To Goldwing… or El Camino it Up?

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Ok, many of you know I am in need of Wheels – my truck having gone to my wife, who is also gone. The press cars help, but I am not a cretin and so do not use them for dirty work. Plus, there are times when I do not have a press car – as when GM expresses its displeasure over my not-orthodox musings.

So, I have been mulling over What to Do.

Option one is an El Camino, ideally one from circa mid-late 1970s to early 1980s. Much as I like the ’60s and early ’70s models, they are high-dollar collectibles now and I do not have high dollars available.goldwing

Besides which, I am looking for a driver – not another sheetmetal totem (like my Trans-Am) I must preserve like a monk protecting a valuable ancient text. I really like the idea of a stock/unmolested car with its original 350 (or even 305). I think they even made a few with the 350 and Borg Warner Super 10 combo (same drivetrain used in the ’77-’81 Z28) and that would be the ticket.

Or, there’s this really nice ’84 Honda my buddy wants to semi-swap me for.

The downside is it only has two wheels. Which means a cold ride sometimes. Like, now.

But, there’s this to consider:wing2

I can get the bike – a very nice Goldwing – for three figures. My buddy is a freak for Silverwings, you see – and wants to trade bikes (my ’83 for his ’84) plus a few Benjamins. I love my Silverwing but it’s a bit small for a geek my size, while the Goldwing fits perfectly. It also has a backrest, which my sore back could really use. Better wind protection, too.

But it’s the Scotsman in me that has a chubby for this thing – because I can obtain it for almost nothing and (screw Uncle) I can minimize expenses licensing and titling it. Who could tell one 30-year-old Honda from another? How many cops know the difference, by sight or otherwise, between an ’83 Silvering and an ’84 Goldwing?


But then there is the El Camino. And, heat. And not getting wet. And being able to cart stuff around (including a motorcycle).

The downside being das geld.

Right now, I am squeezing nickels so tight the buffalo farts.

We’ll see.

But, I’d love to get your thoughts. What do you say?

PS: I will be on with Bill Meyer tomorrow at 9:35 and then on Liberty Radio next Monday at 1. Look for the audio clips, as usual, here after the live shows.



  1. I’m a bike guy (own a 2001 Honda ST1100 and a 2005 ST1300), but in this case I’d have to say El Camino (especially since you already have 4 bikes) if you can find a decent one for how much you want to spend. My first thought was that it sounds like a unicorn. You may have to expand your search to include something really boring (and reliable) like an old Corolla. If you need a truck, maybe an old Ranger (I hear those four cylinders go many many miles).

    “Besides which, I am looking for a driver – not another sheetmetal totem (like my Trans-Am) I must preserve like a monk protecting a valuable ancient text.”
    Ha ha – love that.

    Sorry to hear about your wife.

  2. That black one at the top is a ’76, nearly identical to my red ’77 but it had a special SS grille, black rubber on the bumpers all the way across and tow package wheels that were nearly identical but narrower beauty rings on a wider wheel. The ’74 Laguna front end looked nearly identical to a Z-28 and were the best looking of that body style. They were RARE.

  3. Eric? No. You need a REAL pick’em up! Not a colllectable, to be pampered and preserved; not a bike for joy-riding. A real pick-up, that you can carry stuff in; tow things with; use the tailgate as a workbench; drive off-road, etc.

    I’d recommend at least an extra-cab, because a single-cab gets cramped with all the little things too easily. Get you a good old F250 from the 90’s – I’d recommend a gas engined one. Simplicity, reliability; low-maintenance; easy to repair… A man’s vehicle that you can stretch out in and do real work with.

    Every man needs a real truck! Heck, I have two! (Tried doing the “economy good MPG” thing on a few occasions by getting a smaller vehicle as a second vehicle, but could never stand it.). I’ve excepted the fact, that if it ain’t got 8 lugs on each wheel, I don’t want to drive it. (Bet your former truck was more of a fancy truck, ’cause most women wouldn’t want a “real” truck. -No offense.)

