Uncurb your enthusiasm

The White Tornado

The White Tornado, a 1983 4WD Toyota long-bed pickup that I bought in 1998 and finally sold yesterday.

For the first time in nearly 35 years I am without a pickup truck.

Yesterday I sold the White Tornado, my 1983 Toyota 4WD long-bed pickup, to the auto shop that kept it and our other rice-grinders rolling long past their sell-by dates. The owner’s grandson needed something that was easier on the wallet than the giant pile of Detroit iron he’s been driving, and since Whitey needed work it seemed appropriate to let a family of mechanics adopt the auld fella.

Whitey was the sole survivor of a once-mighty Nipponese fleet, which not that long ago included another ’83 (a 2WD version with nearly 300,000 miles), a troublesome ’78 Toyota Chinook pop-top camper (dubbed the Pee-wee because it looked like something Pee-wee Herman might use to lure unwary children from a playground); and a 1998 Tacoma that was the last brand-new, showroom-floor vehicle we will ever buy.

The fleet

The fleet, docked at Weirdcliffe. Not pictured: The Pee-wee.

And yes, I had them all at the same time.

One by one they all went west on me. The Tacoma we traded for my Forester. The Pee-wee we sold to a guy whose son needed a camper for fishing trips. And the 2WD ’83 went to the same folks who bought Whitey — they fixed it up for a young construction type who needed a work truck, and I saw it around town now and then for a couple years afterward.

I’ve had a truck since I still had hair, and it feels weird to look out the window and not see one up against the curb. But I got used to not having hair, and I suppose I’ll get used to not having a truck.

Maybe I can saw the ass-end off the Forester and drop a flatbed on the sumbitch.

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13 Responses to “Uncurb your enthusiasm”

  1. Drew McCarthy Says:

    “Maybe I can saw the ass-end off the Forester and drop a flatbed on the sumbitch.”

    They called that a Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter (BRAT). With carpet and plastic seats in the back, to avoid tariffs. Another icon of the Eighties…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Drew, I ‘member the Brats. My friend Hal’s stepdad still has one, up in Wyoming. I think it’s mostly a mouse condo. An interesting vehicle nonetheless, especially with those plastic seats.

  2. Ryan Says:

    “Maybe I can saw the ass-end off the Forester and drop a flatbed on the sumbitch.” I think that’s called a “Baja” or back in the day a Brat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Baja of course your method would be “custom” or is that “Redneck” My 2000 Forrester is working on 170K pretty much trouble free miles so I think you will be fine with what remains in the stable. You could always get a cargo bike- the pick up of the two-wheeled world.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ryan, I contemplated a Baja when I was shopping to replace the Tacoma. Then I thought, “Hmm, this is basically an Outback that lets your shit get wet … unless you spring for the optional topper. Mo’ money, mo’ money. …”

      The ’05 Forester has been a fine ride for me. I don’t drive much — just 75K on the odometer — so I expect it will last me a while. My friend Hal, mentioned earlier, has a ’99 Forester with 250K or thereabouts. And those were hard miles in and around Crusty County.

      And yeah, the cargo bike is always an option. That, or one of the touring bikes in the garage. I have about three rigs that can handle racks and panniers front and rear. The question, as always, is: “Can I handle racks and panniers front and rear?”

  3. Ryan Says:

    Opps Drew beat to the punch on that reference.

  4. khal spencer Says:

    Took me a while to get up the gumption to part with the ’89 Porsche 951 and for a couple months, I was haunted by its absence whenever I went out to the garage. On the other hand, I got tired of sporting for my mechanic’s vacations. The ’93 Exploder was a tougher loss, because it actually had utility and while primitive by modern home-to-shopping mall SUVs, was as as reliable as a New Mexico sunrise. I’ve still got my last two Cannondales because unlike the new stuff, mine still have the Stars and Stripes on the top tubes.

    This will pass, at least until you need to haul some large shit to somewhere else. Our neighbor has a Ford F-150 version of the White Tornado, which he has volunteered to us for those rare occasions we need The Big Box On Wheels. But I guess I hear ya, Patrick. Those old truck things have history wrapped into them, at least for us old coots.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      K, I’ve logged me a lot of miles in trucks, from Montreal to Monterey, Boise to Bisbee, and all points in between. Saved me a ton of money on motels and restaurants, they did — a sleeping bag and pad, a Coleman two-burner and a cooler don’t take up much space, even if you have a bike or two in the bed.

      And you can always sleep under the thing, if it’s too crowded or you’re too drunk to figure out how to fit yourself inside around all your gear. Don’t ask me how I know this.

      • khal spencer Says:

        They are practical. Why did you trade the ’98 for the Forester? Reliability issues?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Yup, K. The Tacoma was only marginally a pick-’em-up truck. It had the Toyota Racing Development package, and was purty, and cost a ton.

        Somehow I just never warmed up to it the way I did the Toys of the Eighties — especially after 100K, when it started needing the kind of pricey repairs I’d never needed to make on the older trucks.

        I really started to dislike it after it took me backwards down our Weirdcliffe hill one wintry evening. My judgment of it may have been harsh — after all, the tow-truck driver got stuck too, trying to winch me out of the ditch. But I never trusted that Tacoma again.

        That sucker was a truck for folks who don’t like to drive trucks. Sure did look good, though, whenever it wasn’t in an icy ditch at dark-thirty.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    That is what sucks about modern trucks and SUVs. They are built for people who really ought to be buying cars.

  6. Debby Says:

    I’m a former Toyota truck owner too. Mine was a 1984 longbed 4wd pickup, pretty much like yours I guess. Good truck except for the headgasket, timing chain, and the cancer on the bed.

    I traded it in on a Tacoma that I never quite “bonded” with. I sold that truck and bought a RAV4 that I still have today, 14 years and 150K later. I absolutely love the RAV. Best car I’ve ever owned and definitely the best of the three Toyotas I’ve owned.

    I also considered a Forester and did test drive one. Nice car but I just liked the RAV a little better. It’s a cute little bugger. The new ones, not so much. Each new generation of RAV Toyota comes out with seems uglier and more bloated. They get good reviews but just leave me feeling kind of underwhelmed. I’ll never buy another new car again anyway – too much $$$.

  7. Duncan Carter Says:

    I have a 91 AWD Previa and one of my sons has a 91 Toyota 4WD pickup. The Previa is better in snow and ice. the pickup tends to want to go backwards under load.

  8. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Once you get used to living without a TRUCK, you can move towards living without a car. I went through the truck/van thing during my moto daze and we’re down to just one car these days, the ’93 Misubitchy slowly rusting in the garage back in Sioux City. It’s still shy of 100 k miles and will (we hope) be the last car we have in the US of A and likely the last one we OWN for the rest of our lives. Cars (and trux) are just too expensive to buy and maintain vs renting or leasing on a short-term basis. In the larger cities the car sharing schemes make even more sense to me. Burn carbohydrates instead of hydrocarbons, as we like to say. Of course we still need folks to buckle into fuel-burning jet planes and come over here and ride with us, supported by a leased van and all. but it’s small beer compared to the day-by-day consumption of dead dinosaurs by the average ‘murican.

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