Now that Ilda is here more or less permanently, we quickly discovered we needed a second car. I drive to work, so if she wants to go out for coffee, groceries, solving crimes or whatever it is she does during her Ph.D. breaks 🙂 then she is stuck (the downside of living in the American ‘burbs). So this past week we decided to move on that.
One option was to get another passenger car, but we thought that was a bit pointless as you don’t really get any extra capabilities – so instead we thought we should get a bakkie (pick-up truck to you Yanks), because sometimes we have found the cargo carrying capacity of the Yaris to not great (just past weekend we went to Ikea to get some furniture, and we had to rent a U-haul, which gets expensive pretty quickly; and buying lumber etc for house projects is always a giant pain). We are also planning on setting up a little backyard farm, so a car with no carperts in the cargo space will be handy.
I looked at new bakkies, and that was pretty quickly ruled out – about the cheapest you can get is a Toyota Tacoma, which starts (before tax) at about $18k, and it really did not win us over in looks or gas mileage (although I still like the quality of Toyota engineering). So then we looked for second-hand trucks. The ones that are a couple of years old typically have too many luxury features and you end up paying too close to the Tacoma’s price (rather have the baseline new one than the old one with a bunch of features we don’t want). But then we found Drager’s Classics.
Drager’s is an awesome place run by a father and son team (the Dragers), who in fact used to be a grandpa, father and son team. They specialize in classic cars, but they sell at all price ranges (from a couple thousand up to $100k). Thanks to the handy YouTube videos of all their cars, we were able to find one we liked – a 1977 Chevy Cheyenne for $4000. It had some rust on the body, but the engine was basically new (only 40,000 miles on it), and it looked pretty cool too:
So off we went the next Saturday to have a look at it. I invited Paul along, because he is manly and American and would probably know a lot about these things (which he does, to a crazy level of detail). Ilda had phoned ahead and was told that someone else was interested in the truck, but they had not shown any money yet, so if we had the money, we could have it.
When we arrived, we were amazed. The showroom floor is like a car museum (virtual tour here). Classic bikes, cars, car toys, gas pumps, vintage posters all spotlessly clean and beautifully laid out. We met Andrew (the son), who took us to see the truck. On the way we spotted a red 1970 Chevy CST/10, in just beautiful shape (it was $13k). We oohd and aaahd a little while, and Paul started getting all nostalgic mentioning it was the first car he’d ever owned while still in high school.
On getting to the brown truck, we looked at it, and it seemed nice enough. However, Andrew was reluctant to sell because he had been in a lot of contact with the other mysterious buyer, and was feeling reluctant to pull out the sale from under him (even though his dad had told him if we had money he should sell to us). He told us he had two other trucks to look at (a little more expensive) if we wanted to. This guy was very straightforward and earnest and not at all like a car salesman, so we decided we would not push him on the brown truck – if he wanted to keep his word to the other buyer, he would respect that.
So we tried the other two trucks. One was a blue ford, which had been pimped up a little (tinted windows, lowered suspension). We tried it out and it was ok. However, Andrew kept pointing things out that he did not like about it (which is very strange behaviour in a car salesman). In the end, he almost straight up told us, it’s not worth getting. So we tried the other one, a 1974 Chevy C series. It ran fine (even had a crazy liquid propane fuel option), but it was just incredibly boring – like a big white delivery truck. If we were going to get an old car, it had to be cool (which the brown one certainly was).
At this point I think Paul suggested “we may as well” try out the more expensive red truck. So we got in, and wow, it was in great shape. Almost all the interior was original (red vinyl, original seats, original instruments and AM only radio), and was spotless and unblemished. We took it for a spin around the yard. It ran great. We both fell in love with it right there.
We popped the hood and Paul helped us poke around and check things out. Everything looked in pretty good shape (the odometer read around 150,000 miles, but Andrew told us he had no way of telling if that was the correct figure or how many times it had been reset). So we thought, let’s do it. It was not easy haggling – he only came down to $12,800 (which after tax was still cheaper than the Tacoma before tax). At this point Janna, Paul’s girlfriend, told us we had just saved them $13k, because had we not bought it he would have 🙂
So the specs: It is a 1970 Chevrolet CST/10, 2 wheel drive, automatic transmission, Goodwrench 350 6L v8 engine. AM radio, bench seat. Non original items are the tyres (they seem to be beefier than the originals), NRA stickers (yes, two in the windows), chrome skull door latch pulls (we are going to be replacing those), and the Rhino Liner sprayed into the cargo compartment.
Here are some pictures we took of it:
The following Tuesday we picked it up. It has some slight issues (as you would expect a 41 year old car to have): The steering wheel has cracks, the speedometer is 5mph slow (due I think to the fact it has non-original tyres of a different size fitted), and it has one small leak on a cooling hose. Other than that, it runs absolutely great. We discovered a Les Schwab receipt in the glove box showing that the tyres are new from 2008, which is a big bonus.
It probably only gets around 10-12MPG, but we thought that operating an existing truck with bad milage would probably produce less CO2 and pollutants than building an operating a new truck which only gets around 20MPG. Plus, for most trips we will continue to use the Yaris (which gets around 30MPG).