By on October 19, 2015

Seward Highway 2

After Barrow and Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, at the extreme north of the United States, we now fly south 620 miles (1,007 km) to Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska but not its capital.

As much as I would have liked to tackle the mighty Dalton Highway, an additional 230 miles and a 14- to 18-hour trip depending on the weather, time and budget constraints meant I had to fly instead, in a semi-cargo plane: the first third of the plane was cargo with the remaining two-thirds for passengers and entry only from the back of the plane. It was the first time I saw such a plane.

On the way, the bonus is sublime panoramas of the former Mt. McKinley, the highest summit in the whole of the United States at 20,320 feet high. Denali, the Indian name for the peak, appropriately means “The Great One”.

Seward Highway

Along the Seward Highway, south of Anchorage

With just over 300,000 inhabitants, Anchorage accounts for 41 percent of the total population of Alaska: only New York City has a larger percentage of residents of the state it is located in (8.5 out of 19.7 million or 43 percent). Anchorage beats New York City when counting the Anchorage metropolitan area which represents 54 percent of the state’s population, and the “railbelt” between Anchorage and Fairbanks at the geographical centre of Alaska contains no less than two-thirds of Alaska’s population. Accordingly, there have been numerous attempts to move Alaska’s state capital from Juneau in the Southeast panhandle to Anchorage or a city closer to it, and all have failed so far.

Ram 1500 Anchorage

After rejecting attempts to move the capital in 1960 and 1962, in 1974 the Alaskan electorate approved the relocation of the capital city to Willow, north of Anchorage, but later rejected it when faced with a $1 billion bill. Another plan to move the capital to Wasilla was rejected in 1994 as well as a plan to move the legislature to the Mat-Su Borough in 2002. Interestingly, however, Anchorage houses twice as many state employees as Juneau, making it the unofficial centre of state and federal government activity in Alaska.

GMC Sierra Seward

The last bit of trivia on Anchorage is the one that intrigued me the most. Contrary to the perception of being a totally isolated city, Anchorage is within less than 10 hours by air to roughly 90 percent of the industrialized world. As such, it is a critical refuelling stop for many airlines and home to a major FedEx hub. The furthest main U.S. airport from Anchorage is Miami (4,005 miles/6,445 km), and here is where it becomes interesting: Beijing, China is closer at 3,979 miles (6,404 km), while Moscow, Russia (4,362 miles/7,020 km) and London, England (4,488 miles/7,223 km) are only a tad further.

Subaru Outback Anchorage

Due to Anchorage’s overbearing demographic weight within the state, the best-selling cars here are defining the Alaskan ranking as a whole. You can find Alaskan sales figures by model for the first 6 months of 2015 here. The five most popular vehicles in Alaska are all trucks, with a surprise overall leader: the Ram Pickup, distancing the Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150, GMC Sierra and Subaru Forester. The best-selling passenger car is another surprise: the Subaru Outback, whereas it only ranks 33rd nationally so far in 2015. This is the start of a continuous home run all through the north-west of the country by Subaru, as I will detail in this series. The Outback outsells the Chrysler 200, the Toyota Camry, Dodge Charger and Chevy Cruze. The detailed sales figures are here.

Anchorage street scene

Coming from the Arctic Ocean, the vicious rain and wind that welcomed me in Anchorage almost seemed mild. Downtown Anchorage has a double personality: during bad weather it seems like a city of big, bland and grey buildings, but when the sun comes out, suddenly a myriad of cute little wooden houses seem to appear out of nowhere. Giant Arctic-themed murals brighten up the town in any case. Friendly residents seem to be convinced you have to be insane to live in Anchorage, and even more insane to travel from Sydney, Australia to come here and enjoy the … cold? Unpretentious and curious would best describe Anchoragites (that is the correct demonym), and they know how to deliver a succulent halibut burger at Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse. I had all my dinners there.

Ford F-150 Seward

How does the Anchorage car landscape reflect Alaskan sales? Full-size pickups rule here, and mid-size ones such as the Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier are sparse. When Anchorites buy pickup trucks, they mean it: I spotted a very high ratio of spruced up, elevated and big-footed full-size pickups here. Rams and Chevys are indeed more frequent than Fords, and I fittingly only managed to spot one new generation F-150 in the three days I spent in town. That’s as many F-150s as in two hours in Prudhoe Bay! The GMC Sierra is clearly outperforming its national performance here in Alaska, and we’ll have official confirmation of this shortly at the Anchorage GM dealership.

