Advice buying a vintage pickup


Hello all. I’d like advice from vintage pickup truck experts. I’m looking for a solid driver to tow a light skiff to the ramp several times per month and a cool older truck to tool the grandson around in. Have been to a consignment shop here in Tampa and looked at and driven a few 1950s to 1960s Chevy and Ford. They look great on the site and as you’re walking up to them but once you get in and drive them red flags start popping up even on the more highly restored models. Leaks, noises, unaligned doors, window handles falling off, etc., problems you’d not expect on trucks where they are asking 40-55k. A couple of the trucks priced in the mid 20s were worse. Doors unaligned, etc. Reading the consignment companies reviews of these vehicles you’d think you’ve found vintage truck paradise. Any advice appreciated. We’ve found a 68 F100 390 V8 4 speed, that we have not test driven yet.


If you don’t have brand loyalty, I would recommend a 67-72 or 73-87 Chevrolet C10 or C20. It is two separate generations and the 67-72 are pretty popular these days but long box 2wd can still be found in affordable territory. The square body generation (73-87) are still downright cheap but look classic from all angles. Combine a 350 V-8 and easy to source parts, nothing strange in the design (sorry Ford twin I-beam, but what were you thinking?) and that styling and you have a winner in my book.

The older trucks you mentioned (40s-50s) likely wouldn’t have the more powerful V8 unless modified and then you are acquiring someone else’s project. Unless the history is known, it might not be the right truck for you.


Thanks Kyle. Appreciate your input.


I would add the 60 to 66 Chevy or GMC’s to Kyle’s list. They are cheaper than the 67 to 72’s parts are plentiful and cheap and they are more stylish than the 73 to 87’s. The 67 to 78 ford is an ok choice but I would pass on the 390 and look for a 302 or 351w. You might also look at an El Camino or Ranchero, they will tow the skiff easily and have a better ride than an older pick up.


Along the same lines of what Kyle said, I think a Chevy/GMC C20 or C30 sounds like a good choice given your criteria. 73-87 models are still pretty affordable and in many cases are cheaper than a half ton. If you plan to tow, the heavy duty springs, axles and higher numerical gear ratio are almost a must. My dad purchased an excellent, original 78 C20 with a 454 for about $6,000 a couple years ago and it is awesome. Yeah, the bigger engine isn’t great on fuel, but damn, it is really nice to have when hauling.


Thanks fellas. Looking at a 71 C10 step side. Owner says only problems he sees are A/C fan switch only works on one speed and after turning off ignition car runs for couple of seconds.


The 67 to 72 C-10’s are one of the hottest vehicles on the market and should hold it’s value well, especially if it is a short bed. The fan switch should be no big deal to replace but the run on could be as simple as adjusting the timing or as costly as an engine rebuild so I would have it inspected before you buy. I had a 68 GMC and liked it very much. It had a 327 and a Turbo 400, it ran like a champ but got terrible gas mileage and as it was my only vehicle at the time I decided to get something that got better mileage. Wish I had it back!


The dealer that owns the truck says when he turns the key to the off position it takes a second or two for the engine to turn off. When I mentioned timing he said no, that it is most likely the switch. If we make a deal he will have to fix that first. If its not a big deal my feeling is fix it and be done with it so it doesn’t even come up to a potential buyer.


Both seem to be equally likely. If it simply won’t shut off, then I’d say that the ignition switch theory sounds most likely. If it is more of a run on or a dieseling situation, then I think that I’d lean more towards the timing theory (octane could also be playing a factor). For the A/C fan, it sounds like the blower resistor is likely the culprit. Since there are more than one resistance loops which regulates the speed, one can go out but the fan would still operate on the other speeds. I’d say your sentiment is not unfounded. Something like that shouldn’t even be an issue, especially if they’re asking full market price, especially since all are theoretically very inexpensive fixes that someone with the most basic mechanical skills should be able to do.


You’d think a dealer would have enough sense to fix little things like this before putting it up for sale as small things like this send up red flags that there may be more problems. I would definitely have the truck inspected before you purchase, and if you do find additional problems you may still make the purchase but I’d want to know what I’m getting into ahead of time and it helps when you go to negotiate a deal. Good luck.


Well guys, after looking at several C10s and driving them, and taking price into consideration and the wife’s opinion things have changed. I found a 95 bronco, California car with 99,000 documented miles. Going through ppi tomorrow or Monday.