Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
DeMar asks: I’m not really a survivalist, but if I were, what would be the best truck(s) to consider for someone living out away from convenient dealer service and without a lot of money to spend? I’ll be living in a snowy environment and I’ll have to maintain the vehicle as much as possible on my own. Computer controlled everything is not an option. I want a basic machine for transportation that I can depend on. I don’t know why I’d need more than a half ton capacity, but I’m open to all suggestions. Under $15,000 in the upper plains, western mountain states is my budget. Less is always better.
My reply: This is an easy one! Any truck made before 1980 will have no computer controls of any kind, basic mechanical systems (including the 4WD system) that are owner-serviceable with basic hand tools and mechanical aptitude. You budget will easily enable you to buy an excellent condition example in either restored or top-drawer original condition. Your decision will then come down to brand and size preference. Do you want a Chevy? Or a Dodge? Or a Ford?
You might also want to consider some of the smaller stuff made during the same era, including models like the Chevy Luv diesel. This is a compact truck, without much power – but its mechanically injected diesel is almost maintenance-free and will burn almost any fuel, including of course home-brew diesel.
I’d also – if I were looking – give some thought to a mid-late ’80s or ’90s-era truck with simple computer controls. For example, a Chevy 1500 with a TBI-injected 305 or 350 small block and a five-speed manual transmission. The TBI system is simpler than a four barrel and they almost never require anything except occasional cleaning. The 305/350 is a Chevy small block – need I say more? And having the overdrive will really improve the truck’s mileage and highway legs. These trucks will not have any – or many – air bags (depending on the year) and no other nanny controls. The 4WD will be manual (grab lever) not automatic/electric.
I need to get one of these myself!
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