Hooniverse Asks- Would Anybody Buy a Mini-Truck These Days?

It used to be you could buy a little pickup truck from most of the Japanese manufacturers, as well as imported ones from the big three. These trucks were simple, honest work vehicles, and provided thousands of gardeners, independent pool cleaning service entrepreneurs, and mailbox baseball-playing teens with economical, no-frills transportation. But these days, they’re all gone.

Sure, Ford still sells the octogenarian Ranger, and the Colorado can be found on Chevy dealers’ lots, but both of those, as well as the Toyota and Nissan tracks have become twice as large and ten times as feature laden.

And every time one of these trucks gets redesigned – understanding that will never happen in the Ranger’s case – they jump both in size and fitment of luxury  accoutrements, pushing them farther out from the needs of those pool men and mailbox-whacking teens. Ford has re-envisioned their entry into this market with the neat but not a pick up Transit Connect. That van may may make creepy junior high stalkers a little more fashionable, but it does nothing for people who need to move a 15-foot tall palm tree someplace.

While neither the Americans, nor the Japanese seem interested in building a mini-truck that emulates the attractions of old, there is a truck that has been rumored to be coming to America that comes close. The Mahindra Appalachian is supposedly Tacoma-sized, and powered by a Bosch-designed 2.2-litre diesel four. At $22,000, it ain’t cheap, and it’s also still bigger than the Couriers and LUVs of old, but it’s a start.

So, do you think there’s much of a market for small trucks anymore? And if they built them again, would you want to buy one? What would be your ideal small pick up?

Image sources: [Wikipedia, Productioncars.com]

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98 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Would Anybody Buy a Mini-Truck These Days?”

  1. Ash78 Avatar
    Ash78

    The marketing theory behind this is that automotive sub-brands (think "Accord" or "Passat") are supposed to grow along with their target market. In turn, smaller offerings SHOULD come up behind them (think "Civic" or "Fit"). The people who bought the Fit-sized Accord 20 years ago are now in their mid-40s and theoretically need a larger car.
    But in the case of these trucks, there haven't been any small replacements. I hold out a lot of hope for Mahindra, but that thing is so focused on function at the expense of form. I'd love one. RWD, 5k# towing, 1,000# payload. I'd even be okay with crewcab and a short bed.
    If I didn't know CAFE, I'd naively say "Bring on the utes!"

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I know CAFE, but I still want to see a ute replacement for the Ranger. Maybe the FPV variant, too.

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      But wouldn't a ute count as a "light truck"?
      …and wouldn't a car-based ute get like high-20s mpg, as opposed to teens/low 20s for (real) truck?

      1. Ash78 Avatar
        Ash78

        If they played it just right, I'm sure it would. Subie showed a lot of promise with the Baja, but the execution (and price) didn't quite cut it.
        Have I mentioned we need an edit button? I was thinking wagons, not utes. Utes would be an ideal solution to the CAFE problem.

        1. Tim Odell Avatar
          Tim Odell

          Dude, there is an edit button…but you only get like 15 minutes to edit your comment. (You might have to be logged in to edit, as well).
          Yeah, but wagons can be classified as light trucks under CAFE as well. Examples include the Magnum, PT Cruiser and Outback.
          IIRC, it must have a flat loading floor (with seats folded/removed) and be a separate model line. This is why the Legacy wagon died…it had to be listed as a car, while the Outback was a truck. If Subaru had gone the Mopar route (the Magnum was a separate model), they might've been able to keep it.

          1. Ash78 Avatar
            Ash78

            Wow, I wasn't aware of the "separate model" clause…that's why it was so confusing to me how the Chrysler 300 wagon (Magnum) could get away with it.
            OK, gonna test this edit thing now.

          2. Tim Odell Avatar
            Tim Odell

            I suspect that's also why Europe got the 300C Touring, but we couldn't.
            A 300C-ified 6MT-swapped Magnum SRT8 is on my list of future project cars. Probably some time around 2017 at the rate I'm going.

        2. Tanshanomi Avatar

          I want a REALLLY small Baja. I'd call it the "Ba."
          <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/ba-shortyru.jpg"&gt;

          1. BrianTheHoon Avatar

            Why not the "Brat?"

