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This BAT auction is tempting

Thought the old Japanese vehicle enthusiasts might get a kick out of this:

Someone buy this thing before I do. I’ve got an 88 Mighty Max (same as the D50) in really rough shape cosmetically that I use for yardwork hauling, and at least once every other month I find a note on my windshield with a phone number of someone wanting to buy it. I’d probably be mobbed if I had this one. It’s in almost perfect condition. An amazing time capsule.

Our local Toyota dealer has a 1970 Toyota HiLux on display. The truck has obviously been repainted (probably by Earl Scheib) but looks presentable. I still think there is a market for that size truck. Today’s Chevrolet Canyon is about the size of the half ton pickup of the early 1950s.

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So do I. I think the demise of small trucks came about at least in part because of the Chicken Tax. In the 60’s, France and West Germany imposed tariffs on chicken, which at least at the time was primarily imported from the US, and so the US got revenge by imposing 25% tariffs on a bunch of different imports, including light trucks.

That brought the price of small trucks up to where it was very close to the price of large trucks, so people figured they might as well get the bigger vehicle. Get rid of the Chicken Tax and I bet people see their way to buying small trucks again.

I live in the suburbs, not on a farm. I need a truck, but I don’t need or want a large one because the bigger the truck is the harder it is to fit on my driveway.

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I still miss the GMC Sonoma we had because the size was fine and it was easy to get in and out of. I was told that the trucks that size went away because the business tax deduction for trucks was changed to a Gross Vehicle Weight that did not apply to S-10, Ranger and Sonoma.

I liked the size of my Ranger but my F150 very close in price. I think that is part of it. The ONLY non-north American part in my Ranger was the transmission.

And that’s why, I suspect, the Ranger held on as long as it did. And by the end, you were paying as you said, not much less than an f150 and even worse, the mileage wasn’t much better either. So you get almost the same cost, almost the same mileage, and a very diminished bed capacity. At that point the Ranger dies naturally, tax or not.

The chicken tax was started way back when the Yen was 360-400 to the dollar or so. Made the Japanese pickups cheap even WITH the tax. Once the Yen dropped to 160 on the dollar, most got bigger and more expensive.

There is a market for a small pickup - the local pool service guys covet them. But the market is too small to support a truck that would be too highly priced, I’d guess.

Agreed. I think the market is for a small, utilitarian truck. I don’t need a Sirius XM, leather, navigation, 49 speaker Blaupunkt stereo, 500 horsepower keyless-ignition self-driving truck with dual-zone automatic climate control, laser headlights and a pearlcoat paint job.

I need a plain, ordinary truck that will haul things from one place to another.

My old '88 has crank windows, no air conditioner, and it doesn’t even have a radio. I don’t care. I can make it the 30 minute round trip from my place to the landscape supply yard without tunes.

What it does have is a bed big enough to haul a yard of material, and a payload capacity that’s nothing short of amazing. I’m not sure exactly how much a cubic yard of soaking wet dirt weighs, but I know it’s well over a ton, and I know my truck has hauled it on a number of occasions. :wink:

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more odd? corvan rampside or loadside. the vw versions were odd too

Here is a question that is on my mind: Do the manufacturers build vehicles to meet consumer’s tastes and needs or do the manufacturers decide what is good for the consumers and let this dictate what the consumer purchases?

One example is the compact pickup truck. Trucks like the Dodge D50, the Ford Courier, the Chevrolet LUV, the Toyota Hilux were popular and met the needs of the people that bought them. Now even the successors like the Ford Ranger have been phased out and consumers are forced into bigger trucks.
Another example is the minivan. I liked the Ford Aerostar I owned. It was on a truck chassis and I felt comfortable towing a trailer. When I was ready for a new minivan, Ford dropped the Aerostar and GM dropped minivans on a full frame. I finally settled for a Ford Windstar minivan. It was o.k. but not as versatile for me as the Aerostar. When it was time to replace the Windstar, Ford was out of the minivan business. The dealer tried to sell me an E-150, but it was too clumsy for everyday use. I need minivan to transport my fellow musicians and our instruments, but I also need everyday transportation. I then went to GM and bought an Uplander. When I was ready for a replacement, GM no longer made minivans. The dealer told me the Traverse would be ideal for me. I told him I needed the sliding doors and the versatility of configuring the seats and cargo space which wasn’t possible with the Transverse. Therefore, I turned to Toyota.
Thus, my question: Do the manufacturers build what consumers want or do they try to force us into vehicles that they want us to buy?