Subaru XV Anchorage

There is a clear and strong Subaru heritage in Anchorage, including a rare Baja pickup, but the majority are starting to age even though the Outback is indeed the most frequent new passenger car downtown. The Toyota Camry justifies its third position in the Alaskan passenger car ranking with a solid presence of the new generation already, while we will need to drive out of Anchorage into the touristy fjords to understand the particularly high rankings of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Charger in Alaska. I also spotted the first Mazda CX-3 of this trip as well as the first new-generatuon Volvo XC90.

The GM dealership in Anchorage displays a handful of Chevrolet Silverados with snowplows already pre-fitted! That’s a first, as far as I am concerned. I had to have a chat with someone there.

 

George LaMoureaux from GM Anchorage

George LaMoureaux from GM Anchorage

And what a character I met! George LaMoureaux, Sales Consultant at “the largest General Motors dealership in the north-east”, is an advanced mountaineer who has climbed neighbouring Mt. McKinley/Denali and … Mt. Everest!

LaMoureaux estimates that roughly 70 percent of new vehicles sold in the dealership are light trucks — well above the 55-percent national average — and, confirming the sales figures and my observations above, the GMC Sierra over-performs with a 35-65 Sierra-Silverado sales ratio instead of 27-73 nationally so far in 2015.

GM Anchorage

According to LaMoureaux, the Sierra and Silverado are interchangeable in the eyes of customers: if they find a model, finish or equipment in the lot that is what they need, they will drive out of the store in a Sierra even if they came in wanting to buy a Silverado, and vice-versa. This would mean there is very little brand loyalty to GMC and Chevrolet and more so to General Motors brands as a whole, a rather interesting find as far as I am concerned as the dual-branding strategy General Motors is using has always intrigued me. Positioning GMC as both premium and industrial is an oxymoron but it enables GM to hit price points with the Sierra that it wouldn’t be able to with the Chevrolet brand. Yet, with the GM full-size pickups outselling the Ford F-Series in the U.S. every month this year, this dual-brand strategy means GM is missing out on the title of best-selling vehicle in the U.S. Is it worth it?

Chevrolet Silverado snowplow Anchorage

On the subject of mid-size pickups, which surprised me by their rarity in town, I saw just two Chevy Colorados on the lot and no more than eight GMC Canyons. LaMoureaux affirms there isn’t enough stock to meet a very significant, pent-up demand that has accumulated during the two years these nameplates were discontinued. Given I have seen no new Colorado nor Canyon models in the streets of Anchorage, whereas I saw some further downstate where the population is much smaller, I would beg to differ. I drove a $41,540 GMC Canyon whose cabin didn’t feel smaller than the Ram 1500 I drove last year. A refined interior and very solid boost at kick off would have been the perfect companions for our explorations outside Anchorage. Unfortunately, I visited the GM dealership at the end of my stay here and my ride was a puny Ford Fiesta. Gotta try everything that’s available, right?

Chrysler 200 Seward Highway

If you are thinking of visiting Anchorage, its surroundings are a lot more interesting than the city itself, so it is a must to escape the city.

North towards Fairbanks led me to rainy, sleepy and friendly Talkeetna, and eerie Eklutna Lake where I got to chat with a moose hunter/army officer that had just been in the wild for a full week. There, the 1987 Ford F-Series still dominates the vehicle landscape. The journey southbound from Anchorage on the Seward Highway is an uninterrupted panorama of snow-capped mountains, glaciers breaking into icebergs onto the sea, and picturesque fishing villages ending on the posh town of Seward. I have travelled a fair bit in my life but never before have I seen such a mesmerizing succession of unbelievably beautiful landscapes. Everywhere you looked could be the main picture of an annual calendar. And this is where I spotted a thick flow of Chrysler 200s, meaning its #2 ranking in Alaska is almost entirely due to sales to rental companies. It goes the same for the Dodge Charger.

