Home » V6 Stickshifts In Oklahoma City: 1998 Ford F-150 vs 2002 Chevy Camaro

V6 Stickshifts In Oklahoma City: 1998 Ford F-150 vs 2002 Chevy Camaro

Sbsd 4 3 2023
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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:

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Vidframe Min Bottom

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.)

1998 Ford F-150 – $2,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.2 liter overhead valve V6, five-speed manual, RWD

Location: Del City, OK

Odometer reading: 221,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2002 Chevrolet Camaro – $2,950

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.8 liter overhead valve V6, five-speed manual, RWD

Location: Edmond, OK

Odometer reading: 147,000 miles

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Pickup_Man
Pickup_Man
1 year ago

I’m always happy to stan for the 10th gen F-150s, they’re great trucks even if you don’t like the way they look (they look great btw).

Soso Tsundere
Soso Tsundere
1 year ago

That F150 probably smells like old cigarettes and even older farts, but is still better than dealing with whatever rat nest the previous owner made of the Camaro’s wiring. Upholstering the truck wouldn’t be that hard.

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
1 year ago

I wanted to be irresponsible and vote for the Camaro – then reality kicked in with those interior shots. I’d never be racing it, so all that prep is for naught. I’d have to spend an inordinate amout of time/money/effort just to get it legal for PA state inspection – and that’s just based on what’s visible via the warning lights. Nope – damned responsiblity kicks in, then I look at the yard and all the things that need hauling in my life, and I think that pickup would do nicely (or well enough)

World24
World24
1 year ago

I was going to vote for the F150 purely for the bed, but a Camaro with a 3.8L V6? As a car just to have with a stick, I’d actually kinda prefer to have a 3.8 over whatever the Ford has.

Marc Miller
Marc Miller
1 year ago

That Ford truck made my heart melt. Camaros are impulse cars. Bought on impulse. Driven on impulse. Modified on impulse. While impulsive people are horsing around with one of these Camaros, there is this steady and reliable Ford truck. No stickers. No bull balls hanging off the trailer hitch. Has the six cylinder with five speed stick. I like the whole package. If I needed a daily driver truck, I would seriously consider driving to Del City to buy it.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago

I have to vote for the truck.

The Camaro is fun until you need new spark plugs or a valve cover gasket, holy shit the engine is impossible to work on! It’s tucked under the windsheidl rather than under the hood, so like a full-size van but without the doghouse to access it from inside.

And who the fuck would buy a Camaro without T-tops. That’s why the new one was doomed to fail.

The Camaro is like a miniature full-size van. It feels like a truck too. So between the two trucks, you might as well at least get a truck with the actual space of a truck, so the F150 wins by default.

And also, green is a cooler color

Last edited 1 year ago by Dogisbadob
Parsko
Parsko
1 year ago

A V8 swap in that Camaro has got to be super easy. All the other work you would do is done but that. Winner winner.

KD
KD
1 year ago
Reply to  Parsko

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not as straightforward as it should be. The engine CAN be installed from the top, but you have to install it as a longblock with no accessories and its a TIGHT squeeze. Most of us install it from the bottom. Once the LS is in though, you still have a glass-fragile rear axle and transmission you need to change. It’s well defined, but there is a lot of work left.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

I’m going with the Camaro. It looks like it would be a lot of fun for the money. It could be a great second vehicle to use as a toy. It could also be your only vehicle if you don’t need to drive a lot and want something fun for the times you drive. I’m not concerned about the warning lights or that it has a rebuilt title. This vehicle isn’t a serious transportation appliance and it isn’t trying to be. My only gripe is those stupid racing seats. I have a backache looking at them. I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to replace them with factory seats, though.

This would be a much more difficult choice if that were any other generation of F150. These are the ugliest F150 (that is a scientific fact and not my opinion) and, as I recall, this generation was a bit of a deathtrap.

Lhn91
Lhn91
1 year ago

My sister had a longer box version of this exact truck, in black – V6, manual, regular cab, 1998. Over 300000kms on it. Taught herself to drive manual with it! I wish she’d hung onto it because it was honestly a solid, decently capable truck, but it needed some work and she needed to spend less on fuel. It gets my vote.

WR250R
WR250R
1 year ago

I was gonna vote Camaro, I really was. Then I saw the interior. Nothing against the seller, but not what I’m looking for. Guess I gotta go with the Found On Road (not quite) Dead (yet)

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
1 year ago

Those F-150’s aren’t the best looking things but it’s no worse than a modern Silverado with wheels that don’t fit like I see on the road daily. At least with the old Ford I could reach into the bed without deploying a folding staircase. It’s certainly more useful than a ruined Camaro as well.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
1 year ago

I’m one of the odd ducks that likes the looks of that generation of Ford trucks, and I’ve never been able to get remotely comfortable in a Camaro of that generation so it is an easy choice for me. Add in the fact that the truck would be far more useful to me day to day (or at least every few weekends) and I already have a much newer Mustang there really isn’t a debate.

