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Buy Newer or OLD

Looking into buying lower mileage 1975-1985 pickup truck. Not looking for something fancy, just a solid vehicle without the bells and whistles, and in my thinking, some of the technological headaches of newer vehicles. I am no mechanic, but am pretty handy. I do not really have the money to buy a newer vehicle, so therefore don’t have the money to be replacing a lot on an older one either. I think older models would be easier to work on on my own, and part may be a little cheaper. Does anyone have any thoughts on the matter?

You’re talking about buying an antique, 30-40 years old. If it’s cheap, it’ll need lots of work. And this age truck needed quite a bit of work, even when newer. What part of the country are you in? What have you found in your budget? Old trucks like this in good shape have become expensive.


[quote=“lanceturnerinc, post:1, topic:98429”]
I am no mechanic, but am pretty handy.

A low mileage vehicle of that age is rare and won’t be cheap. You are talking 31 to 41 years old so rust would be a big factor. If this is to be driven on a regular basis you could be looking at money pit time. I don’t know where you are but most places pickup trucks used are not cheap. As for parts being cheaper I doubt that because some might not even be available.


Live in South Carolina. Found a 74 f100 for $1800. I am not really partial to any particular make or model. Just want something with some level of reliability that I dont have to fork over $15,000 for.

No 43 year old truck is reliable.


I wonder if the OP has been listening to those that say " they just don’t build them like they used to " and I am glad they don’t.

While I don’t like to recommend vehicles you should use the build it feature for Nissan Frontier and you might be surprised.

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Maybe I have some nostalgia for the simpler things in life, and possibly a healthy loathing of car salesmen. I appreciate the perspectives.


You can test drive a vehicle and if you like it you can contact several dealers from home in your pajamas over the internet. My neighbor bought a new vehicle from a dealer 100 miles away and had it delivered to his house and signed the papers in the driveway.

Lets see: nostalgia for simpler things - 74 F150-poor brakes-lousy emissions equipment-poor handling-no such thing as crash protection.

If you want an old truck that is simple, avoid the 72 to 85 models, the polution controls were absolutely horrible, the gas mileage stank and they had lousy drive ability.
All old trucks have become a hot market in the collector car world and prices have gotten sky high. Even "project trucks have become $8000.

The only reason anyone would want a 74 would be for something to haul something to the dump a few times a year, or to put a newer complete power train in. (It isn’t legal to put an older power train in.)

Now, if you could find a nice 70 or older, that would be OK.

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If you’re looking to avoid technological headaches, buying a 1975-1985 era vehicle is one of the worst ways I can think of to try to achieve that. Vehicles of that area were designed in ways that cut corners in order to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Parts will be more expensive than for a new vehicle, and although you might find them easier to work on than a modern vehicle, you will definitely spend more time working on such a vehicle than you would a modern vehicle. If I were trying to avoid what I consider superfluous technology that is prone to failure and expensive to repair, I’d be looking for something made between 1995 and 2002. If you insist on going back to the 1980s, I recommend something from the late 1980s that has electronic fuel injection.

Agree! Anything that old will not be reliable and need a lot of work as time goes on. Parts will be hard to find, even used. The cheapest transportation will be a 15 year old or so basic compact car which can be had for about that much money and will be easy to fix and keep running. The newer vehicle will also be more durable.

Is this going to be a backup or 2nd vehicle? Something to go get a piece of plywood in? Then go for it. However, if this is intended to be your daily driver, to take to work and make money, then NO.
I am a big fan of older cars; I currently have a 1980 weekend cruiser/project car. I’ll buy them relatively cheap, spend a couple years fixing them up, and then sell them and get another. But, I am able to do quite a bit of repairs myself. You are looking at the age where all the brake system needs rejuvenated, the suspension parts are held together with a prayer, carb needing rebuilt (and good luck finding a mechanic today who can work on carbs if you can’t), minor (or major) oil leaks that need addressing, and on and on.
This doesn’t even begin to address the fact that you will have at best a lap belt, no air bags, no ABS, no traction control…
And as others mentioned, old pickups are at a premium dollar wise right now if they are in good shape.

I would suggest a 92-96 F-150 or a 92ish-98 Chevy/GMC C/K. They are new enough so that you don’t have miles of vaccum lines under the hood to contend with, no carburetors,but are new enough and common enough that parts are readily and cheaply available. They are old enough to have bottomed out in depreciation, but not old enough that they are suddenly becoming desirable classics.

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I think the decision to buy an older pickup is a sound one.

You’re short on cash, but “handy” and willing to learn to be more skilled, right? An older truck can be picked up cheaply, are simple to work on and repair, and used parts are everywhere, and dirt cheap…where I live, drive five miles in any direction…there’s a junkyard with old domestic pickups in it!

Don’t know where you live, but where I do, vehicles 25+ years old are “emissions-exempt.” My 1994 F150 is rapidly approaching that happy day! Also, as someone who appears cash-strapped, a pickup (1/2 ton or larger) is key to picking up “side jobs” that can easily cover a year’s increased fuel costs in a good weekend or two. Don’t forget that pickups are generally dirt-cheap to insure, as well.

Does there still exist a pickup of that vintage that is still running original, and operable, emissions equipment? I’d think that the vast majority have had the vacuum “spaghetti” ripped out, and a “universal” carb retrofitted LONG ago. The few that haven’t…probably aren’t any better off; the emmisions stuff may be installed, but I’d doubt if still functional. Heck, the dealers used to empty out the “bead” cat converters prior to sale!

[quote](It isn’t legal to put an older power train in.)

That is entirely dependent upon which state you live in. Fords, for instance, ran some of the same engines (i.e. 302W and 300 I6) from 1963…to 1996! Do you really think some inspections garage [exclusive of Kalifornia] is going to do a “serial number lookup” to see if your Windsor block is from a 1977 donor…or a functionally identical Windsor from a 1994? Heck, there’s guys who have swapped in stuff like Detriot Diesels into pickups without incident. If they can get away with that, literally anything else is fair game!

Specifically, OP mentions South Carolina. Somehow, I doubt that SC is too terribly keen on targeting and enforcing the myriad edicts of the [Yankee, Federal] EPA…could be wrong, but I doubt it.

You might consider a smaller pickup like the Ranger, Tacoma, S10, or similar. Unless you need the capacity offered by a full size pickup, these couple allow you to buy a considerably newer truck for a similar price.

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I’ll go out on a limb and be a contrarian here.

As far as age: It’s all about how well a car is maintained. I have two Toyotas and one Chevrolet Chevelle that are on average, 39 years old. With the exception of the Chevelle, and its crappy Rochester carburetor, I have never been stuck. Yet I’ve passed hundreds of stalled cars in the last few years on the highway. Now, I must either have been very good on maintenance, or very lucky.

Safety: Yes, newer cars are safe-ER, but that doesn’t not mean that older cars are dangerous.

Is it a good thing that “they don’t make them like they used to”? For me, yes. Only my Toyota Avalon needs periodic timing belt replacement. My Toyota Celica, Cressida, and Chevelle all run on chains. In the Celica, I have two timing chains side by side. The Cressida has two identical fan belts, so if one breaks, the other keeps going. If I get a flat tire, a have REAL spares in all, except the Cressida, which has a doughnut.

I’ll take the safety of non-metal dashboards, airbags, and crumple zones of today over older cars any day…


Tom, aren’t you the guy who did not want to convert from R12.

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