Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack.
First Gen Dodge Ram Cummins
This unassuming truck set the standard for diesel trucks years before Ford and Chevy fully embraced the diesel market. It had a direct injection, turbo charged, straight six, while the other two of the big three where still indirectly injected and naturally aspirated v8s. Fewer cylinders may seem less desirable, but a straight six delivers the power where you need it, very low in the RPM range. The 1989 to 1994 Dodge Ram with the 5.9 Cummins may not be the rarest truck on the list, but it’s cult following may be the strongest.
Solid Front Axle Toyota Pickup
In the states it was simply the Toyota Pickup, to the world it was the Hilux. If you aren’t familiar with the pre 1985 solid front axle Toyota trucks, you need to go back to school. They have a reputation of unsurpassed reliability, driven by the heroic 22R. It’s not uncommon to see ads for this generation of Toy truck stating, “300,000 miles, frame is cracked, floors and bed rusted, but runs like a top, daily driver.”
Jeep CJ 8
Take an already well-sorted Jeep, extend the bed 2 feet and you get The Scrambler. The 10 inch longer wheel base smoothed out the ride on the pavement and the reliable AMC 6 banger was ready to push the factory 4 wheel drive Jeep truck through any off road terrain it faced. All generations of Jeeps are popular and the CJ8 has become extremely sought after. 27,792 CJ8s were produced, and most have been neglected beyond recognition, if you see a prime example you better snatch it up while you can.
Jeep FC series
The Jeep FC series of trucks were strange but practical. The FC stands for Forward Control, meaning the driver’s compartment was very far forward on the chassis, like a miniature cab over. It was a workhorse with a short wheelbase and you could order a plethora of beds from Jeep approved dealers. The FC series had incredible variety available and was hopelessly utilitarian at its heart. It is a quirky piece of AMC history.
The GMC Syclone has taken most of the spotlight in recent years, but the Syclone and the Typhoon have the same turbo charged 4.3 V6 engine and 4-wheel drive system that made them unlike anything else GM had at the time. The Typhoon may be .4 secs slower than the Syclone from 0-60mph, but at 5.7 secs it was just as fast as the Corvette in 1992. Plus you could fit a whole keg in the back of the Typhoon. Good luck with that in a Corvette.
The half: The Suzuki Samurai
With an anemic 1.3 liter engine, leaf springs front and rear, and a fondness for rolling over at sub normal driving speeds, it doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, but the Samurai has gained an extremely devoted following. With their lightweight and simple drivetrain, including solid axles front and rear, it was a rugged recipe for success. If you head to the woods with your Jeep friends for a weekend, there will inevitably be a Samurai there. To the dismay of your 35-inch tires, Rubicon Dana 44s and 4 to 1 transfer case, that damn Samurai on 31s will slowly putter right past you.