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1987 Chevy 1/2 ton 4wd- Please help need to make decision by tomorrow

I have been working for a cheap 4wd truck vehicle ever since last winter and due to the fact that I do need a truck from time to time to haul stuff. This will not be a daily driver.

Recently I came across a Chevy 1/2 ton 4X4. My grand father had a 86 2wd while I was growing up so their it is a little sentimental. It would be the best option for me for that reason.

To the point. I live in Indiana and a Chevy truck without rust is almost impossible. I found this truck for $1500 new dog house painted to match. Also a rebuilt tanny and a gentle used 305 from and 1981. The body and suspension has 94,000 miles on them. The only rust is slightly above the rear wheel wells. The arch repair panels are only $22 each. I would like to be able to keep this truck for some time only driving it 20 days a year. I do not know much about body work. I was wondering what is your guys’ opinion. If I was going to try and repair these panels and spray the under body with under coating. Do you think that the body on the truck could hold up? What else could I do? Or should I even buy thi think tomorrow? What would you do?

Any rust on the rear is a bed swap. You can repair it if you like, but most won’t. It’s 24 years old, so there’s no reason to get too sentimental about it.

I can’t fathom a guess as to how long it will last. However, I would say that a regular bath would be far better than putting undercoating on it. That stuff will just hold moisture, and contribute to a faster demise.


I have a 95 Nissan pickup that was originally purchased in Arizona. I’ve got six years out of this pickup before the rust started showing up from the Minnesota winters.

When a pickup starts rusting out, use it until it no longer serves the purpose it was intended.


I do not mind repairing thing mechanically. I am not very experienced with body work. It seems more like an art. I keep my cars for ever. I have a Olds98 1992 that still looks and drives great. I will probably be buying something new next year for an everyday economic car. I want to buy a cheap ($2000 hopefully) 4wd drive truck to drive to work on the bad 4 days a year, lumber yard 4 days a year and hunting 10 days a year. I just want it to look decent. Little to no rust. It does not have to be perfect. If this is impossible with this truck, what are the other option if any?

Body repair IS an art form…and I’m terrible at it. If the only rust damage is really just the rear wheel arches, then go ahead and fix it.

I would still recommend against the undercoating, though. Just give it a bath after use. Someplace that sprays the underside to knock off any salt and other road muck. That will go much farther than anything else at keeping the rust at bay. But rust is an evil we must all live with. It’s going to happen, sooner or later.

Good luck,

For only 20 days per year it would seem better to either rent a truck or get a cheap trailer if your loads are not extremely heavy or if you could make multiple trips. Here is an inexpensive, lightweight trailer to consider. I have one and can carry things that will not fit on a pickup such as 18 foot 2 x 8 roof rafters. I have also hauled a king size mattress and box spring at the same time, have hauled gravel, sand, 8 x 8 x 16 concrete blocks, a 500 lb. motorcycle, a refrigerator and more. One nice thing about a trailer is that the bed height is much lower than a pickups and so loading and unloading is easier. You would need to add a bed and sidestakes to the trailer.

PS, I live further north than you and get by with a front drive car on our bad snow days.

I have lived here for year without 4wd. I live in the country, I have had to call in twice because of of this. However I have been through many storms praying I had it. I prefer not to do it if I do not have to.

Previous post - what about new paint?

does anyone have to say about the mechanical reliability of these trucks?


Ok, you want a truck but I will make one more point. Get some snow or winter tires and a set of spare wheels for your front drive car and you should be good to go. I have never used nor needed them but some here have said good things about winter tires on both ends of a front drive car in the winter, that is.

Didn’t 305’s of that vintage have a habit of camshaft failure? If it were me I’d look for one with a 350.

Can’t say much about the mechanical reliability. It’s a 24 year old truck. It’ll be as reliable as the person taking care of it, but parts are bound to fail. Keep some cash around for the repairs that will surface.

I can’t say a thing about painting. You’re going to have to decide that for yourself…unless you’re talking about painting the underside. Then I would suggest to save that cash for some repairs. But it’s always up to you.