The recipe for a successful American muscle car has always been simple. One part thunderous V8 engine. One part rear-wheel drive. Add a dash of attitude. Sprinkle in a low price. Stir vigorously until tires fry.
Although the flavors have evolved over the decades, gaining sophistication and complexity, that recipe hasn’t changed much since the 1960s, and our appetite for this unique American style of automotive cuisine is as voracious as ever.
Sports cars are an indulgence. Comfort, space and even reliability are all sacrificed on the altar of Handling and Speed. And if that altar is busy, then all that can be offered up to the God of Beauty and Allure instead. In most ways, sports cars are just like other cars.
But it’s the ways in which they’re no like other cars that matter most.
Trucks aren’t about beauty. But there are beautiful trucks. Trucks aren’t about comfort. But a comfortable truck is a better truck. Trucks are about work. And a truck that can’t work isn’t much of a truck.
Evaluating the greatest used pickup of all time requires a clear-eyed evaluation of how well a truck can be used to get things done. All the other things that matter a little, only matter a little. Working matters a lot.
You can’t help it. You’re captivated by the sleek styling, the open top, the storied heritage, the rumbling V8 that shoves you back in the seat. Let’s face it. You’ve got Corvette Fever.
You’ve also got a budget ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 — a relatively modest outlay that nevertheless gains you access to three different generations of Chevrolet’s iconic sports car, spanning 30+ years and a wide variety of styling, engineering, and performance options.
Many shoppers who’re thinking about buying a used car fret about vehicle reliability, and these qualms aren’t without merit. Relative to a new car, a used vehicle is more likely to need work under the hood earlier in the ownership experience. And the older the used car, the greater the likelihood of a significant repair bill.
So it’s no surprise that reliability is often the number one consideration for shoppers in the used car market.
While there are some excellent battery-powered vehicles like the new Chevrolet Bolt trickling into our garages, the good, old fashioned, oil pumping, octane swilling, internal combustion engine is still at the heart of the automotive experience. It has been ever since, some 130 years ago, Karl Benz bolted a one banger of his own design onto the back of a three-wheeled cart.
And it’s been a glorious run. Sure, there were low points, like the anemic power plants that wheezed through the 1970s while automakers struggled to cope with strict new emissions and fuel economy regulations. Anyone remember the 1975 Ford Granada? Its 4.1 liter inline six had a California variant that puttered out just 71 horsepower. Folks, that’s less than 20 horsepower per liter.