The herd just grew by one, and my fleet of 'drivable vehicles' just doubled. I bought an old truck. Paid cash, and just under Blue Book pricing. No debt... which is not just important, but critical right now.
It's twenty years old, and not very pretty. There are rust spots I need to grind away, and the paint seems to have fled the hood and roof in wholesale fashion. The headliner looks like a $2 horror movie. The headlights have some moisture intrusion, and will want replacing this year. Being a 1991, it came from a time when you simply didn't GET cup holders in your truck (Quitcher bitchin ya pansy and drive the truck!).
All those things and a dozen more shall become yet another hobby of mine. Lucky for me, or maybe more by life design.... I don't have to impress a single soul with my shiny drive to work. I can grind and spray all year till it looks good enough to suit me, and not care a peep for what anyone else thinks.
On the other hand.... while it has cosmetic issues galore, the old truck also has some physical realities that made it exactly what I wanted.
- It is two wheel drive, which I prefer in this vehicle immensely. I know how to drive, and will happily toddle off in a 2x4 pickup in weather which would keep others under the blankets all day. In return for lacking four wheel drive, I get much better fuel mileage and far fewer breakdowns. That's a good trade.
- It's equipped with a base model 2.3 liter dual plug fuel injected engine. After the 300cid six cylinder, the 2.3 might be the most stable and longest lived engine Ford ever produced. While the truck has 150K miles on it now, these engines typically make twice that with only basic maintenance. Delivering reasonable torque and excellent fuel economy, it fits the bill perfectly.
- It's also equipped with a five speed manual (OD) transmission. Again, perhaps the most bulletproof transmission Ford ever made. Given a new $110 clutch every few hundred thousand miles, and the occasional output shaft seal, I don't expect to ever have a transmission issue with this truck. If I do, I can fix it myself. The hydraulic clutch will have issues, some day, and require my spending another $100 and a few hours time..... once. Aside from that, it will be trouble free for life.
- Steering and suspension...... Not pretty, not fancy, and not the best handling/riding... But, relatively tough and trouble free. I will, some day, have to replace ball joints and tie rod ends. I will do this in a few hours in my drive way, and do so only once in the life of the truck. The shocks are original just now, and I will replace them next week ($100 for all four). I will never replace them again.
- Rear differential.... Bullet proof. One day I will put in a pinion seal, axle seals, and change the gear oil. That will be in a year or two from now, and will be the last time I ever work on the differential. I will spend about $30 on that service, maybe.
- Brakes..... work fine and need nothing. One day, when the mood strikes, I will replace every single wear item in the entire brake system, including the springs and the master cylinder. I will spend roughly $250, work on it for half a day, and never touch the brakes again aside from front pads every few years.
The rest is just fluff 'n stuff. It came with a rubber bed pad and a tool box, so scratch those expenses. The stock radio is bupkis, but I have a spare AM/FM/CD to install. It needs better lighting for night driving, and I will eventually install some axillary lights in the air dam under the front end. The body work will happen as I please. First comes basic maintenance, to a level I am comfortable with. Thankfully, the underhood area is virgin but for new radiator, belt, battery, and regular oil changes. Everything else is original and unmolested, as I prefer. That means *I* will take care of it, and not have to second guess anyone else's work.
Sum it all up..... and I now have a cheap little pickup truck that should last many years, and many miles, while giving me excellent service. It doesn't have power this or 4x4 that, but I will get there, every time, and I can carry some cargo when I need to.
Understand, I am planning for a rapidly approaching time when (cheap and paid for) basic utility will count for far, far more than any amount of shiny. Maybe it will be just in my life alone, or perhaps more widespread, but it is coming.