    • Hi Nunzio,

      I know, I know… 🙂

      I used to have a truck. The ex has it now.

      And now, I am po’ – a decent truck is hard to find out here in the Woods. Unless you can pay the going rate.

      I’ve gone to ground and lived cheap before. I’ve lived without a truck for almost two years now. I figure I could get by with a bike – especially a bike that would only cost me a few hundred as opposed to a few thousand!

    • Lol, I have to agree with Nunzio, if it isn’t at least a 3/4 ton it’s not a ‘real’ truck.

      @ Eric, fwiw used 3/4 and 1 ton work trucks sell pretty cheap around here. Seems everyone wants the bells and whistles rather than the heavy duty axles and transmission.

    • Nunzio, I’d agree for the most part but 90s era Ford’s sucked. My ex boss with a fleet of new Dodge’s is now bringing back all his 90’s Chevy’s. My ’93 Chevy one ton 4WD ext. cab long bed would do whatever it was all day. The only thing it didn’t like, but didn’t quit running over, was rolling it and even after that, I drove it home. If it would pass inspection I’d still drive it. Good news though, I found a body and front clip for it yesterday. The only 90’s GM’s I’ve found that quit running were run dry on water and toasted by dumbasses. Two friends, one with an ’89 GMC and the other with a 93 Chevy 350 both have over half a million miles on the original engines and one new transmission. I’d like to see how long that New Gear Venture 4500 HD manual will go in my 93 turbo-diesel. Even worked hard it (with a new paint job)still looked like it should have had “Pussy Wagon” on the endgate. It’s going to live again.

      • Morning, Eight!

        My pick would be an ’80s-through early ’90s GM 1500 with the 350 TBI and either 5-speed manual or 4-speed OD automatic. These are great trucks. Which is why they are hard-to-find trucks.

        I will prolly go with the Goldwing because it’ll only cost me a few hundred bucks, total outlay. No way I could find a decent El Camino or truck or anything else, really, for much less than $2,500 – and then it’ll need work.

        I am pretty good at living close to the bone and – because of the work I do – I don’t have to commute every day. That means I can get away with a bike, because I get to stay home if it’s really cold or wet os snowing.

        • Eric?[again]. No. When someone pulls out in front of you on that Goldwing and you go squish, who is going to be the Libertarain car guy on the web, and keep this site going?? Get some old hooptie if you must, for the time being, but C’mon, man! Between all the idots.drunks, sleep-deprived, and distracted drivers these days, bikes are more so suicide now than ever. I’ve heard of more veteran bikers giving it up over the last few years, due to the things they’ve been seeing/close calls every time they go out, than ever before.

          From a purely financial standpoint even, it’s just not worth it. Imagine having a few hundred thou in medical debt after the insurance runs out! Imagine being diabled/crippled/in pain the rest of your life, and being limited as to what you can do? It can happen in the blink of an eye.

          I like bikes, but I’m not willing to risk my life to enjoy them. (Hell, I feel naked if I’m not driving my 8,000 lb. Excursion!)

          • I hear you, Nunzio… but I’m po’ right now. I mean really po’ … plus, it’s just me. No wife or kids. If I buy a farm, it’s ok. I’m not leaving any family in the lurch.

            I would prefer a truck – or an El Camino – but not if it means going into hock or exhausting my reserve cash.

            Poverty sucks.

            Debt suck more.

            • We can agree on that, Eric. I just don’t do debt –‘specially for something as frivolous/that depreciates, like a vehicle! I kinda like poverty though. Or maybe I’m just used to it. Or maybe what they call poverty, really isn’t. When you think about it, the poorest of us still have it pretty sweet. (‘d be sweeter if we didn’t live in a police state).

              Just remember though, it’s not always a choice between buying the farm or not. Quite frankly, the prospect of being crippled or a vegetable would scare me a whole lot more. Or a $300K debt for what the insurance doesn’t cover, after having studiously avoided debt our whole lives.

              OTOH, I do know what you mean though. A 68 year-old friend of mine scored a nice 80-something Goldwing for $1200. Needed nothing. Beautiful bikes.

