Motivation and Inspiration

So why did I buy a truck?

Well, for the last few years, I had done a good bit of theater set building. Here are some examples.

Well, it was pretty hard to get the materials back to my house to build this stuff, and I absolutely needed help to get this stuff to where the play was being staged. That might have been via a trailer when I had the CRV, and that might have been by begging after it died. My regular hobby woodworking fared a bit better, as I didn’t have to transport anything after it was done.

So having a bed was pretty crucial to these efforts, which is why I didn’t go with an SUV. I did consider a 4Runner, which I’ve liked for some time as well. The need for the bed and the lack of a manual transmission made the Tacoma choice a smart one.

The cruel joke about the timing of everything meant that I only got to use the truck once for this purpose. Not long after, my kids decided they at least wanted to take some time off from the theater. And, of course, COVID. So I got to use it to haul things right away, and not since. I’m hoping that I’ll get some woodworking in at some point in 2021, but it seems like adventure is more in the cards than making things.

So, what inspired me to buy this truck and the vision for it? Well, back nearly five (!) years ago, the 2017 TRD Pro model was unveiled with some slick press shots. Here is one of them.

Something just absolutely struck me about this truck and stayed with me for the years to follow. It was in the back of my mind each time I thought I might want to do something else. I didn’t think a Pro would be affordable to me, and in the end I went with a Sport model because of that. No matter, while these aren’t quite as customizable as a Jeep, you can pretty much make them what you wish.

The color was something I hadn’t decided on until the day I bought mine. I wanted dark green, but it was discontinued back for 2016 (Army Green was only available on the Pro when I purchased). So I had to figure out what a second choice would be. I did like the white, but without mods it does look a bit like a service truck. The orange was pretty cool, but I think Barcelona Red was probably my goal.

So on the day in question, the same dealer had the Inferno and the Cavalry Blue. 2016 and 2019, respectively. I actually liked the Inferno a bit better in the pictures, but the Cavalry was newer, less miles, and actually cheaper to insure due to the Toyota Safety Sense. But what sold me on the color and make that drive happen was this picture.

It really went a long way to show how good that color could look, and the entire thread did a good job of highlighting how different the color looks depending on the light. But I love that picture, and has continued to inspire me. It is an Off Road model, and mine is a Sport, so I’m both not able to and not trying to copy it.

Next up I talk about goals.

In the beginning

I had wanted a truck for a few years by the time 2020 came around.

I bought what I would consider my first “adult” vehicle in 2009, and sold it in April 2017. I did this before my 2004 Acura TL lost too much value, so that I could pay some credit card debt down. Even at this time, I had my eyes on the future to buy a truck. In the meantime, I drove our spare vehicle that we had held onto. It was a mule, something I used to build my new workshop and ferry building materials in and behind. It almost hit 200k miles when it suffered a major oil leak in March 2019. Once again I was lucky and had a vehicle I could access to get me by.

Clearly, though, I needed to seriously look for my own next vehicle. The money didn’t get put into fixing the one car due to this. Since I knew I wanted (and really needed, for the woodworking) a truck, I did my research. Full size or mid size? What manufacturer? Could I find one with a stick shift?

Well, by this point I had started to miss my stick shift. The Acura had one, my last in a long line of vehicles almost completely uninterrupted since I started driving. A Beetle. A Probe. A Jeep. An Eclipse. An Accord. The TL. All stick shifts. The only exception was my El Camino.

My only truck. The Jeep was my only 4×4. Now I wanted to combine the two and also make it a stick. That was really the starting point, because so few manufacturers make trucks with manual transmissions anymore. Full size was basically completely out, unless I wanted to reach back a decade or so. Even though I really like the Tundra and debated it a bit because of the leg room in the back.

Mid size trucks, then. The new Ranger is only available in an automatic. Unfortunate. Same for the Colorado/Canyon twins, even though they look really good. Basically I was down to the choice of a Tacoma or a Frontier. Since the Frontier is an absolute ancient design, I started looking at Tacomas. 2012-2015 models, to be specific. Why? Because it had one of the best colors I had ever seen – Spruce Mica. A deep green that reminded me of my Eclipse, I decided that I would find one of those in my price range.

I looked. And I looked. And I looked. These trucks in that color and transmission choice were not made in massive quantities. The ones I found were also not very easy to travel to. So I bade my time and kept looking. I actually preferred the interior and some of the exterior of the 2016+ models, but these were out of my price range.

On January 4 2020, I happened to see two Tacomas near me that were slightly out of my price range. They were in my old city, about 2.5 hours away. One was a 2016 model in Orange, the other a 2019 model in Cavalry Blue. I was stunned at the color on the blue. Unfortunately they were both Sport models. I had wanted to get an Off Road for the rear locker, but the Sport was appealing as well. Scoop hood, body color flares and bumpers. The blue one also only had 6600 miles on it. It was tempting. I impulsively sent an email to the dealer, knowing that the price they had was still a bit out of reach. Then I went to the gym.

When I got home, I had thought about it more and looked at other vehicles in this color. It was amazing what a couple of mods could do to it. I was absolutely smitten. My wife knew how long I had waited to pull the trigger on a truck, and weirdly enough this was a rare instance of her having the weekend off. We threw the kids in the van and headed east – it wasn’t entirely clear if we could make the dealer before they closed.

I hadn’t driven a stick in almost three years, but it felt like home. The truck was in pretty good condition, a few scratches on the dash and etc, but it was so nice. Aside from our leased Jetta, it was the newest vehicle I’d had ever driven. A few hours later after a nice meal in our old city, I was headed back west in my new truck.