          2. Juliet C. Avatar
            Juliet C.

            It's not worthy of the name.

          3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

            It is worthy of a good beating with a baseball bat.
            Oh yeah.

          4. muthalovin Avatar

            Ouch! That photo is hurting my brain!

          5. Smells_Homeless Avatar

            Put about a foot of wheelbase behind that door and I'll buy it.

      2. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

        Since my AMC Eagle station wagon and my former Eagle sedan are both classified as trucks for crash and emissions standards, I'd say that's so likely as to be certain.

    3. rocketrodeo Avatar

      The Mahindra is bigger than it looks. It's about the size of a 92-96 F150.

  2. K5ING Avatar

    There would be a huge market for small pickups….if they imported the DIESEL versions!

  3. engineerd Avatar

    I loved my Ranger. It was a 2000 MY with the 2.5L 4 banger, auto trans, standard cab, short bed. It was a dog. Had a 4.10 rear gear so it would actually go when the light turned green, but passing into oncoming traffic was never a good idea. The top speed was about 80 mph. Mine was an XLT with power windows and a CD player. IIRC, it was around $15k new. It took abuse and never complained.
    I would love to see a resurgence in small, utilitarian truck demand. However, there doesn't seem to be much of a market for these relics of a bygone era. There is still a small market, but not worth the investment Ford, GM, Toyota or Nissan would have to make to update current product or re-enter the segment. So, they seem to be willing to hold on to their current models as long as possible, phase them out, and let someone like Mahindra try their hand at it.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Grrrrrr
      Best fix we've got: switch to Chrome.

      1. engineerd Avatar

        I run Chrome at home with no issues. Work has a hardcore ban on Chrome due to it still being "beta". I switched to Safari for a while, but it's freaking slow and a major memory hog. I'll just deal with it. I was just letting you know.

        1. Tim Odell Avatar
          Tim Odell

          Yeah, this has popped up as a common bug, one that's intermittent and so far impossible for me to reproduce.
          When the disappearing images happen, can you do me a favor and see if you can open the image URL in a different tab/window?
          This is going to help me figure out if it's a blog formatting thing or a server-side "no you can't see that file" thing.
          email mad_science AT hooniverse

          1. muthalovin Avatar

            I also get this issue to with FF 3.6 at work. I will check it out and report back next time I notice it.

          2. joshuman Avatar

            I tried that and the images still showed up as just a black line.

          3. Tim Odell Avatar
            Tim Odell

            You're telling me opening https://hooniverse.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/201
            In a new window/tab just shows a black line?

          4. KillerZomBee Avatar

            In FF3.5.8 opening them in new tabs alternated between a 404 "not found" error, and loading the placeholder page without a pic.
            The entire layout/format of the affected pages and the comments were also different when this happened. Not all pages, just the ones with the black photos/lines. Reloading did not change it. I'll try to send a screen capture next time.
            Eventually the format returned to normal, and then later the pics showed up. I've seen it once around midnight California time as well.

    2. Tanshanomi Avatar

      I get the weirdness, too. I have noticed that the "www." prefix is important. If I pull up the missing pictures in a separate window I get a 404 error, but if I manually edit the URL to include the tri-dub, it comes up every time.
      On the Mac, Safari seems to play more nicely with the new Hooniserver than Firefox/Camino.

  4. Feds_II Avatar

    I have 2 automotive regrets in life. The first was crashing my '89 323, and replacing it with a Protege5, since it cost me $25k. Although, now that the P5 has passed 200,000kms without a hiccough, I don't regret it so much.
    The second is selling my '84 B2000. Last of the line that could trace itself back to the early '70's. With a little more spare time, I could have swapped in an FI motor to fix all of the driveabiliy issues the carb was presenting. The truck got an easy 25 MPG all the time, and with the 7' bed, it could carry 4×8 sheets with ease. Hauled 13-1500 lbs pretty regularly too. Great truck all around, and I miss the hell out of it.
    So yeah, I'd buy a mini truck for shizzle.

