Precious Metal

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The other day, Toyota unveiled the 2022 Toyota Tundra – which will no longer come with a V8, even as an optional engine. Instead, it will come standard with a twice-turbo’d V6.

With or without battery-electric assist.

Not because this is what Tundra buyers want. Rather, it is because of government demands – which Toyota (like all car companies) must comply with. The previously standard V8 wasn’t “fuel efficient” enough – for the government. It “emitted” too much gas (carbon dioxide) for the government. So buyers will pay for a pair of turbos bolted to a smaller V6, to make up for its lack of displacement and to make power on demand – at the cost of a higher-strung engine with many more parts and so many more potential failure points.

Expect values of ’21 and older Tundras to skyrocket.

Like the value of my almost-twenty-year-old (2002 model year) Nissan Frontier pickup, which is almost worth its weight in gold. Or at least, silver. Its current retail market value is listed as between about $4,200 and $5,200 – which is probably a lowball number given how quickly it would sell were I to be foolish enough to hang a For Sale sign on it.

Regardless, even its putative retail value, per the various used vehicle pricing guides, is pretty amazing when you take note of the fact that my truck listed for $13,799 when it was new.

I bought it used – in 2010 – for $7,200.

In other words, it has cost me – roughly – $3,000 in depreciation to own this truck for the past almost twelve years. This works out to about $250 per year. Which is about a third of the monthly payment that would attend the purchase of a new Tundra.

Of course, my truck is not a super-sized, crew-cab’d behemoth. It does not have a twin-turbo V8 or battery-electric assist. Nor a glowing 14-inch “multimedia” LCD touchscreen embedded in the dash, as the new Tundra does.

As they all do, now.

It has a five speed manual transmission – not a ten speed automatic. A set of analog (non digital) gauges and just a dashboard, with nothing electronic protruding from it. There is no “assistance” technology whatever. You open the door, turn the key – a physical key, which can be replaced for less than $10 at any hardware store – and just drive the thing. It doesn’t try to pre-empt your driving. There isn’t even a seatbelt buzzer. You can buckle up – or not. If not, a light comes on in the dash.

That’s all.

The engine isn’t enormously powerful. But it is simple and for that reason, durable and low-maintenance. It even has a distributor rather than “coil on plug” ignition – and can be serviced, easily – by me. I have never taken it to the dealer because I don’t need a dealers’s proprietary diagnostic machines to figure out what ails it. And – so far – nothing ever has ailed it.

The thing just runs. It is likely to continue running for the next ten or even 20 years.

And that is probably why my truck is still worth a third what it cost new, 20 years ago.

It’s not just my old truck, either.

All trucks made before trucks began to be made like the new Tundra have recovered their value in a way that has no analog in the entire history of the car industry.

In the past – until just a couple of years ago – new trucks were considered more desirable than old trucks, which lost value as they became older – because they were older. Most buyers wanted the zero’d out odometer and the new truck’s improved durability and value; they were eager to get their hands on that new V8 – or at least, a sturdy workhorse six or even a rugged four, in the smaller models, like mine – without a turbo – that they could count on to run like a well pump for the next 20-plus years.

Overdrive transmissions and electronic fuel injection – which came online in the ’80s and ’90s – along with steadily improving quality control, especially as regards body panel fitment and corrosion protection as well as much tighter machining tolerances for engines – resulted in trucks like my ’02 Frontier  (and the current Tundra) that last for decades.

Mine still has its original, factory-installed clutch.

It also has manual roll-up windows and is simple, in addition to being fully modern in terms of how it runs and drives. It is not a chore to drive a truck like mine. But it is a chore to drive a truck like the new Tundra and its kind.

These trucks – though they are the most powerful trucks ever offered for sale and abound with a number of genuinely useful features that no trucks before them ever offered – such as the ability to power high-load accessories such as circular saws via plugs built right into their beds – are becoming a turn-off to many potential buyers because of the other things they come standard with.

Such as a litany of electronic “assistance” technology that people who drive trucks, especially, find insulting as well as annoying. If you need “assistance” to back up a trailer you probably shouldn’t be driving a truck in the first place.

Would you get on an airplane piloted by someone who needed “assistance” to taxi the thing to the runway?

And that is not the end of the “assistance.” There is also Lane Keep Assistance, Automated Emergency Braking (which applies the brakes when there is no emergency – but because the computer, programmed to regard any driving that is more “aggressive” than that of a hyper-cautious glaucomic old lady – decides it’s time to apply the brakes) and a bevvy of buzzers that endlessly beep, accompanied by lights that flash.

Plus ASS – the automated engine stop-start “technology” they all come standard with.

Everything that was mechanical is now electronic – even the former gear selector, which is now a remote-control “drive by wire” device.

Things once run by wires connected to switches are in thrall to Body Control Modules.

There are high-dollar fobs in lieu of physical keys that can only be replaced – or programmed – at the dealer. These cost a great deal more than $10.

The simple, reliable, you-can-work-on-it V8 that averages 16 MPG  is being replaced by twin-turbo V6s that average 19 – and might as well be F22 Raptors as far as your being able to service them. There are no more manual transmission in any new half ton truck.

They are all automatic-only.

You can’t skip things like the gigantic LCD touchscreen that data mines you as you drive –  or the standard power windows and locks – which is part of the reason why new trucks cost so much more than trucks used to cost. And to insure – because of the cost of fixing aluminum bodies and great gaping plastic front ends that are easily destroyed by minor impacts that might have dented an older truck’s steel bumper. 

My ’02 Nissan’s inflation-adjusted MSRP today would be $21,315. a New (2022) Frontier starts at $27,840.

Yes, it comes standard with a V6 (mine has a four) as well as a nine-speed automatic. But what if I’d rather have a sturdy four – and a manual? Sorry, Charlie – no such thing is available any longer.

In anything new.

Which is probably why the value of trucks like mine is increasing – which ought to tell the manufacturers of new trucks something.

Unfortunately, the government has told them something else.

. . .

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  1. i bought my 2010 ranger in 2012 for 12K cash with 4,500 miles on it

    alas it is only a 4 cyl and an auto, no extra cab. no power windows, locks or cruise. am/fm radio. it’s as vanilla as it gets

    9 years later, it has 60k miles on it

    al i have ever done is replace the oil/filters and put a set of tires on it (not easy to find)

    KBB says it’s worth 12k

    i’ll never sell it

    • Hi not you,

      Your Ranger is similar to my Frontier; this species of basic compact-sized truck is probably gone forever. The new ones coming – e.g., the Ford Maverick – aren’t really trucks and they are also full of creepy/nannying tech. Like you, I will keep my ’02 as long as I can, which will hopefully be long enough to survive this mess.

  2. They aren’t building cars for drivers, they’re building them for people who wish they were passengers. We all know one, the people who would never even consider driving 2 hours, only then to drive a specific type of road that doesn’t go anywhere interesting because the road itself is the point. Not the scenery, not the restaurants, not the quirky little town at the end. Because the road itself is the destination.

  3. I was going to buy a new car and spent two or three minutes total with dealer salesmen that are obvious to me women that know nothing about their cars.
    The wife said that I cannot buy anything until I get rid of my Factory Five blown Edelbrock ’65 Cobra.
    In keeping with your precious metal theme I said piss on it and bought fifty ounces of platinum- the real stuff rather than a credit card “Platinum”. It is truly bad in snow so I will keep her rotten van that went through two daughters. But hey, the platinum is up 9% just in shipment and I can walk around with it in a kevlar reinforced pocket on my three piece leisure suit.
    New cars do not interest me much. It is good that the manufacturers of anything that I would want have nothing in stock and they can’t get the base model unless one buys three grand in geegaws.
    If I don’t get the Coof, there is always next year, and then I wouldn’t even want one.