              • Morning, Nunzio!

                A year ago, I had two trucks and a wife. Now I have no trucks or wife. I hate to see both go. No choice about the wife; and I wanted her to have the truck as I can deal with not having a vehicle (or at least, a four-wheeled one) Better than she can.

                We both lose, though.

                I now occupy the Fuhrerbunker alone.

                • Ah, man, sorry to hear about the trucks, Eric. 🙁 The wife, on the other hand….

                  Seriously, the fact that you still care about says volumes about the kind of person you are, and your integrity…..but I think you’ll realize one day, that anyone who isn’t “totally onboard with you”, is a liability and not an asset.

                  I see so many guys around me leading lives of quiet desperation, at best; or utter misery at worst, not because their wives are “so bad”, it’s just their wives just aren’t “into them” enough. They might care for them, love them, and all, but ya just gotta have that oneness of mind and spirit, or it’s just a life of mediocrity and compromise, and no real reward. If they don’t appreciate your uniqueness; If they don’t think “I could never find another guy like this”, then even if they’re doing the right things by you, it’s just obligation and routine, as opposed to the motivation of love and wanting to make sure they have you and only you all to themself.

                  • Thanks, amigo…

                    It’s been rough. Our splitting up hasn’t been rancorous. Things just flew apart and we never figured out how to put the pieces back together.

                    But I miss her.

  4. Early 80s full size oldsmobile wagon. Not a lot of demand for them. Prices should be staggering low for how much car they are. Trouble is finding one.

  5. Hi Eric,

    Just curious, other than the cool factor of an El Camino, why not a pre 90’s Japanese pick-up (like your old Nissan)? I had a mid 80’s Mitsubishi Mighty Max 4WD that I wish I’d never sold. It was slow, but it would go almost anywhere and carry a lot of stiff (the bed was nearly 7 feet long). I pulled the stock carburetor and all of the emissions control stuff and put in a 2 stage Weber carb. Still slow, but a little better than stock. It had a camper shell and I made a very comfortable bed for the back. Lots of adventure trips with my bikes, knowing I could go wherever I wanted and find a place to sleep. I miss that truck.


    • I just bought a beat up 2000 Z 71 that runs good. It was a trick pickup and I guess it still is, just a plethora of whiskey dents and ruined carpet(gonna order the rubber mat for it)I’ll throw away.

      We had a 4WD Nissan and an El Camino concurrently. If I’d only drive the Elco all the time and left the Nissan with the old lady the Eldo would still run and the Nissan would be gone with the wind as it should be(they ain’t work trucks). The big 77 and older Elco’s are great pullers and haul a lot of weight too. Another plus of the Elco is when you get a mind to haul ass it’s all right there under your foot. And the smaller, newer ones with the 305 aren’t bad stripped of the electronic BS plus the fact any size SBC will fit and that means a 426 bored and stroked. Even with a 400 they will haul the mail and pull a big trailer doing do. I’ve had people ask me how fast that 335 Ranger would run and I’d say I’d never had it over 110mph. No way, not with that 90 Merc on it. Oh, I didn’t mean on the water. If you wanta be comfy with plenty power and pull a boat at triple digits they’re hard to beat.

      • Hey Eight,

        I almost bought a GMC pick up but decided on the Mighty Max because the GMC was just too big for me. The Mighty Max, except for the bed, was a little small, so I bought the Dakota new in 2002. Cue Goldilocks, it was just right. Fourteen years later, it’s still running strong and I hope to keep it forever.


        • The friend whose wife bought a new Toy with the mega-cab style cab was telling me about it last week. She wanted it and he took her GMC Duramax dually crewcab. He said the back seat was huge and of course, the room was taken out of bed length. It has a 3/4 T rating but 1/2T running gear. But it’s steady in the mileage dept., 13.8mph empty every tank. The big cab also comes with a smaller gas tank so it has a 280 mile range, two fuelings to get almost anywhere(Amarillo, Dallas, Houston and 3 for El Paso and Ruidoso where they have a house. They bought their hand a 3/4T(real deal)Ford ext cab 4WD with 200K on it and it gets 2 mpg better mileage. He laughs about it when she’s not around.

