Reader: I've been reading rumors online that Toyota may make a pickup that's smaller than the Tacoma. Is this true? If so, when? The new Tacomas are just too big and gawky-looking for my taste.
Also, is there any truth to Hyundai or Kia making a small pickup?
Coos Bay, OR
(home of best sand dunes in the free world)
Editor: Sorry to say, we haven't heard anything about a new Toyota mini. We'd love to see one (and drive it, too), and we'll definitely let you know if we hear any news about this.
Kia broke ground on a new $1.2 billion assembly plant in Georgia last October. It's not scheduled to go fully online until 2009, but our sources tell us that there may well be a pickup truck produced there. No word, however, on whether this would be a "real truck" or an SUT based off an existing SUV or minivan chassis like the Honda Ridgeline.
Reader: I am currently looking to buy an '85 Chevy K-30 with a 6.2L in it, with all the other good stuff: Turbo 400, NP205, Dana 60 front, and the GM 10.5-inch full-floater rear. The truck is located in northern Indiana, the body is not in the best shape at 160,000 miles, and it's got a cracked windshield and ratty interior. It seems to run well, though. If you can give me an idea of its worth (ballpark) when you have time, that would be great. The kid is asking for big dollars, considering the shape of the truck. He has come down some, but is still at $4,000.
Love to read the articles you guys put together.
Editor: Yeah, we'd agree with you-the price seems a bit high for a 20-year-old truck with a woofer engine and a body and chassis that are likely riddled with rust. And while those drivetrain parts are indeed quite stout, there's a good chance that at least a few (if not all) of them will be ripe for rebuilds and/or replacement internals fairly soon due to advanced age. And if the body's not in such great shape, what do those leaf springs look like? And what about the tires? Are the wheels rusting too? Out here in car-crazy California, we probably wouldn't pay more than a couple grand for a truck like this, knowing that we'd probably need to dump another several thousand into it just to get it clean, rust-free, smog-legal, registered, and daily-driveable. Does this help?
Reader: How hard would it be to turn a two-wheel dualie into a 4x4? How much would something like this cost? Would it be cheaper just to go ahead and buy a 4x4 dualie? I own an '03 six-speed Cummins diesel dualie, and I love it, but in the mud it is difficult to get out. If the conversion is too costly, are there other options to consider?
Editor: Hmmm. You've already discovered that a 4x2 diesel dualie is not a killer mud machine. Guess what? Two more driven wheels won't make much difference for you. For mud, nothing beats a free-revving engine that makes big horsepower at higher rev levels, and that ain't exactly the Cummins' fort. If you're pulling stuck Jeeps out of the mud ... well, now you're talking.
However, such a conversion is entirely possible, and in your particular case, it can likely be done for less than the cost of purchasing a 4x4 Cummins of like vintage. Of course, you will need a front drive axle and all its related components (steering, brakes, and so on). The axle will need to have the same ring-and-pinion ratio as your rear axle, otherwise you'll need to regear it. You'll also need a transfer case, new driveshafts and front springs, but as Dodge offered a 4x4 version of your truck, most of these components should be direct bolt-ins. Still, you can count on spending several thousand dollars (at the very least) and many hours of time installing everything, not to mention many more hours troubleshooting problems (e.g., electronic gremlins and error codes) as they develop down the road. We recently converted an older Chevy C-series 1/2-ton to four-wheel drive: check out "The Lowdown on Four-Wheel Drive Conversions" in our May and June '06 issues to see what we learned about the conversion process and how much it cost us.
Reader: Here's an idea for your magazine. You should write an article about lifting and 'wheeling a Land Rover Discovery Series 1. It would be something new and you haven't done it before, plus you have already given us a taste of what is to come with such a vehicle in your May '06 issue ("Rock Ready Rover"). There are plenty of parts for these trucks, and you can buy one in good condition for around $5,000, so you wouldn't be spending a lot of money up front.
Also, you will be reaching out to the Land Rover community because you hardly ever see any Range Rovers in your magazine or your sister magazine 4-Wheel & Off-Road. Love your magazine, and I always look forward to reading it.
Editor: It's not quite the same as what you've mentioned, but one of our regular contributors is in fact working on an upcoming episode of our "Weak Links, Strong Fixes" series, which will focus exclusively on LR Discoverys and Disco IIs. We'll publish it later this spring, so stay tuned.