Three years ago today, I asked my wife to hurry over to Troutdale with $1200 cash and exchange it for the keys and title to a crusty old pickup truck. I had test-driven it the day before, as had someone else, and the seller said it was first-come, first-served, and by God I was going to be first, even by proxy.
She agreed, and did me one better: she took it for an emissions test before she handed over the money, just to make sure it would pass. But she didn't think much of the truck.
To be fair, it was a sorry sight: dirty, with garbage and leaves in the bed, and the interior stank of cigarettes and old food. It had a taillight out and a low tire. But it ran just fine, everything worked except that one taillight, and it ticked all the boxes I was looking for: standard cab, long bed, manual, AC. The fact that it was 4WD was a bonus, and its Forest Service colors upped its cool factor. We went and picked it up after work, aired up the low tire, drove home.
I spent the whole next weekend cleaning it out. There were empty (and occasionally not-quite-empty) food cartons under the seat from Panda Express and (I think) some barbecue place. Fortunately it was winter, so nothing was living in any of them, just fossilized Orange Chicken. I Febreezed the almighty hell out of the seat cover, but couldn't get the cigarette smell out, so I knew the seat would have to be re-upholstered or replaced. I found an upholstery kit from LMC Truck for $250, and it turned out quite well, thank you.
The truck was my daily driver from April of 2019 (when I sold my Saturn) to March of 2020 (when I bought the $500 Corolla). But it just isn't made for rush-hour traffic. There's an enormous gap in the gears between first and second, most prominent at about 15-20 mph; you're either lugging it in second, or revving it high in first. And the worn synchros make double-clutching a necessity a lot of the time. And despite a full tuneup, and changing the tires from the oversized all-terrains that were on it to a brand new set of Michelin LTX road tires in the proper size, it still only manages about 13 mpg, despite being a six-cylinder. A better daily driver was needed. Enter the Toyota. (But I'll tell you about that next week, on its second ownership anniversary.)
But I am the sort of person who needs a truck around, so the truck stuck around. In the past two years, it has hauled lumber, potting soil, mulch, trees and shrubs, rented gardening equipment, and literally tons of rock and gravel (1400 lbs at a time) up our absurdly steep driveway to complete two massive landscaping jobs. And it will do it all again this summer, when we do the rest of the front yard.
In July of 2020, it got its fifteen minutes of internet fame, courtesy of our pal @David-Tracy. He wrote a Jalopnik piece about a very rusty Ford (I think) truck, saying it had "perfect patina." I disagreed, and emailed him a bunch of photos of my truck to agrue my point that patina isn't rust, it's texture and character from years of use. He immediately demanded more photos of the truck, and wrote an article about it.
The truck has also been used to get various vehicles unstuck from various parts of our side yard, before the landscaping and paving work was done. It has pulled both the trailer and my wife's 2WD Infiniti QX4 out of the mud.
It also rescued a Kia driven by a hapless DoorDash driver. I'm still not sure how she accomplished this. I had to pull it back up the driveway, and then I backed it out into the street.
It hasn't seen much use this winter, and as such, usually has a dead battery right when I need it. I have taken to disconencting the battery when I park it, until I can have an outlet installed on the side of the garage so I can hook it up to a battery tender.
The Dutch Brothers stickers it once wore are gone, replaced by my own decorations. And yes, I do have an Oppo sticker for it; I just haven't had a chance to apply it yet.
I'll probably never sell this thing. It's just too useful, and it's cheap to keep around when I'm not using it. Insurance is cheap, and when I'm not filling that 34 gallon tank every two weeks, so is gas. It's reliable enough for what I need it for, and I still love how it looks.
Happy anniversary, you big green lump. I owe you a wash and an oil change.