I’d rather push my Toyota than . . .

Twenty-six years old and it still starts — if one knows which demons to invoke.

Twenty-six years old and it still starts — if one knows which demons to invoke.

It must be International Try to Start Your Piece of Shit Truck Day.

I needed to haul the Voodoo down to Old Town for transformation into a flat-bar bike with thumbshifter (courtesy of Paul’s Thumbies) so I can get back to riding the road sometime soon (I hope). Toward that end, I was trying to fire up the White Tornado, my neglected and carbureted 1983 Toyota 4WD longbed pickup, ’cause it’s easier to slide a bike into its 6-foot bed one-handed than it is to park one on the Subaru Forester’s roof rack.

The 2005 Subie, on the other hand, is easier to start. Twist the key and off you go. The Toyota … not so much, especially if it’s been nestled up to the curb for a few weeks of wintry weather.

As I was cranking away, stomping rhythmically on the accelerator while mumbling various incantations and imprecations, I heard some other vehicle trying to harmonize with mine. Down the block, with its hood up, sat a Ford 100 Custom Cab of indeterminate age, its owner, like me, betting against the ravages of time, neglect and weather.

I eventually got my beater going, so I guess I win. But his has a better paint job, and collector’s plates, too, so it looks much niftier sitting immobile against the curb.

6 Responses to “I’d rather push my Toyota than . . .”

  1. Charlie Says:

    that’s why they’re the official truck of the Taliban.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Why are you making it a flat bar road bike, Patrick?

  3. John Says:

    We have an ’01 Outback and a 1994 Toyota 4wd pickup, 4cyl. Both have proved to be very reliable, and the truck is a lot of fun off road. On the highway, though, the truck is another story: It’s underpowered for the interstate, and the ride can jar my fillings loose.

    I wouldn’t mind getting newer Toyota truck, but have you seen what passes for a “small” truck these days? They’re HUGE. Toyota hasn’t made a “smaller” truck since 2004, so the only compact truck being currently produced is the Ford Ranger/Mazda Something-or-other. I’ll go with a very used Toyota long before a new Ford, the Toyota will last longer.

    Maybe the volatility in gas prices will prompt car makers to go back to making reasonably sized trucks someday soon, but by then I may not be able to afford the gas to power it.

  4. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Hey, K — I think it’s gonna be easier to ride a flat-bar bike for a spell. My left hand doesn’t like gripping a road bar and its brifter right now (I have small hands and usually use the birdie to shift). The Voodoo is a single-ring bike, so I’m spared the impulse to shift with the left hand, and the smallish Real brake levers are easily controlled with the index finger. Plus the birdie has nothing to bump up against, like the brake hood or the beginning of the drop bar. I took a quick spin up and down the block and it felt OK. Now, the question is, can I fix a flat one-handed?

    John, we’ve had various Subaru-Toyota combos for years now — since 1992, if memory serves. Herself has owned an ’86 Toyota Tercel AWD, a ’92 Subaru Legacy Brighton wagon and an ’02 Outback; I’ve owned two ’83 four-cylinder longbed Toyota trucks (one 2WD, one 4WD), a ’98 Tacoma and an ’05 Forester.

    I never really warmed up to the Tacoma. It started enjoying expensive failures before hitting 100,000 miles, unlike the two ’83s, both of which are still ticking along — the 2WD version is now a work truck for some young construction type (I still see it around town now and then).

    But you want a rough highway ride, try herding that ’83 4WD to Vegas and back sometime, like I did once for Interbike. It has a bench seat, heavy-duty springs and a solid front axle — no IFS, which makes it popular with the off-road connoisseurs — and is about like driving a buckboard. I think I lost three inches of height on that trip.

  5. Charley Auer Says:

    Toyota trucks rule! They are bullet proof for the most part. I have 400k on two of them combined. Stay with a manual transmission and before 1996 if you can find a clean one. My 2004 weighs in at 4900 lbs with two bikes and 2 kayaks on the roof. Heavy! The auto trans sucks until the 2005 and newer models; but, they are way too big.

  6. John Says:

    Hey Pat – I’ve run my ’94 4wd Pickup reg-cab, short-bed (why did they get rid of the long-bed anyway?) out to San Diego and back a couple of years ago, and thanks to that glorious ride quality my vision is just now returning to normal. It too has a bench seat, and no cruise control (given how underpowered it is, why bother?). I get tempted to get rid of it now and then but I just can’t let a perfectly good truck with a topper and bike rack and only 115K on it go.

    Charley – My 1994 truck comes in at 3600 pounds with topper, and I thought that was heavy. So the 2004 weighs 4900 pounds? That’s a lot, even with the toys in it. Those trucks got fat.

    I had a 1986 2wd long-bed that was built back before Toyota figured out they were building ’em too good. I got 21 years and a trip to the moon out of that thing, 246,000+ miles. It never let me down, not once. I let it go cheap because I need a 4wd and have regretted that decision ever since.

    We’ve been looking into getting a Tacoma, definitely pre-2005, and have favored something around 1998ish, the same age as yours, so I’d be interested in hearing less than positive experiences. The consensus seems to be that they’re a fairly solid truck, not as good as they were in the 1980s, but far better than anything else out there.

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