You know what I haven’t had in a long time? A truck. (Well, outside of driving company work vehicles, anyway.) Against my intention to avoid crowding up the driveway with another vehicle, I’ve found one.

Now I’ve been toying around with the idea of getting a truck for a few months. The problem is that while I don’t need my truck to be fancy or pretty, I am still picky about the basic features. I like a truck to have a healthy amount of power and ruggedness. I also like it to have an 8 foot bed. Other than that, I just want it to be affordable, easy to work on, and ready for a good range of tasks.

During a recent Craigslist sweep, a $700 candidate caught my eye: “1995 GMC 2500, runs and drives great.” I continued reading: “350 V8, 4L60E auto, both recently rebuilt.” Ok, so far so good: “8’ bed, standard cab.” Well dang, I like what I’m seeing! But why $700? I better lower my expectations...


The Good:

The engine is strong. It definitely does not feel like it has 288,000 miles on it. It is said to have been rebuilt about 40k ago. The transmission feels good, too. I’m starting to think it might have a shift kit in it, possibly part of its rebuild 10k ago. The bed is indeed an 8 footer, and has a plastic liner in it too. Instead of nasty old carpet, I was pleased to find a vinyl floor! The worn & torn bench seat has also been replaced with an intact one.

List of recently replaced parts include the following: starter, alternator, water pump, radiator, steering gearbox, upper balljoints, rear shocks, wheel bearings, and rear brakes. The fuel filter and muffler also appear to be new.


The Bad:

“Surge at idle” Well I’m sure I can figure that out. Might be something simple. “Rusty but trusty” Yeah, it’s Michigan. I kinda expected that, especially on a 20-yr old truck. Anything else? Unfortunately yes. There’s a reason it was priced low. The very rear end of the frame is bent from a collision; the hitch is gone, and putting one back on won’t be easy.


The tailgate is long gone too, and the area that one of the hinge-pegs bolts to is just a vacant hole. No spare tire, and I’m not sure I would trust the winch assembly that holds it anyway. The tires are at varying stages of wear, and I will have to replace at least a couple of them soon. At that time, it will get a much-needed alignment.

It leaks coolant somewhere on the front of the engine, (possibly poor gasketing of the new water pump). Coolant reservoir is missing its cap, and one of the two wing-nuts holding the air cleaner is missing. The air filter is FILTHY, and will be replaced ASAP. I’ll also have to get an intake tube to reconnect the air cleaner to the fender.


The Ugly:

These items I am willing to overlook, as this is just going to be a beater truck: Lots of scratches, dents, and peeled paint all over. (Definitely a work truck.) Small squares are cut out of the bedliner where a rollbar was once bolted in. Some interior bits have come off, including door trim and hood release handle. The bench seat is red, which does not match the blue interior, but at least it’s intact, and not the beat-up 288k seat I was expecting to find.

So yeah, it definitely needs some work. Some of it is minor, some of it a little more complex. Perhaps a bit too far gone to make all purty again, but it will live on as a beater truck. A day may come when it goes to the scrap heap, but it is not this day!