Last week I picked up a 2000 Frontier in the (nearly) exact spec that I've been looking for.
- 2000 (pre-facelift) - check
- 3.3l (not interested in the 4-cyl) - check
- king cab (not interested in regular or crew cab) - check
- not rusted out (zero interest in a sh*tbox) - check
The only thing I wanted but didn't get was white paint.
Beware! long story ahead.
A few weeks ago I saw a black frontier on kijiji for $1995. It looked pretty rough, but definitely wasn't rusted out, which warranted at least a look. It did not go well.
I arrived at a small used car lot filled with among other things, a few clapped out civics complete with Si badges and cheap bodykits. The salesman gave me a key ring with 3 keys on it and told me to check it out. After a few minutes of walking around I found it in the back parked under a tree beside a dismantled camper. I opened the door and in the door sill about 100 ants scurried away taking with them what looked like ant larvae/eggs. I carefully inspected the surprisingly clean seats for any more ant congregations before sitting down and putting one of the keys in the ignition. It started up and immediately the awful squeal of a slipping belt filled my ears with pain. Even worse was the engine ran like a 30 year-old lawn mower. I backed it out of the growth it was left to die in and let it idle. It looked, sounded and smelled like it was in agony. The body was decent. Paint was bad but I didn't care. All the lights worked. Engine bay was ugly but didn't seem hacked up. At this point it was too much for me to watch and hear so I shut the truck off. I tugged on the key and it wouldn't come out. I rolled down the window and left to talk to the owner.
The salesman asked how it went. I told him it's rough but at the right price I could work with it. He immediately said he'd go no lower than 1200 safetied or 800 as-is. I broke the news that the key was stuck, but softened it with asking him for his card and that I'd contact him once I looked into what it would cost me to fix it up. He got up to get the keys out of the truck and I speed-walked to my truck and high-tailed it out of there.
Fast forward to last week when I was looking for the kijiji ad to give it one more look over. I figured for 800 and a few hundred more in work I could have a decent truck. In a way I felt like I could give that truck a better life free of bug infestations and woodland creatures defecating in the bed. I typed in 'frontier' and sorted to no newer than 2004. But something else caught my eye. Something better.
It was located about 6 hours away, far from any big city. It checked all the boxes the last truck did, only this one looks at least 80% less f*cked. The ad mentioned recent work (brake pads, oil change) that made my believe it was treated with at least some care. I contacted the owner 6-7 questions about the condition of the floor, body, interior, engine, etc. He replied with a 'call me'. I called and we talked about trucks for a while. He had looked at 2 Tacoma's that upon inspection had major frame issues. He mentioned that finally his 'dream' truck arrived, a used 4-cyl 4x4 Tacoma extended cab. We made plans to meet at the dealership selling him the truck and I would look it over. The bonus was that this dealer was only 4 hours away. He had mentioned multiple times that we had no time to screw around and that we had to be there exactly at 9am as they had a busy day planned. Got it.
Last Friday I got up at 4:30am, showered then left at 5. My friend and I then ventured north in a 2009 Subaru Forester - the vehicle that would burn the least amount of gas that either of us owned. We arrived at 9:12 after having let him know we hit some slow 1-lane highway traffic. Shocking to me, we were wandering the Toyota dealer and not once did anyone come to ask if we were interested in anything. I saw the sellers dream Tacoma sitting there all plated and ready to go. It looked pretty good.
9:41 came and he arrived with his fishing boat and completely uninterested fiancee. (like the kind you see sitting in the car at car shows looking at her phone) I looked it over. Seemed good. Took it for a quick drive. Felt good. Several-hundred dollars less than asking price was handed to him and keys were given to me. As I went to the license bureau he unloaded the truck. All was well.
While in line at Service Ontario he called and said he was going to lock up and head out. I thanked him and wished him well. Upon arrival back to the dealership I noticed that he took the plates off but also kept the license plate bolts. That jerk. I also forgot my stash of zip-ties at home. Amateur move.
I drove cautiously to the closest Canadian Tire and in a hilarious bit of luck passed 3 cops on the way. With the plates in place we drove home uneventfully.
I rid myself of that wretched cap to find that he had drilled and cut many holes into the bed. I'll probably just bedliner over everything.
I wish I had a photo of it but I've never seen an interior that disgusting. A few hours of cleaning later and it's about 6/10, which is good enough for me. Next step is to have a part of the leaf spring mount plated over as it is pretty rusty.