With the range of expertise available on this website, I figured there's no better place to go for help. I appreciate your insights and advice.
As folks in the DC area know, besides being a longtime lurker here and an average shantysinger, I'm also an avid (and far more expert) gardener, with a specialty in historic gardening (wanna know what they grew in 13th-century England or 10th-century Spain? Just ask! You'll be sorry!).
I've decided that the time has come to give my poor Corolla station wagon a rest and buy a used pickup truck -- something big enough to carry a front-end-loader's worth of manure or mulch, or enough stone to edge a good-size bed, but definitely not new -- I only have $3 to $5K to spend. I've checked Consumer Reports and done some other homework, and now I've just started looking at specific models. I'd originally been drawn to Ford Rangers (I'm only 5 feet tall, and they seem just my size) but I've just tried out a 1989 Chevy S10, and while it still seems big, it may do the job.
1) Anyone have a particular make/model pickup they just LOVE that I should look for?
2) If I had to choose between the "towing package" upgrade and air conditioning in a given truck, which should I take? Does the tow package make that much difference in capabilities? Is a summer in DC survivable without AC?
3) My wagon is a 5-speed manual. Is there much difference in maintainability and functionality between manual and automatic pickups? The 5-speeds are usually cheaper, and I've not been "marking them down" as long as they've been listed as having the largest-size engine for that model truck.
4) Is it true that Fords are built to self-destruct at a certain age? I've noticed an AWFUL LOT of 97 Ford Rangers advertised.
If anyone reasonably nearby HAS a (reliable) old pickup they'd like to pass on to a good home, please let me know! And again, many thanks!