Simple Affordable Pickup Trucks Are Terrible and I Want One

Simple and affordable new pickup trucks have been missing from the automotive landscape for many years. In large part, the consumer rejected them in favor of trucks with many features even the basest trims today. Sadly, the absence of simple and affordable pickup trucks, as terrible as they were, is noticeable to little old me.

My first pickup truck

2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Elevation driving down road
2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Elevation | GMC

My first vehicle was a 1986 compact pickup truck. By today’s standards, it was a terrible vehicle. It had a standard cab, standard transmission, manual steering, manual brakes, manual mirrors, hand-crank windows, no radio, and no air conditioner. In fact, the pickup did not even have a rear bumper. It was considered an option at the time. The truck was as basic as it came. The only option listed on the window sticker was the day/night mirror.

The truth is that in 1986, the truck was a pretty normal offering against its competitors. It was a no-frills offering, and it was affordable. Additionally, the truck’s basic-ness allowed teenage me to dream about how to modify it to my liking. I also learned some skills in doing so. I was young, living at home at the time, and had a paycheck coming in. So, modifications for the truck were often in my thoughts.

Today’s pickup trucks are very different

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Today things are very different. The base pickup truck offering from many manufacturers include things like a radio, an air conditioner, power steering, and power brakes. Also, many manufacturers rarely promote their regular cab offerings. Instead, the extended or crew cabs seem to flood the market. Alas, the Mazda B2000 is gone. In its place are the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado.

Here is the problem. I am looking for a beater vehicle. Since I have enjoyed ownership of multiple pickup trucks in the past, I figure finding a basic model ten-ish years old should be simple and inexpensive. The problem, however, is that consumers have not loved basic trucks for years. So, most everybody that is selling their pickup is offering a truck with a lot of bells and whistles. Consequently, they also want top dollar for them. And, I can not blame them.

Seriously though, I do not need Bluetooth compatibility, multi-zone air conditioning control, or even cup holders. Back in 1986, the truck I had was about an engine, tires, and a cab for crash protection. That was it.

Trucks are much better now

A black 2021 Ford F-150 stands atop a hill
2021 Ford F-150 Pickup | Ford Motor Company

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The reality, however, is that vehicles, in general, have become much better. Although I long for the simplicity of days gone by, I would not go back. I can appreciate those days for what they were, fun times in my youth. But, I much more appreciate today’s quality levels and better-equipped vehicles that also pump out more horsepower than anything from back in the day. Old cars are a joke by today’s standards, and that’s okay.

In other words, respect the old vehicles for what they were. But appreciate how far the pickup truck industry has come. Today’s tech means cars last longer, perform better, and have more. So, even though I want the simplicity of a terrible, old, and basic truck, I won’t complain if I find something newer with air conditioning, an automatic transmission, and power brakes. It is just a matter of time, I suppose.