Ford Fiesta rental Anchorage

On both these journeys I drove Ford Fiesta sedans. In fact, two different ones that each had their nagging defaults. The first, older one has a central console that features so many buttons that it’s a lot safer to just ignore everything and concentrate on the road. The second one — slightly more recent — had fixed the central console issue by replacing all the buttons with a touchscreen that was as confusing as the now-gone buttons. Both models were flimsy: I may or may not have dislodged the rear mirror command while stepping into the car (!), and during heavy rain such as what I endured on my way north of Anchorage, aquaplaning comes standard. On the plus side, the boot is enormous for a car this size, and fuel economy is so good it only cost $20 to refuel after each full-day drive.

Next stop is Juneau, the actual capital of Alaska.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia. He runs a website dedicated to car sales statistics, trends and analysis called BestSellingCarsBlog. The website features sales data for 190 countries worldwide including 80 countries updated monthly.

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49 Comments on “U.S. North to South 2015: Anchorage, Alaska...”


  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Good to see Wyland’s art hasn’t been obscured by adjacent construction this time; he has made several poor choices for his work in the past.

  • avatar
    EAF

    The landscapes are amazing!

    Do you see any “older” Subarus on the road? I guess if I lived in Anchorage and had to have something other than a truck, I too would choose a Subaru (yukk).

  • avatar
    vvk

    > As much as I would have liked to tackle the mighty Dalton Highway

    As if… Rental companies expressly prohibit driving the Dalton in the rental agreement. To drive the Dalton you need your own personal vehicle. Which is why I drove 12k miles in 2004 to Alaska and back in my own Volvo 240 Wagon. Manual, RWD but not brown or diesel (thankfully.)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      vvk – I had a rental truck one winter and they did say “no-offroad” which was defined as “all-weather” roads (roads open all year round). I see plenty of rental trucks in the hands of logging and reforestation companies.

      Perhaps rental rules are different in Alaska. The issue for many is covering the costs of any damage. Rock chips alone would be a huge issue on any gravel road dominated by heavy trucks. The Dalton is supposed to be exceptionally hard on stock tires.

      Another issue would be civilian access. A road used predominantly by industrial traffic might be off limits to the public except under narrow parameters i.e. escorted by a company vehicle or other VHF radio controlled vehicle. I used to go hunting in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). In many areas I had to wait for a company vehicle to follow even though I had a VHF radio with their road channels.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Awesome Matt, I have always enjoyed your articles.

    I have traveled a fair bit into the Northwest Territories, its definitely a different way of life, so I really enjoyed this particular entry.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      He traveled all the way into the Northwest Territories and lived to tell the tale…

      Seriously though that’s BFE’s BFE is it not? What is up there?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Big a$$ fish. We are talking 60 pound trout and 4+ foot pike. Great Slave Lake is 2000 feet deep. It’s a great place for fishing (for seven days in July when there isn’t snow).

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Sounds like a harpoon should be packed before you leave.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Just pack a few G’s. They got all the gear you need in Yellowknife, eh. There are a number of charter companies that take care of everything for fishing groups.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Yellowknife awaits…

            Looks kinda nice actually.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Downtown_Yellowknife_2_second_version.jpg

            28CL TO HIMSELF: No 28CL, no, there will be no travelling to remote Canadian cities.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve never been up there. I hear good things about the fishing. I’ve only been as far north as Manitoba for fishing. Since I’m not much of a fisherman, charters in Northern Canada are right up my alley. My week fishing in Manitoba with my father-in-law and some other people went as such:

            Wake up
            Shower
            Eat Breakfast
            Get in boat with guide who knows where fish are
            Catch and release a bunch of fish
            Eat lunch on some island in the middle of the lake
            Catch and release more fish
            Eat dinner
            Hang out around bonfire
            Bed

            (All activities include many of Canada’s finest beers)

            No cellphones or technology for a week was great.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            28, a beer awaits you in Calgary if you ever make it at least that far north.

            Same goes for you BBall.

            Or Winnipeg, depending on the timing.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I wish I could be in Edmonton this week for the Wings-Oilers game but I am in Tampa/St Pete instead.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I kinda want to visit both Winnipeg (for a Jets game) and Calgary (for a Flames game) although for whatever reasons both flights were expensive once I checked.

            The travel itinerary for 2015/16 as of now is as follows:

            New Orleans – August ’15 – done
            Las Vegas – October ’15 – done
            Miami – Dec ’15
            Boulder – Dec ’15
            Las Vegas (bach party) – March ’16
            Dublin, Ireland – April ’16
            Zurich, Switzerland – June or July ’16
            ?, Germany (Octoberfest) – Oct ’16

            I have 5 weeks PTO as of Sept this year and can only roll over 1 week per year, hence the schedule.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            That much time off demands a trip to Calgary.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Hmmm would have to be during the hockey season and preferably when feet of snow are not gracing the roads of Calgary. When do your seasons start and stop, typically?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            haha, whats wrong with a bit of snow?

