A reliable tortoise with lots of potential
Headlight hi-beam switch went out.
Seats are springier and saggier than my bed now.
Someone painted it with house paint (not me).
Exhaust studs stripped.
Eats headlights due to an electrical issue that we can't track down.
Everything else is regular maintenance issues.
This is not a luxury ride, even though it's the top of the range model for these trucks (not counting the Mojave variant). But for the day it was made, it's pretty good. The bucket seats in mine make it feel slightly less farmer and a tad more suburban. The 5-speed transmission is also a nice touch.
It has too high a spring rate all around when empty, and not enough damping to call it "sporty". It's not awful, but even the 70's Celicas are better in this regard. It's a lot of compromise to attempt to make it 'good enough' in most situations. Some aftermarket tuning can fix that.
There's almost no sound damping in the cab, so you hear EVERYTHING. This is both good and bad. Good in that you can always hear when something is out of sorts with your engine or anything else. Bad because the exhaust and engine noise will drive you insane on long trips. Even if you turn up the stereo (assuming it still works), you can't drown out the exhaust note without risking your hearing.
Speaking of the exhaust and the engine, it has one. That's about all you can positively say about it. The gearing is a bit too long on the low end and not long enough at the high end. So it's a little harder to get off the line (worse when loaded up), and is winding to 3k RPM at 70mph. Not good for cruising and gas mileage. [Recommend swapping transmissions for a newer W56 (find a 2wd variant) and swapping the rear axle for 3.07 gears (only available in 8" rear ends, axle code G662, usually from 4-speed trucks). Easier off the line with massive cruising speed improvement. You'll need to change speedo gearing, obviously].
A bigger carburetor and better flowing head and exhaust would do wonders for the engine, but unless you turbo it or have a lot of money to burn, you're not going to get much more than about 150-180hp out of it.
It's the last year of the double-row timing chain as standard on the engine (and these timing chains will last to 200K miles or more). That is a LOT of miles on something that the single-row chain engines of later years can't match.
The power steering is a welcome touch. Not all trucks had them, but it is a blessing even in something this small. It gives the truck an almost nimble quality about it, though that's offset by the unbalanced front to rear weight ratio. Add a couch or dishwasher to the back if you're going to be racing for better weight distribution.
This truck has NEVER left me stranded, though I've come close when I misjudged gas mileage. Even when the coolant line blew up, it still limped home.
If you like vehicles that are more about function than form, this truck is something to highly consider.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th February, 2013