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    Asking hoons if there should be a market will always result in a "yeah, totally." I think outside of our community, mini-trucks will never see a resurgence. There are lots of reasons, but one that I can think of is that trucks are no longer utilitarian, but more of a status symbol. There is a large market for trucks that dont do truck things. Or, at the very least, they dont do them very well. I am looking at you, Harley-Davidson Fords. Contractors and construction workers will buy trucks for their flair first, and for the utility last. The people that would buy a mini-truck would want theirs with dubs, a power-stroke, and truck nutz. That bums me right out, but if there WAS a revival for the mini-truck market, I would buy a new Mighty Max.
    <img src="http://vintage-original-ads.com/Pictures/albums/uploads/1987-Mitsubishi-Mighty-Max-.jpg"&gt;
    Because I take my fun seriously. Seriously!

    1. facelvega Avatar
      facelvega

      I predict the opposite trend, for two reasons: first, what we call mini-trucks are what every other country in the world calls trucks, so it’s at least perfectly normal for things to go that way. Second and maybe more important for the American market, it’s been too long since a good small truck was even available. The flair that makes people buy big, impractical trucks is bound to defeat itself because it’s also tending toward plush, chromed, fat, unmanly trucks. Even a relatively dim trade like marketing will eventually have to correct for this by offering a tough little hose-out truck for people who just can’t stand the flab. And once this is on the market, a lot of other people will buy it just because it would look wussy to get a flabby truck instead.

      1. AlexG55 Avatar
        AlexG55

        "What we call mini-trucks are what the rest of the world calls trucks"- very true. In the UK, the Ford Ranger (not the same as the US version), Nissan Navara (Frontier), Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux sell well due IIRC to Britain's own peculiar tax loophole. A significant proportion of new cars in the UK are company cars given to employees as a job perk, but these cars are taxed as a "benefit in kind"- in other words, like additional salary. But if they give you a truck, the tax is capped because it's assumed you're using it mainly for work.

  6. Alff Avatar

    My first car was a Ford Courier. It was just rugged enough to withstand my offroad shenanigans, sheltered by when camping, enabled me to haul my dirt bike and canoe and provided the basis for a high schooler's landscaping business. All the while, returning 20+ MPG in a package that was simple enough for a hamfisted hoon to learn vehicle maintenance on. Hell, yes, there's a market. Bring it now, so that there will be a supply of used ones around when my son comes of age and I won't be compelled to hand over the keys to my full size 4×4 crew cab.

  7. Lotte Avatar
    Lotte

    Well, I have started to see commercial Transit Connects tooling around, so maybe it is taking some of the market for light trucks. In theory, wouldn’t a lower, covered cargo area be better? So my answer is, no, I don’t see anyone buying a Ranger when the Connect is available, if price is no object.

  8. damnelantra™[!] Avatar

    absolutely. when my automotive dreams become reality i will need a tow vehicle. no need for these silly tundras of today. my tow requirements will be little.
    i say bring them back upon us.

  9. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    I have a theory. Actually, I have many theories, but only this one's relevant.
    I have a theory that the last ~15 years of automotive engineering has produced cars that last much longer than before. Without serious neglect or abuse, most will regularly go out to 150k.
    The effect? The death of cheap cars. For $10-15k, you can get a lightly used version of the bigger/faster/stronger model with plenty of life left in it. In most of the US, small size isn't really a benefit and gas is still cheap enough that it's only discouraging the most thirsty of vehicles.
    So, would I consider a Ranger (the last of the V6 Compacts)? Sure, but not when the one I just built was $26k (!!!).

    1. Alff Avatar

      There's a lot of truth in what you're saying. Furthermore, trucks of all sizes are not immune to model bloat and luxo creep that has infected the entire industry over that time. However, I have to believe that there are customers who would rather have a smaller pickup than a mid- or full sized one at the same price point
      Also, my half ton makes about 13 mpg. There's a lot of room for improvement, particularly for someone who wants a truck for the occaisional convenience.

    2. muthalovin Avatar

      Indeed. I was riding along a new Ranger just yesterday, and I was amazed to find it roughly the same size as my '97 F-150. Like Alff points out, model bloat and luxo creep has had a dramatic affect on the mini-truck, as well as every other type of vehicle. That ranger probably had power windows too! Luxo Creep!

