The Used Car Market Is So Crazy, I'm Considering Selling the Truck I Love

·5 min read
Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman
Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman

Help me make up my mind.

I always imagined myself with a garage filled with Ferraris and Porsches. It didn’t work out that way. In fact, my daily is a 2006 Toyota Tundra SR5 Double Cab. Two-wheel drive, black, nothing luxurious about it, and in near-perfect condition. But here’s the thing: when I bought it last year for $15,300, it had less than 37,000 miles on the clock. Now it’s approaching 48,000 miles, which is still stupid low for a 15-year-old truck, and I can probably sell it for between $21,000 and $23,000. That’s a neat profit for something I’ve been driving regularly.

“Everything has been going up,” Georgia-based used car dealer and automotive writer Steven Lang says. “Cars are up about 35 percent and trucks 45 percent. That’s my impression, but it’s also reflected in the Manheim Auction reports. Heavily optioned four-door trucks are the bullseye. Toyotas in California are the bullseye inside the bullseye.”

Because I now have a staff job at Road & Track, and am also on the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, it doesn’t take much effort to keep myself driving test vehicles. But this has always been a perk I’ve tried to keep from abusing; I don’t want to be the whiner on the phone with some PR person, begging for something to drive. It’s not a good look, truly pathetic.

Beyond starting the job at R&T, my life has also changed in other significant ways. First, my truck’s main duty was hauling around my dogs Alabama and Duke, great brother husky/malamute mixes who have both aged sadly this last year. They each have torn ACLs in their hind legs, and while we’ve minimized their pain, they’re no longer up for jumping into the bed of a Tundra. That’s diminished the utility of the truck.

Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman
Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman

I also now have two kids in college; my son Jack is at Carleton College in Minnesota and my daughter Nina starts at Cal Poly Pomona in the fall. Selling the Tundra would add additional funds to cushion their expenses, and those expenses are, well, terrifying. I am, after all, but a humble writer. So the money matters.

Then there’s my son’s Tundra. It's a 2000 Access Cab model I bought new in 1999 and gifted to him when he turned 16 a couple years ago. When he returns to school it will still be here with me in Santa Barbara, so I could use it if no test car is around. It has 200,000 miles on its clock, but runs perfectly and has never left him nor me stranded. Yet it’s his truck, and when he decides to take it with him to Minnesota, it’s gone.

Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman
Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman

One argument in favor of keeping the truck is the simple fact that I like the thing. I have, in fact, owned three first-generation Tundras: the green one my son now has; a gold 2006 Access Cab I bought to replace it; and now this black truck, which I bought after my nephew drove the gold one into a wall. I may dream of Ferraris and Porsches, but in my soul I’m a first-generation Tundra guy. I love their size, their easygoing personality, their unpretentious design and their stone-axe reliability. Yeah, they suck fuel ferociously, but I can almost nearly be okay with that.

Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman
Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman

It's also good to have a truck around for work. I’ve used my Tundras to tow race cars, as camera platforms on photo shoots, as mobile offices when out on stories. Trucks are, duh, amazingly useful things to have around.

Plus if my new bosses at R&T decide to blow me out of the joint, at least I won’t be walking through my next job search.

Finally, if this Tundra leaves, it’s very likely the last first-generation Tundra I’ll ever find in such sweet condition. It still drives like new, doesn’t creak or groan, and is ridiculously comfortable. It took a lot of searching to find this one perfect truck, plus a lot of begging at the credit union to finance such an old vehicle. It’s not something that will be easily duplicated. My next vehicle will be something not-an-old Tundra.

I’m not a reasonable person when it comes to vehicles. I’m sentimental about every single one of them. It was utterly traumatizing to watch my ’62 Nova, ’71 Camaro, ’69 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe, and three different examples of Honda Civic Si go away. They were friends who never talked back, companions who always wanted to play, servants who always provided what I needed. Only my first car, a 1974 Chevrolet Vega, was a horrible, no-good, rotting pile of shit I was happy to eject into the world. I’ve had Tundras as part of my life for 22 years. Apparently, I hate change. And I’m never going to own a Ferrari or Porsche.

Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman
Photo credit: John Pearley Huffman

This is a weird used vehicle market for a thousand reasons, and these conditions won’t last. It’s hard to imagine that my truck will be worth more than it is at this very moment. If I want to take advantage of all this, I have to do it soon.

So that’s my situation. Any advice is appreciated.

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