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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #143: All beds bright and beautiful, all pickups great and small

Now, as they used to say on TV, the story can be told: In December I ordered myself a frisky new F-250 Platinum Crew Cab with the 7.3-liter "Godzilla" pushrod V-8 and the oh-so-hip "Dark Marsala" eggplant-colored leather interior. This morning, April 4th, it showed up at my favorite little rural dealership.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-143-all-beds-bright-and-be...
198 REPLIES 198
9lbhammer
Advanced Driver

All things wise and wonderful, all the red diesel that somehow made it in the street truck, the Lord God made them all

Also, I'm super jealous of that car trailer. I'm surprised you don't have a 5th wheel if you and Mrs. Baruth both go racing on the reg tho. Lord knows you've probably got guitars worth more than a good 2 car hauler.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

We have been looking for a 32-foot hauler that will carry a Miata and a Radical. Three years ago that was a six grand proposition. Now it's three times than and you'll have to fix it up. We have the aluminum open deck for sedans and an enclosed for the Radical, which is working for us right now.
DUB6
Specialist

So much in this article that perfectly parallels my thoughts on the state of today's pick-up "development" (and, really, of automotive "progress-through-techno-gimmickry" in general) that I can only think to add, "Here, here, my good man!"

Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

"Hear, hear," too!
win59
Advanced Driver

Hear, Hear, two, too!!
davnau
New Driver

The thing is to carefully figure out what your needs will be. For me, with only hauling my hobby boats and outboard motors, with the boats all under 2000 pounds, I determined I did not need anything more than a base Ford Maverick XL Hybrid with a trailer hitch as the only option. Smaller, much less expensive, much better gas mileage, and it easily fits in my one-car garage, without the climb aboard. The key question to ask yourself is: Is it enough truck?" For me, the Maverick is perfect. For $23,000 out the door, it's the best deal I could find.
Tim
Technician

The Maverick is probably all the truck that 50% of truck owners really need. If you have only one vehicle, it does so much so well, including getting great gas mileage for all those times when it's not being used as a truck. Which, is how most trucks are used. Bonus: if one buys a Maverick, they will save tens of thousands of dollars not buying other questionable choices. The prospect of spending $50-75K on a trailer diminishes greatly when one realizes a $50-75K truck needs to be purchased to go with it. 💀
fotomick222
New Driver

Good luck finding a Maverick. Been looking for awhile. Of course I'm being very picky. Area 51 color, hybrid, Lariatt package. I've contact a dozen Ford dealerships in N. California and no one has one. All the sales people **bleep** about Ford dropping the ball on this one. Ford isn't taking any orders until later this year. Wake up Ford! You have a truck that a lot of people want to buy.
uweschmidt
Instructor

Remember in a lot of Cases a Huge EGO hasto be hauled around as well
seinfeldbasslin
Intermediate Driver

i forget if it was you or someone else lamenting the death of the "super street" style truck, but i really think that would be a great 1 vehicle choice for people. i dont know how or why the shift occurred to the off road performance schtick (raptor etc) but the fact that real SVT lightening successors are limited to aftermarket tuners is a shame
JGeske
Instructor

I just wish that Chevy had been smart enough to bring the HSV Holden Maloo ute to the USA to compete with the SVT Lightning back then (and before shuttering Holden). It had a usable bed and the 6.2 liter supercharged LSA engine (from the ZL1 Camaro and Cadillac CTS-V) for about 550hp! It was essentially a supercar version of the El Camino.
Rider79
Technician

It was originally supposed to come here as a GMC (if I recall correctly), but the Great Recession (and subsequent GM bankruptcy) got in the way. GM even had a naming contest for it.
JGeske
Instructor

Nowadays, it would not serve my family, but I married relatively late, and at that time was both single and cash flush, I absolutely would have bought one!
bradfa
Advanced Driver

All of your negatives are why I've been researching commercial "crew" vans lately. Payload ratings to rival 3/4 ton trucks, towing equivalent to a mid-size truck (which is plenty for many but not you), a larger (and covered lockable!) "bed" than any pickup, seating space for 5 as comfortably as a full size truck, fuel economy of a mid-size SUV, a load floor which even a small child can step up into without assistance, a wheelbase/length/width of a 1/2 ton crew cab pickup, tighter turning radius than many mid-size SUVs, and a price comparable to a low trim 1/2 ton pickup. Fitting 3 motorcycles or 5-6 mountain bikes in the cargo area behind the "crew" seat is easy. Getting in and out via sliding doors is a godsend with kids.
DUB6
Specialist