    3. P161911 Avatar

      Along similar lines, in the real world there is usually very little difference in price between say a base model F-150 and a base to mid-range Ranger. Usually you can find better rebates on the full size models. The 4 cylinder Rangers are usually rather underpowered, whereas the V-6 F-150 isn't as bad, especially if you aren't towing.
      If you need a truck as a daily driver the full size ones are much more comfortable and better equipped. Gas is still cheap enough mileage isn't that much of a factor. If you need a work truck a full size truck and just do so much more.
      Most homeowners need a truck of some sort for those runs to Home Depot or the dump on weekends. You can get that 10-15 year old 150k mile truck for less than $5k and it will last a long time if you are only putting a couple of thousand miles a year on it on weekends and such.

    4. engineerd Avatar

      Good point. Add into it the rise of leasing (at least until 2 years ago) and you could get a pretty decent deal on a full size off-lease truck with 36,000 miles and still life left on the warranty. So, if your budget was $20k or $25k which would you choose: a new mini-truck stripped of all conveniences or a full size truck with power everything and 4WD? OK, maybe I'm asking the wrong crowd…but let's try to think like Joe Sixpack and not Jo Schmo.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I'm in the full size truck group all the way. By full size I mean an 8' bed with either an I-6 or V-8 under the hood, extended cab is even better, since it offers a decent amount of lockable storage and/or seating for 4-6 people. My 1988 F-150 extended cab, long bed, 5MT, 4.9L I-6 will probably be in service for quite a while. I would be afraid to use a $25k truck, it might get scratched. I really don't care what happens to the paint on my $1600 F-150.
        The closest that I have ever come to owning a mini-truck is a 1979 Ford Ranchero. The first time I tried to haul my riding lawn mower in it, I realized I needed a a Real Truck.

      2. SSurfer321 Avatar

        My budget was <$30k when I went truck shopping in 05. Bought my brand new F150 4.6L STX 4×4 for $26. Supercab, shortbox, bedliner, nerf bars and carpet delete were the only options. Manual windows/locks/mirrors.
        I couldn't afford NOT to buy the truck vs. a mini

    5. rocketrodeo Avatar

      In 2004, I bought a 2000-model two-door supercab Ranger XLT, 3.0L and 5-speed, A/C, cruise and nothing else, for $6750. It had 60K miles. Mods are limited to an aluminum cap with a Yakima canoe rack and a Bedrug soft bedliner. I still have it and it's my daily driver when the weather or task doesn't call for a motorcycle. It replaced a sequential pair of 22R Toyotas. I was surprised to find that the Ranger was a better truck than either Toyota. It works harder, hauls more, is more comfortable, and gets 25mpg when my monthly tank of fuel is expended more on the highway than in the burbs. And it has never, ever broken. Oddly, it is still on its original battery, though I don't expect that to last much longer. I have never had a cheaper, more reliable, and more versatile vehicle. Other than consumables, it's cost me about $2500 in depreciation in six years.

  10. Kraig Avatar
    Kraig

    Straightforward work horse(ok burro) Body on frame 2 or 4WD locking hubs keep it simple and dependable like a 3rd or 4th generation Hilux or B2000. Ok I'd want AC, ABS and ESC but leave off all the clutter. I4 2L'ish gas or diesel crisp 5speed(auto for those who want it) under $20,000 for the 2WD an extra 2k for the 4WD where do I sign. If i could buy an 70s Datsun 620 new today I would. This Mahindra looks about right but I'd like a dealer network like Ford and it cost more than it should.

  11. KillerZomBee Avatar

    My first truck was/is a 98 Dakota 5.9 R/T I bought new. I was in the market for a pickup and wanted something bigger than a mini, but did not really need a full size. So I searched the entire state twice for a 5.2 V8 Dakota with a 5 speed until I read rumors about a possible R/T. Then I switched to pestering every dealer on the west coast trying to get one on order. As a hardcore Mopar guy it totally fit the bill except for the mandatory Automatic, which I forgave. But it is too collectible and nice to really do anything with as a "truck", so I use the MGBs instead. Greasy motors… in the trunk, plywood… on the roof, muddy dirt access roads… floor it and pray.
    Thus, I am somewhat perpetually in the market for a small cheap simple beater-truck. I search CL daily for early 70's Couriers, which for me were the pinnacle of tiny motorcycle hauling dump-runners . A rough Willy's pickup or a 57 Ranchero would also do in a pinch, but I just cant see spending the big bucks on any new small truck. They don't build them cheap, small, tough and simple enough anymore.
    And that's a shame.

