If I could buy any pickup truck in the world right now, it would be this amazing 1983 Jeep J10 pickup for sale on Bring A Trailer. Everything from the color, to the engine, to the transmission, to little things like the mirrors—it’s all so perfect. Just look at this machine and you’ll agree.
As you may know, I am the proud owner of a 1985 Jeep J10, a vehicle that is everything I’ve ever wanted in a truck. It’s got a bench seat, a manual transmission, a reliable and easy-to-work-on inline-six, four-wheel drive with manual locking hubs, a stamped tailgate, and hell—even a gun rack. (And I don’t even hunt!).
The vehicle is my automotive soulmate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate other pickups. This brown 1983 J10, for example, just looks incredible:
It actually improves upon my J10 in a number of ways. Obviously, it’s not as rusty (though I will say that my underbody looks about as nice as this truck’s), and its paint is immaculate whereas my J10's is pretty faded. Plus, this truck has intact plastic bumper end caps in the rear, whereas mine have broken off.
Also, this 1983 Jeep J10 Laredo has carpeting! My Jeep J10 came with vinyl, which is a classic work-truck floor cover, though it trapped quite a bit of moisture and contributed to my front floorboards rusting a bit. The seats on this 1983 look beautiful, whereas my truck has a junkyard cover (an awesome one) to disguise the ripped bench.
This 1983's setup is two buckets with a center mini-seat/armrest. It’s not as cool as a true bench seat, but I have no doubt that it’s more comfortable. My bench seat is unbelievably springing; When I hit a bump, I feel compliance in the suspension, then compliance in the body mounts, then tons of compliance in the seat. It makes the ride feel like a pogo stick.
You may also notice in the photo above that the shifter is curved, whereas my truck’s shifter has a sharp bend in it. That’s because this 1983 is outfitted with the Borg-Warner T5 five-speed manual—a very rare option. My Jeep has the Tremec T177 four-speed which, along with the truck’s tall 2.73 axle ratio and 31-inch tires, is fine enough for highway driving. Also, the old four-speed is incredibly cheap and easy to rebuild.
That said, I do wish I had a fifth gear, as shifting is the most fun part of driving my old truck. Plus, having a tall fifth gear could theoretically give me a shorter first, which would be great, as my truck requires lots of revs/clutch slip to get going from a start. The 2.73 axle ratio is the main culprit, and it makes my J10 a bit of a dog, if I’m honest; I wouldn’t even consider towing more than about 2,000 pounds with it.
The gearing and curb weight are the main reason’s for my truck’s sluggishness, but the 4.2-liter inline-six under the hood doesn’t help much, either. It makes over 200 lb-ft of torque, but with only roughly 110 horsepower, this two-ton hunk of iron feels ridiculously underpowered.
Still, I actually prefer the inline-six over the available AMC V8. The I6 is smooth, it’s significantly more reliable than the V8s, and it’s also significantly easier to work on. It’s a no-bullshit engine, and that makes up for the gutlessness in my eyes.
This 1983 truck’s engine, which has about the same mileage as my truck’s at ~65,000, looks to still have much of the original smog equipment on it, and that’s a big deal if you live in a state that requires an annual tailpipe sniffing like California, where this truck is located.
You’ll also notice that this J10 is a short-bed. I prefer a long bed like my J10's for utility, but if we’re just talking aesthetics, I think the short bed may be a little prettier.
Other things you can see in the side image above are the stock aluminum wheels found on the Laredo trim. I think the rims look nice, though maybe a bit out-of-place on such an old truck with 1960s roots. But the thing I like most in the side view are those mirrors. They’re tiny, and while they may not work as well for towing compared to my wide mirrors, I’m sure they’re at least 5 million decibels quieter than my truck’s barn-size reflective glass. Seriously, driving my J10 on the highway sounds like a F-5 tornado, and to hear the radio requires pretty much crank the dial until it hits its stop.
As of this writing, this J10 is auctioning at $19,000, which is absurdly high, but also promising for me. I paid $3,500 for mine, and probably threw another $2,000 into it over the years. I have no doubt I could get my truck into pristine shape for $10,000, so it’s good to know that—when I do go through with a full restoration—I won’t be dumping cash into a vehicle without any value.
Not that I’d ever sell my beloved J10.