broken_cynic New Reader
2/24/09 8:15 a.m.

This isn't really 'motorsports' per se so if this is too far off topic, feel free to boot the topic, but there's far more vehicle knowlege here than anywhere else I frequent, so I"m gonna ask you all...

If plans I am making now pan out, in a couple of years I am going to be in need of a Real Truck(tm) of some variety. By that I mean something that can haul a good load and take a great deal of abuse. A farm vehicle (and not a shiny, dualie, duramax lifestyle accessory.) I grew up on a farm, but my dad was a very pragmatic about vehicles (except when it came to airplanes and roadsters) and I never developed any interest in the rural Cult of the Truck. I remember him throwing around the terms 1/2 ton and 1 ton in reference to trucks, but I almost never see those used anymore.

My top priorities are:

reliability, ability to tow/haul (let's say a full cord of firewood or a couple of adult cattle at a minimum,) ease of maintenance

Nice to have, but not absolute necessities:

off-road capability, character

Given that I tend more toward relatively unique vehicles, my first inclination is an old Land Rover (Series III or older.) My wife and I love the idea of having that and a Ural Patrol in the garage, but that may not be realistic in either financial or practical terms. No to mention that it would send mixed signals when I tried to convince folks to 'Buy Local' food.

So for someone who knows little to nothing about 'murican trucks, where would you start looking for a cheap, reliable workhorse? And if, as I suspect, the answer is 10-15 year old F-150s and Silverados, then which models and features in particular should I look out for?

Edit: why are html tags available in the post editor if they don't display?

aussiesmg Dork
2/24/09 8:20 a.m.

E150 vans are cheap as chips, reliable, loads of room and versatile, and as a plus they tow 7000lbs. Go for the mid 90's with the 351 engine and tow pack I did. It gets 17 mpg, tows a car like its not there and seats 7

Apexcarver SuperDork
2/24/09 8:22 a.m.

LS6 powered el-camino

but seriously, cargo vans are a bargain compared to trucks and its like getting a free bed cap.

ignorant SuperDork
2/24/09 8:25 a.m.

vans are cheap.. trucks not so much.

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/24/09 8:33 a.m.

Late 80s~Mid 90s Toyota Pickup (I hear that's what Hilux pickups are actually called in the states)

See the Top Gear episode, they're really that good.

EDIT: Oh I see it has to be American...well the van looks like a good idea, you should be able to fit lots of firewood in one and if they fail on the job they're dirt cheap to fix or replace. Only thing is you won't have any real offroading capability.

broken_cynic New Reader
2/24/09 8:38 a.m.

Hmmm, a van hadn't even occured to me. Definitely worth thinking about, though I suspect that trying to back a trailer full of firewood into someone's yard with a van could get a bit touchy and it would be a pain to load it into the van itself.

If I were buying a truck just to haul a mini/roadster/motorcycle or whatever firewood I could fit in the bed a Tacoma would be at the top of my list, but I suspect that it would run out of steam if I asked it to pull a loaded cattle trailer?

P71 GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/24/09 8:45 a.m.

I was expecting a pic of an MR2 hauling firewood. But since you failed at that I'll share a pic of my Rx-7 hauling wood for the better half's raised garden beds.

OK, now that the thread has been recovered...

No Toyota (or Nissan or any small truck) is going to haul a couple of cattle without assploding, and I love small trucks. You want something big and beefy. The van idea is great! You can get them with real 4x4, real engines, and they're dirt cheap. Also useful and easy to work on.

NYG95GA Dork
2/24/09 9:39 a.m.

With DHL closing down it's North American shipping operations, there will soon be a glut of the bright yellow cargo vans showing up at auctions/used car lots, etc. I've already bought one myself, and it's a real workhorse. Not many options, good service records, no-frills work vans. You can lock up your tools in relative security (compared to a P/U), and you can live in it if need be (think grassroots TransVan). Good towing ability, protection from weather, all the advantages of a van, with the platform of a truck. My insurance company actually gives me a discount because it's considered to be a "safety color" (they're hard to miss; DHL drivers actually wave at me on the road). Keep your eyes open for them; coming soon to a lot near you...

minimac Dork
2/24/09 9:40 a.m.

