New vs. New

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How much would you pay for a heavy-duty (2500 series) pick-up with a 7.5 liter V8, AC, an eight foot bed and no air bags?

How about $17,000-ish?

That’s what it cost to buy a Ford F250 regular cab with an eight foot bed and the optional 460 (7.5 liter) V8 – paired with a five-speed manual transmission . . . back in 1995.

Today, that $17,000-ish amounts to about $29,000-ish in devalued Federal Reserve “notes.” Which amounts to about $5k less than what it costs to buy the 2021 equivalent of the ’95, a ’21 F250 – which lists for $34,230 to start.

It comes with a 6.2 liter V8 and several air bags, plus several other things you may not want – such as an aluminum skin that costs more to fix if it gets bent and an automatic transmission.

If you wanted to – back in ’95 – you could skip the big V8 and buy an F250 with all the heavy duty underpinnings for just over $15k – which is just over $26k in devalued Federal Reserve “notes” today. Which is just shy of $10k less in terms of what it actually would have cost you to buy the ’95 F250 back in ’95 vs. the ’21 F250 today.

Or you could buy this brand-new ’95 F250 for about the cost of the ’21 F250:
Behold the bench seats, the absence of a flatscreen. The regular cab – and the eight-foot bed. The keyed door locks. The steel wheels. The metal bumpers protecting the steel – as opposed to the plastic fascias, exposed.

The wing-vent windows – enabling you to skip AC and the cost of paying for it.

Observe the absence of a turn-off switch for the passenger-side air bag.

There is no air bag. No “advanced” driver “assistance” technology, either. Just ABS.

For the rear wheels.

The suspension has no electronics. It is all stamped  . . . steel. There is only one – not four catalytic converter. Sealed beam glass headlights – not plastic headlight “assemblies.” They never yellow and if they break you could – still can – buy a replacement for about $25.

Under the hood you’ll find a distributor and spark plug wires rather than coils-on-plugs (and $50 each spark plugs). The 7.5 liter 460 was fuel-injected and started and ran just as well as the new F250’s 6.2 V8 and never shut off unless you turned the key to off. If you lost your key, you could get a new one cut at the hardware store for about $5. As opposed to paying the Ford dealer $150 to program a new fob.

This is what trucks were like around the time the first cohort of Millennials were born. Most of them will never know the difference between a car and a truck – beyond the shape – because modern trucks are as tricked-out as cars whereas once upon a time, trucks were  . . . trucks.

Especially heavy-duty ones like the F250.

It is very nice that you can get heated and even massaging seats in a new truck and that most of them come with center consoles that can carry a sixpack but there was something wonderfully trucky about a three-across bench seat and a column-shifter or (better) a shifter on the floor. Actually connected to the transmission by levers and cables rather than sensors and circuits.

To pull back on the lever – rather than to push the button – to engage the 4WD. Sometimes, you had to get out to lock the hubs. It is even more arcane a reference to many Millennials as that third pedal on the floor appears to them a baffling artifact of some other time – as a timing-advancer lever on the wheel of a Model T is to Gen Xers.

Technology advances, but it’s not always an advance. Sometimes, it is just more for the sake of more, without any meaningful benefit. The transition from carburetors to throttle body injection was an advancement. Driveability improved vastly as the need for tuning decreased just as much. But the transition from TBI to port-fuel injection was not as much of an advancement; in fact it was (and is) hardly noticeable; the transition from PFI to direct injection (DI) is arguably an advancement in the opposite direction.

As is also arguably true of air bags stuffed behind every interior panel (and even built into the seatbelts, sometimes) plus multiple catalytic converters (and an O2 sensor for each one) “modules” to control things like power windows that were once controlled just as well and with a great deal less complexity and plasticized bodies and aluminum panels, too.

We’re paying for all of it, even if some of us would like less of it.

. . .

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51 COMMENTS

  1. Eric, a small point, millennials were born between 1981 and 1995, roughly. I’m 32, a millennial, and learned to drive with manual transmissions.

  2. One of the guys I work with has an 86 F250 4×4, running a 300 straight 6 and a granny 4 speed. His dad bought it new, and other than a repaint has never seen any real downtime for anything other than routine maintenance (and a clutch that he still owes me a case of beer for). I’d wager that no 2021’s will still be running 35 years later, much less still pulling daily driver duty. Whether the millennials like hearing it or not, they will never match what was done by real engineers 50-60 years ago with their “archaic” understanding of mechanics and materials.

    I did recently invest in the installation of an electric motor on my ’64 C10, because I truly care about the environment. This motor has replaced the outdated technology of the OEM Delco/Remy diaphragm horn (that sounded like a roadrunner with emphysema) with a loud “air raid” siren tone. This electric motor represents such advanced technology that I pulled it off what I believe to be a ’53 Pontiac in the junkyard……guess that throws my sudden embrace of modern technology straight in the toilet, doesn’t it?

