulated topper, and carpet the bed. Nice spot for the dogs, open the rear window for ac, cargo use when you need it, and reg cab trucks are the cheapest.

        • 0 avatar
          drfritznunkie

          Actually everyone in the neighborhood hated my neighbor’s dogs because she left them out in her backyard and they barked constantly. One day, one of them barked for 14+ hours straight… Thankfully she moved.

          I think I just need to go drive a couple of trucks. I’m sure a regular cab with a topper would be just fine if setup correctly as you say…

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            We currently use our old CRV as a dog car, and it now has a trailer hitch. So I will probably pick up a compact foldable trailer for “pickup” duty, and then maybe next year when the lease is up on our Civic I will replace it and the CRV with a new Tacoma Doublecab.

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        I hear you about the Zipcar hurdles, but I still think it’s the better way to go based on how infrequently you’ll actually need a truck.

        From your letter it sounds like you really need two cars, not a car and a small truck, so you’re thinking of getting a big-ass truck that can be used like a car most of the time and be a truck on those rare occasions when you need one. But think of how much it’s going to suck driving and parking an extended cab pickup around the city. That everyday suckage will be orders of magnitude worse than the 6-times-a-year suckage of getting a pickup from Zipcar.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    In Mexico last week, I saw tons of fantastic Nissan “NP300” crew cab pickups. Based on the D21 “Hardbody” guts, they made up the majority of commercial/fleet trucks I saw out there. Rwd, 5spd manual, sturdy torsion bar front ends (unlike the relatively fragile double wishbone toyota front ends).

    That would fit absolutely perfectly here, truly unfortunate that they don’t sell them here, what good is NAFTA if we can’t get the goods?! Also saw a lot of Sajeev’s era of Ranger with quad cabs.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      One of the construction supervisors working on a new office building in area is from somewhere in southern Mexico, so I regularly see one of these parked on my street… It’s an interesting little trucklet.

      http://www.chevrolet.com.mx/tornado.html

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    “Not to mention that my neighborhood, once a nice place to live once past the multiple muggings and burglaries, is becoming douchebag central as one of the hottest areas for development in the city”

    Damn those people who come and invest their money, improve the infrastructure and are too busy to slap a friendly mugging or burglary on you. My sympathies. You can get even with them by refusing to take double or triple your investment when you sell to get away from the bad parking.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I’ve been shopping around for a used pickup for months, the market is crazy. The only good deals on used trucks is for regular cabs, and that won’t work for you (or me) because of the dogs. I need a usable back seat.

    Forget the used Taco, you simply cannot buy a used one that is worth the price. Just buy a brand new truck instead. You can get a base Accesscab for about $20k and it has room in back for dogs, just put in a nice “dog platform” or better yet get the rear seat delete package. If you really want a bargain, a new Frontier King Cab is under $17k in base form and will last just as long as the Yota. If you must have a crew cab, the Toyota the cheapest one is $23k, and it is surprisingly the cheapest one of all the pickups, and will hold insane resale value, so in the end it will almost be free.

    For used compacts, Rangers are too small in back, but the Frontier is a decent choice and a good value. I don’t trust the Colorado, and the Dakota is decent but hard to find a good one these days. An extended cab full size has easily as much room as a crew cab compact, for less money, so I would check those out as well.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      Yeah, we’re both thinking along the same lines. I have no need of a new car payment, and I’d quite frankly be happy to get something that is a bit of a basket case and fix it up. In all my used car shopping, if the price is <$3k, I figure a minimum 100% more on parts to fix it up, and about 50% more for anything <$10k ;)

      I've not yet driven a 2nd gen Dakota Crew, but it's definitely on my radar. Unfortunately any of the Japanese brands have serious cachet with the large Hispanic community in the area, and so most are beat to hell or outrageously priced.

      Ideally, I'd like an F150 supercab with a 5.5' bed. They were made, but not in quantity. That brings the turning circle of the F150 to within a foot of a Tacoma, as it's on the 135" wheelbase frame, whereas the more standard 6.5' bed supercab is a 145" wheelbase…

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    First off, I agree with the karma statement above; it’s obvious the gentleman wants it back and you’ll know it will be properly loved.