The manufacturers take advantage of cheap money and upsell the public to their behemoth models with all the bells and whistles. They advertise 20% discounts at 0% interest for up to 84 months to make the deal look good. Plus the Big 3 lobbied to change the CAFE standard on full size trucks to virtually eliminate the more utilitarian sized S-10s and Rangers.

I see television ads for new pickups that back boats into the water and parallel park themselves and the dealers will finance regardless of credit history even if the buyer is upside down on their trade in. What will dealers offer when the bubble pops and suddenly 6% interest is added and a real cash down payment is needed?

Half and half, I’d say. The minivan is a good example. When Chrysler decided to invent it, there was obviously absolutely no market demand for it, yet it quickly got very popular and then everyone else built one to respond to customer demand.

But I don’t think Ford/GM stopped making minivans because they want to force you into buying something different. Rather, demand for minivans shrunk as people moved toward wanting SUVs.

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Manufacturers build what the public wants as long as they can make money. As @shadowfax said, the minivan market shrank and someone had to leave the market. The least popular minivans were Ford and GM products, and they left the market when sales dropped low enough to that they could not justify losing any more money.

The public really wanted the Edsel that came on the market in the fall of 1957. The public really went for the Pontiac Aztec. Of course I am being sarcastic. In my lifetime, I have seen some really strange vehicles brought on the market and sales fell flat. Manufacturers marketing departments are really good much of the time in developing the public’s appetite for a particular type of vehicle whether or not it really meets the needs of most consumers. Maybe with a little refinement the Ford Transit Connect will make it as a people.transporter like the minivan.

I see a ton of those Transit Connect all over. Small businesses love them as work/delivery trucks.

That’s true, but the new Transit Connect is much bigger than the first series. I think manufacturers make a lot more profit on a bigger vehicle because people are willing to pay more. There’s got to be some reason why vehicles just get bigger and bigger. I’m 5’ 8" and getting into a standard pickup is getting hard to do. It’s just too high.

The Chevy Colorado’s i see around town make most Ford Rangers look tiny in comparison. In the late evening about a week ago the Ford Ranger that is sold elsewhere with possibly Mexican plates (the plate frame hid some parts) was parked in the lot at work. Sadly too dark to get a photo and it drove off before i had a chance to get details but it was similar in size to the current Chevy Colorado.

I don’t know about Ford, but the Aztek came out at the end of the era when GM still thought they knew more than the public about what they wanted. All the manufacturers make mistakes. GM is doing a much better job figuring out what the public wants these days.

Its a simple question with a simple answer… They build what the consumer wants…With a very complicated back-story.

The manufacturer builds what it THINKS consumers want five years from today. That’s a tough task. Changing tastes and economics makes planning a huge gamble. You can see various manufacturers touting their flexible manufacturing plants - one that can build sedans, small SUV’s and crossovers on the same line. This is hedging yours bets so you can shift volume from model to model based on demand. Decades ago that wasn’t so easy. GM Truck made body-on-frame minivans (Astro) at the same time as they made car-based minivans (Venture). Same for Ford (Aerostar) and Mercury (Villager). Similar size vehicles, the car-based vans got better fuel economy, the truck-based vans towed heavier loads. Both companies chose MPG’s over GVW. Now this is just one example of product design choices.

Now consider Mercedes. They make a model referred to as the A-class. (see below) This model isn’t sold in the US. Why not? Its a handsome small Mercedes. They sell well in Europe, why not here? I’ve read that Mercedes market studies show Americans won’t buy a small Mercedes nor one that looks too much like a minivan. There are similar stories across all lines, I’d guess. And you can’t force a buyer to buy anything they don’t want - see AMC Pacer or Pontiac Aztek for examples!

I owned both a '79 Toyota pickup and an '89, for a total of 24 years. I loved those trucks. But I have to wonder whether they’d pass modern crash standards. I’m only guessing, but fed requirements may have changed now to include such small trucks as if they were cars.

One problem that I suspect also exists is that of profit margins. I doubt if it costs a lot more to make a large truck than it does a small truck, and the retail price is far higher.

Where did all the trucks I love disappear to? Why, countries under siege! I rarely see a dictatorship being overthrown in a third-world country without seeing lines of Toyota pickups (old-style) full of armed guerillas!