Good morning, Autopians! Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown. Today we’re continuing our Route 66 voyage with a stop in Oklahoma. But before we cross another state line, let’s see how you’re getting out of Joplin:
Looks like the Chevy van takes it. VWs of this era are always divisive; I wasn’t sure if the stickshift would be enough to carry it. Guess not. And it only just now occurred to me that if I was looking for cars in a town called Joplin, at least one of them should have been a Mercedes-Benz. Oh well.
Now, let’s leave Missouri behind and head out into Oooooook-lahoma, where I’ve found a pair of American-made rides with V6 engines and manual transmissions for us to check out. Sadly, neither one of them is a surrey with the fringe on top, but we’ll make do. (All right, no more Rodgers & Hammerstein, I promise.)
Engine/drivetrain: 4.2 liter overhead valve V6, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: Del City, OK
Odometer reading: 221,000 miles
Pickup trucks these days all seem to come in only one flavor: gigantic crew-cab beasts loaded down with luxury goodies and technological whiz-bangery that all promise great capabilities. But they all take themselves way too seriously; modern trucks are Serious Tools To Get The Job Done, not playful companions to enjoy bombing around in, like this short-bed single-cab Ford.
The tenth-generation F-150 changed damn near everything from its predecessor: new bodystyles, new drivetrains, and new customers. Trucks were becoming everyday vehicles, and Ford’s new F-series was a kinder, gentler machine than the earlier one, more suitable for those who wanted the truck attitude but were coming from a Taurus. Gone was the twin I-beam front suspension, replaced by better-mannered upper and lower control arms. And the 300 cubic inch inline six, Ford’s base truck engine since the fall of Mesopotamia, was gone as well, replaced by a stroked version of the “Essex” V6. The old (and well-regarded) Mazda-sourced five-speed manual carried over, at least.
This truck has been around the block a time or two (or 221,000), but doesn’t have much wear and tear to show for it. The outside looks pretty good except for some missing clearcoat, and the inside is intact but a bit grubby, and has what looks like a cigarette burn on the driver’s seat.
The seller says it runs well, the air conditioning works, and it has new tires. Since it’s a six and a shortbed, this truck won’t have quite the capabilities of some, but who cares? Not everything has to be able to tow a small office building. Sometimes a nice basic stickshift truck is enough.
Engine/drivetrain: 3.8 liter overhead valve V6, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: Edmond, OK
Odometer reading: 147,000 miles
Runs/drives? Sure does
It’s official: The Camaro is dead. Again. Chevy’s fabled pony car will end its run in January, after a fourteen-year return. Not bad for a revival, but still, I’m sorry to see it go. I’ve always liked the Camaro. The example we have here is from 2002, the final year before the Camaro was put out to pasture the first time.
For the end of the Camaro’s run, Chevy installed the legendary Buick-derived 3800 Series II V6 as its base engine. Not only is this engine well-known for reliability and longevity, it puts out 200 horsepower. That may not sound like much for what most people consider a muscle car, but it’s thirty-five more horsepower than the top of the line Z28 engine from twenty years prior. And you couldn’t get that engine with a stick.
This Camaro has been mostly stripped out inside, and has a bunch of performance modifications. The seller built it to autocross, and had plans to convert it to a V8, but never got around to it. It allegedly runs well, but the dashboard is lit up like a Christmas tree with warning lights, likely because some things have been disconnected or removed that ought not to have been. Like the airbag, for instance.
This does look like a fun, if scruffy, toy, and I’m sure you could easily put carpet and a back seat back in if you wanted to. (And a stereo; this owner was hardcore, taking that out. How are you supposed to drive around blasting Iron Maiden?) Me, I wouldn’t even bother with a V8 swap. I’d just keep the reliable V6 and call it good.
Fun, simple, rear-wheel-drive vehicles with manual gearboxes are something we used to take for granted, but their ranks thin a little more every year. Almost nobody makes a manual truck any more at all, let alone a shortbed single-cab, and even pony cars are losing their sticks left and right (or going away entirely). Luckily, we still have used examples like these to choose from. So which one will it be?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)