Best Beater Pickup for Hauling Bikes

My son and I are new to the dirt. We've been towing our bikes out to our preferred riding site using my wife's Saturn Vue as the tow vehicle, and a trailer graciously loaned by my neighbor.

Last Saturday on the way home (after my son's bike ate its bottom end) some yahoo decided to blow our doors off. Swerving to the right to give him room, the Vue must have caught a rut at just the wrong angle. We weren't going fast; maybe 25 mph. Broken sway bar, bent or busted tie rod, possible damaged steering linkage, $1,500.:busted:

My wife was not happy. Since the Vue is the only vehicle I have set up for towing, we're off the dirt until I can find another solution.

I'd like to find an old(er), cheap, simple pickup. No preference as to make, model, year. Extended cab would be nice (I'm 6' 7") but I could live with a standard cab for the short term. It just needs to be able to haul our bikes from our house to the riding site, and back. We'll improve or rebuild as necessary over time. Won't be a commuter vehicle. I'd prefer manual everything; manual start would be okay (a kickstarter on an F-150?). Easy to work on; my wrenching skills are from the days of points, plugs, condenser, carburetor, and hi-beam switches on the floor. Replacement parts easy to find, and relatively inexpensive.

Recommendations? Models or years to avoid? Encouragement? Advice? Horror stories?



Edit: well, oops -- now I see the truck and vehicle sub-forum. Reposted.

80's Toyota pickup, extremely reliable and cheap. Can turn it into a fun off road play toy as time goes by as well if you'd like. If your talking about something a little nicer I'd go with a 90's Chevy. Can be found pretty cheaply and are still very nice trucks, we always had really good luck with ours reliability wise.

Toyota T100, you cant break it. This is a diesel version sold in europe. A Nissan 'Pickup' would also be a good beater truck.

At your height I would say a full-sized truck for sure and I would recommend a 4x2 since they're cheaper. Early 90's American made trucks are fairly cheap to get.

I'm a fan of the '89-'98 GM pickups myself. Durable, dependable, easy to work on and cheap. The '97 and up Ford trucks place the engine halfway under the dash, so I'd avoid them if it were me. Too bad you weren't looking a few months ago, I sold my '89 Chevy 4x4 for $1000 and while it wasn't much to look at, it was the most dependable vehicle I've ever owned, bar none.

For reliability, and simplicity a 70s or 80s chevy with a small block (350/305) and a 4 speed are hard to beat. Anyone with a small tool set and some basic car knowledge can keep them running forever, parts are cheap and readily available everywhere.

If your goin for cheap look for a Ford Ranger. I'm not a fan of them or anything (I like Chevys personally) but they are cheap and parts are available.

toyotas are great pickups, i have owned a few of them, two bikes and some gear is about all you are going to get in the back of a toy, i have had 3 bikes in mine before but you have to get creative. what i think would best suit your needs is a older chevy ford or even dodge pickup, they are reliable pats are easy to get, there is a million of them out there, the gas milege is crappy but you can get your bikes and gear in there, and even pull i trailor or something. check out or your local classifieds i bet you will find something in decent shape for cheap.

buy a chevy 1/2 ton,you wont regret it,avoid the 4.3-great engine just not enough power, a manual trans although harder to find are more reliable when buying used(auto's usually arnt maintained properly so it will probably crap out ) 87-95 tbi chevys are reliable 96+vortec's are better--power/mpg. if you buy a ford look for a 302 97-,again manual is best (300-351's) are terds and thirsty.

Yea like everyone else said "Toyota!" I've owned 3 and have been real happy with all of them. I currently own a '94 we use as an offroader and hunting rig, it will go anywhere!

late 80's to early 90's toyota pickups are keepers. They started building Tacomas in June of 95, and are a little more expensive. But if you get one of the older ones that isn't jacked up or hasn't been offroaded excessively, they will last quite a while and are fairly easy to work on. And like said above, you can cram 3 bikes and all your gear in one if you pack tight.


my dad sold his 95 toyota 4x4 last year with 350,000 miles on it. The only work he ever had to do to it was basic maintenance stuff. You could pick one up nowadays with high miles for a pretty good price and it would last a long time.

i use a black f-250 diesel v8 1992 model and it rules

Good luck,nobody wants to give them up. I have been looking for 6 months and everything is 2 yrs old and out of my price range. Or there 15 yrs old and ready to explode. Toyota or nissan is untouchable used and i live in a city of 6 million. I have enlisted my dad's help with looking in florida and he is having the same problem.

I am ready to give up. I ride my streetbike all summer rain or shine. With winter almost over i won't get to drive it till next winter.

I would look for a f-150 with a 300 straight six you can find them dirt cheep <1000 and the straight six is indestructible thats why otr trucks use them

BTW this should be in trucks trailers RVs and toy haulers

1996 and newer S-10 p/u's are a dime a dozen, and are decent little trucks. Make OK bike haulers, if you're not pulling a lot of weight up long hills. In 96 all manufactures went to OBD2, so going through any emmissions testing and diagnostics are really easy. Big selling point for me, I live in county where vehicles have to pass emmissions standards.

+ 1 on the yota, i purchased mine for $1000 and put 40,000 miles on it then sold it for $750 you can't beat that for cheap transpo.

1970.jpg 1970

Me and many of my riding buddies have always had great luck with Rangers. Toyota's are great little trucks but expensive for what you get. The S-10's in my experience have poor build quality. My favorite Rangers are the 93-97 generation. If you think you need a V6, make sure to get the 4.0L. Ford offered a 3.0L which is still a reliable motor, but you won't save any gas over the 4.0, so get the more powerful motor. I could get into much more detail but try looking over at for some feedback on rangers.

BC3 -- too cool for words...I have a '94 Taurus wagon (kids transport) that may yield to the Sawzall...

I like the Toyos, but they seem to command premium prices.

Starting to think simpler is better: older F-150, inline 6, manual everything, 2WD.

For all you 4WD guys, especially in the Southwest: how often do you really use 4WD? Be honest, now...



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