    • Hi El Guapo –

      Yup! Ever take apart a Rochester Quadrajet? The intricacy of the castings is almost unbelievable. More so because this thing was designed circa 1965. The brilliance of the engineers who contrived it never fails to impress me. This is hands-on stuff, not entering code into a computer. And – as you say with regard to your friend’s truck – technology like this is inherently more durable than the plastic/electronic throw-away technology of today because it can be rebuilt – resetting the clock to new – whereas electronic components have a “sealed” lifetime and once it’s up, you throw them away.

      Rust was the main enemy of the pre-computer stuff. If modern anti-corrosion processes and paint/build quality had been applied to a car like my ’76 Trans-Am when it was new, the thing would have had a viable every-day driver life of 30-plus years, probably.

  3. I have a strong suspicion that during the current (communist) ‘administration’, we will see a Ban on ‘older’ Vehicles, with a cut-off Date that continuously moves forward, until the only “Legal” Vehicles are Electric, Driverless, and ‘owned’ by the Borg, for use by individuals with the proper Social Credit Score.

    Mad Max, here we come.

  4. I don’t like Fords, esp their cars, but this truck is one really good looking workhorse. Why can’t Ford make cars that are this good looking?

      • Don’t know what I’d do with a regular cab. Cholley Jack goes bananas when he jumps into one and can’t find the rear seat. He’s the second dog we’ve had that would literally flip out after jumping into a regular cab. You can’t make him ride in one. He’ll finally get mad if you keep pushing him.

    • Michael!

      I just woke up to no power; got the gennie up and running… and saw this magnificent video! It’s wonderful to see some Americans still have self respect and guts; sad to see how many are bleating, Face-Diapered sheep.

      • Alright! Glad it started your day off right. Oh and it’s the Trader Joe’s in Santa Cruz if anyone wants to let them know their thoughts.

        • Where are the riot loving blm when you need them? This store deserves to receive the burners looters maskers movement antics. Those face diapers need to learn some humanity.

    • I have to give those people credit (the non-maskers). They showed great restraint. If I was there, the first time one of those cretins laid it’s hands on me, let’s just say the situation would devolve quickly into bloody violence.

      There’s no excuse for this obvious cult-like behavior. It’s disgusting. These people are deranged, yet think they are acting honorably. Such ignorance on such a grand scale. It’s frightening.

      • Yes, good on the “rebels.” I was in Aldi today uncovered as usual, and ran into a friend. As we were talking, she started slipping her mask down (my son and I were the only ones in the store uncovered at that point). Offered to go with her next time she shops there if she wants to go au naturale.

        I was just starting to tell her that I haven’t been hassled (much) in those parts of the woods, when a tall skinny “Ken” with a weird haircut started yelling at me to move my cart, and “put a mask on!” I asked him if he usually likes to confront perfect strangers about things that are none of his business, and he yells, “YES!” So I called him an idiot and returned to my conversation. He stomped past, loudly muttering about “millions of people dying!” and “it’s the LAW!” SMH

        • Jesus, Anon!

          That would have gotten my blood up. I am not looking for a fight but I am ready to engage if one of these Freaks confronts me. And not just for my sake but for everyone’s. These Freaks feel emboldened to verbally assault people and that is incandescently dangerous as it will lead to physical assaults – by them, on us.

          It is time to let them know we will not abide it.

          • Bingo. You get what you tolerate. Bullies will keep pushing their luck until they get a bloody nose.

            And in another area, Stefan Molyneux wrote that cancel culture is a dress rehearsal for mass murder. That has to stop too, now.

  5. My second vehicle was a new ‘94 F-150 short bed. 2WD, AM/FM, on the floor tree style stick shift, vinyl bench seat, no floor mats, those triangular window thingies. I had to have the A/C installed after purchase. My anti-theft device was “the Club” locked on the steering wheel. It was around $9k. Paid for it from money working two summer jobs during my college years. It had very few mechanical problems until the end (9 years 155k miles for me when it started hemorrhaging oil).

    Funny story, one time I parked it at a diner in a rough area in NJ known for car radio burglaries. After my meal, I go out and both formerly locked doors are wide open but nothing’s missing. They must’ve seen the AM/FM only and decided to move on!

    • anti theft device indeed. I saw a guy tell another he could defeat the”Club” in seconds so they had a bet going. The guy who said he could defeat it, pulls out a set of bolt biters and snips the steering wheel into and moved one end at a time around to the break and handed it to him. It was pretty funny.

  6. There is such a thing as a mature technology. Nobody is improving on the fork, spoon, and knife. Though this doesn’t keep folks from trying, most of what has been billed as progress in the last 20 plus years has been squandered effort and wealth.