    As for a replacement… I would almost say get yourself the F-150 just so you learn why I dislike full-sized trucks. The extended-cab 6′ bed would be just about the same length as my former standard-cab long-bed. They’re easy enough to parallel park IF your neighbors/OOT tourists leave you the full parking slot but I’ve learned not to expect it and had been forced to squeeze it into a slot much tighter than the mandated 25’foot length many times. That gets tiring when you don’t really have a good view of other vehicles’ bumpers over the rear quarter. I think you would get disgusted with that full-sized Road Whale™ pretty quickly in DC.

    The best I can suggest is look for a 8 to 10-year-old midsizer like the Ranger or first-gen Colorado. If you’re willing to go older, you might luck up on a 10 to 15-year-old model or S-10 or Dakota still in decent shape, though you’ll probably pay more for one in better-than-fair condition. Because there are no newer, truly compact trucks even at the size of your current Taco, there is an itch that needs to be scratched and right now Hyundai looks like the only company willing to try scratching at it.

    • 0 avatar
      drfritznunkie

      Colorados/S10s are thin on the ground around here, but it really sounds like a 2nd gen Dakota should be on my short list. I’d like to find a nice T100 to test drive, but the short production run and abuse those got mean few have survived in a condition I’d want.

      So I guess my list is looking something like:
      Dakota, 2nd gen
      Tacoma, 4th gen
      Ranger, ?
      F150, 11th gen… if I can find it, 135″ wheelbase supercab

      10th gen F150s are abundant, but I find them replusive, especially from the rear… Maybe get one, and weld up a custom bed for it?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” Us early gentifiers are entitled to be crabby about it ;)”NEWSFLASH :

    All of us regular folks that live anywhere have the right to complain bitterly about breakins , muggings and general criminal activities too .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Just bite the bullet on what you want. Don’t look back. Life’s too short. Buying a brand new truck makes more sense than $8,500 on a ’98 Taco (or most anything ’98), but I realize that takes a whole other level of commitment, even if you can easily swing it.

    But consider the ideal of restoring an ’80s mini-truck from CA. I just saw an ’88 Toyota SR5 4X4 out there, fully restored and bone stock specs. Or it’s been vault since new. Jaw dropping because you never see them. Bright red with silver OE stripe kit. ’80s pickups got driven into the ground and or cut up and modded to holy hell.

    I also like the ’88ish Ranger STXs, black with the factory monochrome bush/push bumpers, rollbar/light kit, dished alloy wheels and big silver stripes/decals. They’ve also not received much love over the years.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    If you don’t care about ugly, a first-gen avalanche might get you what you want, which appears to be a mix of covered space and utility in a short package. It has the added benefit of being able to convert some of its passenger length to cargo, if you needed to get some boards (or another load of inexplicable radiators). It seems like it’s within a few inches of the 5.5′ supercrew F150 in terms of overall length, too.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Maybe it’s me, but I have a hard time grasping what the OP is even talking about for the first half of the post.

    Attracting Hispanics, transfer station, HomeyD, plus numerous other abbreviations.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      CoreyDL,

      “Attracting Hispanics, transfer station, HomeyD, plus numerous other abbreviations.”

      People either understand the meaning and nuances of those terms, or they don’t.

      It would not be right to explain the implications and visual impressions these terms are meant to invoke in a reader, to individuals who don’t understand them or their implied meanings.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That makes me think these terms are probably discriminatory in some way, but alright!

        • 0 avatar
          DeeDub

          Transfer station is the trash transfer station, aka “the dump” for city dwellers. HomeyD is Home Depot.

          By “attracting hispanics” he means that his cheap, non-pretentious and practical work truck always caught the attention of the type of people who are most interested in cheap, non-pretentious and practical work trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          They are, depending on which s!de of the interpretation a reader stands.

          For some, of certain ethnic and racial backgrounds, the meaning and implication of the word-picture triggered by a term can be downright racial, demeaning and offensive.

          For most White people, the terms are as innocuous as the name Washington Redskins or Infidel.

          But to others, either can be quite repulsive.

  • avatar
    dasko

    Why not just get a Honda Ridgeline or Subaru Baja? These are made for city living.

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