Beater trucks for plowing the driveway: '70 Land Cruiser or '84 F-150

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 2004

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently moved from Boston to the foothills in Colorado, thinking I would be out of range of "Car Talk." No such luck. Wouldn't you know, your radio show and column both run here!

Anyway, I live in the mountains. My driveway is a steep and narrow 800 feet, so I am looking for a "beater" to get the plowing done. My current choices are a 1970 Toyota Land Cruiser and a 1984 Ford F-150. Like the rest of us, they've both suffered some wear and tear. The Land Cruiser is powerful, and has a good plow and new tires. It could use brake work and a new exhaust system. The Ford has an older plow, and it needs tires and I don't know what else because it is currently getting a new ignition; I haven't been able to drive it yet. My little Chile Pepper (wife) is partial to the Ford ($2,500), saying it would be cheaper to repair and the owner is a mechanic. I like the Toyota ($2,250). It seems agile and has better visibility. It also has more character, though I'm sure your wives would agree that character doesn't get the chores done. What are your opinions on the situation? -- Brian

TOM: Exactly, Brian. My wife went for "character," and look what she got stuck with.

RAY: Your wife is absolutely, 100 percent, indisputably right. The Toyota is going on 35 years old. It's going to be hard to get parts for it, and you're going to get taken for a ride on the prices. You think you're just going to bop down to the junkyard and find a cylinder head for a 1970 Land Cruiser? I don't think so.

TOM: Parts for the Ford F-150, on the other hand, are plentiful. And if you can't find the part you need at the junkyard, you can probably find a whole 'nother F-150.

RAY: Plus, there have been millions of them on the road, so anybody will be able to fix it for you.

TOM: I know you think the Land Cruiser is more charming, Brian -- and it is. But rare, old cars get a lot less charming when they won't start during snowstorms and you have to wait for the part you need to arrive by mail order.

RAY: So, apologize to your wife for ever doubting her good judgment, and grab the F-150 before someone else snaps it up.

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