Last week, in preparation for my impending return to the United States, I bought a pickup truck. Because there is a photo of it above, there isn’t much point in being coy. It is a 1991 Nissan Hardbody and, while these may have been common back in the day, examples this nice are pretty thin on the ground these days. Trust me, I know.
I am not, and have never been, a “truck guy.” Still, in the last few years I have come to realize the utility that they offer and so I have finally taken the plunge. But I am neither a farmer nor a construction worker and I will not be required to work out of the back of my vehicle. I own no race cars, no boats, no travel trailers nor anything else that will require towing, and the hauling I will do will most likely be limited to the occasional bicycle, a few bags of dirt or peat moss, and items like gasoline cans that are better kept outside of my vehicles’ interiors. Regardless of these facts, I decided to have some fun and considered several different options before pulling the trigger.
The internet is a pretty amazing thing and, despite the fact that I’m not due to rotate until sometime in July, I have been obsessively researching different vehicles and browsing the online classifieds for months. At first, I considered the new mid-sized Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon but, while they seem to be nice vehicles, I was utterly shocked at their sticker prices. From there, my attention shifted to used trucks and I briefly fantasized about owning a mid-‘80s Chevrolet C10 shortbed and then, although it makes no logical sense and does not fit any of the above criteria, a K5 Blazer. Of course, nice examples of either of those options are usually north of $15K these days and, reluctantly, I decided to keep looking. Finally, I considered mini-trucks.
Right off the bat, I found that most of the Ford Rangers and the Chevy S-10s out there haven’t aged well and are in deplorable shape. With those out of the game, that left me with a couple of options – well four options if you count the also-ran Isuzus and Mitsubishis, but I had little interest in either of those. I first considered the venerable Toyota pickup but after thinking it over for a while I decided that I liked the style of the Nissans better. Narrowing it further, I decided I’d prefer an extra-cab for the additional interior space it would provide, Solely because I liked the way they sat, I added four-wheel-drive to my list as well. Additional wants, but not necessarily must-haves, were V6 power and a manual transmission. More than anything, it needed to be the “right truck,” I decided, and I was convinced that I would know it when I saw it.
Long-time readers of my work will know that this isn’t the first time I have purchased a vehicle sight unseen. As before, I crawled all over the internet looking at vehicles all across the United States and although I called on several different trucks, all of which appeared to be in good shape, nothing panned out. Some were sold before I could get to them, others didn’t pass my personal sniff test and one kid, in my own home town no less, seemed so scammy that my brother pulled the plug on the deal before getting to the test drive. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought and I was starting to get worried when I finally found the truck I eventually purchased less than an hour from home.
Craigslist sellers should take note of the following. What made this truck stand out from the others was a slew of good, clear photos of all the exterior, interior and underneath and a seller who was able to give real answers when I called. He was easy to work with over the phone and willing to meet my brother-in-law, who served as my agent for the transaction, right away. All of this inspired confidence and, when the test drive went off without a hitch, we were able to strike a deal and put down a deposit. A couple of days later, after I transferred the funds to my sister who turned them into a cashier’s check, we brought it home.
Overall, I feel like I came pretty close to getting exactly what it is I wanted. The truck is in great shape, with just one previous owner, and has about 135K miles on the odometer. As far as available options are concerned, it looks to be fully loaded SE V6. The engine, which my research indicates is a 3 liter VG30E, is reputed to be solid and long-lived but the roughly 150 horses it makes is routed to the wheels via an automatic transmission rather than my preferred manual. You won’t hear me bellyaching though, when a truck this old checks so many of the right boxes you simply cannot complain.
I’d like to be able to report on how it drives, what sort of work it needs and how I am setting it right, but those articles are still in the future. For now, I have to be content with studying the photos and trying to plan what I will do. A couple of things are certain. First, I intend on keeping it as close to stock as possible. I’ll be looking to replace the missing center caps for the front wheels and, at some point, that canopy will come off – fortunately, I also got the tailgate.
What else is there? Well, that’s where you come in, I’d love to hear your thoughts.