Classic car for the dog/camping trips?

I’m tired of having a permanent dog hammock in the back of my daily, 16 WRX, and fur everywhere. The WRX ride height is surprisingly low and has been a serious issue for parking and getting to hiking/camping locations which are often on very rough roads. I love the WRX as a daily driver so I’m not selling it. Instead I’m thinking of getting a cheapish (~<$5000) 2nd car for transporting the dog around town and to take on camping trips. But Mainly this is just because I want another car to play with…
On the practical-ish side I’m looking for a 90s FZJ80 land cruiser or 3rd gen 4Runner. +‘Big’ +practical +off-road, +theoretically reliability.
On the stupid-er side I’m tempted by various 60s classics like a 1964 thunderbird that’s been taunting me into buying it. ++cool, -reliability, -practical. I love cheap car challenge road trip shows (roadkill top gear etc). road-tripping in a 60s classic sounds like a much more fun adventure but could also be the formula for a really bad time.
Anyone want to talk some sense into me or tempt me with story’s about how fun it is to cruise the USA in a classic car.

Read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie. Pickup truck with camper. His dog’s name was Charlie.

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I agree with the “On the stupid-er side”. That’s just nuts.


My kid bought a 97 4Runner and he likes it

Your mechanical ability should factor in rather heavily when deciding what kind of “beater” car you purchase and drive. Or at least that is my feeling anyway. A vehicle from the 60’s is indeed cool but requires much more “hands on” maintenance than modern fuel injected. computer controlled ignition vehicles. So I would be having this sort of info in mind when choosing.

Cant really go wrong with the Toyota selections you are mulling over…but the 60’s stuff is best left to those who have the ability and those who actually welcome fiddling and tuning the old basics and do not look at it as though the vehicle is unreliable. Just my thoughts

I can’t blame you. I’m not a dog person for that reason and a hundred more.

How many more miles/years does that dog have left? If not many then maybe you could just sweat it out for a while.

Have you thought of the other option for your problem, rather than buy an additional vehicle? Are you too attached to the animal to find a new home for it?

The freedom afforded to people who don’t have pets is really priceless. We are active people and would not be able to do half of what we do if we had a pet.

No way a classic. And for $5,000, you’re looking at a bottom-of-the-barrel 4Runner. A pickup would be my choice.

Yeah, I agree. If you look hard enough you can sometimes find a Tacoma/T100/Hilux in that ballpark, and those things are solid.

For a cross country trip with a dog get a truck with a slide-in camper or a Chevy Suburban. To save on gas, a minivan would do as well.

First, get your priorities straight. A cross country trip in a “classic” car will not be the fun you think it will be. I have made 9 cross country trips and on three of those I had mechanical problems, easily remedied because I drove popular relatively new vehicles. Getting a water pump for a 30 year old Thunderbird in Broken Snoot, Montana may have you laid up for a while!!!

How many more miles/years does that dog have left? If not many then maybe you could just sweat it out for a while.

Im hoping for 7 more healthy years which should be at roughly at least another 9,000mi

Have you thought of the other option for your problem, rather than buy an additional vehicle? Are you too attached to the animal to find a new home for it?

Clearly you are not a pet person
I’m not kicking my best friend out of the house. Going hiking without him would not be half as fun.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Also clearly nobody “needs” a second car for their dog. Designating the beater toy car as the dog’s is just an extra lame justification for a unneeded vehicle. But if people only bought cars they needed we all be carpooling in Prius like beige boxes.


One reason I recently bought a 4wd gmc 1/2 ton extended cab work truck. Granted, I’m not going cross country. But the rubber floors are suited to dogs, and the 4wd might come in handy when I go to some hiking spots. My dog likes the extended cab back seat! The truck is an 05 and had 137k miles when I got it. Cost was $5500. I’d trust it for long distance travel.

But, a $5k budget and “cross country” reliability can be hard to combine unless you find a deal…

I’d think a car would be out of the question due to ground clearance, or lack of it. I’m voting early 70’s suburban with a late model drivetrain. But only because I always sort of wanted one :grin:

My dog likes the extended cab back seat!

My dog doesn’t sit shotgun, he gets chauffeured. He’s behaved in the back but a potential driver distraction in the front. Thats why I’m leaning towards a SUV because. For some reason a pickup that’s more than a Cab and bed just seems like an inefficient poor handling car to me, so I’m not a big fan of these 4 door trucks with tiny beds.

Also I used to drive a mini, a suburban seems like a bit more than I can handle :roll_eyes:

My F150 4X4 handles, rides, and accelerates better than my friends Camry. GM and Dodge pickups are supposed to have even better ride quality.

I don’t know. Seems like a truck or an suv are going to help you out in the ground clearance department. A 60’s thunderbird or similar may not offer much more clearance than your Subaru. Trucks don’t handle as well as modern cars. But then again, neither does a 60’s thunderbird. An suv might be the way to go. Sounds like either of those Toyota’s you mentioned might be a good choice. I always liked those boxy landcruisers (fj60 maybe?), but they’re pricey. Other people must like them too.

What you really want is a Jeep Wrangler, 2 door short body.

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Only issue there - it might be hard to find a cross-country reliable one on his $5k-ish budget.

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Yeah, I missed that. He really should get a new one, a basic model for about $26k if he can find one. In the long run he will be happier, if he can swing it.

Otherwise a 2002-2007 Silverado/Sierra Z-71 extended cab. Very rugged and reliable, even with 200k+ on them.

Edit: you’ll love this car. I had one, almost unstoppable.

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The $5k ish budget is why I have an older Sierra 4wd rather than a newer Wrangler!

In all honesty, a truck is more practical for me than a Jeep (and a trailer). A newer Wrangler would be nice, though. We rented a 2018 Wrangler 4 door on our last vacation. I liked it. Would’ve loved it with a Hemi option. But Yellowstone in a Jeep was pretty sweet.

What about a Dodge Grand Caravan / Chrysler Town & Country? Is that too much a “street machine” for the type of terrain in which you’ll be travelling/camping?

Around here in Florida there are tons of nice single owner models of these vehicles (many one-owner, not too many miles, with service records) available beginning under $5,000.

The Stow 'n Go ® seats, on many of these, provide lots of versatility!

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I think you’re looking for an oxymoron and a road trip in a classic with a dog is just a recipe for disaster.
A breakdown or A/C failure is bad enough but finding a lift and a Pet Friendly motel in Paw Paw WVA just puts it over the top.

But focusing just on a Dog Park car and your budget, have you considered a Honda Element or an older Subaru AWD wagon?