    1. DanRoth Avatar
      DanRoth

      A 98 Dak is collectible? Maybe you've got a rare combo, but that's not doing anything but getting more worthless…

  12. Mechanically Inept Avatar

    In terms of really small trucks, I can't see anyone buying them. Today's Tacoma and Frontier are just like today's Corolla and Sentra; they have gotten bigger over the years as people's needs for space and capability (both real and perceived) increase. While most truck owners that I see could probably make do with a small truck (or even a subcompact, for that matter), they won't, because their big truck is an image statement. That mindset is not going to change, so I don't see a market for really little trucks.
    I don't have or need a truck. However, if I were to get a truck, I'd want capability beyond that of a station wagon, something that a mini truck could not deliver.

  13. Feds_II Avatar

    What if, instead of renewed small trucks, we jsut made "light duty" trucks… Lighter.
    We went a LONG time with the base engine in pickup trucks putting out less than 200 HP (like 50 less…). Nowadays, you can do that with a decent 4-cylinder. So, instead of a return to small trucks, how about a lighter-weight version of a 1/2 tonne, with a 170 HP 4-cyl, a 6-speed manual with a bull-low gear, and a couple of thou off MSRP? All the space of a full sized truck, plenty of capability for landscaping/motorcycling/home reno/parts hauling, and actual real-world good gas mileage.

  14. porkchop Avatar
    porkchop

    I was recently in the position for this kind of vehicle. I had narrowed my choices down to, Forester, Element, Jetta Wagon, Tacoma, Frontier.
    Forester – to much new, wasn't that into a used one with auto, also a little pricey used for what it is.
    Element – drives funny, mediocre on gas and power
    Jetta Wagon – too pricey (dealer will not budge in this area), impossible to find used
    Frontier – Couldn't find a 4-banger used, and new too pricey
    Tacoma – hmmm (also the most power out of the group and almost best mileage, nicer to about = with inside of the florester)
    BTW – all the above get about the same gas mileage, except the jetta wagon which is around 30 mpg.
    Honestly –I hear a lot a talk on the autowebz about the mythical 4-banger small truck with a 5-speed, crank windows, bench seat, ac, stereo, under 20K. THAT IS the base level Tacoma, and it is a hell of a lot nicer than my previous 04 XB.

  15. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Maybe Chrysler will bring the Fiat Strada stateside? I've heard a rumor to that effect.
    It sure couldn't hurt…
    <img src="http://static.blogo.it/autoblog/fiat-strada-adventure-doppia-cabina/big_FiatStradaAdventureDoppiaCabina_15.jpg"&gt;

    1. damnelantra™[!] Avatar

      wow, pritty good actually

    2. Tomsk Avatar

      1) Slap on a crosshair grille
      2) Slap on "Rampage" badges
      3) ?
      4) (Hopefully) profit!

      1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

        You forgot "move the sunroof to the proper position."

        1. Tanshanomi Avatar

          Not necessarily. I'd like some extra light and ventilation without the reduced headroom in front, and without the sun beating down on my bald scalp.

    3. Feds_II Avatar

      Man, now I am going to have an all-fiat lineup. One of these and a 500, and I'm all set.

    4. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      AWD/4WD and a stick and I'd actually be mighty tempted. I'd prefer it to be longer, or maybe a regular-cab – I have a car for hauling people, after all – but that's not a bad little… well, Rampage, as Tomsk said.

    5. Fej Avatar

      Fixed that for you: Maybe Fiat will bring the Strada stateside?
      I approve, though they'd probably ruin it with a different front end or something.