  4. I have a 1993 lifted Toyota Pickup…3.0 V6 4WD. The little thing will climb a telephone pole. The only thing electronic on it is the fuel injection. Bought it in 2002 for almost nothin’. Nary a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me if I will sell it.
    Ain’t happening.
    I told my wife to bury me in that truck. She replied “I thought you wanted to be cremated “. I said “I do. That’s what the ashtray is for”…….

    • Doesn’t surprise me! I took my (V-10) Excursion to the Ford dealership for a tricky (but luckily minor) A/C problem no one else could figger out, a few months ago. I get a call last week from the dealership…they wanted to know if I’d be interested in selling it….for a price that would be exactly double what I had paid for it 6 years ago! Needless to say, I declined! But you know it’s bad when DEALERS are calling wanting to buy 20 year-old vehicles!

  5. Hey Eric – what do you think about Toyota discontinuing the Land Cruiser in the US ? Were you a fan (not sure if you’ve covered this before on your site)?

  6. Every government action is designed to destroy our Liberties and ability to be self-reliant. Every action increases their power and control.
    Clearly we have a “design to reduce us under absolute Despotism”.

  7. Guess Toyota had no real choice since the MPG of the Tundra was horrible, they were going to be crushed by CAFE

    How many more dominoes will fall as time goes on?

    Will we be relegated to turbo 4 trucks to haul trailers in the future?

    • Hi Dan,

      The irony here – in re the Tundra – is that the mileage of the turbo V6 Ford F-150 is only slightly better than that of the V8 version. And more fundamentally, who cares? Did the people who buy V8 trucks clamor for another 3-5 MPG no matter the cost? Why is the gas mileage of the truck I buy the government’s business?

      • Hey Eric!
        Even more absurdly, those smaller turbo-charged injuns while they may get slightly better MPGs under ‘perfect’ conditions, actually get worse MPGs than the V8’s in real-life when the truck is being driven by anyone but a 78 year-old grandma, or being used for towing or actually hauling a load -i.e. the very things that people buy pick-ups to do- because the li’l-engines-that-couldn’t always have to work at the upper limits of their capacity. And of course, any scant fuel savings which may actually be achieved (If ya drive like grandma, and never actually do anything with the truck) will be more than offset by the engine’s short lifespan…as is being observed already, many of these highly-stressed turboed li’l Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions are having trouble making it to 100K miles– 100K miles; a point at which a modern V-8 would just be getting broken-in.

      • I agree. It’s not their legitimate business.
        But when has that stopped them?

        the 3.5 4wd 2021 F-150 is epa combined 20mpg
        Tundra is 14 mpg

        I think it was going to be too much for them to adjust. And I’m sure they see the writing on the wall that the govt is going to make it very hard to have a v8 at all

        Sucks, but unless real people get more influence than the eco/ev lobby, I think only the limits of technology & infrastructure will stop them.

        One more reason secession is looking like the only path to freedom.

  8. I know what you mean by the charm of an old car. My old one – just get in, turn the key, it starts and drives…. and guess what – the annoying buzzer if you dont buckle up – no longer works 🙂

    • Hmmm, my 21 year old Statesman with low kilometers has no buzzer of any kind. Maybe the buzzer has died. My SIL’s car of the same make also never had a buzzer, none that I heard when I drove it a few times.

  9. Hey Google, set speed to 75 mph for the next 150 miles of interstate. Okay, setting speed at 75 mph for next 150 miles. 25 mpg, six gallons of petrol. Proceed for next 240 kilo-meters, then fill the tank.

    Don’t need no stinkin’ self-driving useless electric vehicle, pure waste of time. A non-starter from the get-go.

    You can use your cellphone to remote start your vehicle, even if you live in Kiev.

    Beer time in Munich, you know it.

  10. Recently bought and shipped a 95 Dodge Ram V10 long bed, two door from LA to Kauai to use as my work truck in replacement for my 97 Ram that is at the end of its life. No rust, runs like a champ, well taken care of, repainted in original silver/gray color. 11.9k, 100k miles. No annoying buzzers!

    There are still personal deals through LA craigslist.

    I’m in heaven…

    • V10 — isn’t that an updated version of the V2 rockets that Hitler rained on the UK? /sarc

      Who needs a 10-cylinder engine or a 10-round magazine? /sarc

      Take it away!

  11. Are we running out of vehicles? No kidding. In South Western PA the dealer lots are empty of new cars and trucks few used vehicles. I am friends with a couple used car dealers near Pittsburgh. They tell me they can ‘t get cars. Eric what the hell is going on? Our mass transit here sucks, how are people going to get to work?

    • My B-I-L’s dealership in lost 37 cars to the Ida flooding. They put them up for auction as flood damage salvage. He said the cars that still ran went for dealer invoice price at auction and a few went at MSRP and the cars that didn’t run went for $3000 to $5000 under dealer invoice. They are so desperate for cars people are going to turn around and sell these flood damaged ones.

  12. Hopefully my 1999 Chevy S-10 4L manual 5-speed will last my lifetime (for the reasons Eric mentioned). Still burns no oil. The original clutch finally went. Hopefully the new one will also last 220,000 miles.

  13. One more annoyance: My electronic key fob requires a battery of course. And that battery is a specialized flat little thing, not an AAA type. Every 1.5 to 2.0 years, it requires a new battery, often at inconvenient times. Sure I get a warning, but on a road trip, it requires shopping somewhere just to unlock my car. I am now required to keep a stock of replacement batteries in the glove box.

  14. I had to look up MSRP for my 1990 Chevy stepside, 350, automatic. $11,625 JD Power says. Average retail = $4,503. Though, looking this up on Craigslist, I found a truck with a the standard bed selling for $5,700. It was in considerably worse condition than my truck. Also, guys come out of the woodwork frequently asking if I’m willing to sell. Nope. Sorry.

    I reckon within a few years, if I well maintain the truck, its value will easily equal its MSRP. Probably the same with my other trucks, which are 1990s vintage as well.

  15. Sad….It`s hard to be a car guy anymore….New cars…and Trucks SUCK…. I just hope I can keep my 08 Ranger FX4 5 speed manual going forever…..

  16. Guessing RAM will be the last of the V8 holdouts.

    Ford and GM are likely on the last generation of offering V8’s on the 1500 and 150’s and the next won’t have them, only V6’s and four’s (and electric). I wonder how long diesel can hold out.

    I imagine you will have to go up to super duty and 2500 series to get a V8 then, until those get discontinued too. Toyota of course never offered anything bigger than the Tundra, so there isn’t the option of moving up to a bigger size like GM, RAM and Ford.

    I think this move will likely end Toyota’s run as a pickup truck maker. I don’t see it selling without the V8. It’s too bad because the Tundra was a solid choice if it worked for you vs the big three.

  17. I hope Toyota is just trying to hang on until the nonsense is over.

    I noticed no more MT on the Tacoma, either, sadly. I was maybe interested in buying one of those, but now not quite so much.

  18. Well….that’s it- They’re all gone now. Toyota- the last bastion of sanity in the car industry, is now hawking rebadged BMWs, and after having graduated from the flimsy little 4-cylinder toy pick-ups of the 70’s and 80’s finally started making something approaching a real pick-up….has now torpedoed that, and has become just another marque on the wall of the automotive peanut gallery. Disgusting!

    What’s next- a geisha girl CEO?

  19. Oh God, if Toyota is putting the juiced 6 in the tundra what are they going to put in the Tacoma? One of the things that drew me away from Ford and to Toyota was the ability to get a light duty truck with a V6 that made decent hp and torque to pull the scout trailer and my toys while not having to worry about a turbo that will probably burn out long before I am ready to give up the truck. Toyota was one of the few hold outs. My taco still requires a key inserted into the ignition, doesn’t turn off when at a red light and I get to physically move the shifter to go from park to drive. I don’t care for the touch screen but my climate control is all knobs and buttons and I can function the radio from the steering wheel. Also can’t stand the brake assist (I was able to turn off the lane departure warning) and the adaptive cruise control, but I can live with them and am prepared to keep this truck as long as physically possible.

  20. Back in the old days, we could not buy a product and the maker would get a clue and change. Now with unlimited money printing and bailouts, this is no longer possible and is why new cars are more digital jails that can be remote controlled. Old cars, even 100 year old analog electric cars are free to come and go without tracking. The free market only keeps a few high demand uncle hated vehicles going now….wrangler, bronco, the muscle cars from dodge, the tahoe and expedition (well, uncle needs those)

    • Two car makers have been directly bailed out by the Sociopaths In Charge, GM and Chrysler. I only once ever bought anything from either since, and it turned out to be a POS. 89 Dakota, transmission cooked at 60k. Still under warranty thank goodness. Fooled by my previous experience of the exceptional durability of Mopar drive trains.

      • I was a die-hard MoPar man, until that 02 Intrepid 2.7L nightmare V6. That thing’s horrid cooling system reliability turned me off MoPar for good. Up till then, only expected failures on my Plymouths. But, sad thing, what carco makes anything as simple and reliable as a Slant Six, or even a 318 V8 any more?

  21. I’m keeping my 2012 Tundra for the duration. Sad that Toyota is having to appease the Pete Butt and grovel at Gaia and the new testament of ideology.

    My brother has a 98 Expedition with deer impact damage. I thought he’d go get new or newer truck but he is getting his engine rebuilt and new body parts coming. Interesting is the rebuild shop is having difficultly finding engine valves….the next artificial shortage coming to a rebuild shop near you.

    • Hi Hans,

      In re “the rebuild shop is having difficultly finding engine valves…”:

      This makes me want to get a rebuildable junkyard engine as a spare to have on hand for when I need one. Might be a very wise investment to make….

  22. I am a Tundra owner–simply for the fact that they weren’t like all the others–until now.

    I’m holding on to my 2016 forever. I’m not keeping it for what it has. I’m keeping it for everything it doesn’t have.

    Tundra, F150, Silverado, Ram, what’s the difference? I guess if I was in the market for a more reliable F150, I could get a Tundra. But I was never in that market.

  23. I’ll rebuild or buy a crate engine for my 21 year old truck at some point. The rear end needs replaced as the backlash is getting worse over time, too. Other than that it’s fine as is for who it’s for and what it does. Agree that some of the new features would be nice (e.g. more points to tie down cargo) but I’ve lived without it for 21 years so…

  24. Anon, a late-model full-sized pickup SHOULD ride that smoothly and quietly on the highway.

    As for how Eric’s now 20 y.o. Nissan Frontier, which is a “compact” (actually significantly larger than the original “Datusn” pickups of the 70s), it’s the end of the line of relatively simple vehicles, period. IDK that ANY cars/trucks are offering with manual, crank-up windows, and finding one with a “stick”, car or truck, is very difficult…and, if you can get one, saves no money or even COSTS.

    Cars are being built with planned obsolescence and deliberate frustration to service. The car makers don’t WANT you to be able to keep them running forever, period.

  25. ‘it will come standard with a twice-turbo’d V6.’ — eric

    That is, the 5.7 liter V8 of the 2021 models is replaced by a 3.5 liter V6 in the 2022s.

    That’s a 39% displacement reduction, for those keeping score at home.

    Its ’14-inch Audio Multimedia Touchscreen’ is aesthetically jarring to those who reached adulthood before the ‘rolling cellphone’ era: the awkwardly huge touchscreen verges on TWICE the size of the driver’s instrument panel, with its unentertaining displays of speed, rpm, fuel level, engine temp and other such trivia. Photo:

    Likewise, a center console which might have been 6 inches wide 20 years ago (partly because an obscure Japanese regulation kept the former compact trucks narrow) has pooched out in the 2022 Tundra to a foot wide.

    Like an oversized booty in too-tight shorts, that ridiculous fat-ass console don’t float my boat. But it apes the big boys in the big rigs, for certain drugstore truck-drivin’ men — as does its ugly-as-sin rhinoceros face front grille.

    Do any of these hypertrophied protruberences offer any functional gain? I’ll never know, as lack of a manual transmission option elicits a ‘hard pass’ from me.

