Living the dream
For just about as long as I can remember, my dream car was a truck.
Not just any old truck, but…
No, wait. Actually, that would be wrong. It pretty much was any old truck, so long as the emphasis landed aptly on “old.”
I didn’t mind if it was paint-faded or the tailgate missing or stuffing was sprouting through the back of the seat. Didn’t care if the fenders were a different shade of once-red than the doors, or if the bumper was made from a pipe.
In fact, the more cobbled together, the more it seemed to appeal.
I don’t have a clue as to why. It just did.
It became something of a joke between Don, my daughter, and me. They’d be out somewhere and see one of my beloveds wobbling down the road and they’d snap a picture and send it to me, titled “truck porn,” for my collection.
Since I know next to nothing about working on vehicles, I mostly accepted I would never own one of these trucks, but that didn’t stop me from craning my neck to get a better look as one passed.
And then came the day Don spotted an ad for one and forwarded it to me.
“For your collection,” the subject line said.
Except this time, below the picture was a link. And an email. Which soon led to a phone call and a long conversation, where I learned all about the truck, a 1986 Ford F-150 Lariat with an 8-cylinder engine. From the time it was purchased new by an Air Force retiree, it was kept it in a garage and babied. A few years ago, the owner spent over seven grand to rebuild the engine and transmission and make it like new again, but then he died not long after. A family member had it for a year or so after that, before retiring to Florida this spring.
He had left the truck here with a friend, intending to return for it, and then decided to sell it instead.
We made arrangements to see it. Drove well over an hour to get there. Knew we’d arrived too late to take it to a mechanic to have it checked out.
Truth be told, I don’t think we ever genuinely intended to buy it, especially considering how hard it was to start and then how it died repeatedly during our test drive. It just didn’t make sense. There was also the totally shallow business of it not being a two-tone, which was one of the details about old trucks I loved most of all.
But driving back home after the test drive, I was uncharacteristically quiet.
“You want that truck, don’t you?” Don said.
“I really do,” I admitted.
Something about that truck was haunting me. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept opening and reopening the pictures I’d taken of it on my phone.
The thing is — along with being a cheapskate, I’m also generally a hugely practical person. I research the heck out of every significant purchase. I pay to get a mechanic’s opinion. I find blue book values and check comparable vehicles and ask family members for their opinion.
Not this time.
The seller offered to drop the price by $500. I said ok. For just a little more than the cost of the mattress I’d been saving to buy, I was driving my dream truck.
And the first place I had to drive it was to the mechanic.
As someone who has had almost nothing but bad experiences with vehicles, especially ones purchased used (including ones I had checked out in advance), I absolutely went into this truck-buying endeavor anticipating I’d soon learn what a poor decision I’d made. After thoroughly examining the truck, my trusted mechanic called me over and asked, “How much did you pay?” I expected I was about to feel foolish.
“No way,” he said when I told him. He called over one of his guys and repeated the price I’d just shared.
“Seriously?” asked the other mechanic. “Did you buy it from a family member or something?”
Somehow, in a world where even yard sale prices are dictated by what the seller researched it goes for on eBay, I managed to stumble into a deal. My mechanic told me that, in its current condition, the truck is worth two to four times what I’d paid. After making me promise I’d give him first dibs if I decided to sell, he rebuilt the carburetor and has it purring like a lion.
And no. I’m not tempted. Not even a little.
This baby is mine.