Super-Clean Red Trucks: 1982 Chevrolet S-10 vs 1991 Mazda B2200

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All right; after yesterday’s nasty crusty Acura, it’s time to make you Rust Belters jealous with some clean rust-free vehicles, in the form of two nice basic trucks. First let’s see how the voting went down:

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Interesting. I figured the BMW would win, but I didn’t expect it to be quite that lopsided. But then, rust is scary.

Now, before we get started today, I want to give you all a peek under the hood of the inner workings of Shitbox Showdown, and share with you something frustrating that has happened to me a few times over the last few months, but three times in the past two weeks alone.

My normal workflow goes like this: I get home from my day job and start shopping for cars. Once I have the cars picked, I download the photos, put together the top-shot and the poll, then set up an empty file in the content management system with the links and photos, screen-shot the previous day’s results, and hit “Save.” This usually all takes me half an hour or so. Then I go feed the dog and the cats, do some other chores, make and eat dinner, then sit down on the sofa with my laptop to write.

Yesterday, I went through all this, sat down with the laptop, clicked on the link for one of the trucks, and… it had sold and been deleted. The ad was there at 5 pm, and gone at 7. I had to go find another truck and do it all over again.

In case you’re curious, it was this lovely old Dodge truck, with a slant six and a granny-low four-speed:

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I mean, no wonder it sold; it’s awesome. But seriously? It couldn’t have stayed on the market just one more day?

Anyway, here are a couple of little red trucks. One of them is a last-minute substitution for the Dodge. That’s how hard I work to entertain and enlighten you all – sometimes I need to do stuff twice.

 

1982 Chevrolet S-10 – $2,200

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.8 liter OHV V6, 4 speed manual, RWD

Location: Gresham, OR

Odometer reading: 103,000 miles

Runs/drives? Afraid not

I can’t believe this is a forty-year-old truck now. I still think of the roundy second-generation S-10s as “the new ones.” But here it is, a first-year S-10, and it’s probably the cleanest one I’ve seen since E.T. was in theaters.

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This baby Chevy is powered by the optional 2.8 liter V6, equipped with a two-barrel carb and backed by a four-speed stick. Unfortunately it doesn’t run at the moment. I get the feeling from the photos, and from the low mileage, that it has been sitting a long time, so maybe it’s a “ran when parked” situation.

Wherever it has been sitting, I’m willing to bet it was indoors. Look at the bed on this thing! I doubt an S-10 bed has been this clean since they were new.

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Inside, as you’d expect, it’s really clean too. And it’s a nice basic truck, with a bench seat and rubber floors, as the truck gods intended. The vinyl (you know it’s vinyl) under that Wal-Mart seat cover is probably not pristine, but the cover is fine. Or you can reupholster it; I did it to my truck, and it’s not that hard. You should stick some speakers in those ragged holes in the doors, too.

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Ordinarily, I’d say that $2,200 is way too much for a non-running S-10, but this thing is so clean I think it’s worth it. And if you really don’t want to get the 2.8 running again, a small-block V8 drops right in to these.

1991 Mazda B2200 – $1,150

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter SOHC inline 4, 5 speed manual, RWD

Location: Vancouver, WA

Odometer reading: 230,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep, but needs a few things

For Autopians of a certain age, I can get a jingle stuck in your head with just two words: “Sakes Alive.” Mazda used that tune, with various prices all ending in 5 so they rhymed, to advertise their trucks for years. And really, there was a lot to sing about – these trucks were great deals when they were new. I’m kinda sorry I missed the opportunity to buy one of these for just $6,495. Sakes alive, indeed.

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This truck, even decades after the fact and hundreds of thousands of miles down the road, still feels like a good deal. It’s a “Cab Plus” model, with a little extra room inside and a pair of very uncomfortable-looking jump seats behind the front seats, and the “LE-5” trim level, with bucket seats and a center console in the front and a really cool-looking early-RX7-ish steering wheel.

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Most of these little Mazda trucks of this generation came with the same engine: a 2.0 and later 2.2 liter singe-overhead-cam four with a single two-barrel carburetor. It’s a good solid engine, and has a reputation for piling on the miles without trouble. This example is at 230,000 miles and counting, though the seller says it has a leaky valve cover gasket. Easy fix, but something that should be taken care of.

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Other noted problems are an inoperative fuel gauge and a need for new tires soon. But really, for the price, this is a lot of little truck.

So even though one of them is not the truck I thought it would be, I think we’ve got some good choices here. Yeah, the Chevy needs to be brought back to life (or re-engined), but it’s so clean that it’s worth the work. And the Mazda is cheap enough to just use as a beater as-is. Which one would you pick?

 

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54 Responses

  1. You could clean up the Mazda and it would be a hit at Radwood. If you brought the S-10 most people would not turn their heads at all. Plus the Mazda is light years ahead in interior comfort. I have a 2002 Regluar cab 5spd 2wd Tacoma, so I’m biased.

  2. I’ll take the S-10 because a roll of duct tape and a couple paper clips and it will be running again. These older S-10s aren’t ideal for V8 swaps because the frame rails on early S-10s with the narrower 2.8 60 deg. V6 are closer together than they are for the later S-10s, with the SBC based 90 deg. 4.3 V6. You can do it, but it is cramped.

  3. I choose S-10 simply because of the good bones. Under the best of conditions the engine should be swapped out.
    We all want that Dodge pickup.
    I appreciate your hard work.
    The cats don’t love you. You should have been told.

  4. I owned a B2200, it was quite the reliable little truck. More room in the regular cab (which I had) than a S-10 or Ranger of the same era (I was 6’5″ at the time – I’ve shrunk down to 6’3″ now.)

  5. I lived out your dream a few years back, bought a little old base model Ford Ranger for $950, a little rusty, but ran fine. No power steering or AC, manual transmission. I would not have wanted it for my only car, but for trips to get mulch, lumber, dirt, it was great. I got things done without borrowing from anybody else or worrying about scratching things or making them dirty, put on jeans and an old sweatshirt, threw the dog in the passenger seat and puttered around on Saturday mornings. It was great, I miss it, rusted away, the spare tire (steel) even, didn’t know that could happen. I should have redone the brake lines (also shot) and soldiered on, but in a weak moment I sold it.

  6. Gimme that B2200. I could drive it as is, or fulfill a long obsession I’ve had with making a more modern REPU out of this very body style- I still have that S5 RX-7 NA drivetrain sitting in the shed…

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