You’d think if there was a demand for a product, someone would produce it. Not so when it comes to pickup trucks.
Without fail, every auto mechanic who works on my 1993 half-ton Toyota pickup offers to buy it. When I’m out and about, guys come up to me and express the same interest. They all say the same thing: trucks like mine are easy to maintain and are workhorses for hundreds of thousands of miles. It’s true. That little truck of mine is a gem, and it continues to haul its fair share of all kinds of materials.
My truck is a simple 4-cylinder, 5-speed stick shift. It doesn’t have electronic windows, locks, seats, or a voice that tells me I’m low on gas or need service. I just keep it serviced at regular intervals. Because the truck is not all digitized and computerized, anyone can work on the engine, and it doesn’t cost a lot. In almost 20 years, the only mechanical problem has been the starter wearing out.
Unlike the new vehicles I see driving around with burnt-out head and tail lights, my lights lasted for over a decade. In fact, my original tail, brake and turn signal light bulbs are still working fine. My truck’s gas mileage is better than most new trucks, and it passes every smog test with flying colors. Even the parts are less expensive. When I questioned a Toyota dealer why the second headlight replacement cost three times as much as the first one, he apologized and said he had quoted me the replacement cost for their newer Tacoma brand, which requires more labor to get to the bulb.
I wonder why some automobile manufacturer does not replicate my truck. They could keep the simple engine, but incorporate some of the newer safety features such as air bags and anti-lock brakes. Is the industry so stuck on offering bells and whistles that it doesn’t see a market just waiting to be tapped? Or is it a simple case of their economic return at our expense?
Walk onto an auto dealer’s showroom floor and it’s rarely busy. Then walk into its service department and it’s crowded. It appears there is more money to be made in repairing and maintaining a vehicle once it leaves the showroom floor than in selling the vehicle in the first place.
Gone are the days when guys tinkered on their engines and repaired their own vehicles. Auto mechanics are now trained to respond to computer printouts.
One guy at a gas station told me he refuses to buy another Toyota truck because they don’t make the small ones like mine anymore. If enough people demanded the supply, the manufacturers just might listen.
And, no, my truck is not for sale.
Originally published in the Alameda Sun.