My father bought this very basic truck new for $6988 as a loss leader in late 1989. We are talking a vinyl bench seat, no AC, no power steering, and no radio. He put a lot of really tough short trips on it and didn't do much for maintenance except change the oil. I inherited it in 1997 with less than 100K miles and though it hadn't had any problems, it already needed a new clutch. Despite that, it remained reliable- a clutch master cylinder in 2000 and new radiator in 2001 at 133K. It started leaking out of the front seal a little at about 180K. Finally, at 196K, it's tough life caught up to it and it blew the head gasket Not bad, all things considering. Now it has 230K on it and
I just got done painting it- the red paint had faded to a pinkish hue but it never rusted. I had to put a new clutch in it again at 217K along with a new transmission. I have seen it in other basic trucks- the 4 speed manuals just weren't built nearly as well as the 5 speeds for some reason. They never actually fail, they just wear out and get really loud! So I got a used 5 speed from a wrecking yard for $99 and it has been great and makes the truck even quicker. Despite the 230K miles, the engine seems strong, it just passed the CA. smog test, and ironically I'm the only guy I know with a truck that can get 30 MPG on the highway. It looks great with the fresh paint and one of the things
did when the head gasket blew was change the timing chain- I saw one of those snap in a similar truck with 264K miles on it, so I figured it was a good idea. Everything seems squared away now, I honestly don't see why I wouldn't hit 300K. I adjust the valves every so often as well. Review? 116 HP moving only 2650 pounds, the most basic truck with a manual is actually pretty quick, has a fat torque curve, and as I mentioned, gets pretty good mileage. 4WD models are 600 pounds heavier, hurting mileage and acceleration. The bench is obviously horrible for spirited driving as you slide around while turning. Probably the best heater ever. There's nothing to this truck, therefore, nothing breaks!
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