E-Rant: The Appreciating Old Truck!

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Here’s a rant about an interesting trend; old vehicles – like my ’02 Frontier pick-up – are increasing in value at the same time that new car inventories are stacking up. The Whys are interesting!

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  1. 2002 Ford F-250 Super Duty with the last of the 7.3 turbo diesels, no DEF or EGR. It’s like new with only 107,000 miles and I expect it to last the rest of my life. These trucks are in high demand because they are large displacement and do not have the engine killing pollution control devices, along with everything else Eric mentioned.

  2. Great video Eric! You perfectly articulated why vehicles of your Nissan’s vintage (give or take about four years) represent the Sweet Spot of auto technology. So many reasons for such trucks and cars to appreciate in value. But here’s the question that vexes me. What about insurance?? Under the standard format, premiums are low, because the book value of the vehicle is very low. That all well and good unless someone steals or totals your pride and joy. Your payoff will be way too low to buy a replacement of similar age and desirability.

    In conversations with my insurance agent, I don’t think it is possible to insure a car at “stated value” before they reach classic, or antique age, however your insurance company defines these terms. Perhaps the only solution is to set aside enough (due to such low premiums) that you will have adequate savings to replace it with a similar ride if the worst happens.

    Anyone have any other thoughts?

    • Couldn’t you add a rider to your policy, thereby having the base ins plus rider provide enough coverage? I’ll guess that with fully restored classic cars, an appraisal is done first, then serving as the basis for the underwriting. Maybe the same process would work for your car.

      Your point is well taken, and as a frugal guy, I see the fully-depreciated (but fully useable and serviceable) car as a tremendous way to save money! The way I see it, a basic reliable car has a “utility value” of at least $10,000 whereas its market price is far below that. And to Eric’s point, I see old pickups going for crazy prices around here.

    • My 93 Chevy pickup looked new but forget about comprehensive insurance. Still, I’ll take a pickup as late at 94. After that there are airbags that eat up interior room, more electronics and no benefit….unless you want airbags.

      The older engines got better fuel mileage and longer life. No, they weren’t as powerful(although you could easily increase power), didn’t’ have variable valve timing or oil pumps or a plethora of that stuff that goes wrong with 99 and up vehicles. Better seats, better carpet, all metal handles instead of plastic. Endgates you could sit a couple 500 lb molasses tubs on and no idiot plastic on top. I solved beating up the top of the endgate with a heavy cover that added less than 1/8″ to the height. With a galvanized bed like my old 82 it would have been bulletproof.

  3. I know 3 people with new Ford pickups who want or did install a workbed. One is still trying to get his to run. Even though everything seems to be there and installed in the workbed, it won’t let the truck operate.

    So, who’s going to buy the work bed even if he returns to the original bed? It’s damned ridiculous for something like that to keep a vehicle from running. Many people in these parts use work beds because they need them. It’s not really feasible to haul a 6′ round bale in a regular bed and they have the ability to push with the work bed and it’s just easier to mount air compressors, big tool boxes, etc. on one.

  4. 11′ Xterra at 151k miles and still trucking! Gets 490 miles to the tank and fills up in 5 minutes.
    Godbless the Japanese and the Frontier for spare parts!

  5. Wow, what beautiful country side, much more green and treed then in the Plains of South Dakota. My question Eric, is do you see an industry popping up to refurbish and rebuild older cars and trucks so people can afford them and get away from the nagging, nudging and removal of a driver from the operation of the vehicle? My concern is the green weenies and .gov stepping in and outlawing cars and trucks say past 5 or 10 years old. Might be a triggering event?

    • Hi Cederq,

      I love it here in the Woods of rural VA! And yes, I do see refurbish/rebuilding businesses popping up… if they’re not outlawed, which I suspect will happen if it ever becomes more than a boutique business for the very affluent (see my article about “new” classic-era Mustangs).

    • Ya’d think if a refurbishing industry was going to happen, it would be happening by now- as new vehicles have been disposable and unbearable for well over a decade now- but still- except for a couple of tiny, specialized examples, there is no movement towards such an industry, and I think the reasons are several-fold:

      For one, vehicles to refurb, are expensive to purchase- and if a further demand were created for such by a refurbing industry, they’d get even pricier.

      Secondly- it’s very expensive to do a functional refurb- labor and parts-wise. So, between just these two facts, it makes the cost of refurbed vehicles so high that they would be competing with and even surpassing the prices of similar new vehicles; and, since the vast majority of people must finance such purchases, the fact that it would be impossible for all but the most credit-worthy and well-collateralized to get financing for such vehicles- so the market would be extremely limited.

      Not to even mention that most people don’t think like us; they want the latest and greatest; high-tech; nanny-state ‘safety’ features. The typical American consumer today is ignorant, foolish, and brainwashed. They fawn over Teslas and denigrate older vehicles as “death-traps from cavemen days”.

  6. Last October I bought a 2001 GMC Sierra for precisely the reasons you catalog. I would have went older, but around here the prices on an 80s-90s pickup are insane.

    Son has a 2018 Challenger Super Bee (I think that’s the name for that model). Hell of a ride, also doesn’t come with the Nanny State pre-installed. Care to guess what he wants for a toy? A 60s GM pickup. Kid is 23 years old, and I couldn’t be any prouder of him.

  7. What cannot continue will not. Of course, part of the price increases are the increasingly obvious inflation leaking into the economy from 12 years of accelerated money printing/ bail outs for the nomenklatura. I’ve been looking for a replacement for my daily and everything under 2 grand is worse than what I have and would be embarrassed to ask that much for, and anything better is at least 8 grand. I’ve done pretty well withdrawing from the system and getting by on the minimum, but it won’t work for too much longer. The funny part is I’m a holdout, substantially asset positive, better off financially than 99+ percent of Americans.

  8. 1991 Chev 2500 Silverado standard cab 8 ft bed, bench cloth seats, automatic, 2wd. 180k miles.
    Trans rebuilt 6 years ago, I replaced the a/c compressor 3 years ago now 134a system. Normal maintenance.
    It runs perfect. So easy to work on, parts readily available. Worth every dollar spent on the trans and a/c fixes.
    There is no way I would ever replace this truck. Washington State sales tax and license fees on a new rig would be more than any engine, trans, rear end replacement on the ’91. Still the most comfortable and easy driver of the three vehicles we own. (2003 Ford Escape, 2018 Grand Cherokee.)

  9. It totally pisses me off. Soon, the country is going to look like a scene from Road Warrior where the only cars running will be some rust bucket trash from 1971. It’s ridiculous. New cars are terrible.


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