    • Hi Jim,

      I can’t stand the cod piece look, either. These things – all of the current 1500s – are just trying too hard to be “macho” but (to me) end up looking ridiculous. This also has a functional detriment. The damned things are so jacked-up that it is awkward even for a man my size – and at 6ft 3 I am considerably taller than average – to access the bed. This I cannot abide. I actually use my truck to haul things and not being able to easily just reach down into the bed is a deal-killer for me.

      Not everyone goes rock-crawling. But the current crop of 1500s are set up to look like they’re ready to do it. It’s stupid – unless you actually do rock-crawling. Half-tons didn’t used to be like this – as recently as the late ’90s/early 2000s. Then they went the Super Duty route and now they all come with step ladders and such built into the tailgates because that’s how high off the ground they are.

      I also dislike the width, which is too much for narrow country roads (and impedes off-roading, too).

      • ‘The damned things are so jacked-up that it is awkward even for a man my size – and at 6ft 3 I am considerably taller than average – to access the bed.’ — eric

        Totally concur. Our trail crew leader recently replaced his 15-year-old Ram pickup with a new, supersized Silverado. None of us are able to reach over the sides of the bed anymore for picks, Rogue hoes, Pulaskis, McLeods.

        Instead we have to rely on the electrically-operated tailgate — which I predict will be the first thing to break on this ludicrous, fashion-victim pickup.

      • In 89 I bought a new 4WD Dakota precisely because it was built at the same height as the 2WD. I was still working construction at the time, and my truck was a tool, and treated as such. I never washed and waxed my pipe wrenches, and so my truck got an undercarriage wash once a month, in the winter. Got dang Urban Cowboy for inflicting a herd of goat ropers on the truck market. They used to be cheaper than cars.

      • You forget something Eric. Those big pickup front ends make it difficult for a 5 foot 2 little guy to even access the oil stick. I would need a ladder or cherry picker just to do basic fluid checks. Not to mention changing a belt. That’s why I have a passenger car and a trailer. The trailer gets lots of work.

  26. Eric, How does your truck ride quality compare to a new one?

    My 2019 F150 rides as smooth and quiet as a car and that is something that is stopping me from going to an older truck.


    • Hi Anon,

      Not nearly as well as your ’19 F-150! But that is partially due to your truck’s massive (relative to my truck’s) weight as well as its much greater width, which stabilizes and “plants” it.

      The relevant point is that while my truck doesn’t drive like a luxury sedan, it doesn’t drive like the trucks of the past. It is quiet and comfortable on the highway at 80, something an F-truck from the ’70s was not! It handles reasonably well for a truck, too.

      I regard it as a near-perfect balance of civility and functionality – at reasonable cost. The new trucks are incredibly comfortable, it’s inarguable. But they are also incredibly expensive and complex. It’s common for a current half-ton to transact for $50k and it is hard to get into a 4WD version for less than $40k – which stupefies me. That is about 75 percent of the average American family’s annual net household income.

      I think it helps explain why so many American families are living paycheck to paycheck.

      What I’d like to see is a $25k half-ton with a sturdy in-line six (no turbo) a five or six speed manual, manual 4WD and no touchscreens or superfluous electronics.

      • ‘my [Nissan Frontier] doesn’t drive like a luxury sedan, it doesn’t drive like the trucks of the past.’ — eric

        While harsh on speed bumps, my 1998 Frontier has a soft, ‘floaty’ quality on the highway like the land-barge sedans of the 1960s with their vague steering.

        Probably some combination of higher spring rates, higher shock damping, and perhaps an aftermarket rear sway bar would give it a tighter ride.

        But I’m not going to embark on any costly experimentation. Haven’t seen any off-the-shelf, objectively tested solutions to date.

    • Without a computer controlled suspension, there is a correlation between ride and payload handling. You don’t get that smooth as silk ride empty with a suspension that will still drive well with 1000 lbs in the bed. In ages past, Chevy’s rode well empty, but drove poorly under heavy load. Fords and Dodges were exactly opposite.


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