7 classic trucks and SUVs under $20K
The collector-vehicle market’s pandemic boom may be over, but the classic truck and SUV market is still very competitive, with plenty of ’60s and ’70s models commanding high values. But what about those of us who want a vintage truck or SUV—and have a tight budget?
Short answer: There are still many collectible trucks and SUVs that remain affordable.
We combed through our latest valuation data looking for classic trucks that could serve as weekend workhorses or, on week-day evenings, project vehicles. Each needed to have an average value—across all engine options in a given generation—under $20,000, for an example in #3 (Good, or daily-driver) condition*. We also focused on the ’70s and ’80s, rather than the ’60s, hoping to include a few more creature comforts.
Here are seven vintage trucks and SUVs that fit the bill.
*Want to know more about our vehicle-condition rating system? Click here.
1972–80 Dodge D100
Average #3 (Good) value: $14,129
Nobody could have foreseen the wild special-edition models that Dodge would come up with its all-new pickup that launched in 1972. The Lil’ Red Express, Warlock, and Macho Power Wagon were just some of them.
Despite these ’70s Mopar pickups’ vast potential as muscle trucks or simply as weekend project machines, they remain affordable in 2wd trim. A Magnum small-block, plentiful at just about any wrecking yard, would make a fantastic swap that would add power and, depending on your camshaft choice, even fuel economy. Even the later ’80s models, including 4×4 versions, fit our sub-$20K budget.
1974–80 Dodge Ramcharger
Average #3 (Good) value: $17,198
Dodge was a little bit late to the full-size SUV market, coming in years after Jeep and Chevrolet had already joined. Dodge took the same approach Chevrolet did with the Blazer and built a four-seater with a removable top.
The second-gen Ramcharger looked much the same but gained a non-removable steel top, making the earlier ones more desirable thanks to the convertible crowd. Besides the shorter wheelbase and the removable top, everything else about the D100 applies to the Ramcharger, making it an excellent project vehicle.
1987–9 Ford F-150
Average #3 (Good) value: $11,429
The eighth-generation F-Series that debuted for 1987 was a mild refresh and its styling has aged very well, in our opinion. This was the generation before the first F-150 Lightning, which arrived in 1993, but more workaday F-Series of the late ’80s were still available with 302- or 351-cubic-inch V-8 engine options that used an instantly recognizable EFI intake similar to that on the iconic 5.0-liter found in the contemporary Mustang.
Extra power is just a cylinder head and cam swap away. With tough underpinnings, clean body lines, and durable, powerful Windsor V-8 engine options, these F-150s have everything a truck buyer could ask for. As a bonus, companies like National Parts Depot and Classic Industries offer an array of restoration parts to make your F-Series look as good as new.
1973–87 Chevrolet C10
Average #3 (Good) value: $11,640
Chevy’s long-lived “square-body” was available with at least a dozen different front-end and grille designs, and that’s not counting its GMC counterpart. Under the hood, you could find an array of powerplants, ranging from inline-sixes to diesel V-8s and small- and big-block gas V-8s.
The last of the square-body pickup run, in 1987 when the generation was actually dubbed R10, added throttle-body injection. If you can’t find the square-body with the look you are after, the aftermarket can help you build it; those fenders, hoods, and grilles are all interchangeable.
We’ve seen a mild resurgence in the popularity of this generation of Chevy and GMC pickups among truck enthusiasts as ’70s and ’80s nostalgia has fueled plenty of beautiful C10 customs.
1973–5 C10 Blazer
Average #3 (Good) value: $13,550
First-gen Blazers, along with first-gen Broncos, are among the most collectible vintage 4x4s, and prices reflect that. The second generation of Blazer, which lasted from 1973 through 1991, can also get pricey. However, there are plenty that are still affordable, if you’re willing to forego the transfer case and opt for a two-wheel-drive model.
These early second-gen models share their powertrains with their pickup brethren, but what the 1973–5 Blazers have that their pickup and even later Blazer brethren do not are fully removable tops. Like the 1969–72 first-gen Blazer, these early square-body Blazers have removable tops from the windshield pillar back and doors without window frames, making them rather unique.
In 1976, Blazer moved to a removable calf-cab top that worked with full doors. Fewer leaks, sure—it’s just not quite a convertible.
