I have been chronicling my search for the ideal small, solid pickup to use as a 3rd vehicle for the occasional Truckificationing. So far, I have been thwarted by the US's hatred of diesel, my general ineptitude when it comes to wrenching, and my budget.
I am not alone in my perturbedness about the current crop of available truck choices. To say that there are few that fit the bill would be a gross oversimplification.
So, when one is faced with a lack of perfect choices, one must make compromises. And indeed I have.
Last week we bought a truck on Craigslist. A 1994 Dodge Dakota SLT Extended Cab, 2WD, Magnum 3.9L V6, Auto, with 151800k on the Odo. We paid $1250 for it, and it runs like it's got a 100,000 fewer miles on it. There is only one rust spot; the top of the driver-side rear wheel well has a small rusted-through hole. Otherwise it's a solid, honest work truck.
It is however, exactly only one of the things I had hoped to find when I began my search. It's 2WD, not 4WD. It's a V6 not a 4-banger. And it's an Auto not a Manuel Transmission. It's gas not diesel. And it's not an awesome old classic that needed rescuing. I did manage to buy an Extended Cab, so there's that.
When we agreed on the price, the seller went home to get the title and we met at a local Walmart to have it notarized by one of the in-store bank employees. The title was in the seller's girlfriend's name, because he had too many vehicles on his. When we approached the desk the notary wasn't exactly clear and the girlfriend accidentally filled in her info where mine should have gone.
The notary rather insisted that I try my best to write over her info as much as possible and agreed to finish the process and even gave me his cell-phone number in case I had any issues at the DMV on Monday. Well, as you can imagine, they would absolutely not take that title.
After some frantic phone calls, texts, and some serious thought as to how we could have been so dumb to have gotten taken like that, we were able to contact the girlfriend who got a new title for us the next day. Once filled out properly this time, it was a smooth process that only lightened my wallet less than $100 for the title transfer and new plates and tags. We got lucky, but others might not. ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN BUYING ON CRAIGSLIST. We survived, but you may not be so lucky.
You'll notice that my picture is from the passenger side. Well, there's a reason for that. The driver's side door is not original, and does not match. Which we found odd. The reason provided was that, "I bought the truck off my (confusing family relation). He said that the window stopped working, and rather than repair it, he just bought a new door with hand-crank window." Right....
Well, on our test drive we noticed, as it was impossible to miss, that the driver's side seat belt had been cut out and replaced with a shoulder belt and buckle that didn't really attach to anything. Hmm...
When pressed for info about it, the seller responded with he didn't wear seat belts, so he wasn't concerned. Right...
How hard can it be to replace a seat belt?
Buying the belt proved to be an easy internet search on car-part.com and some emails with the junk yard selling it. Factor in a day shipping time and I had the belt in hand very quickly.
Then I set to work trying to install it. Which proved to be a bit more involved than I expected, but nothing I couldn't resolve by channeling a little inner Ed China.
After finally getting the interior trim reassembled, without even breaking anything!, I felt exactly like this:
Then I tried the bolts I found laying in the glove compartment to attach the belt to the shoulder mount and base.
Nope. Those don't fit.
For being a safety item, it's surprising difficult to find those bolts. Which seems counter intuitive to me. Anyway, a visit to Fastenal proved fruitless so I was off to the dealer. They could still get them. Score! But the upper mounting bolt is $14. Say what!?
Well, I have them on order. They should arrive sometime next week. I may be able to finally drive the damn thing further than around the corner to my driveway and back this month. That will be nice.
After all that we've been through with this thing, I may have to start calling it the Fucking Truck.