    6. SlowMo Avatar
      SlowMo

      Ugh. No thank you. I think those dinky beds are so ridiculous. If I want a truck I want to be able to haul stuff, I can't even lay a bicycle in the bed of one of those things without it hanging out over the side. Those are not trucks, they are fashion-wagons.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        I disagree, I'd love one of these (or a Baja or Brat) for all sorts of quite practical uses. They're a great deal more versatile than a sedan trunk.
        1) First of all, as a jet skier, a small truck bed would be the perfect worry-free place to toss sopping wet life vests and wetsuits at the boat ramp, as well as the occasional jug of injector oil.
        2) Since they can be easily hosed out, so they are great for hauling a lot of the smaller, dirty things you'd ordinarily put in the back of a pickup, such as greasy car parts or a couple of wheelbarrows worth of bulk topsoil for the garden. (With a sedan or wagon you'd probably end up paying three times as much for the stuff in plastic bags so you didn't end up ruining the fancy carpet.)
        3) It's much easier to fit something tall — a potted palm or a push mower — in an open bed than a wagon, hatchback or trunk.
        Sure, you can do all those things just as well with a full-sized bed, but for a daily driver, a smaller vehicle has its advantages, too.

  16. Tanshanomi Avatar

    It's a shame we can't grab some Chevy Tornado (Tornado/Opel Corsa) ute goodness from south of the border.
    <img src="http://z.about.com/d/cars/1/0/Y/l/chevrolet_montana.jpg&quot; width="640">
    Or VW Saveiro…
    <img src="http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc78/vwphaetonfan/sav096.jpg"&gt;

  17. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    THIS is what the market needs. Bulletproof I4, 5-speed, available AC and windup windows. Don't change a thing, Toyota. Use the same molds and everything.
    Do this ad we'll forgive your silly Synergy Drive stuff.
    <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/2606/3521/31514260001_large.jpg"&gt;

  18. psv Avatar
    psv

    I'm being biased here, but from the perspective of an Indian whose family is from the backwaters from South India – if this thing is built on a Marathi Scorpio frame, this Mahindra pick up truck will be nothing short of bulletproof.

  19. lilwillie Avatar

    What is old will be new again. I could totally see sporting a little truck as a work vehicle. I never carry anything larger than a SBC so something like what is pictured would work great. Bare bones, no frills like power everything and a small straight six with a manual trans. Heck ya, let's go.

    1. ptmeyer84 Avatar

      I'm with you, a second coming of the Comanche.

  20. Resh Avatar
    Resh

    Simlicity is a lost art with vehicles these days… consider you can't even get a manual transmission in any of the "big 3" mainstream full size pick-ups (even with the lowest level "work truck" varients). I find that really odd and depressing… and I'm not even a truck guy.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I think the lack of an manual choice more of a reaction to market desire as well as to CAFE. Modern auto trannies are just as, if not more, efficient than their manual counterparts. Add on to it the fact that 97% (or somewhere around there) of Americans don't know how to work a manual transmission and it stops making business sense for the car companies to offer them.
      You can get an F-150 XL with vinyl seats, AM/FM radio, manual locks, and pretty much no convenience items at all for around $20k.

      1. TurboBrick Avatar

        Also, aren't the manufacturers required to crash test and get EPA certifications for every engine and transmission combination?

  21. CaptainZeroCool Avatar

    Mini trucks would be popular if they actually made any nowadays. Another thing that hurts is when you can get a Chevy Colorado and for about $500 more you can get a Silverado. I wouldn't get the smaller truck either if the larger truck is the same price.
    Also, the bloat is insane. A Durango is a 95% Ram. A Tacoma is a 85% Tundra.
    I'd totally rock the "upcomming" Mahindra but I'm more than sure they will price themselves out of the market.

  22. Dr Jomamachubby Avatar
    Dr Jomamachubby

    This reminds me of something I've always wondered. I once saw a Citroen DS on the interstate. That's one more DS I've seen than either the Chevy LUV or the Ford Courier. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THESE?

    1. ptmeyer84 Avatar

      Rust…

    2. KillerZomBee Avatar

      No kidding. The last Luv I saw was up in the Sierras over 20 years ago, sporting track conversion and a Detroit Diesel 2 stroke. Seems every Courier on the planet was chopped in half to make a trailer.

    3. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      Two words. Japanese steel. Before you point out that Japanese cars really don't rust that bad, consider that during the eighties, the Japanese bought tons of crushed American cars and melted the steel down to improve the oxidation performance of their own steel. They also have learned a lot from the US steel industry in the intervening time. Back in the '70's and early '80s though, they started rusting before the paint was dry.