1976–7 International Harvester Scout Terra and Scout Traveler
Average #3 (Good) value: $16,850 (Terra) $18,250 (Traveler)
Adding 18 inches of wheelbase to the International Harvester Scout II created the Scout Traveler, a narrow SUV that International Harvester offered to give buyers more cargo room and take a shot at the larger SUVs on the market from Jeep, Mopar, GM, and Ford.
The Traveler presents a vastly different profile thanks to its sloping hatchback rear. Ditch that hatchback for a half-cab and you got the Terra, a compact pickup. The wheelbase, at 118 inches, is almost identical to that of a current Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and the overall length is similar as well. That might make it a good size for some off-road trails, but there is some bad news here.
Like the Blazer we previously mentioned, the affordable versions of the Terra and Traveler are the 2WD, less suited for off-roading, but no less handsome. With almost a wheelbase almost identical to a Wrangler’s, perhaps a wrecked Wrangler could give the Cornbinder a new lease on life with a chassis swap?
1984–8 Toyota Pickup
Average #3 (Good) value: $12,225
Back before the Tacoma split off from the Hilux family tree, American compact pickup buyers got the same rugged little truck as every other Toyota buyer around the world. These are truly mini trucks and are quite cozy in standard-cab form. An Xtra cab option offers up more space but no extra seats, not even center-facing jump seats.
These nimble trucks have modest but reliable four-cylinder engines and the early 4×4 models in particular (1984 and 1985) are prized for their solid front-axle suspensions. Whether you want to build a Back to the Future 4×4 clone or parts-hauler for your other projects, these pickups require only simple repairs thanks to their readily available engine parts.
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Sometimes, I hate myself for some things.
In Mopar history, there’s been 3 Magnums: The Magnum 440, the Magnum 340, and the Magnum truck line. Only the 340 and truck lines ran small blocks, and the truck line was from 1992-2003 between the 318 and 360.
The 340 may have lasted into 1973, but it wasn’t available in the trucks. The trucks used 318’s and 360’s named “LA”, of which is their engine family.
Wasn’t there a 383 Magnum as well?
The 383 Magnum was an engine designation, not a model designation.
That’s why a 1992-2003 Magnum would be an engine swap. They’re the ones you can find readily in junkyards.
I have been into Dodge trucks from both the Sweptline Era (1961 – 1971) and the Lifestyle Era (1972 – 1980) two major reasons. Firstly, they are uncommon in a sea of Chevys and Fords from these years. Secondly, they are less expensive than the Chevys and Fords from these years. The downside is parts support. Mechanical parts. both OEM equivalent and aftermarket are easy to find by body/trim parts are much more difficult. It’s not like there are catalogs full of reproduction parts like with Chevys and Fords. This means scouring junkyards and the internet which isn’t always fruitful.
Squarebody light duty ended in 1987. Bigger trucks and Suburbans went a few years longer.
1981 is a mid-cycle refresh on these trucks, front sheet metal as a full clip is interchangeable backwards but you aren’t putting an 84 fender with a 74 hood. There is at least 2 tailgate versions for Chevy as well… aka lots of little details change over the long run (i.e., gas filler doors). Aftermarket support is huge though.
The ask prices on these in my area have gone way up, I doubt they stay under 20k overall much longer.
My father has an 89 Ford. He had to buy an entire parts truck to get a couple of small parts no one reproduces.
81-93 Dodge is a refresh of the 1972 platform… you can bolt your 93 Cummins chassis into your older one. Exterior sheet metal is different but the guts of the cab are the same. So depending on parts needs and/or willingness to modify you have more options there.
I have a 94 short box regular cab F150. I have already bought and stripped a donor truck as the availability to find parts off the shelf is dwindling more every year. My truck will be going to my son in the future, I can only imagine how hard to find parts will be by the time he is my age now. [ 67] He is 30. I have two sheds full of parts for him saved.
Every single one looks better than anything you can buy today.
Damn Straight 77GL
These ‘luxury’ pickups built
nowadays are laughable for
anyone that actually works for a living .
Yessir! Still for folks who work for a living though… In an office downtown.
New Trucks today are Huge! My 2004 short bed 1500 looks like an S10 parked next to a new one.
I’d say every single one is a more practical size than the monsters of today.
Although my 2006 Lincoln Mark LT is really just a dressed up F150, it was produced by Ford as a Lincoln product for only 3 model years. I think that truck should at least get an honourable mention !
I believe your list is a little outdated as it is extremely difficult to find any Ramcharger or K5 Blazers 4×4’s, even in #3 average condition for under $20K. As a matter of fact, if anyone has either of these trucks in #3 condition for less than $20K, I’m interested.
Craig B- 100% Correct!
Collectors, we call most here daily drivers.
Tbe Dodges rotted away as did the Toyota but the rest are still here here daily in the snow belt of the Great Lakes.
Hyperv6. Got that right. They were beasts. I had a 1971 IH 1210 4×4 back in the day. Real rust bucket especially the hood hinges, cab corners but the drivetrain was still going strong at 250,000 miles. The IH 4×4 light-duty trucks and Scouts had Ford & Chevy beat hands down with power steering and brakes 4-5 years before the others. I now have a 1976 Scout II Traveler bought in 2004 that is still going strong.
Not quite correct. You may be right about the Ramchargers, but as to the Blazers, the article references the C5 Blazer, not the K5. The difference? 4WD. (“C” = 2WD, “K” = 4WD.)
Craig I have just the vehicle for you. I purchased my 1985 RamCharger in 2018, and because of health reasons, I’ve been recently contemplating selling it. It is a rust free California vehicle, and I had the entire vehicle LINEX coated in 2020. I have performed various upgrades to the LA 5.2 (318) engine, including carb & intake, Mopar RV cam, Mallory electronic ignition, high flow cast iron exhaust manifolds & dual exhaust. The A/C has been replaced and upgraded to 134A, and includes new radiator, heater core, & condenser. The Interior has new front and rear headliners, new carpet, additional full gauge set & tach to complement the working factory gauges. The exterior also sports new clearance lights, push bar & lights, new rack on top, and new aluminum wheels and tires. The only thing that I would do to it yet is recover the original bucket seats with new upholstery that I purchased and never yet installed. The seats are all fine with no rips or tears, but I was going with a Southwestern look in it. I would consider selling it for $18,000, and it could be driven anywhere.
If he is not interested, I am.
Hi, I’m interested in your ramcharger.
Tom , would you be able to send pictures? Thanks Frank
1992 S10 Blazer Tahoe Package 4×4 160000 miles. 1 owner. Me. ..hhmmm Mine is all I ever see.
I wish I still had my Scout II.
Me too. I had 3 Scouts. Great vehicles & out pull chevys & fords
Nothing from IH was broken in until you were embarrassed to be seen in it. Then it was good for another 200,000 miles. “Not much for purdy, but hell for stout.”
studenorton. Got that right. They were beasts. I had a 1971 IH 1210 4×4 back in the day. Real rust bucket especially the hood hinges, cab corners but the drivetrain was still going strong at 250,000 miles. The IH 4×4 light-duty trucks and Scouts had Ford & Chevy beat hands down with power steering and brakes 4-5 years before the others. I now have a 1976 Scout II Traveler bought in 2004 that is still going strong.
All cool trucks, but few if any can be had for $20K as presentable drivers in today’s market. Maybe the D100 and Toyota if 2WD but not for much longer. Get’m while you can.
An F-100 of any year will win you some bar bets, since most now alive don’t know there was anything else besides “Muh F-150.”
The mercury m-100 tends is fun to throw out there as well
Where are the full size Broncos? 89 Eddie Bauer with a 302 was a great 4X4
Agree the 1980 and newer Bronco’s are a bargain. They ride better and seating is more comfortable. Had a 92 with EFI 5.0. You could still take the rear top off and have a great time. Sold it recently for less than $10K.
Hey, What about the 2003-2005 GMC and Chevy Stepside 1500. You will never see them again, especially in a Regular Cab.
Presently have a 2001 GMC 2 door Stepside 4 WD Arizona Truck
Just because something is old, dolesn’t make it a classic…
We have an 85 C20, the price of the 3/4 tons have gone thru the roof looks like approaching 20,000 and over.
I still drive my 1991 GMC 1500 2×4 auto , It is dual fuel propane and gasoline , I had the body restored a year ago , here’s what she looks like now it is Hagerty insured , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BDUuHcDqW4
Do you have to keep it “”enclosed “” as per Hagerty’s “”rules””
Good luck getting that for the C10. I have a long bed ’85 Silverado with 67000 original miles I’d have sold for 12500 but best offer I ever got was 8500. I’ve elected to just drive it since everything works and it runs good.