          That Dakota is more the size almost everybody needs in a pickup.

    • Hi Jeremy,

      Money, chiefly.

      Trucks are four-wheeled gold. The one my wife got – my ex 2002 Frontier – is worth about as much today as it was when I bought it back circa 2008 for $7,500 and I just don’t have the money right now.

      I can on the other hand by an El Camino in fixable-by-me condition for about $5,000. Even if it needs a rebuilt engine, I can do that in the garage.

      The Frontier has cats and o2 sensors and a got-damned computer and I don’t want that anymore.

      Gibs muh a 350 or even a 305 with a Quadrajet and a TH350 and I will bees very happy! 🙂

      Also, I can cut insurance (got-damn them) and property tax tributum to the minimum by getting the Elco.

      • Hey Eric,

        I paid $1200.00 for my Mighty Max with a nice camper shell and drove it hard for 5 years (including two adventures to Mexico). I sold it for $1200.00 in 2002 when I bought my first ever new vehicle (Dakota 4X4 w/5sp manual and the V8). The new vehicle was a milestone as it was the first one I’d ever owned that cost more than my mountain bike (no engine).

        Anyway, they’re probably crap, but I always loved the look of the Torino based Ranchero

        I’d love to get one of those.


  6. Personally, I’d never buy another UAW built vehicle. Every one I owned broke down all the fucking time. Then I bought my first Japanese branded vehicle, and discovered that bullet proof reliability in a car is actually a thing.

    Dunno what you’re hauling that you feel you need a pickup bed. If it is greasy, bulky stuff, then sure. But I’ve been using my Avalon like a mini pickup — throw a few old towels on the floor of the trunk or the back seats and I can haul an asston of BBQing wood that the neighbors left curbside or whatever.

    You could buy something like that first magnificent Toyota I bought — banged up and crunched sheet metal from the kids learning how to drive, a hole in the roof from rust through patched with duct tape, more than 100K miles on it, and selling for maybe a couple of hundred dollars. And have a car that starts ever damn time and you don’t have to worry about keeping pretty because it was all banged to shit already.

    We actually just gave the sucker away to a friend a year ago, rather than go thru the hassle of selling it.

    • UAW built plenty of shit but I never had a Chevy truck that 100K wasn’t anything more than a number going by. My ’82 Chevy still has a great bed that’s galvanized. I ran over 4″ mesquites with it left and right with nary a dent.

      OTOH the Nissan bed rotted out toot sweet and it blew a head gasket at 140,000 taking parts of 2 cylinders with it so it was rebuild time for the block with parts and machine work costing me $100 more than a new 36,000 mile warranty cost. If I’d had room for a big enough radiator it would have had a SBC, a TH400 with matching transfer case and a Ranger rear-end. Of course the sheet metal was so thin you couldn’t mount fender flares or much of anything. The skid plate that appeared to have been built when somebody started to make a skillet and changed their mind got bent up into the transfer case just by running over a mesquite limb on the ground. It’s bumpers and brushguard were meant to be kitchen ware too I suspect. Once I built real bumpers it didn’t suffer so much going through shinery oak brush. My friends with Toyota’s said “You gotta be easy on them in summer(often lasting 8 months here)or they’ll blow a head gasket. True dat for sure. It worked well in the winter for hunting but wasn’t too safe with the bale buggy or any of the trailers I used without even thinking about it with my Chebby’s. The a/c blew up one day cause it was hot and I was driving with the wind. One great thing about it was when it was stuck in the mud the Chevy’s or Wagoneer pulled it out easily.

  7. I’m sure you don’t see the snowfall that Western PA or Colorado see, but I would remind you that you do live near a ski resort. It isn’t so much that you might have days when you couldn’t ride, it is more about the stuff Uncle sprays and dumps on the roads all winter. Mag chloride backsplash is bad enough on a windshield with new wiper blades and a full tank of cleaner. I’d hate to have to deal with it on a visor or sunglasses.

