Welcome back! Today on Shitbox Showdown, we’re deep in the rust belt looking at two unusual pickup trucks that both need some significant rust repair. Which one is more worth the effort is up to you, but first, let’s settle up on Friday’s Cadillacs:
Well now, that is actually a surprise. I expected it to go the other way. Several commenters thought the ute might actually be an old funeral flower car, but I have my doubts. It looks too rough around the edges, and I can’t imagine a funeral home wanting such a specialized vehicle in white with a red interior and roof. Seems too garish, too disrespectful. I’m pretty sure it was a homebuilt job.
Oh well, whatever. It lost. Moving on. Today’s choices are both unusual unibody pickups (well, one kinda is; we’ll get to that in a minute) and both are in need of a good welder to put them right. The good news is that they’re both mechanically sound, and complete, so once the rust repair is done, they should be good to go. Neither one was exactly a rousing sales success, but both have a bit of a following now, and I imagine the right person would jump at the chance to fix up either of these. Are they worth it to you? Let’s find out.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, FWD
Location: Dayton, OH
Odometer reading: 75,000 miles
Runs/drives? It’s complicated
I’ve never quite understood why this car exists. Dodge already had a perfectly good captive-import pickup in the Ram 50. This Mitsubishi in disguise was a traditional body-on-frame truck, available with 4WD, so why bother making a front-drive-only truck out of your compact sports coupe? Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad Dodge did just that, because Rampages (and Plymouth Scamps) are cool little trucks. I just don’t understand the thought process.
The Omni 024 on which the Rampage is based came standard with a 1.7 liter engine from Volkswagen. By 1982, when the Rampage came out, Chrysler had shoehorned in the K-car’s 2.2 liter engine, and this was the standard engine in the Rampage. It still wasn’t a ton of power – 84 horsepower – but every little bit helps. The 2.2 had legs; it lasted well into the ’90s and powered pretty much all of Chrysler’s lineup at one time or another.
The 2.2 in this Rampage runs well, with a new carb and some other recent work. At the moment, the truck isn’t drivable because there’s no gas tank installed. The old one was rusted out; a new one is included. Lots of other patch panels are also included. Think of it as a big model kit, except you have to weld the parts together instead of using some vaguely citrusy-smelling glue. It is missing its rear window, and that might be a little hard to find. It also needs brake lines and the load-sensing valve for the rear brakes; apparently they’re rusted out too.
In addition to he rust repair panels, the seller is including two extra sets of factory wheels, another complete interior, and a bunch of other parts. With as rare as these things are, you could probably sell some of that to offset the cost of fixing it up.
Engine/drivetrain: 4.0 liter overhead valve inline 6, four-speed automatic, part-time 4WD
Location: Door County, WI
Odometer reading: 39,000 miles
Runs/drives? Yes, but…
Most trucks are built on a separate frame, and the bed and cab both bolt to that frame. The SUV variant is built in the same way, except the separate cab and bed are replaced by a one-piece body, but it’s still attached to a frame. But the Jeep Cherokee was designed from the start as an SUV, with a “unibody” design – there’s no separate frame. This complicated things when Jeep wanted to make a pickup truck based on the Cherokee. Jeep engineers had to add a chunk of traditional frame onto the back, so there was a place to attach a bed. The junction between unibody and rear frame is a well-known rust spot on these trucks – and it’s exactly where this one has decided to crack. [Ed note: I’d still rock it. -DT].
This Comanche spent its life in possibly the most selfless role we ask of trucks: a plow truck. More than that, a plow truck in northern Wisconsin. While the rest of us hunker down and watch the snow fall with our hot chocolate, these unsung heroes clear away the mess, moving the snow aside so we can go about our business. Obviously this little truck wasn’t a municipal truck; more likely privately-owned by someone contracted to take care of parking lots and such.
The upside of this harsh life is that this truck has hardly any miles on it, the odometer reads 39,000 and the seller says it’s original. Of course, the bulk of those miles were spent pushing a heavy steel blade along the ground at five miles an hour in brutally cold temperatures, so it’s not like they were easy miles. Still, the seller says it runs and drives beautifully, except that it’s about to break in two.
Repair on the frame is possible, if you know what you’re doing, and stiffeners are available to shore up the repair. It’s not going to be easy to erase thirty-two Wisconsin winters from the underside of this truck, but it could be done. There weren’t many Comanches around to begin with, and fewer still now; I guess the question is how badly do you want to save this one?
Rust repair isn’t everyone’s bag, I know. I hate it, myself. But I know some folks like the challenge of it, and being able to cut out an old rotten section of metal and weld in a new one is kind of like having a superpower. Someone with the talent could save either of these trucks. If you are that person, where are you going to direct your efforts?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)