Well, we finally have one in the driveway.
After 5 months of searching here and elsewhere at least 3 times every day, we contacted garylinngray regarding his 2005 5.4L 2WD SMB. We flew to Portland on Saturday with one way tickets, hoping the truck was half as nice as it looked. Gary was accurate in his description of the rig and showed genuine concern that we might not think it as nice as he did. Gary was superb in his dealings with us. He picked us up from the airport in the SMB and it is beautiful. Better than even his high praise for it's condition would have led us to expect.
106K miles and it looked as though it had never been camped in and virtually new inside and out. there were just a few minor scratches on the paint that did nothing to diminish it's value to us. While it is 2wd there is room in the budget for a 4x4 conversion (hopefully Ramsey will be in tomorrow as I hope to give him a call). All the systems seem to be in great shape. There was room in the fridge for all the double smoked bacon we pick up when passing through Bishop and going to Mahogany Smoked Meats! Yum... We love the "50", and always have since trying to figure out a way of getting one in an early 60's VW Safari Edition Deluxe Micro Bus. The truck handles way better than I thought possible by a stock van. Really comfortable to drive (we had 3 consecutive days of between 5 and 7 hours on the road.) My wife loved driving it as well and she is a driving force, eh hem, behind giving it a beefed up off-road performance makeover. We have excellent bones.
But, I must say that the 5.4L and the 3.73 gears worked to perfection. Plenty of power (my main concern) and 17.6 MPG on our maiden topped-off leg from Bend, OR to Gardnerville, NV driving the speed limit, between 55 and 70mph the whole way. Mostly rolling hills with some definite ups and downs. I am pretty sure that this is as good as it will ever get. Still though, you should have seen the smile on my face when the Gas Pump jerked to a stop at 24.5 gallons on the 431.2 mile leg. It looked better than expected even before I did the actual math. This morning we headed out from Gardnerville to home in LA. Conway grade out of Bridgeport, CA near Mono Lake, Deadman's Summit near June lake and many others were NO problem. Making 65 up those with only one downshift, a light touch on the throttle and RPMs around 2200. Once or twice I put my foot in it to see if it would accelerate, and while the engine screamed in the lower gear, the R's only hit about 3.5K and she scooted right up the grades at 75 if I called for it. Way more power than I had expected. I imagine with bigger tires and 4x4 we will have to change the rear end ratio, but if we could make it perform in a similar way on the highway I will be more than happy.
The 35 gallon tank making it look easy. Not cheap to fill but it allowed us to pass the $4.15 per gallon gas in the 395 corridor to safely arrive home with almost a quarter of a tank to spare where we can purchase 87 from Costco for $3.59 a gallon (and save an additional 3% on our AmEx). My 4Runner gets similar mileage but only carries 18 gallons. I only have an effective range of around 250-300 miles. I have yet to fill-er-up from the drive today, but fuel economy seems similar. More grades on the Eastern Sierra today for sure. Heck we even came across a beautiful fully decked out Tan SMB on the 14 just before he got off the freeway in Canyon Country. It felt good to honk and wave at someone that knew what we were feeling.
All in all, we arrived home with a new SMB and smiles plastered all over our faces.
Now I have to change my signature...