    So +1 for the El Camino… or a Subaru BRAT!

  8. If you like the idea of being an organ donor, go with the two wheels. Reality is, the driving skills of your fellow travelers are not going to improve at anytime in the foreseeable future. How long will it take you to heal up from a wee spill?

    If you want to live long enough to have a couple more ex wives, go with the four wheels.

    I like the bow tie. The Malibu Chevelles were bad ass, even with the 5.0. Stay warm, haul shit, AND bang your next ex wife in the bed or on the tailgate.

  9. Between the two I’d go for the El Camino. You’ll want some comfort once in a while, and the ability to take out a date. But if you want somethign cheap to drive into the ground without having to spend much mone yon it, get a good condition beater. I bought a 15 year old Corolla with well over 100k miles for $2k. Gets 35 mpg. Interior is very nice and clean. Outside is butt ugly with rusted up hood. I may have checked the oil once. Ok, so I’ll buy tires. But this thing is going to be driven into the ground. Best part is, people actually look away when I drive by.

    • Hi Roger,

      I’m hoping to combine both… a beater El Camino!

      The late ’70s/early ’80s examples (in “driver” condition) are available for in the $5-$8k range.

      I know I could get a Corolla for much less – but it would have a got-damned computer and cats and 02 sensors and all the rest of it. A circa ’78 El Camino wouldn’t – and would be eligible for Antique plates, so no annual registration fee and no smog or state saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety inspections, either!

  10. The wife took the Nissan? The El Camino’s cool, they can’t haul as much as you might think. You have a shit load of bikes, right? Try finding a ’90’s pick up if you’re looking for something to haul with. As far as the T/A is concerned, I would be driving it as often as I could. I have a ’65 Bug and a ’82 Rabbit pick up that are my daily drivers, when they wear out, I’ll rebuild them. I just picked up a 2004 R32 that needs a crank and a couple of rods, can’t wait to finish this project!

    • Hi Adam,

      Yeah, I let her have it. She’s been using it for the past year. She’s not a wrench; needs a reliable vehicle. What the hell.. I’m not mad at her.

      I like the idea of getting another truck and am open to that. In particular, a circa late ’80s/early ’90s Chevy 1500 with a TBI 350 and a five speed. But they are hard to find. And expensive when found.

      Of course, so is a decent El Camino!

      I am thinking the Honda will be a good stopgap. It is cheap, it gets very good gas mileage and while it’s not good for going on dates or going to the store in the winter, I can manage. Right now, I am seriously po’

      And I am a guy who doesn’t do debt.

      I live below my means and pay cash.

      It takes awhile to save up the $3,500 or so it takes to buy a decent car (El Camino or otherwise).

      The TA is a toy. It never goes out unless it is a certain sunny day. No chance of rain. And it does not go very far – which is why, after 40 years (23 in my care) it still looks good, including its original factory paint job!

  11. That El Camino would likely have the same engine as my long gone 1976 Chevelle Malibu. The first pic looks pretty much like my Malibu from the drivers door forward. Pretty much bulletproof engine and transmission wise.

    However the body rusts and rusts badly and easily, hopefully they don’t salt the road like they do here. My biggest problem with that car. Hopefully you will have a garage space for it, if it lives outdoors you going to be doing rust patrol all the time. I would love to drive that era car as daily driver but winter is hell on car bodies built before 1985 or so. It seemed you could literally see the car rust in front of your eyes.

  12. Open your mind and your options will open up. Nothing wrong with either the El Camino or the GW, but there is a world of used work cars out there if you are open to them.

    I recently came into posession of a Ford Festiva, ratty little sh*t box with its surface rendered lunar by midwest hail storms. The 300 dollar car still exists.

    Except it gets dang near 50mpg on 87 octane, and is kind of like a go cart on steroids. No supercar but fun to drive. and the hatch opens to a back seat nearly as roomy as my recently departed ranger.

    Hope things turn around for you soon- you know what they say about why divorce is so expensive… because it’s worth it…


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