Baby boomers (and their 1960s nostalgia) are getting older. Younger car enthusiasts have more money nowadays, as well, and they've shifted the vintage car market toward the so-called "Radwood" era cars of the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps fueled by Internet feedback loops, prices have exploded. Choice low-mileage cars can fetch well into the six figures, and even ordinary vehicles from that time period can be shockingly expensive.
One prime example is the Toyota Pickup, the predecessor of the Tacoma. It's a solid, basic and legendarily reliable pickup truck, with its reputation enhanced by a brief appearance in the Back to the Future movies. We've seen a Toyota pickup auction on Bring a Trailer for nearly $60,000. Now, Vanguard Motors in Michigan has a 1991 4x4 model for sale for $44,900.
This is, admittedly, an excellent Toyota pickup specimen. It's super-clean and looks like it's in great shape. It has just under 70,000 miles, which is spectacular for a 29-year-old truck and barely broken in for a Toyota. It has a five-speed manual transmission, and was one-family owned. It would be an awesome choice to bring to a Radwood event when such things are happening again.
But $44,900 is an absurd price to pay for a vintage truck. It's more than enough to buy a new Toyota Tacoma; a new top-trim TRD Pro model with a manual transmission would only be a few hundred dollars more. And that's overstating your true payment, because your Tacoma will still hold its value when you decide to sell it.
Overpaying for basic 1980s and 1990s cars has become ingrained in car culture. Railing against can feel like shouting into the ether. But saying nothing normalizes the practice, which prices out a lot of people.