Tyler Anderson
Tyler Anderson
1 year ago

Edmond, are you OK?

Just leaving this here.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago

Bitchin Camaro for me, but this is a profoundly weird build. While this generation is now, somewhat inexplicably, going up in value, for a long time even the V8s were dirt cheap. I’m really not sure why you’d try to make an autocross build out of a V6 catfish Camaro other than convenience or having an exceptionally lean budget, but here we are.

It’ll be fun-ish on a backroad and looks like it has a removable roof. Also the F150 clearly belonged to a smoker. I’m confused as to why it’s currently running away with this…that stale cigarette smell can never fully be banished and is one of the most unpleasant assaults on the senses there is.

But again…what was this dude thinking with the Camaro? Why would you swap a V8 in when you could just, you know…buy one that already has it? By the time every cost is accounted for it’ll probably be a wash anyway. Don’t get me wrong-I have a lot of respect for a good ballin on a budget/working class hero build, I just don’t really get what the owner was trying to do here.

10001010
10001010
1 year ago

Back when I had my Talon folks would join the DSM list all the time with their base model NA FWD Eclipse/Laser/Talon asking how hard it would be to upgrade it to be AWD and Turbo. The answer was always the same, it’s really simple just sell your GS and buy a GSX.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
1 year ago

I personally do not like the bubbly style of F-150 of that era. But unlike the V6 Camaro its useful, can haul shit and has a manual transmission. It being in OK would cause me to want to look at the frame to see how rusted up it is.

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
1 year ago

Truck by a mile.

I am sure I will get hate for this, but the 4.2 can be a decent engine, even to bomb around in stock. I’ve seen mustangs with the 3.8, all original, with over 700k on the clock.

That said, I would make a call to supersixmotorsports. Stick an Eaton M112 on it (not the baby m90 from supercoupes and GTPs- the blower from Cobras and Lightnings). On my stock 3.8, through an auto, it went from 170rwhp to 280 on only 7psi. Plus a torque curve flatter than David Tracy’s jeep grills. A cam and a couple more pounds, well over 300 and burnouts for days. It won’t be a lightning- maybe a thundershock?

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
1 year ago

This version of the F-150 is one of my faves. They haul stuff, ride well on the highway and, from all I’ve heard, last forever. I drove several, but only one had the V6. It was okay.

I get the feeling the Camaro is pretty used up. If it had the stock seat, audio system and carpet, might be worth a look at the price. But given the seller’s stated intentions and the “rebuild” title, it’d be like buying a used Kleenex.

Justin Short
Justin Short
1 year ago
Reply to  ExAutoJourno

Exactly what I thought, that camaro is the definition of someone else’s project

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 year ago

I have always and will always hate the way the jellybean F-150’s look, but not even a dead nuts reliable 3800 V6 can save a stripped out modified and probably beat to hell catfish Camaro. Gimme the pickemup.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 year ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

Yeah, I hate the look of this F-150 too, but it beats the hell out of the worst Camero.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dead Elvis, Inc.
V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

That interior is ridiculous, but it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a jellybean F150 over a 3800.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
1 year ago

Read about the Ford, thinking this is going to be hard to beat. Started reading about the Camaro thinking it had a good chance. Then we came to the interior. I KNEW it was too good to be true. Ford all day long. Too bad, I was pulling for the Camaro.

SegaF355Fan
SegaF355Fan
1 year ago

I don’t really need another daily driver, so I had to ask myself which of these would be more “fun?” And despite the stripped-out interior and the lights dancing the disco fantastic on the dash, I think the V6-Camaro backed by a manual would be more fun for me than the pickup.

Last edited 1 year ago by SegaF355Fan
Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

If the Camaro was unmolested, it would win. But this one looks like a Honda Civic Si that’s been owned by fifteen 20 year-olds. It’s been rode hard and put away very wet.
This generation of Ford truck is known as the “Lexus”, because of the curvy styling, cushy interior, and great road manners. It also has a slightly longer cab than previous generations, which makes it tolerable for people over 4 feet tall.
I hate pickup trucks, but in this case, I’ll take it.

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
1 year ago

Also, as a resident of the Sunflower State, how dare you skip over Kansas’s 13 miles of Rt 66? We have signs and everything!

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Yeah, I know. We got forgotten there too! But, it’s only 13 miles, it’s easy to not see the “Welcome to KS sign”! Not much there to put in a song, anyway!

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
1 year ago

Not in the market for a wanabe race car. But, I AM looking for a first ride for kid number 3. That F-150 would be perfect!

SAABstory
SAABstory
1 year ago

It was a debate until I saw the Camaro interior. I’ll take the shorty Ford.

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