Trackday Diaries: Pick a Perfect Pickup

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
trackday diaries pick a perfect pickup

And did you know desire’s a terrible thing

The worst that I can find

And did you know desire’s a terrible thing

But I rely on mine

“Can’t Be Sure” was The Sundays’ brilliant 1989 debut, introducing all of us to the lovely Harriet Wheeler and her ability to sing the most heartbreaking lyrics possible in the voice of a spoiled British child. I took the above stanza to heart the minute I heard it, because it took something that had long animated me and put it into a few simple words. It’s no wonder that the Zen philosophers preach a detachment from desire, because it drives our worst and most selfish behaviors. Virtually every regrettable or repugnant episode in my life has begun with me looking at something (or, more often, someone) and pronouncing, like Henderson The Rain King, “I WANT!”

Yes, desire is a terrible thing — but I rely on mine, as I’ve recently been reminded. You see, I need a full-size pickup. But need is in no way synonymous with desire, so I’m absolutely stuck in the mud trying to figure out what I should do next.

At some point in the next few months, I’m going to sell Danger Girl’s 2009 Tahoe Z71 (if you’re interested, feel free to inquire) and replace it with a crew-cab 4×4 pickup. I’ve drawn up a short list of requirements:

  • Crew cab, to maximize sealed interior space and to provide a bigger crush box for my son;
  • The longest bed possible, to maximize carry capacity;
  • The ability to tow 8,500 pounds without difficulty, so I can have a race car in a 20-foot enclosed trailer;
  • Gasoline powered, because I don’t want to deal with the cost or hassle of diesel;
  • 4×4, because the resale hit for not having it in Ohio far exceeds the cost of the option;
  • Heated seats, because Danger Girl is always cold;
  • Maximum longevity;
  • Minimum running cost;
  • Lowest possible purchase price.

This truck will have just two purposes in life. The first is to tow my race cars and track cars to various events. The second is to take my BMX and mountain bikes to skateparks and racetracks. It won’t be a daily driver and it will rarely leave the house unless there is something in the bed.

After some thought, I’ve narrowed the selection to 1500 series, V8-powered 4×4 longbed crew cabs from the Big 2.5. The Tundra and Titan have been excluded for cost and/or durability reasons. I don’t see a need to step up to the 3/4-ton trucks with their load-rated slippery tires and higher running costs. The Suburban and Expedition EL have been dismissed for purchase price and carrying-capacity reasons; you can’t have a 90cc pitbike and 10 full Hunsaker jugs in the back of a Suburban.

I don’t want a used truck and I also don’t want to spend more than $45,000 on the truck after all incentives and discounts have been applied.

As of this writing, I’m leaning towards the Silverado LT “All-Star” edition with the 5.3-liter V8, with a 5.0-liter F-150 Lariat or XLT a close second. The Ram 1500 is not out of consideration but it’s the oldest and least sophisticated of the three so there would need to be some price or durability benefits.

I’m curious as to what the B&B think I should get, or what they would get in the same situation. I cannot stress enough that I don’t need to use this vehicle on a daily basis. At most, it will go to the MTB trails twice a week in good weather. For everything else, I’ll continue to use a car or a motorcycle. Feel free to chime in and make the case for your favorite truck — or make the case against something that’s burned you in the past!

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2 of 185 comments
  • Gaudette Gaudette on Jun 10, 2017

    I don't think anyone has mentioned it but I would recommend the Sierra SLE Value Package with Max Trailering Package in Dark Slate Metallic or Stone Blue Metallic. Crew cab with a 6.5' box has plenty of space. I enjoy the bucket seats but as a man with a large frame you might prefer the bench for leg room. Moving up to an SLT doesn't add much value to a well optioned SLE. I prefer the Sierra styling, and it seems Silverado can't combine the trailering package and All Star package. The 3.42 rear end would be satisfactory but if it's a dedicated towing machine I would get take the fuel economy hit for ease of towing. I wouldn't recommend a 2500 with a 6.0. It's a dated engine with poor fuel economy and resale. I don't like the F150 ergonomics or light steering. Any heavier towing than you stated and I'd say nothing but a Duramax. Rear park assist, adjustable pedals, and navigation options can be left unchecked. Gatorback Mud flaps are highly reccommend. Those trucks chip easily. A chrome bumper is essential for the same reason.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Jul 05, 2017

    I'm finding this discussion interesting. If it was me, I'd probably go for a Ram 2500 Tradesman (crew/8') w/ Cummins/Manual.

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