  23. jim-bob Avatar
    jim-bob

    I drive a D22 Frontier with 343k miles on it right now and I love it. 4 cylinder with a 5 speed manual, crank windows, etc. but with A/C makes it perfect for my needs. However, when I bought it, it was about the same price as a basic Sentra. Now, the most basic Frontier is about $10k more than a basic Versa, and I have the same problem with the Mahindra as well. $22k is too much money for a basic small truck. I want to like the Mahindra, but it costs about $7k more than I would be willing to pay for a basic work horse. I am not willing to pay more for a heavily optioned one either, as power accessories, nice stereos, leather seats, etc. do nothing to add to the utility of the vehicle and only serve to drive the price up. As for A/C, I want that because I live in Florida where we have 90% humidity and highs in the 90’s 4 months out of the year. Otherwise, I could live without it. So, just give me a basic one with A/C and a DIN radio hole and I will be very happy, so long as it is not more than $15k.

  24. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Let's not tint our glasses with too much nostalgic rosiness. The current Tacoma standard cab is 9" wider, 18" longer, and has a 5" longer wheelbase than a '73 Courier. Those numbers are not as great a difference as I expected. I think a lot of the perceived size difference comes from the plethora extended cabs, double cabs, taller 4×4 ride heights. If you want a standard cab 4×2, they're still out there. Sure, they're heavier, but they also incorporate lots of mandated safety stuff the old ones didn't, and frankly, at six-foot tall, I wouldn't voluntarily choose anything with less room inside than the '92 Toyota standard cab I used to own.
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/courier-tacoma.jpg"&gt;

    1. Alff Avatar

      Come to think of it, my personal size has increase in similar proportions over the same time period and I don't recall there being any extra space inside my '78 Courier.

    2. ptschett Avatar

      +1. I own a late-model Dakota ('05), and on the Mopar boards I read the general consensus about its low sales seems to be either that it's so much bigger than the previous model that it's left its market behind, or that it's so close to a Ram in ability and price that everyone just buys Rams, or that discontinuing the regular cab was the big mistake*.
      Well, I went and looked up the dimensions. Comparing my truck to what it would have been if I'd ordered it a year earlier, It's about 3" longer (almost all in the front bumper), 3" wider, the same height, and the same GVWR. Admittedly it gained weight, but it's hard to find a vehicle that hasn't.
      *10% of 2004 production, per a Dakota assembly line worker who commented on one of the boards

      1. Alff Avatar

        In 2002 I bought a new Ram. I was initially interested in a Dakota, until I realized that the price and mileage was not all that different for the bigger and more capable full size.

    3. rocketrodeo Avatar

      Owned a '92 and a '93, both 22Rs. Good vehicle, typical toyota in many ways … just not as good a truck as a Ranger. Which surprised the hell out of me.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        My stripper '92 also had the 22R. Heck, it didn't even have a/c or a radio. (I did splurge on a cloth bench seat and carpet, however.) I totally loved that truck…except for my left knee. The clutch pedal was too close to the seat and had a lot of travel. The result was that I had to cock my leg at an odd angle to push it in. I didn't realize what was causing the constant, dull ache in my left knee until I sold the truck and the ache magically went away. I've been driving automatics ever since.

        1. rocketrodeo Avatar

          yeah, I'm 6'2" and was a pretty tight fit in the regular cab. The real issue for me, though, was cargo capacity. Any truck I own is going to have to carry a motorcycle in the bed on occasion, and doing that magically transformed the 'yotas into four-wheel-steering models. Fun as this sounds, I prefer my rear axles with a little less lateral displacement.