            Seriously though, Calgary can get some snow, but not as much as you would think. Calgary can get the big snow dumps, and the side streets can get nasty ugly for a while, but the chinooks come in and melt alot of it away. Calgary has clear roads more often than not. Snow starts usually mid November, but the temperature swings so much due to mountain winds that accumulation is pretty hard to predict. As often as not we have an ugly brown Christmas. You can see grass poking up a lot of the winter because except in really heavy snow years, its melting slowly but steadily each day. Seriously Calgary’s winters are lame.

            Winnipeg on the other hand. Snow usually starts after Halloween. By mid December, you are in steady -10 to -35 temps, and the snow stays. You can sometimes have two months straight of sub -20 days, Winnipeg is no joke cold. It can and usually does snow a lot, however Winnipeg is first rate at snow clearing. The snow banks on the boulevards can get pretty big if its snowing regularly, but they break them down once they get around to it. Overall, much harsher winters in Winnipeg. But hey, its a dry -40 so its not so bad.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Canadians, how come you have Winter Olympics in places that may have no snow in the winter?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Our winters are starting to mirror Winnepeg’s, which is why I asked. This morning @ 9 the car said it was 32F. Its October 19th, a little early for snow flurries even in this climate and yet, a big finger to me. Hence a Dec get the f*** out of Pittsburgh visit followed by snow in Colorado.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            28-

            Listen to you. It’s 60 degrees there right now (or so says google). On Saturday in Detroit the high was 46, but it’s almost 70 degrees right now. It’s going to be warmer this winter. El Nino and stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Haha, it snows in Caglary, its just as likely to melt. Seriously, chinook winds are wacky.

            I’d opine that available elevation differences are what made Calgary a viable candidate. Calgary Olympic Park is on the west side of the city, its a great place where you can go skiing in town. They make all the snow if natural snow isnt plentiful enough. If you look at this first picture, you can see the surroundings are dry.

            http://www.avenuecalgary.com/Things-to-Do/Where-to-Try-Winter-Olympic-Sports-in-Calgary/5_2_1_5_calgary_olympic_park_a.jpg

            http://static1.squarespace.com/static/50e1b9c6e4b015296ce398f6/t/514f9ca0e4b020d11227d6c8/1364171937802/Canada+olympic+park.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve been to Calgary Olympic Park in the summer. I got to go down the bobsled track and do other winter like things in summer. I spent more time downtown and at the Stampede though. I was 18 and Calgary was the first place I could legally drink. Let us pray my parents never find out the details of what went on that week.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Last three winters in SE Michigan (2012/2013, 2013/2014 & 2014/2015) have me seriously wo design why I haven’t moved from this god-forsaken place yet – 2012/2013 because of the crazy snow and ice, and the last two winters because of the brutal cold (there were entire months where temps didn’t exceed 18 or 20 degrees f during the day, and easily fell to -15 f at night, which entailed -35 wind chills).

            F**k this noise if it continues.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Dude, I moved back from Tucson. I got out only to move back.

            In February, of this year, winter almost broke me. If I wouldn’t have changed jobs to one that allowed me to be in Tennessee and Florida once a month, I would have lost my mind.

            During December-March in Tucson, I would come home, grab a beer, and jump into my pool. My wife would have already gotten home and would be in a good mood because laying out by the pool makes me happy.

            Now, in December-March, I come home, possibly shovel snow, and stay inside because it’s -14 degrees outside. Instead of a bikini, my wife is wearing sweatpants and two sweatshirts. And she is not as happy because she has not seen the sun in months.

            I need to transfer to St Pete…

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            bball – I couldn’t take Southern AZ, NV or NM in the summer, though either; maybe I could have when I was in my 20s, but humidity or not, 105 to 118 regularly (when I was in Vegas, Tucson, Chandler/Phoenix, etc.) is brutal (have to leave A/C if you leave house for short vacations or things in house will melt, such as bars of soap).

            San Diego is ideal weather, but the cost of living, traffic, and a few other issues are unbearable there.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            El Nino is coming? Viva la revolucion!

