Arbitrage Opportunity – 1981 Toyota Pickup

Anybody who’s spent time in San Francisco will have noticed the night-time recyclers, driving around in trucks overloaded with cardboard, bottles, and cans, making a racket sifting through people’s recycle bins for the choice pieces. Their vehicle of choice is often a 25-30 year-old Toyota pickup. Or you might have noticed that building contractors and maintenance workers prefer smaller vehicles to carry their tools and supplies. Their vehicle of choice is often a 25-30 year-old Toyota pickup or van. That puts a higher than normal pressure on the market for these vehicles, which brings us to an interesting opportunity – say you lived in another nearby city but had frequent business in San Francisco – could you make a small amount of money buying a nearby truck, driving it down, and flipping it to a small-truck-loving San Franciscan? Now all we need is a truck – check out this 1981 Toyota Pickup for sale for $1700 in Vancouver, WA.

1981 Toyota Pickup left rear

Since there’s no night-time recycling market, or narrow streets in Vancouver, these older pickups are relegated to enthusiast and light personal use. And sure enough, this truck looks to be enthusiast owned – witness much recent work, including an upgraded alternator, tune-up work, new clutch and clutch master cylinder, and interior upgrades like newer Scion seats. And while it looks to have original white paint, the body looks in pretty good condition – it’s clearly been used for hauling things, but has not had the beating a city truck gets.

1981 Toyota Pickup front

These were one of the better designed Toyota trucks – simple, clean and unpretentious with a black plastic grill, two round headlights, and small chrome bumpers. It’s interesting to see commercial plates on this truck, even though the seller says he was planning on upgrading this to a 4×4 (which begs the question – why, when there are factory 4x4s out there?).

1981 Toyota Pickup engine

The engine compartment with its 22R looks pretty clean from here, especially for a utilitarian vehicle. There is one issue of note with this truck, namely dieseling when the ignition is turned off. The seller attributes this to a fuel cutoff solenoid, but you’ll want to make sure this isn’t due to a hot-running condition due to poorly-set timing.

1981 Toyota Pickup interior

Here’s the interior – aside from the missing horn button, it looks very livable, and those seats will keep things comfortable on the drive down, as will the five speed transmission. A casual survey of the trucks listed online in San Francisco doesn’t show anything in as nice as this on the market. It also shows you can expect about a $500 markup, which means that instead of paying for your flight, you can have a slower trip down, deal with craigslist flakes, and ultimately knock down your markup to $300… wait, why is this a good idea?


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