Home / Car News / Saab Turbo, Chrysler Wagon, Or Ford Work-Truck: Which In This Triumvirate Is Your Shitbox Of The Week?

Saab Turbo, Chrysler Wagon, Or Ford Work-Truck: Which In This Triumvirate Is Your Shitbox Of The Week?

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It’s Friday! We’re at the end of our second week, and we have three finalists to choose from. “Hang on,” you’re saying, “Whaddaya mean three? There are four days between Sunday and Friday, four Shitbox Showdowns, and thus four winners.” 

True, yes. But as I said before, I’m not including that glorious yellow Corvair that David found in this weekly finals competition. We here at Shitbox Showdown, Inc. have a strict $2,500 price cutoff, and I’m sorry, but the Corvair is over the line. This ain’t the wild west; this is Shitbox Showdown. There are rules.

But before the final vote, we need find out who our last finalist is, between that sweet V8 Chevy pickup and the straight six Ford:

The Ford has it. It’s hard to say no to a basic, no-bullshit truck like that ’93 F-150. Lots of people thought the Dreamsicle-colored Camper Special Chevy would make a great project, but “work truck” was the assignment, and for those purposes, the stick-shift F-150 is the right tool for the job.

So that leaves us with three vehicles, and as luck would have it, all three fit nicely into what I think of as the Gearhead Triumvirate: three vehicle archetypes — the project, the daily driver, and the truck — that work together to form one perfect automotive fleet. They complement each other, pick up each other’s slack, and when seen as one unit, make beautiful music together in any garage. Kind of like a power trio, but you know, a good power trio, like Rush or Sleater-Kinney, not like your cousin Randy’s band whose name we can’t print here. 

But even though I am of the opinion that you need all three, we are here to pit them against one another. So let’s take another look at our finalists:

The Project: 1990 Saab 900 Turbo convertible – $2,000

This old Saab beat a très rare diesel Peugeot by a handy margin. The combination of convertible, turbo, and stickshift was hard to resist, and this Swedish bucket of weird took home the gold.

Personally, I don’t think I’d want it; eight years of Miata ownership cooled me on the whole convertible experience for a while. On a perfect day, with the top down, cruising along, it’s magical, but the rest of the time it’s kind of a pain in the ass. Still, I can see this old Saab being a great weekend trip machine for someone. Just don’t let Thomas Haden Church drive. 


The Daily Driver: 1988 Dodge Aries wagon – $2,500

Super-clean but about as exciting as plain oatmeal, this grandma-mobile Dodge beat out a fancier but rougher Plymouth Acclaim for top K-car honors. Everybody had a story about these: their mom/dad/aunt/friend/dog groomer owned one, and it was awesome/crap/slow/indestructible/boring. As with most things, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and as our buddy Torch might say, the most accurate description of this car is probably “Meh.”

But you know what? “Meh” can be very pleasant sometimes. Cars like this that we remember from our childhood are like automotive comfort food, a big serving of Mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not every car needs to set a Nürburgring record. Sometimes it’s nice to just take it easy.


The Truck: 1993 Ford F-150 XL – $2,150

Yup. That’s a truck, all right. Bench seat, long bed, simple engine, radio that only picks up the country and classic rock stations. Honest, sturdy, dependable, and humble. Hank Hill would drive a truck like this. (Actually I think his is a Ranger, but close enough.)

And you know what? I’d drive a truck like this too. In fact, I have a truck similar to this, except mine’s a Chevy [Editor’s note: That sentence was pure blasphemy. Sorry, readers. -DT]. But when you get right down to it, brands don’t matter so much when it comes to a good truck, no matter what your uncle says [Editor’s note: Oh god they’re getting worse. -DT]. What matters is that honesty, that soul, that let’s-go-get-shit-done vibe. And this old Ford has that in spades. [Editor’s note: I can roll with this. -DT]

And there they are. Choose wisely. Join us next week when we’ll be searching for the cheapest viable daily driver in each of four different cities, and finding out which one is the best beater. See you then!

Quiz maker

Images: Sellers
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37 Responses

  1. That K car wagon is the car of my childhood… (but grey). A total pos, yet it soldiered on for years despite my dad carrying loads most likely over for its chassis’ limits.. +Bench seat up front and that oh-so-awesome single accessory dome light that swiveled…

  2. If we’re building a cheap fleet, I’m going to go with the best of each driver, project, and truck that I can find.
    Of those three categories, the F150 is the only one that I’d feel comfortable labeling as the best truck for a cheap bastard. There are plenty of cheap projects and plenty of cheap dailies that are better than the Saab or Aries

  3. That was a tough one between the Saab and Truck. However the truck won by a small victory.

    I followed the link and figured out how much it would cost to get to me. Still trying to convince my finance manager it is a good idea. So far I get no and something chucked at my head.

  4. lol of course the 90’s Ford shitbox truck (excuse me, reliable honest longbed two door all manual used from factory holy grail workman’s truck) would be winning this.

    of course I’m all in on the saab, so it’s not like my choice is rational.

  5. No K car is ever going to be worth a nickel in my wallet or a minute of my time. And the Saab doesn’t appeal at all. I already have a convertible and it’s a 1970 Mercury Cougar and it’s the last convertible I’ll ever need, and I certainly don’t need the headaches of keeping a weirdo Saab running. The Ford is about 15 years too new to be remotely attractive but it does everything else I like a truck to do. I’ll take it.

  6. At that sort of price, I’d be looking for a cheap daily. I voted for the Ford, for obvious reasons. Both the Saab and the Aries are an expensive nightmare waiting to happen, whereas the Ford is the most likely of the three to be dependable, and parts are also readily obtainable.

  7. I’ve owned a 98′ Saab convertible and loved it but didn’t love the maintenance and reliability so much, so the shit box Saab is out. I would do the Aries cos it’s cool and I’ve always wanted a wagon but never had a wagon…but I might just hold out for that Audi A6 avant e-tron, which may not only get me into a wagon but an EV at that!

  8. I have been without a convertible for six months since we sold our 911. Also my Miata and my Solstice, all gone. I’m “Jonesing” for a convertible. I would buy the SAAB if it were anywhere near me. Instead, I am perusing Craigslist and YouTube. Wish me luck.

  9. Sure, that turbo has a manual, but that manual transmission is absolute garbage.

    I drove one and absolutely hated it. Then I met a dude named Arngimur (I’m sure I’ve misspelled his name) who worked in the Saab factory and built these transmissions, and he confirmed to me that they were complete shit.

    I’ll take the truck.

  10. All 3 are good for the price. However, I don’t need a truck. I’ve reached the age and stage where I’d rather pay someone to do the heavy lifting. I lived through those k cars. No. Never again. The Saab was one of my dream cars. Would be fun to replace my father in law’s impala in our garage once we don’t need it to haul him around. Of course it will have to compete with the mkiii supra I would love.

  11. That poor Saab is still on Craigslist. I’m tempted to drive to Bend to look at it this weekend, but I really don’t need another Saab and I don’t dig that color combo. It’s too nice for a parts car and too shabby to cheaply restore, but the mileage (if the odometer actually works) is really low and Saabs do better than most cars when mothballed for long periods.

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