  25. ptmeyer84 Avatar

    You know what really needs to come back is the Jeep Comanche. I have been looking for the heavenly combo of non-renix 4.0L HO, AX-15 5-speed transmission, long bed and the Big Ton package that has a Dana 44 rear axle and a payload of over 2000 lbs. Oh yea, and one with no rust. They seem to rare as hen's teeth.
    Either that or an old J-20 with Quadra-Drive and the T89 transmission

  26. dragon951 Avatar

    An Ode to the silver '95 Ford Ranger:
    Oh, '95 Ranger, you were a God among college students.
    You were owned by Skooch, and you packed a trusty 4-banger that never quit.
    You were always happy to see me, and happy to try to kill me.
    Every time you launched that drainage dip in the road,
    3 of the 4 people in your bed only remained there by luck (God rest that fourth man).
    Oh, '95 Ranger, you were always happy to accept two full grown people into your foldout rear seats.
    As long as they were willing to put their knees in each others' crotches.
    That one time we turned our backyard into a sandscape,
    you made countless runs to the beach and successfully evaded police.
    Oh, '95 Ranger, I don't know where you ended up,
    but in my heart I know you are still alive.
    When we broke your rear axle backing down the driveway,
    You came back to us after merely $500 and a junkyard trip.
    Oh, '95 Ranger, you are eternal life personified.
    I love you silver 1995 Ford Ranger.

  27. rb1971 Avatar
    rb1971

    I still wake up some days hearing that commercial from the early 80s :"Only Mazda's got a truck for just fifty-eight-ninty-five! 'Sakes alive!" Anyhow if I didn't live in a city and only have 1 parking spot I'd definitely find a Subaru Brat. Not sure if that's what you meant but it always read as a light-duty truck to me, and it seats four as long as two of them aren't people you really care about.

  28. Mechanically Inept Avatar

    In terms of really small trucks, I can't see anyone buying them. Today's Tacoma and Frontier are just like today's Corolla and Sentra; they have gotten bigger over the years as people's needs for space and capability (both real and perceived) increase. While most truck owners that I see could probably make do with a small truck (or even a subcompact, for that matter), they won't, because their big truck is an image statement. That mindset is not going to change, so I don't see a market for really little trucks.
    I don't have or need a truck. However, if I were to get a truck, I'd want capability beyond that of a station wagon, something that a mini truck could not deliver.

  29. smoke_banshee Avatar
    smoke_banshee

    Yeah, let me drive a Kei truck on the road…damn you federal government and your "crash testing" requirements. That's what i'm mandated to purchase insurance for, right?
    I love my '87 Toyota (single cab, short box), but the mileage could be better. For some reason the comparable Tacoma of 2010 is only rated at 1 mpg better than mine. So other than shininess, computers and airbags, there's no point.
    But i realize that i'm probably one of the few that would buy a small, simple truck…so i'm SOL. I'll either have to lie and cheat my way to titling a Kei or start heading south for rust free examples of little pickups from the old days.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      Preach it! A kei van would be ideal for my daily driver requirements.

  30. Sam Avatar
    Sam

    I drive a 84 bronco II and like all my other cars I have owed it has grown on me to the point I want to restore it to pristine 1984 xlt shinnyness. It has also got me looking for and 83-85 2wd ranger stick shortbox. I think 14inch cragers and bfg radials would look very cool if was lowerd a bit.

    1. Fej Avatar

      I luv it!

  31. Bmclean Avatar
    Bmclean

    My first car was a Rabbit Pickup. For a 16 year old in 1986 that was the coolest thing. I'd love to buy another basic, stripped down to the bone utility pickup today. Too bad they don't make em.

    1. oceansizedlake Avatar
      oceansizedlake

      image.google.com volkswagen saveiro

  32. oceansizedlake Avatar
    oceansizedlake

    I've driven the Thailand built, Mazda clone, Ranger diesel.
    it will burn the rear tires in second when you breathe on the fast pedal
    and hit 100 MPH without raising a sweat, or even vibrating
    that should be a customer ticked option at all Ford dealerships
    let the market decide

  33. tmthayer Avatar

    My current 1991 Ranger is the the correct formula for the small no-frills pickup.
    It has power brakes and… that's it. No power anything else. Parallel parking becomes a bloodsport when you forget to add air to the tires.
    When empty, the back end breaks loose if it becomes even slightly damp out. The paint has little clearcoat left and there are plenty of dents. The side-view mirrors vibrate tremendously at highway speeds, and anything over 75mph feels like cheating death. The clutch slave screams like a banshee from under the engine, requiring double-clutched downshifts to keep it from blowing up.
    All of that crap piles up, but in the end I won't get rid of it until the rust monster eats it away. It is perfect.

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