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Just like there are three seasons in the U.P.: July, August and Winter!

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        My last job, based out of Edmonton, entailed quite a few trips into Yellowknife or Norman Wells via Westjet, First Air or Canadian North on a 737 combi, then hopping on a Cessna 208 Caravan or Twin Otter (best plane ever made? probably) into rural communities doing construction reviews of our designs. We did a lot of design-build with local contractors. Everything from rock socketed column foundations to all manner of installations from truck stop to hotel, based on the modular trailer model you see in the oil camps.

        It was always interesting. Yellowknife is 40,000 people, supporting the diamond mines more than anything else. Basically a giant staging area built into the Canadian Shield. Beautiful in the summer, beautiful in the winter in a different way, if you find beauty in the rugged, kill you if you aren’t careful landscape. It weirded me out sleeping in a place that’s -40 outside, and knowing the whole place is heated by tanks full of heating oil. I hope they remembered to fill it.

        The rural communities were mostly indigenous communities. Some were downright uncomfortable to be in (no, we are not a booze plane, please withdraw from the airstrip so we can go look at the garage we built for your snowplow) while others had a beautiful mix of traditional values and living alongside modern conveniences. It always gave me a lot to think about on those flights.

        Like I said, an interesting place. I spent a few weeks straight in Fort Simpson, which is the only opportunity I got to take advantage of the outdoor recreation potential.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Interesting, so what would a tourist do there? Hunt and fish? Evidently its a 2hr flight from Calgary on a de Havilland prop plane.

          What do you supposed the odds are that I die either en-route or in country say in the summertime? I’m not as keen on the locales which may attempt to end me.

          Check that out, is that an early 80s Malibu? Could it be an Iraqi-bu, perhaps?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowknife#/media/File:Yellowknife_harbour_wildcat_cafe_2009.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Close. It’s a G-body Bonneville. Notice that the taillights are deliberately aping the ’80-’81 full-size Bonnie.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Remembering that I was always there for work, “Sportsman” type activities are a given. In summer, boating, fishing, quadding, hunting are where it seems to be at, given what people seem to own. I stayed with one of the contractors once, family business, great folks, they had a couple acres home/shop, and quads, snowmobiles, boats, canoes were readily accessible. Winter, snowmobiling, ice fishing, etc.

            However, my feeling is you can do all of that stuff in a guided situation closer to civilization, in Manitoba or Ontario Lake country. I think the cost would be less, just due to proximity.Just guessing though.

            If you’re more of a hiking, back country camping, alpine skiing, even back country cross country skiing, I’d definitely suggest Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta. Easy to find really remote and technical stuff, but still having support services and big city services close by. BC also has good parks, though Jasper and Banff are closer to Edmonton and Calgary, respectively.

            I don’t know why they would put you on a DASH to fly to Yellowknife out of YYC or YEG. I always flew a 737 into Yellowknife, it was 90 minutes from Edmonton. I really don’t see any risk flying in.

            Once you get there, I guess it depends on if you were on a guided trip and they chartered a plane. I almost always flew Air Tindi out of Yellowknife, they have an excellent record and the pilots are mostly young folks trying to get hours. I was on a charter flight once on a King Air (Arctic SunWest), that one was the only time I really felt unsafe, the pilot was bound and determined to land in clouds down to the ground, finally the guy who paid for the charter told him to cut bait and fly back.

            Regarding the locals, its hard to say. I mean, you’re putting money into their pockets, they were always pretty accepting of me and the local construction guys. Thats about all I can offer.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Drzhivago

            Good eye, Dr Z…. Hahaha why not Zoidberg?

            @Dave

            That’s not surprising, when you’re near the great outdoors those are the sort of things you do. Sounds like a cool place, but I am interested to see these parks now. My one ex was big into hiking and got me into it, to a point.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            28-Cars-Later – you definitely have to be an outdoors type. Summer is interesting due to the midnight sun. It never gets totally dark. All of the vegetation and wildlife have to pack a whole lot of living into a short period of time.

            Personally I prefer the fall in all parts of northern BC and Yukon, NWT even Alaska. The bugs aren’t so bad but the bears can be more hungry depending on how good a berry season it has been. I like solitary locations. It would be less than ideal for an extrovert.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s not really me but it looks so beautiful.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    Matt – Interesting articles – I’ve enjoyed all of the trips inc the cross country run in the RAM. I’d have you revisit your thoughts on GM Canyon vs RAM 1500 interior space, however. The Canyon/Colorado twins are narrow and cramped (especially in the back) vs a RAM 1500 – or any full size…In fact, the twins are small inside vs the Gen I Honda Ridgeline (which is slightly wider than the other midsizers).

    Not surprised at the 1500 series take rate, however…Midsizers in general offer no better full economy and even worse mpg if you get a RAM EcoDiesel (my daily driver).

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Given that even a lot of full-size trucks have bucket seats up front, and the rear seat is used a lot less than it should be, sometimes the only noticeable difference in interior space is the width of the center console.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Bench seats or GTFO!

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          In any fullsize vehicle, yes. Definition of fullsize vehicle is any big car up to the last B-body or Panther, and any fullsize pickup or SUV based off that pickup. So the GM SUVs are still in the running with optional bench seat on the LS model, but everyone else’s full-size SUV only has a big console (with a shifter, so it’d be no easy task to swap a bench out of the respective company’s full-size pickup).

      • 0 avatar
        klossfam

        Agree somewhat but I use the back and have some 6’4″ passengers…Would literally be IMPOSSIBLE to put them in the back of a crew cab Canyon…whereas in a full size, all kinds of room for the legs and the additional width is welcomed as well…Also, when you do need to store/transport stuff in the cab, a full size vs midsizer is a huge advantage.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Agreed. A midsize’s crew cab is only marginally longer than a fullsize’s extended cab, and definitely narrower. I wouldn’t put anyone back there taller than 5’6″ for extended periods. Not necessarily because of the legroom, but because of the bolt-upright seats (in the fullsize EC–I can’t speak for the new midsize CC).

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I was excited about the Colorado crewcab until my 13 year old son sat back there. If I had the front seat set to where I was happy he was cramped. The Tacoma seemed slightly better.

  • avatar
    Onus

    The 1987-1991 model ford truck are great. Only owned 2 of them. Currently own none :(. Sold my last one to my dad before moving south.

    The gas engines are all fuel injected but still proven technology from the 302, 351w, and 300 6, 460. All are reliable and the EEC IV fuel injection system on them is pretty much bomb proof and problem free. You can keep these trucks running for a long time if you put the work into them.

    The diesel engine 7.3 NA IDI in these is simple, easy to work on, and cheap. Isn’t very powerful but it gets the job done.

    My problem is my last truck has 360,000 miles on it, NA 7.3 diesel, automatic. Every week something brakes just due to its age. Last was bake booster, vacuum pump, throttle cable ( snapped ), door handle trim piece broke off, window track is messed up and must be pushed to roll down the window. It’s hard to keep on top of the problems as it ages. Plus its got some pretty bad rust having lived in New York and New England road salt its entire life.

    The automatic is a little flaky behind the 7.3 the torque converter clutches don’t last too long other than that it just keep going forever.

    But, I still love these era truck and I could fix just about anything on them at this point. Looking to pick up another one now…

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Onus – I got 15 years out of my 1990 F150. The mistake I made was getting the 5.0 instead of the 5.8. It did the job but not quite powerful enough for a 3/4 ton.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Thats not a bad run.

        I can’t imagine it is as slow as the 83 with the 300 6 T18 4 speed. I imagine it is quite slow for a truck. 4.10 gears and granny first probably helps a ton. Truck currently has no running engine so I have no idea how it performs.

        I had a 1990 f250 with 351, 5 speed. Sounded sweet with no exhaust. But, the 5.8 is quite thirsty. Pushed snow without issue. The heavy duty 5 speed is a great truck transmission. Overdrive and granny gear can’t be beat.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Wonderful article!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Another interesting article Gazza,

    The northwest from Vancouver to Anchorage really fires up my imagination. I envy you on this adventure.

    The number of pickup in Alaska would be a given due to the size of the state and the wilderness.

    It’s good to see a photo or a real truck pulling a couple of trailers as well. I do miss road trains on the highway. Brisbane only has B Double that are a trailer and a half long, little trucks;)

    Are you gong to do the Pan American Hwy? Right to the tip of Chile.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Big Al from Oz – IIRC there are only a few routes in Alaska that allow what you would call “road trains”. The truck in the picture looks like a “super-B” not a road train.

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  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber