As dreams go, it’s not exactly a big one, but it was mine: Our 2017 Silverado was about sixteen months away from being paid off, so I’d planned to buy myself a Genesis G90 this summer while I could still get a new one with a V8. There’s a new G90 coming, and I’m sure it will be very nice, but it won’t have the five-liter. If I wanted a V-6 luxury car, I’d do the decent thing and find one of the 3,453 1982 Eldorados built with the Buick 4.1-liter, of course.
That dream came to a rather abrupt end when a six-point buck stepped out from behind a McDonald’s (I kid you not) and collected my Silverado in a manner that the insurance company deemed a total loss. End of truck. In theory I could replace it with another 2017-era truck, pay it off in a hurry, and still be in my G90 before my fifty-first birthday — but that’s a false economy, because I’d likely be buying someone else’s trouble and I have zero tolerance for problems while towing the race cars.
So it’s time to buy another truck and leave the Korean luxury-sedan game to my brother, who is in possession of a G80 and and a G70. Oh well. Bark was always the lucky kid in the family. After looking at my racing plans for the next few years, I’ve realized that I probably to swap my aluminum single-car open hauler and enclosed Radical trailer for a single big box that will carry both cars at a total rolling weight of around nine thousand pounds. While it’s possible for the stronger half-tons to pull such a rig, it’s smarter and easier to do with a diesel three-quarter-ton.
There are really only three players in the market: the F-250, the Silverado 2500, and the Ram 2500. The Sierra Denali HD is basically a Silverado High Country with different door cards and seat leather. If you equip them about the same, the Ford is usually the most expensive, the Chevy is cheapest, and the Ram is somewhere in the middle. These are the four configurations I came up with. All of them have the same approximate spec, which represents an uneasy detente between your long-time luxury-sedan-owning author and his Southwest-born pickup-driving spouse:
- 3/4 ton truck with 8 foot bed or the Mega Cab with a 6’4″ bed
- Diesel with the numerically lowest limited-slip rear diff available
- Maximum possible sound system
- No sunroof
- Non-black interior where possible
- No extra “safety” or “active assist” junk
- Fixed running boards where possible
From most expensive to cheapest:
Ford is very much the upscale player in the truck market. This isn’t the top-end Limited trim, because the blue-and-white leather interior isn’t compatible with doing actual racetrack and/or farm work. (Farm work? Hold that thought, I’ll have more to say about that after the new year.)
Pros: Lightest and fastest 3/4 ton truck, the recognized market leader, made in Kentucky, I know some very good people at Ford.
Cons: Aluminum body not easy to repair, my wife dislikes Fords, not available in plain white, and the current “Power Stroke” is an in-house Ford product, not a Navistar commercial diesel.
Ram Limited Longhorn
This is Ram’s second-place trim, behind the Limited, but the Longhorn has gold interior filigree trim, basically the equivalent of the Medici Velour in a Fleetwood Talisman, so how can I resist? It’s also the MegaCab. I wish we could get a larger cab in all of the trucks, since on most weekends we could use a little extra storage space out of the weather.
Pros: Arguably the most reliable drivetrain, extra interior space, nicest sound system, massive LCD screen, most comfortable ride, Yellowstone vibe
Cons: The 2022 Heavy Duty Rams were supposed to be made in Michigan, but right now they are still being put together in Saltillo, MX. Also, everybody knows that the Ram is the least reliable American truck, even if it’s perhaps no longer true.
GMC Denali HD
The people who drive these things are always so unpleasant, aren’t they? It’s the poser’s truck of choice. You never see one pulling anything. But for just a couple grand over a Silverado High Country you get a nicer interior and, if history is any guide, higher resale value.
Pros: Probably the easiest truck to operate, it’s most like a car or a half-ton, inspires a gnawing envy in the average Midwestern adult man, made in Fort Wayne.
Cons: Unpleasant image, doesn’t have the revised and much improved interior of the 2022 GM half-tons.
Chevrolet High Country
This one is the absolute expressed preference of Mrs. Baruth, and she’d also like it to be Summit White. The looks are certainly an acquired taste.
Pros: Good for my marriage. Most sensible running boards and bumper steps. Almost invisible to police, because it looks like a $35,000 cheapie work truck.
Cons: Looks like a $35,000 cheapie work truck. Worst interior. Inspires absolutely no envy from any neighbors. The only time it appears in Yellowstone is as the truck of the candy-ass llama farmer who gets beaten up and stuffed under a cattle guard.
Those are the choices. All of them are supply-constrained at the moment, but I don’t need a truck until March and I have a few calls I can make. No doubt some of my readers will have ideas beyond the above, so I’ve attempted to address them below:
Dude, just buy a used truck. Have you priced a used truck lately? CarMax is asking $69,995 for Ram BigHorn diesels with 15,000 miles, aka over retail price.
No, I mean a real used truck, something that’s 20 years old. Race weekends are hard enough without wondering if your truck is going to give you trouble, and even a 20-year-old diesel truck is worth real money.
You don’t need all that equipment, get a Chevy LT or a Ford XLT. It saves ten grand. Tops. So you’re still making payments on a $70,000 truck, but you’re sitting on mouse fur and listening to a four-speaker stereo system.
You can tow 9,000 pounds with a half-ton. You can, and I’ve done it, but our Silverado 6.2 ate its first torque converter at the 49,000-mile mark and was showing signs of being hungry for another one.
Nobody needs a diesel truck, an enclosed trailer, or four different race cars. As the kids say, GFY back to Twitter.
You could probably tow your Radical with a Genesis G90 and let your wife fend for herself. This is a brilliant idea, and one I have all the time!
Anyway, I’d appreciate any first-hand experience, second-hand experience, or random opinions in the comments. As I sit around thinking about these enormous stinking pickups, I’m reminded of something I read in a guitar book a while ago: “You get into guitars so you can meet chicks, but you end up talking to other middle-aged men about your fingernails.” Similarly, I got into wheel-to-wheel racing so I could put my foot on the neck of other competitors at instant-death speeds, but I’ve ended up obsessing over E-Z-up tents, “pit bikes”, and trailer-camera systems.
The problem is that there is a vast difference — a vast! difference — between doing trackdays in a street car, even a very nice street car, and running heads-up for real in a sprint race against other talented and committed drivers. If you could sit in my Radical for ten laps of Mid-Ohio, you’d never waste another moment thinking about the Cayman GT4RS or Corvette Z06 or any of the other megabuck cars-and-coffee superstars. Even my Neon is a truer, purer pleasure to drive than the various two-ton track rats you can buy in a showroom. So although the cost of my total race rig would buy a very nice Porsche GT3 or something like that, I’d rather be truck shoppin’. It will end up costing me a small dream, but it will allow me to pursue a big one.
For Hagerty this week, I: