With today’s technology, it’s all too easy to buy something off the Internet on a whim with a little more than a wing and a prayer. I’ve done it, I have friends who’ve done it, and we’ll all probably do it again. Sometimes you end up making out pretty good and other times it leaves you wondering, “Why in the hell do I do that?” It always reminds me of what my parents used to tell me when I was a kid about having money burning a hole in your pocket. Must be why I never carry cash anymore! Give me a hundred bucks and send me off to a swap meet and I’m bound to come home with at least eighty bucks worth of something and a stomach ache from the twenty dollars worth of corndog, burrito, and soda that I bought for lunch.

But this frivolous spending habit could be avoided if I just relegated myself to act like an adult and kept my mind focused on the bigger picture, which is buying what I actually need for my project and not letting my mind wander, “Ohhh, something shiny…”

With my latest purchase, the ’68 C10 that’s been popping up in these very pages over the last few months, it’s got me thinking about the kind of information a guy could prepare himself with when it comes time to appraising a potential purchase. For seasoned builders, it’s pretty simple as you know what you’re looking for, where the problem spots are, and what will be required to get said vehicle to the level of completion that you have envisioned. But for the more inexperienced or perhaps first-time buyer, there are a number of things that may get overlooked that could potentially bite you in the backside later on down the road.

Recently, our Tech Center head floor sweeper and all around go-to guy, Jason Scudellari, picked up a truck project to give us here at CCT something else to do with our time. It was just as I explained it; a few fuzzy photos, a wing, and a prayer and before you could say, “patch panels,” Jason had the thing in the shop and offloaded from the trailer. It seemed the price was right and he just couldn’t refuse bringing home the old girl.

We came up with a short list of things to keep in mind the next time you get to surfin’ the web and before you engage in a bidding war on some random pickup 2,500 miles away with two blurry photos of it in a field. Hopefully, it’ll save someone a lot of headache in the meantime. But remember, we still haven’t learned our lesson, so do as we say, not as we’ve done!

Specify Your Selection

One of the most important decisions to make is what it is that you’re looking for. I’ve heard people say a number of times that they were looking for an “old truck” and to keep an eye out for them. Ok, sure I will. Pick up a couple magazines and flip through them and figure out what year, make, and model tickle your fancy before you even start looking. It should start becoming clear; there’s quite a difference in appearance between a ’48 Ford and a ’76 Chevy. Find the era that best represents what you like best and from there, decided what year and/or model makes the most sense.

For example, if you like the mid-’50s F-100s, the ’56 is the most desirable in terms of resale and popularity due to a number of styling cues. They’re also going to be the most expensive for all the same reasons. That could be reason enough to look at the earlier trucks, say ’53-’55.