Why You Should Buy A Used Small Pickup Truck
Andrew Maness February 16, 2016

1987 Nissan D21 pickup brochure

There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to buying a used vehicle, but some bets are certainly safer than others, and there’s no safer bet than a used pickup truck from the late 80s, or early 90s. These were the golden years of the small pickup as safety had been given more consideration, fuel injection was widely used, and most importantly, durability was paramount. The Nissan D21, 6th gen Toyota Truck, and 4th gen Mazda B-Series are legendary vehicles in their own way. They’re not beautiful, but they are eye catching, especially in stock form. Maybe one in one hundred people would come up to you in a parking lot to compliment you on a well kept example of any of these 3 trucks, but that’s ok, strangers bugging you all the time isn’t something you should desire anyway.

So, why should you consider buying one of these small trucks? The answer is actually very simple, supply and demand. These pickups weren’t widely available throughout their production runs to begin with, and then you have years of consumers destroying them, either by doing all kinds of awful modifications, or working them to the bone. If given the choice between trucks that have either lived a life of servitude, or have been lowered, stanced, and otherwise modified for the street, take the one that has been doing work. It’ll be rougher in appearance for sure, but it’ll have likely been better cared for by an owner who wanted to use the truck for it’s intended purpose, not the guy who put it on rims, and added some neon lights under the frame.

1990 Mazda B-Series

With a relatively small amount of these trucks having been sold new, the amount that have survived in close to stock form is obviously going to be minimal. You’re more likely to find a stock Toyota Supra than a stock Toyota Truck 4×4 V6 Xtra Cab, and if you should you come across the latter do yourself a favor, buy it. Nothing will hold value quite so well as a small truck from the late 20th century, they’re like the automotive equivalent of gold, or land, or water. They’re an irreplaceable commodity, born of a formula that we won’t see used in the future because it doesn’t make sense anymore, safety standards alone wouldn’t allow for it. No, these small pickups are indeed from another era, one that cannot be replicated, but one that will also hold up for eternity, and that’s what really makes these trucks such a solid investment.

You see, the problem with cars from the same era is that while these cars are in the cannon of modern classic now, they’ll be replaced with a new generation in 10 years, and those will be replaced 10 years after that. The reason for that is partially because tastes change as generations age, but also that new technologies render older ones obsolete, and in terms of driving experience, there will soon be a generation of people with disposable income that doesn’t lust after a totally analog experience. Advances in performance, safety, and reliability are the 3 main factors that kill the value of a car. A small pickup is exempt from those factors because its purpose is so simple, move people, and some stuff, and do it efficiently. That’s it, and because that’s it, they’ll always be relevant, both in the marketplace, and in the world.

If you’re looking for a rock solid investment, find one of these trucks. So long as it is in decent condition, you’ll eventually see a return on your investment, there’s simply nothing that can replace them, they’re immortal. A stock example would be ideal, but since they’re near impossible to come by, you may have to settle for a lightly modified one that you can return to stock. If that was the route you ended up taking, you’d be better for it because you’ll have the added experience of intimately knowing the truck, and seeing for yourself just how rock solid these things are. Well, provided you example came from a nice dry place where it would have never seen road salt, which just happens to be the mortal enemy of these little trucks. So, all you have to do is find a well kept example that has lived in temperate climate, and has not been tampered with too much. Good thing you have AutoTempest to help you out with this one huh?

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Andrew Maness Head Writer

Native New Englander currently residing in Los Angeles. I like to go fast and tell stories, sometimes from behind a camera, sometimes in front of one.