1965 Ford F-250 – $3000

For sale is a 65 Ford three quarter ton camper special pick up truck. Has a 79 351 windsor V8 with an auto 3 speed. runs and drives strong, brakes are good, new tires. Asking $3000.00 obo. Call or email. 778-554-7805.

Although summer might have finally deigned those of us relegated to the lower mainland with it’s warm and dry disposition at long last, that doesn’t necessarily translate to drop-top season for everyone. In fact, for a great many people, it’s the time of the year when the automobile takes on its most tool-like properties. Flocking to the outdoors like sunburned lemmings off a heat baked cliff, people rapidly find their automobiles filling up with everything from bikes to boards to boxes of beer, and if you’re driving a Pontiac Firefly of VW Beetle, that can be worrisome. But fear not, because should you find yourself getting a little cramped in amongst the Pabst and single speed bikes, there is respite: this 1965 Ford F-250.

Looking every bit the hipster’s dream, this ’65 Ford F-250 demonstrates everything that was awesome about the mid-sixties: friendly, PlaySkool colours, simple styling, and rugged engineering. Of course, that translates into long stopping distances, questionable fuel economy, and quite possibly some of the heaviest steering ever encountered by man (I learned to drive in a ’73, and it took nearly my entire body mass to spin the tiller whilst stopped). However, what it undoubtedly lacks in capability compared to a modern truck, it more than makes up for in character and reliability. Having beaten my old truck around Richmond, New West, Vancouver, and Port Coquitlam for years after it served as my family’s camper-hauling vacation mobile (accruing something north of 450,000 kms on the way), the big black beast proved incapable of quitting, and served as my daily driver until it was finally traded in for a newer, and nowhere near as reliable truck. Why? Because well modern trucks may stop quicker, go faster, sip gas, and roll their own windows down, they’re also extremely complex. These old Ford pickups having roughly 3.4 moving parts, making them only slightly more complicated than your bottle opener… and how often does that fail? Looking in especially good shape, it’s nearly a guarantee that the paint is new, so do yourself a favour and either bring a trained ear or a magnet to check for fiberglass and bondo beneath. Rust is extremely common on these old trucks, with the worst offenders being the rear of the cab and the cab supports, but replacement parts are readily available from the absolutely mammoth and especially rabid support network that’s cropped up for these old truck. I truly miss my old one, as these old Ford’s represent what I hold to be the golden era in automotive design and manufacture, and it’s the one vehicle of the hundreds I’ve driven that I wish I could have back again… so if this one looks good to you, go ahead and click on the Craigslist ad up top, before I do.

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1980 Fiat 124 Spider – $3200

“Fuel injected classic convertible sports car. Designed by Pininfarina (of Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, etc. fame) Red/black 5-speed. Excellent mechanical condition., recent paint on a sound body (ie no rust), good exhaust, near new radials on five Fiat factory mags. Air cared and licensed for reliable daily driving. Money needed for tuition. Serious inquiries only. 604-522-6588”

Well, summer appears to have finally descended on the waterlogged streets of Vancouver, and with it so too have the convertibles. Sliding out from beneath tightly wrapped car covers and dug out from mounds of garage-borne hockey gear, skis, and snowshoes, the Miatas, Alfas, and MGs are out in force these days, giving their owners at least one thing to enjoy about commuting in North America’s second-most congested city. And if you’ve found yourself sitting on Highway 99 northbound and looked over at one such slightly-happier-but-probably-still-miserable fellow commuter in just such a car with even the slightest envy, then Cars You Should Buy has found the car for you: a 1980 Fiat Spider. A car produced under no less than three names for a whopping 19 years (it was known as a Fiat 124 Sport Spider form ’66 to ’79, then as a Fiat 2000 Spider from ’79 to ’82, then as a Pininfarina Spider from ’83 to ’85), it provided the auto-buying public with an Italian counterpoint to the ubiquitous MGB that wasn’t an Alfa Romeo, and by the ’80s had earned a reputation for being a pretty standard-issue, old-school sports car. Granted, its 2.0L inline four cylinder did benefit from Bosch fuel injection, and it was capable of producing 105 horsepower for the North American market (European models made 120 horsepower), but it’s combination of a leaf sprung solid rear axle and a pretty pedestrian powerplant left it largely outclassed and outgunned by the then-new rotary powered RX7, Nissan’s lusty inline sixes, and front-engined Porsches.

But 30-odd years later, in Vancouver’s glowing sunshine, it’s the Fiat’s shapely body that really sets it apart from its contemporary (and largely forgotten) competitors. Looking eminently more “Italian” than the British cars of the same era, the Fiat’s at once restrained, and stylish. Sadly it’s also a Fiat, which means it’s a damn good thing that it looks good sitting still, because it might do that a lot. Not renowned for their reliability, the Spiders are notorious for egregious rust issues; not a good thing on a spritely monocoque such as this. Areas to check include the front shock towers, all four wheelarches, around the trunk, the entirety of the floor, inside the sills, the firewall, and at the suspension mounting points. The engine, although relatively robust internally, is typically only slightly better sealed than a sieve, with oil leaks being a frequent occurrence. Check the low-slung oil pan for dings, as it’s gasket surface is a pretty common culprit for leaks, especially after it’s been bounced off a speed bump or two. Also, the timing belt absolutely must be checked on any Fiat Spider you’re thinking of buying, as engine damage that’s best described as “catastrophic” awaits the buyer that doesn’t ensure his engine timing is spot-on: although fuel injected, the engine retains the lobe that drove the carbureted engine’s mechanical fuel pump on its oil pump drive shaft, and should the timing belt break, the nonexistent fuel pump’s drive lobe will interfere with the crank and can crack the block. Similar thought appears to have been put into the Fiat’s electrical system as well, with crappy grounds and corroded connections oftentimes earning their fair share of swear words and anger whilst trying to diagnose an erratic electrical issue. Thankfully, this particular car claims to be rust-free (although I’d be checking that… bring a magnet along!) and although it certainly won’t be utterly reliable forever, it’s a prime example of a great car for someone looking to dip a toe into car maintenance. Simple, well-supported by a network of enthusiasts, and benefitting from 19 years of car (and parts!) production, it’s a simple vehicle that will reward anyone with a halfway decent set of tools, a workshop manual, and a modicum of patience. And if that sounds like you, contact the seller by clicking the hyperlinked advertisement above! And then take that damned back bumper off…