I love my vehicle, a classic "mid-sized SUV" that has the reliability of a Toyota Corolla and the utility of a Gerber Multi-Tool, and I've had it 20 years of it's life. But I've had to fight to keep said vehicle - with other people's opinions - because it makes sense to me. When your maintenance is about $500 every 10 years, you still get window sticker gas mileage, still pass emissions with flying colors, and have 90% of the original truck still working fully intact aside from maintainence items, and are still happy with it, why buy a new one?

But let's step back and take a look, what WOULD I do if I wanted to find a comparable vehicle today? I don't have a lot of options now do I? I could get a Bronco sport with 4-doors, front wheel drive, no usable back-seat (then why 2 doors, go watch Doug DeMuro review it), and the same gas mileage with a less-as-controllable automatic transmission, on a 4-cylinder engine with less towing capacity. I could give in to current trends and buy a full sized 4-door masquerading as a 2-door, like a TOyota Tacoma or Ford Ranger, and wonder they the heck I need 2 extra doors as I Curse parallel parking something 1/2 a vehicle longer than my current vehicle. I could suck it up and buy an F-150 or Silverado single cab, if I can even find one, just as big, and get ticketed for climbing the curb parking in the city to "suck myself in" far enough. I could get a CUV or a Subaru and crack my oil pan open on a "easy" off-roading trail when things get just a few hairs below what the family Corolla can handle (yeah, I'll trust a Corolla off-road before I will a Subaru, I've been under both!). What I'm talking about here, is a true, body-on-frame, ruggedly built, off-road capable, towing capable, hauling capable vehicle that is user servicable, has plenty of parts availible both OEM and aftermarket to keep it alive for even longer than the first one (which seems to be beating everything else on the road at this point). A vehicle is the second most expensive purchase one will make in their life as a regular "normie" - might as well get a good one, and one-up the original with it's "Replacement". My life is weird, weird stuff happens to me, on and off road, and I want to be READY for it - and no current vehicle offers that, unless I stop gigging, stop exploring off the beaten' path, or just accept to a life of dredging around town in a behemoth.

What I'm talking about is a body-on-frame vehicle with "just rugged enough" suspension to put up with going airborne in an emergency, enough control over the power to help in inclement weather or mud, enough torque to pull or climb without breaking too much of a sweat, reliability of an old Honda or Toyota Corolla or Camry, or Scott Kilmer's 94' Celica, with a similar footprint, with the ease of repair of my current vehicle. It'd also need to be something I could easily pull parts from pick'n'pull from. So that leaves me with a handful of options that will get me nowhere on the social aspect, the same vehicle of the same or close vintage, or order a compact pickup truck from China and try to get it accepted here if I go brand new, or pay out the nose for a 2011 Ford Ranger at best. I want a truck that is a TRUCK, not a glorified passenger car. Something that's not made of plastic that will fall apart the minute some drunkard hits it in the parking lot while I"m in the store - yet somehow evades cameras while doing it. Not something that's going to rust out or have major transmission or electronics problems. Something that's not going to have the paint peel off at 20 years old - which mine still has not done yet and it's almost THIRTY years old.

My current vehicle still wins. I have all the modern luxuries either availible or already installed. Bluetooth hands-free, yep, Sattlite Radio - yeah, if I subscribed? USB music, heck yes. 20+ mpg, youbetcha'. user servicable? Can you say the millions of these things that sold in the 90's can't be wrong - I can always find parts, new, reissue, or used, for less than 1/1000th the cost of a used beater in many cases. If I wanted a backup camera, I could totally set it up, I Could fabricate in an infotainment center, and maybe use a Rasberry Pi to suck real-time OBD-1 data off the computer if I wanted to and display it Windows 3.1 style for a period correct appearance - all while syncing a starlight headliner to a rock DVD....and it would last the rest of the life of the vehicle, which at this rate is at least another 15-20 years. I still have factory compression, no cracked or warped heads, few to no oil or coolant leaks, uses less oil than a vehicle 1/4th it's age, and costs me a single modern car payment every 100K miles. That's a tall, tough order to beat. Heck, I can rebuild the A/C system myself. Power everything still works, and though it looks to have a bit of character and patina up close, it looks nicer than some 10 year old vehicles from afar.

And I'm not the only one. People have been whining for over a decade about the death of the compact pickup, the bloating of SUV's and regular pickup trucks, the inflated costs, the idea that a bloody rancher wants or needs coronithian leather heated seats, an infotainment center, a backup camera (due to rearward visibility I assume - one aespect of ALL Modern vehicles I hate, even one of my own), and wants something built light enough that the cows in his pasture can kick dents in it before the first payment comes. See, I am a "hybrid boy" - part city, part country, I like my trucks rugged, steel, and built to do truck things, but I want to still be able to eek into a COmpact spot if that's all that is left for me without bothering everyone. I want to be able to do my own repairs, but not turn it into a giant I.T. project that draws the ire of the townie busybodies that don't even understand how to use a TV remote let alone fix a motor vehicle properly and safely with hand tools - and what to do with the liquids when done, and I have a hint - the dumpster ain't it!

So that's what today's Cranky Nostalgia piece is about - the death of the compact pickup and "mid-sized" SUV that was often based on those compact pickup platforms. Familiar faces such as the oldschool Ford Ranger, Bronco II, and 1st and 2nd GEn Ford Explorer, the Chevrolet S-10 and GMC Jimmy, the Dodge Dakota, the classic, fun-size Jeep CJ-5 and CJ-7, or Cherokee XJ. My dissappointment in "modern" attempts, my anger at CAFE and Obama's footprint laws and lack of foresight of a oil-business driven auto-industry, and my thoughts on how Safety can be a BAD thing when there is too much of it, and even how my thoughts with old vehicles parallels that of old technology (see, I like my old PC's as much as I do my old SUVs).

How we got here: good ideas, lamestreamer idiots with egos, and family

The Tao of the classic light truck and SUV - how to keep the rubber side down!

The rise of Collecting today, and rising prices on old light trucks and SUVs

My solutions for the lack of cool compact truck-type vehicles...