  7. No question the 90’s was probably the pinnacle for the value of trucks being trucks doing truck work.
    However, there are practically no value large cars anymore. The kind I would drive today would be 90’s Caprice’s, Park Ave’s, Crown Vics, etc..
    Instead, the latest crew cab trucks have become that large sedan to me. It’s hard to say that they don’t accomplish the same thing when I can do very high speed on rural county two lanes, in crappy weather, with my butt and hands warm, riding like my once loved large sedans did. Granted, half the safety stuff is silly for sure. And for sure they won’t be worth a dam in 10 years.
    However, I will say this, my current Ram 1500 V8 crew cab, just did a approx. 1000 miles in a week on rural mountain terrain, in weather, and it was the best vehicle experience I have ever had, in 35 years of driving. I also love the fact that they are large, and I order the longer 6ft beds vs the 5.5 just to make it longer, on purpose. And yes, they are big money, relative, but if you trade every 3-4 years, it’s a decent cost of doing business, for me.
    And I still own two late 90’s 2500’s, but they are relegated to farm/local use only. Doubt very much you will see the current crop of 2010+ around at the 20 year+ mark. But who knows, maybe some enterprising aftermarket companies will come out with “take all the computer crap out of you truck kit and make it work”? haha…..

  8. Also, somewhat on this topic…

    With phones. The networks are getting rid of 2G and even 3G service soon. Even 4G of a certain feather appears on the way out. I’ve tried recently to active a couple of older twonkies (smartphones or other “smart” devices if you’re not hip), and been turned down by the near monopoly T-Mobile.

    They’re all pushing for 5G and the horrible giant hand-screen twonkies that come it. Still very little in alternative operating systems and NO actual device diversity. Just huge, fluorescent, person-theater tracking devices to keep people’s vestigial minds occupied and controlled.

    • At the end on my current contract I am ending my cell phone use. Most I would talk to have become flaming maskholes and have little to nothing I want to hear anyway. If it can’t be covered in a short email, not interested anymore.

      $40 more a month for scotch to numb myself to this insane clownfest.

      • Hi Anon,

        I like the way you think! I’ve been considering dropping my sail fawn in the well, too. $40 a month saved – equivalent to two (almost three) orders of General Tso’s chicken per month

        • My cellphone in Australia costs me $10 a month for unlimited messages and phone calls on the continent, including the more expensive 1400 and 1800 numbers. I’m laughing at the low cost compared to the yank packages.

          • There are cheaper packages available here. OTOH, I’ve taken my phones (with T-Mobile service) to Mexico and the Bahamas so far, and not paid a cent extra to use them there. That’s unlimited voice, text, and data not only in the US, but in I don’t know how many other countries. Only country I’ve visited that wasn’t covered was Fiji. So far, the $65 per month I’ve been paying has been worth it.

      • Ha, “flaming maskholes”! The imagery!

        And I, too, concur. I actually still have a land-line phone, and yes, email does well suffice.

        When they phase out my current dumbphone, that might just be all she wrote.

        Also, somehow, they maintain 911 service on any phone. Those “emergency alert” messages also appear on the old twonkies, somehow. Makes you wonder, if those functions still work, why can’t you use the phone again???

        Why, indeed.

      • You’re not alone my friend…. Considering a flip phone.

        Email only, from a provider I pay for. No “free” gmail.

        Flaming maskholes… yep… amazing.

        • I’ll keep the fancy phone as it is a handy mini-computer, GPS, flashlight, game pad…..,but I’ll stop paying for service. Open free wi-fi for email or it was not that important anyway.

          I won’t miss all the stupid texts from people who think they are funny. They aren’t.

          One I know texts constantly but thinks email is “too much hassle”. No problem. Bye.

  9. My 1990 Chevy truck is still the best vehicle I’ve ever had, despite the somewhat poor gas mileage.

    The new “equivalent” isn’t much better on gas, however.

    The big differences being, my truck has the TBI, and isn’t full of all manner of unnecessary electronic bullshit.
    It’s sooo easy to work on, compared with anything else, especially anything NEW, on which I’ve worked.

    It also isn’t absolutely fucking enormous, like all modern trucks seem to be. I don’t need or want that either!

  10. I suspect we will see an increase in older vehicles being refurbished and sold due to the complexity and costs associated with new. A friend of mine who does over the hauling told me that heavy duty trucks such as dump trucks that are used (little electronic crap, older diesel engines) are commanding much higher prices now. Same goes with farm tractors that are 25 years or older. Mandates, high costs, complexity and the soon coming inflation spike rate will hammer auto makers hard.

