Tow-rig shopping in 2020 with a 15-20K budget

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    Tow-rig shopping in 2020 with a 15-20K budget

    In the market for a "daily-driver/tow-rig" for my '78 F150 4x4, looking to spend around $15k and up to $20k if I have to. I'm in California so I think that narrows my options smog-wise (has to be CA emissions compliant) and of course trucks are more expensive around these parts. I figure the F150 currently weighs around 4,500-5000lbs as it sits (eventually there will be 1-tons, bigger tires, cage, etc) and a trailer would be 1,500-2,000lbs. Something that got a realistic +10mpg would be ideal, and comfort is something to consider as there would be the occasional up the coast/cross-country road trip.

    Any insight on what I've been looking at?
    • 2007-2014 Suburban 2500 4x4 - Really hard to find a decent 8.1 or a 6.0 with the 4.10 rear gear-ratio that lets it tow more than 7000ish lbs
    • 1999-2002 F250/F350 4x4 7.3 - Seems like what I'm most likely to end up with due to availability but they can be on the higher-end of the budget. Avoiding the 6.0 for obvious reasons but if I were to consider it I would look for a 2005-2007 for the coil-sprung suspension up front.
    • 1996-1997 F250/F350 7.3 or 7.5 - It seems a 7.5 might be able to stay above 10mpg but don't know; would be cheaper to maintain. A lot of the OBS 7.3's I see are either beat to shit or the seller wants their weight in gold for them. Also from what I have read an OBS just isn't as refined/comfortable as the Super Duty obviously

    I would look at a Dodge/Chevy, just don't know too much about them (which ones to avoid/look for, what they're actually like to ride in, etc). Also, I work from home so I don't have a commute. Whatever I get will probably see 7000 miles a year unless I take a lot of trips.

    #2
    $20k would get you into a early 2010s gas super duty which is a heck of a lot more truck than anything you listed so far. Probably will only get single digits mileage towing but it will do it fine.

    As someone who Owns/has owned the powerstrokes you listed I wouldn't buy one for more than about $7-8k (for a super duty) and I would expect to put another 3-4k into the truck after I bought it to make it decent.

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      #3
      6.2 or V10 super duty is what you need.

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        #4
        With that budget, you could get a really clean, low-mile mid-2000s Chevy LBZ 2wd with the Allison 2000 or a Ram 2500 2wd with the Common Rail 5.9 and G56 or NV5600 manual trans... both are pre-emissions (just EGR and cats, no DPF), and would get you double-digit fuel economy when towing. If you *need* 4wd, that takes the miles up a bit, but they are still in the ballpark.

        Both of those trucks will tow better than anything you listed, aside from (maybe) the 8.1 'burb.
        Mrs CSR said I was good, or something.

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          #5
          V10 excursion seems to be one of the best values right now.

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            #6
            Shit i'll sell you this for 10k right now. '06 132k mi V10 auto

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              #7
              If I had the money and was looking for a truck:

              99.5-02 7.3: $7000-10000
              Tires, Misc, repairs: $2000
              Built Transmission: $5000
              Drop in turbo + tuning: $2000

              Solid drivetrain, easy to fix, reliable. With a built transmission, tuning, and larger drop in turbo they are pretty unstoppable. I see you live in CA so the truck price will probably be more.

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                #8
                The 460 in the ford will never see 10mpg. Even empty and downhill with the key off. Cool trucks though.
                Iā€™m what you call...your basic famous.

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                  #9
                  Buy my 07 dodge with the 5.9. Has a ton of miles but it fits the bill and happens to be for sale. Cab is too small for my family now is why I'm selling.

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                    #10
                    Your budget should get you a 2015ish 6 2l gas f25/350 with 100kish miles

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by 2big bronco View Post
                      Your budget should get you a 2015ish 6 2l gas f25/350 with 100kish miles
                      I've seen a couple of them around me and they're on my radar (as are 6.8/V10s) now.


                      Originally posted by Captain Call View Post
                      Buy my 07 dodge with the 5.9. Has a ton of miles but it fits the bill and happens to be for sale. Cab is too small for my family now is why I'm selling.
                      I might be open to that after shopping around for a bit. Have a preference for Fords but not stuck on it.



                      Forgot to mention I'm looking for a 4x4 so that definitely increases the cost and narrows the options a bit.

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                        #12
                        2big bronco has it. 2015ish 6.2 gas F250/350.

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                          #13
                          I own a 2015 6.2 F250. Great truck. Zero issues. Hauls just fine, but doesn't have that much of a throw you into the back of the seat feel to it when you mash it like the diesels do. Thing I don't really care for is the motor likes to sing. Hauling anything through the mountains and its 5k the entire time.

                          I won't sell it to you for $20k.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by holdmypocket View Post

                            I've seen a couple of them around me and they're on my radar (as are 6.8/V10s) now.




                            I might be open to that after shopping around for a bit. Have a preference for Fords but not stuck on it.



                            Forgot to mention I'm looking for a 4x4 so that definitely increases the cost and narrows the options a bit.
                            It's 4x4. Not an auto btw.

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                              #15
                              Look elsewhere, Seattle/Portland isn't that far away. While I'm not a ford guy. 15-20k can get you into a fairly nice duramax (up to 07) or cummins (up to 09).

                              Might be worth the time/drive to pick one up outside of CA

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