Good morning! As of this writing, I have been awake for approximately thirty-nine hours. We came home to a blocked shower drain and a flooded basement, so I’ve spent the last two hours wet-vacuuming and sopping up water. I’m hungry, I’m exhausted, and all I want to do is go to bed, but I foolishly told everyone I would be back on the 10th when really I meant the 11th, and the Showdown must go on, so here I am.
I need to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to Thomas, Mercedes, Stephen, and the Bishop for filling in for me; you all rose to the occasion magnificently, and I really appreciate it. Thank you all.
The last thing I want to see right now is another damn French car, but let’s look at yesterday’s results anyway:
Sixteen is more than five, so that makes sense, I guess. And I agree, based solely on the rarity factor. But the LeCar could be fun too, if driven properly.
But enough of croque monsieurs; it’s time for some good old-fashioned cheeseburgers. I’ve got two American cars here, from just about the geographical center of the lower 48 states. Let’s check them out so I can get some sleep.
Engine/drivetrain: 5.4 liter overhead cam V8, four-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Wichita, KS
Odometer reading: 137,000 miles
Here once again we have the divisive (is that “di-viss-ive,” or “di-vice-ive?”) tenth-generation Ford F-150. Arguably more refined, and indisputably less attractive (sorry, Matt) than the preceding generation, these trucks played a big role in the truckification of American roads, for better or for worse. Ford still sells F-series trucks at approximately the same rate that Taco Bell sells chalupas, which means there is no shortage of used ones available at any time, at any price point.
This one is an extended-cab XLT, which means it has all the car-like stuff you’d expect: power windows, air conditioning, all that jazz. It’s powered by Ford’s 5.4 liter Triton V8, but I think this is the early “good” one. It’s an automatic, of course, and two-wheel-drive. The lack of 4WD definitely hurts its appeal; while it’s true that most 4×4 truck owners (including me) rarely touch that lever or button to engage the front wheels, but when you need it, you need it, and buying a truck without it means there are all sorts of things you can’t do with it.
Thanks to the extended cab, however, there are lots of things you can do, like carry more than one passenger, and keep groceries dry. And of course, it will tow like any other truck.
It’s in decent shape, and the seller claims 137,000 miles (but states “odometer broken,” so who knows? It runs and drives well, and apart from a little rust in the corners, doesn’t even look terrible. For a good honest truck, with this few miles, at this price, it’s hard to beat.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.5 liter overhead cam V6, four-speed automatic, FWD
Location: Colwich, KS
Odometer reading: 128,000 miles
Chrysler’s “cloud cars” – the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus – arrived in 1995 to finally put an end to the K-Car’s reign of terror. They’re more refined, better handling, and a hell of a lot more stylish than the cars they replaced. This one is a Cirrus, powered by a Mitsubishi 2.5 liter V6 and Chrysler’s own Ultradrive four-speed automatic. It’s not exotic, but it works.
It’s said to run and drive well, and has had a bunch of recent work: the timing belt, ball joints, and thermostat are all new. Again, it has low miles, especially for the wide-open spaces of Kansas. This is a place where it was once said that “you can see on Wednesday who’s going to come visit you on Saturday.” There’s a lot of ground to cover.
It’s a weird detail to point out, but since the seller included a shot of the dashboard, I’ll mention it: I like the font on this car’s gauges. It’s a condensed form of Optima, if I’m not mistaken, and it’s a welcome change from the basic blocky Helvetica you typically see. It’s too bad the odometer and gear indicator are that green LED display; it looks jarring against the other classy gauge faces.
The seller says this would be a perfect first car, and I agree: it’s cheap, clean, basically reliable, and not the sort of car likely to get a young driver in any more trouble than they can get themselves into anyway. Of course, with this low mileage, it could also make someone a good cheap commuter for a number of years yet.
Neither of these are going to raise anyone’s pulse, I know, but they’re both good honest old cars, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. So which flavor will it be – the overstyled truck, or the basic sedan?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)