  11. I’ve owned 2 F250 4WD trucks (’04 and ’10) and I really love the Ford F250 – and the new ones. If it weren’t for the tracking devices on the 2020 I’d own one. What I cannot get over is someone listening to me talk and “watching” me drive- “someones” who hate me and desire my harm. That alone kills my will to buy a 2021 even though there are tax reasons for buying a new one.

  12. Believe it or not, there was a time, when trucks were usually cheaper than cars. Precisely because they were designed to work, not to ride in. They were a tool. They were not “fun” to drive, they did not ride well, at least if they were able to carry a load they didn’t, and were not comfortable. Then came the goat roper cowboy wannabes, who would pee their pants if the bed got scratched. Not to mention their use to conceal, ahh, sexual inadequacies, shall we say. I spent 25 years of my life working out of one. At the end of which I hated them with a passion. I do have a ’97 4WD Tacoma, for deep snow and what little hauling I do. Which means I probably don’t drive it enough to keep it healthy. Since I do hate them.

    • Yup, I remember when the cheapest new vehicle you could buy was a truck. Bare bones, no carpet, no ac, metal door panels, and three on the tree. Maybe an AM radio. Then all the wannabes ruined it.

  13. One thing I would add is that payload and towing are much lower on the old pickup trucks. Todays half tons are just as capable if not more than the old HD’s.

    But–as you point out–it all ends there. In my opinion. I’ve been itching to buy a low mileage compact pickup on eBay. The problem is that a 95 Tacoma with mileage like that F-250 would top easily $25,000. Probably $30,000. It’s tough to cough up that kind of cash for a compact. With 100,000 miles in really nice condition Tacoma’s are upper teens minimum.

    • Of course in one of todays pickups, if you bump a cow to encourage them to go through a gate, you probably did $2500 or more damage to it. In fact, a friend of mine did exactly that after replacing his late ’60s truck with a ’90s era Dodge. In his old truck, this was a common thing to do, with zero damage. Because they were actually made out of relatively heavy steel components. Which may account for part of the lower payload capacity.

        • Good as far as that goes, but the whole structure is designed to not have a real bumper. It’s harder than you think- if you actually use the bumper some structural changes and re-engineering are in order. YMMV!

          • And your airbag might not go off. (good thing?)

            Welders I know have big steel bumpers and a couple have had minor head on impacts without them deploying.

  14. ‘Technology advances, but it’s not always an advance. Sometimes, it is just more for the sake of more, without any meaningful benefit.’ — EP

    • Eric’s point is further detailed by former Ford dealer Wolf Richter:

      Since 1990, the CPI for new vehicles has risen by 22.5% (green line). Over the same period, the base MSRP of the Toyota Camry LE has soared 68% (red line); and the base MSRP of the Ford F-150 XLT has skyrocketed 170% (blue line).

      A big part of the difference between actual price increases and the CPI for new vehicles are the “hedonic quality adjustments” that started to be applied with increasing aggressiveness in the late 1990s through today. The logic is that vehicles have gotten a lot more sophisticated over those years, for example, going from three-speed automatic transmissions to 10-speed computer-controlled transmissions. The hedonic quality adjustments remove the costs of these quality improvements from the CPI.

      https://wolfstreet.com/2021/02/10/dollars-purchasing-power-drops-to-record-low-despite-aggressive-hedonic-quality-adjustments/

      Hedonic quality adjustments lack an objective basis. Market prices provide no reliable guideline to their magnitude.

      Given the incentives, though, it is reasonable to suspect that the quality adjustments are overstated, and the new and used car price indexes are understated.

      ‘They’ are messing with us, feeding us falsified data to support the distorted conclusions of EV fever.

      • They do the same with most products. If steak gets too expensive, they “assume” you’ll switch to hot dogs. Hot dogs now cost what steak used to, so your grocery bill hasn’t gone up, hence no inflation. Neat trick.

      • Correct. And their social security payments are linked to the CPI, another reason why the stingy bastards want to keep that number down. And probably why they’re pimping their experimental injections so hard at the Boomers, so that they won’t need to pay their SS ever again.

  15. I would rather own a refurbished older vehicle than one of today’s nightmarish computers on wheels any day of the week. What’s sold on the market today is appalling, thanks to Uncle, and it’s only going to get worse.

      • eric, why all the voltage? How do you reach 48 volts? Every vehicle I ever had was running practically instantly when it was started. Are you baking or grilling, have an a/c a/c…so to speak? Have a water heaters in the car? Does the steering eat up a huge amount of power?

        If you have that much power I’d like to see it hooked to an inverter and have retractable antennas that would light up crowds like antifa and BLM or lot lizards.

  16. K.I.S.S. really is a good adage.

    Though I will admit, I’d rather have the bucket seats & I do like my bluetooth radio.

    At what point will vehicles price themselves out of their customers’ budgets?

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