Mid 80s-early 90s Dodge trucks are cheap as ___(fill in the blank). Especially if you're willing to accept a little bit of body grunge. The 318 is a workhorse and if you need more grunt, the 360/400 will pull anything you want. If off road utility is needed,ie.cutting & dragging wood, get the 4 wheel variety. They even had the extended cab thing going, which is nice for storing stuff. Cheap, reliable, dependable, American,...did I mention cheap?

Grtechguy SuperDork
2/24/09 10:05 a.m.

From a former-country boy.....

3/4 ton minimum

get the 350/360/351

Long Bed

4x4 if you live in the snowbelt

Manual LOCKING hubs if 4x4

beyond on that?

minimal frame rust.

Grtechguy SuperDork
2/24/09 11:21 a.m.

oh yeah....biggest thing

rubber floor and vinyl seats.

Spray and go.

foxtrapper SuperDork
2/24/09 12:54 p.m.

By and large, you're describing things like you suspect Ford Fxxx or Silverado. They will work well for you. I'm kinda partial to the old Chevy trucks with a 350 because they don't seem to die, but there are plenty of others.

Weird names are generally not going to do you well from both a reliability perspective, and a repairability.

4wd is generally essential for farm work. Full sized beds are prett much an essential as well.

If all this is several years out, there's no point in looking around today. By then, battered old Toyota Tundras will be around as well. But, all of them are incredibly complex when compared to say an early 70's Ford.

Kramer Reader
2/24/09 1:00 p.m.

I bought my '95 C1500 extended cab in '96, and I've driven it 160,000 trouble-free miles since (over 184,000 total). It has a 350 and 5 speed. It's been very reliable and inexpensive to maintain (or fix a couple times).

I wish it were an automatic when driving in traffic, but I bought it very cheap (relatively, at the time).

I'll keep it until the body rusts off. This process just began recently, so I figure I've got 10 more years.

MedicineMan New Reader
2/24/09 1:24 p.m.

Cheap relaible pickup...87-96 f-150 300 inline six, earlier model sixes had about the same power as the 302...From a current country boy they are about indestructable...just be prepared to replace sending units, fuel valves (if equiped with dual tanks) other than normal maintenace.

My 87 has 370k on the original un rebuilt motor trans and differential- always had good service though...

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/24/09 2:46 p.m.

My father has a GMC diesel.. cirica 1998. thing is no frills except for air, cd player and 4 wheel drive. It really has been as reliable as a rock.

I think he picked it up cheap before the fuel crunch too

neon4891 SuperDork
2/24/09 3:01 p.m.

+1 on the ford 300/6s. I'm tempted to pull that engine from 'my' running but busted ass '93 F150 and drop it into a bronco. Seams all the bronks for sale around me have 351's

tnturbo New Reader
2/24/09 4:24 p.m.

For a farm truck, you want a Ford 250 or 350 or a GM/Dodge 2500 or 3500. A van is no good for hauling wood unless you only do it rarely and would suck for cattle hauling. You should be able to find something pretty cheap. I would go for a diesel or a big block personally. 300 I6 is a good engine, but not up to pulling a good size cow trailer, neither are the small blocks if you want to get out of your own way. I would go for a 87-96 F-250 or 350 as first choice.

tnturbo New Reader
2/24/09 4:43 p.m.

Something like this maybe

broken_cynic New Reader
2/25/09 10:09 a.m.

Thanks for the suggestions, I think I've got a pretty good list of things to look for. As several people have said, I doubt that either a van or a smaller pickup will be up to all the tasks that will be required of it if I do end up running a full-scale farm. (If we go a little more specialized then they might work.)

I'm a little disappointed that neither the Land Rover or the Ural ideas elicited any comment though.

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