In a world of pickup trucks that weigh four-tons, can tow six-tons and boast 925 lb-ft of torque, those borderline big-rigs can be a little excessive. Which might explain the clamoring for new compact pickups like the new Ford Ranger to make its way back to the US to combat the long-running Toyota Tacoma and relatively new Chevy Colorado.
But buyers haven’t always been left wanting for options when it comes to everyday workhorse trucks they can fit in their garage. In the past, even the biggest models in some manufacturers’ lineups were practical enough to use as daily drivers. So if you’re looking for a practically-sized truck that’s a little older, or even a classic, one of these five pickups may be destined for your driveway.
1970 Chevrolet K-10 Shortbed
Mileage: 262 (restored)
Location: Tucson, Arizona
What we like: It’s not only this K-10’s size that makes it so useable for every driving but also its level of restoration. It’s practically brand new, has a 350ci engine that puts down modern power, has more style than anything brands are currently manufacturing and at least as bidding stands now, you’d save $10,000 over a modern Chevy.
From the seller: “Originally finished in Medium Green with Green Vinyl trim, the truck reportedly underwent a body-off restoration about two years ago. Updates included new rocker panels along with a repaint in the current light grey and an updated interior along with a walnut bed floor. Power comes from a rebuilt 350ci V8, and the engine sends power to all four wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission and two-speed transfer case. Just 262 miles have been put on the truck since the updates were completed.”
What to look out for: Popularity of this classic pickup has grown over the years, but unlike other pickups of this vintage there seems to be less of a concern with numbers matching or Concours-level restorations. More buyers of this generation K-Series have restomodded them or just plain modified them, which might work out in the buyer’s favor. Original replacement parts for these truck are harder to come by but newer parts installed in a restoration make upkeep that much easier.
Expert opinion: “If a truck was a big-block, air-conditioned, bucket seat truck, it doesn’t mean a whole lot when those items are missing. The trim items are often missing or badly damaged. Lots of people used to throw away (or sell for pennies) Cheyenne trim pieces. Now that a stock exterior appearance is very popular, those trim pieces can be tough or expensive to replace.” — Bruce Caldwell, Truck Trend
2004 Toyota Tacoma Xtra Cab TRD
Location: Neptune, New Jersey
What we like: Even though this Tacoma is the most modern truck on the list, the Toyota pickup’s calling card has always been its bullet-proof reliability and its manageable size. And not only does this Taco come with extra performance courtesy of the TRD package, the previous owner also installed a Pendaliner bed liner in the extended six-foot bed, so you don’t have to be afraid to put this truck to work immediately.
From the seller: “The Mystic Gold Metallic (4P7) finish is said to be original, and the seller reports no history of accidents. Features of the TRD package include the addition of a locking rear differential, off-road-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks and progressive-rate springs, black fender flares and 16? aluminum alloys, which are fitted on this example with Michelin Defender LTX tires.”
What to look out for: Not surprisingly, Tacomas of this age are pretty bulletproof, but one thing to keep an eye on is rust and paint decay. It’s not a wide-spread problem, but it seems to be the most common.
Expert opinion: “Mud monkeys will want the TRD Off-Road package, which includes an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein monotube shocks, a thinner front anti-roll bar for greater suspension travel, 16-inch alloy wheels with blocky P265/70 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires and sports seats. A TRD Off-Road sticker usually spells ruin for the ride, but Toyota went softer on the bushings and damper settings for 2005. The result is less belly jiggling on normal paved roads.” — Aaron Robinson, Motor Trend
1964 Ford F-100 Custom Cab
Mileage: 37,000 (TMU)
Location: Salem, Oregon
What we like: 1964 was a rocky period for America’s historically best selling truck. Initially, for this fourth generation F-Series, Ford used a unibody architecture from 1960 to 1963 which witch came complaints of the doors getting stuck closed if the bed had too big of a payload. To fix this Ford reverted to the previous generation bed for some of the ’63 and ’64 model trucks. What that means for this particular pickup is though it has an older bed hanging out back, it does mean you can actually use it.
From the seller: “This 1964 Ford F-100 is powered by a 223ci inline-six paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Since purchasing the truck, the selling dealer has refinished the bumpers, wheels and Ford lettering on the tailgate. Recent engine work includes a new head gasket, valve stem seals, manifold gaskets and an engine detail.”
What to look out for: This is a fairly well-kept example of the fourth generation F-Series pickup, but one major problem with these unibody trucks is rust. The bed and where the bed meets the cab produce the most problems for owners, so pay close attention to that particular area when shopping.
Expert opinion: “Ford updated its popular F-Series pickup trucks in 1961, marking the venerable truck’s fourth discrete generation. In the process, the F-100 received a revamped appearance with a stacked grille, a lower stance and a brighter cab. Most notable, however, was an innovative integrated cab/bed design that was applied to lighter duty trucks. While retaining standard body-on-frame architecture, these were the first pickup trucks to have the cab and box integrated.” — Hagerty
1969 Chevrolet C20 Deluxe 4×4
Location: Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania
What we like: The ’69 Chevy C20 Deluxe is one of the first pickups to venture into being a ‘lifestyle’ truck. The design was purposely penned to look less like a truck to attract buyers that didn’t necessarily need a truck purely for work. But that doesn’t mean this C20 can’t haul. C20 Deluxe was the highest trim-level available at the time, not to mention available for only around $30,000; a new 5.7-liter V8 has been put into this truck to keep it running like new.
From the seller: “This 1969 Chevrolet C20 Deluxe 4×4 was purchased new in Shillington, Pennsylvania and acquired by the seller two years ago from the previous owner of 42 years. A reported $32K of work had been conducted over the years, including the installation of a Chevrolet 350ci V8 crate motor, Muncie four-speed manual gearbox and a Rockwell transfer case 25 years ago.”
What to look out for: Similar to other trucks of this era, rust is the main problem. The drivetrain is nearly indestructible, but make sure to take a closer look at the undercarriage and frame if you get the chance to shop one in person.
Expert opinion: “The 1967-’68 trucks were the least “trucky”-looking of all of this series, with their open grille design and hood that sloped back slightly at the leading edge. For 1969, the look of these trucks was made slightly more aggressive by changing the hood to a more upright profile with a prominent Chevrolet bowtie emblem planted dead center.” — Hemmings
1989 Subaru Sambar Pickup 4WD
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
What we like: Okay, so the Sambar is a bit of an extreme example of a how small a pickup can be, but as a grocery getter in the city? You can park this thing anywhere, and if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to get this into your freight elevator and park it in your loft.
From the seller: “This 1989 Subaru Sambar Pickup 4WD was imported from Japan by the seller in late 2017. The truck is powered by a 544cc water-cooled inline-twin paired to a manual transmission with four forward speeds, plus a low-speed crawler gear. The truck reportedly stayed with the original owner until 2017, and passed Japan’s Shaken inspection prior to importation.”
What to look out for: You have to adopt a different driving style with a Kei car like the Sambar. Forget driving on the highway, especially in the States — it maxes out in city-driving. As for maintenance, there’s not much on the Sambar to go wrong, unsurprisingly, but fluids and brakes do need to be changed regularly.
Expert opinion: “Unladen pickups can often have a jarring ride, especially on lower-end, working truck models. But not the Sambar! The seemingly illogical beauty of a rear-engine pickup really helps here, keeping the front/rear weight distribution good when the bed’s empty. The ride’s surprisingly calm, with the little four coupled to the stepless CVT providing smooth changes of speed, and the suspension isn’t too bouncy.” — Jason Torchinsky, Jalopnik
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