Wow, this is starting to sound like the "perfect utility vehicle"!  For ranch work, possible downside might be lack of 4WD capability, but maybe that's out there, too.  I'm not in the market for a newer pick-up at the moment, but when I am, I'm going to revisit your comments, @bradfa - thanks!  🙂

bradfa
Advanced Driver

You can get 4x4 capability on the current generation Sprinter vans but only with the diesel engine. The Ford Transit has an AWD offering. For 2023 Sprinters might switch to a more SUV-like AWD system, probably somewhat similar to Ford has now.
There appears to be quite the aftermarket for lift kits at least for 4x4 Sprinters and lots of people putting chubby rubber tires on after lifting. The whole "van life" thing has made the commercial van aftermarket a niche but decent sized thing the past few years.
bradfa
Advanced Driver

Currently the best fit for my desires seems to be a gasser low roof 144" wheelbase 4x2 Sprinter cargo van and then getting upfit with a Snoeks 2nd row crew seat, windows, interior trim, and bulkhead. I estimate the Snoeks upfit to be somewhere in the $6k-8k price range but don't have any hard numbers as I'm just dreaming now.
In the USA CrewVanCo is the distributor for Snoeks: https://www.crewvanco.com/sprinter
Tinkerah
Engineer

I'm on my fourth hatchback. With the back seat removed (we have no kids at home) it comfortably hauls guitars, amps and a lighting rig all in their cases, or up to 800 lbs. (yes I weighed it once) of firewood, and the deck height is half way up my thighs and I'm 5'6. It's a pickup truck I can lock and it keeps my stuff out of the elements, is a blast to throw around when empty and never gets less than 30MPG.

plamry
Intermediate Driver

Wait. So your hatchback can pull my 6000 pound boat like my Ram 1500 can?? Post some picks!
Tinkerah
Engineer

Um...I never indicated I tow with it.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Agreed, but there are two concerns. The first is crosswinds; a while ago some SCCA fellow who was using a first-gen Sprinter to pull an enclosed trailer got literally blown off a bridge.

The second is crash safety. Nobody likes to talk about this but the city vans are really that: city vans. I don't think you want to have an 80mph crash in one. If you're pulling a trailer, that goes double.
DUB6
Specialist

Yeeouch - just when I think I might have the answer to what to look at when my Dodge gives up the ghost, along comes Jack and scares the bejeezus outta me.  Guess I'll just have to keep the old Dakota going until I'm too old to want to either tow anything, haul anything, or get off the beaten track anywhere.  😋

CitationMan
Gearhead

Chevy still builds the Express van and you can get a 6.6 liter V8.
Rider79
Technician

And it is QUICK!
DUB6
Specialist

It doesn't appear like they build them with 4WD, though...

bradfa
Advanced Driver

Crosswinds are definitely a concern, but getting a lower roof version can help reduce that risk and all the manufacturers have fancy steering assist things now. But yeah, definitely going to be more concern than a pickup.

And crash tests don't seem to happen for commercial level vehicles, trucks or vans, nearly to the same extent as normal cars. Googling around shows the full size van crash tests don't look that bad. And as long as you get a factory installed 2nd row (and beyond) or seats which specifically come with a FMVSS compliance record, it should comply with all crash test requirements in the USA. If you're modding your cargo van and bolting in your own seat, yeah, might or might not be that safe.
RP
Intermediate Driver

Yup, every few weeks there is an accident involving one of these van converted into a passenger vehicle resulting in a horrible mess because they are tin cans that don't meet passenger crash standards.
OldBird
Intermediate Driver

A slight tangent perhaps, but in a similar vein, I purchased a used Honda Element a couple of years ago to be the pack mule we tow behind our Class A. What I didn't fully anticipate was how practical it is for routine household hauling. When the back seats are folded up or simply removed, it has a deceptively cavernous hauling area, and your stuff stays dry and secure. It is absolutely not gonna win any pissing contests (whether image, or speed), but in the right application...
GlockandRoll
Intermediate Driver

6 years ago, I needed a truck and as an engineer that is pretty decent at research, I spent a lot of time comparing/contrasting/driving (and even talking to owners) of all the truck brands available. I wanted a Tundra but ruled it out due to fuel economy and how much I drive to Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio from Austin for work. A 3/4 doesn't make sense because of the upfront investment and the size making it very difficult to park in densely populated areas where I live and visit for work. The only obvious choice was the Ram EcoDiesel. It is not only the best ride but the supreme fuel economy champ. I regularly get 28+ mpg going 80-85. People don't believe me until they go on a BBQ run with me. And now, with the VM Motori being in its 3rd gen with the cool EGR system, it's even better. It's much more durable. And the cherry on top is that I think the Ram is the best-looking truck... AND I get the glorious ZF8 transmission!
VADanno
Pit Crew

I also settled on the Ram 1500 Diesel as the optimal choice for a truck. I'm dragging my feet to actually write the check, because my old 4Runner continues to rack on the miles without complaint.
bowtieollie1
New Driver

I read this article because the title certainly piqued my fancy. I own five pick ups - don't ask - I collect old Chevys and trucks count as well as cars. So here I am with a 1970 SS454 El Camino (it is a truck according to the state of PA) and a 1980 Chevy K30 (that has the ride quality of a Sherman tank). a 1976 Chevy C30 Dooley (rides like a limo), a 2006 Silverado 2500HD (as faithful as an old dog), and my 1971 Datsun 521.

YIKES!! a 521 pickup from back in the day before the Japanese invasion and the idea of a compact pick up?

Well, as it turns out, when I need to move something - the Datsun is my go to girl. Easy to load, easy to unload, perfect for around town, and just an all around fun little truck to drive. So all the heavy iron, or big blocks sleep in the garage and not once did they jump to the task when I ask - "who's next to help out?"
DUB6
Specialist

Heh-heh, he said "Dooley"!  😂

 

If you don't get it, you could probably search for the other article/string-of-responses elsewhere on this site for a discussion of what phrases could/should be used to describe those trucks with tandem rear wheels...  Good times!

VancMike
Intermediate Driver

In my area of the country (PacNW), it's amazing how many Datsun, Toyota, Isuzu/Chevy, Ranger, etc. small pickups are not only running around but appear to be rebuilt and/or restored. I think there's a big demand for actually small pickups and market prices seem to agree with me.
uweschmidt
Instructor

maybe you are living among a greater cocentration of smart people
Studenorton
Instructor

In the 60's and 70's, pickup makers boasted of their low cargo floors, and how easy it was to load (supposed) feed bags and hay bales. I can only conclude that most people can live with those way-high prom queen platforms because they *never* put anything in the bed.

Know what I miss? Two-door pickups with an eight-foot bed. Got around a parking lot well, and they made lumber to fit right in there.
Islander
Detailer

I only owned regular cab 2-door trucks, 95% of the time just used one door for me and the hound so I'm with you on what you miss.
Tinkerah
Engineer

My '78 K10 and "hound" are both long gone now but I'll cherish memories of the times the three of us shared for the rest of my days.

BMD4800
Gearhead

Reg Cab, Short bed for me.

Sheetrock, lumber, all with the gate down. Strap it if needed, but otherwise small and maneuverable in traffic and parking lots.

With a V8, decent towing.
FlBoy
Pit Crew

Yep- SCSB with a small v8 for me, they drive nice. I like the older ones that I can wash without having to set up a ladder. I remember trying a Canyon on for size at the dealer, it was small inside but seemed okay until I looked at the sticker and thought heck, I can buy a real truck for that.
JGeske
Instructor

You are more right that you think. In 2019, a survey of truck owners (250,000 of them) had 35% of respondents say they didn't haul things in the bed, or had only done so once. That sad fact, combined with those very people demanding "luxury" trucks, is the reason sensible and sensibly priced farm trucks no longer exist (well, them and the idiots who buy a diesel 3/4, lift it, and put 22" chrome rims on it to make up for their inadequacies).

I have a regret from when I was just out of college regarding plain trucks like you discussed. I worked at a local bank at the time, and a woman who was recently widowed was voluntarily turning back in her husbands farm truck, which he had bought new less than a year before. It was a single cab, 4x4 Z71, bench seat, cloth interior, 8ft bed, Chevy 1/2 ton. We sent it to auction, and bank rules prohibited employees from bidding, and I failed to secure a straw bidder. The truck had a $25k loan on it, and auctioned for only $6k because of the low desirability of that configuration. If I had gotten my hands on it for that price, I would have kept it around forever as a beater and for hunting.
Tinkerah
Engineer

In regards to that survey: I can't help but wonder how many who checked the "once" box were exaggerating.

JGeske
Instructor

Yeah, I think they should have separated the 0/never from the 1. I bet it would be telling.
Tinkerah
Engineer

I'm sure of it!

asemastertech
Intermediate Driver

I have 2 of those 3/4 ton 2 door 8 box trucks, one is 2wd and the other 4wd. l LOVE them and would buy a new one today but the government won't let you have five people in the seat any more!
exc911ence
Pit Crew

My first pick-up was a Jeep Comanche, circa 1988. It was small, but gloriously simple and was able to move all of my teenage-era worldly goods in one trip. Perfect, in other words. Many, many years later when I was in my 40's, I bought my next pick-up in the form of a Dodge Dakota. For those familiar, the final generation Dakota was about the same size as a 1980's full-sized Ford F-150, which is pretty much ideal. I drove that truck happily for a number of years and when it came time to replace it, Dodge was sadly out of the mid-size truck game. Hmm. I rolled the dice and took a chance on a Ram 1500 with the 5.7L Hemi. I'm 6'1" in height, but I was dwarfed next to that truck! It looked menacing but did it really need to be so big? The hood seemed level with the second story of my house and upon opening it, the Hemi appeared to be living down in the basement. Why was there a foot of air space between the top of the engine and the bottom of the hood? And why was the Hemi stuck partially under the cowl when the engine bay was so cavernous? They could have lowered the hood line and vastly improved visibility for the driver so why didn't they? I lived with that truck for about a year and decided that it wasn't for me. It had addictive power, I can't lie, but I always felt like a child in my father's church suit in the thing. It had to go. What did I replace it with? Another Dakota, used but clean. It's a perfect fit.
topside
Advanced Driver

Agree on the height & ridiculous complexity, not to mention the outright fugliness of most new trucks; their stylists seem to have watched far too many Transformers movies. I'd venture to say - from experience with El Caminos of every bodystyle, and a mid-90s Ranger, that those sizes are optimum for most duties that don't encompass heavy loads; the ECs being under-braked and those Rangers being under-powered. I still love my (moderately lowered) '89 GMC Dually for towing, but once I move from a heavy-snow area, I'll sell my squarebody K10 and look for another EC or midsize pickup like an old V8 Dakota. And the fewer "modern inconveniences", the better...
Laughed out loud at Dangergirl's driving style - you go, girl, as the kids used to say !
Camarojoe
Intermediate Driver

All so true, but different tools for different jobs. Claw hammer, 3 lb sledge and 5 lb sledge. I kept my 2013 Avalanche because it is the best for all of my needs. 4 link rear, because it's really a suburban, so it rides great all the time. Yes I give up some load capacity but that's why they make trailers. I have an R&R aluminum trailer like yours and when I pull my Camaro around it gets about 13 mpg at 65 mph. Better than the 8mpg if I drove the L78 Camaro! 21 mpg without the trailer. I can also open up the lower mid gate and put a 10' ladder in the truck, and close the tailgate. That is why GM brought it back on the EV pickup. Still I am buying a low mile 98 Silverado 3/4 ton 4WD pick up for the big jobs. 98 last year of the real steel bodied trucks.
SGL
Intermediate Driver

The Duramax is impressive, no doubt. But if you “smoked” a Scat Pack Challenger there’s a simple fact: the Challenger driver let you in rather than being a jackass and cutting you off. Its OK, we’ve all “won” races where the other guy simply wasn’t racing… 😛

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

We went full throttle at the same time. I was as surprised as he was. Obviously once he got to four grand in second gear it was a done deal for him!