Quarter-Million-Mile Power Stroke Work Truck Project

Part 1: We Buy A Used Fleet Vehicle For $2,250

David Kennedy
Aug 1, 2010
Photographers: David Kennedy
The best thing about owning a four-door diesel truck is that it can do anything. Want to tow your boat, haul some lumber, or race your buddy's Mustang? No problem. Want to take your wife out for a night on the town, pick up the kids from school, or even go on a family vacation? Your diesel can do that, too.
Photo 2/10   |   1997 Ford F250 Power Stroke side View
But one of the risks of having a truck that can do everything is that it becomes an essential part of your life-and stops being just a pickup-truck-based tool. You can find yourself with a vehicle that's too nice for some jobs, too big for others, and in some cases, car seats begin to take precedence over toolboxes.
We're not going to suggest that you restrict the things your diesel can do, rather it might be time to add a regular cab truck to your stable of diesels in order to tackle the toughest and dirtiest jobs. Basically, what we're suggesting is that you start your own personal fleet, and the key is to buy the least expensive and heaviest-duty vehicle that will do the job.
Buying A Fleet Truck
There are literally hundreds of places to buy used vehicles, but the best deals come from people trying to unload their truck quickly. If you're in the market for a second pickup to use as a utility vehicle, one of the best places you can start is in the used commercial (or fleet) vehicle sales section of your local paper or website. You're looking for a truck that has a proven diesel drivetrain, as few options as possible (less things to break), and evidence of routine maintenance performed by good mechanics.
Photo 3/10   |   1997 Ford F250 Power Stroke tailgate
What We Got For $2,250
We found this '97 Ford F-250 with a 7.3L Power Stroke, automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive on Craigslist.com, but it was being sold by RTR Services in Salem, Oregon. The truck had more than 288,000 miles on the odometer, was listed with a very detailed description, and the asking price was $2,500. We made an appointment to see the truck locally-this is critical with high-mileage vehicles-and gave it a thorough inspection. We offered $2,250, which we felt the truck was worth in parts alone. The F-250 came with an 8-ton pintle hitch and a bed-mounted toolbox, and the frame, body, and suspension were in great shape for a work truck.
The Downsides To Buying a 288,000-Mile Truck
Every part of the truck was dirty, the radio didn't really work, the headliner was falling down, and the driver-side door handle had broken free from the door. The engine's flexplate was worn out from use, which tends to cause a gear-clashing sound when we try to start the truck. The batteries were shot, there was no spare tire, and we felt it would only be prudent to replace every fluid in the truck. On the plus side, the A/C was said not to work-but it worked great.
Photo 4/10   |   1997 Ford F250 Power Stroke interior
Our Plan
We're going to drive this truck to the office, junkyard, and the shop. We're going to build it into a utility vehicle that we're never afraid to scratch or get dirty. The truck should be up to the task regardless of weather, temperature, or time of day. We'll add some power to it, install a snowplow, bolt in some heavier-duty drivetrain pieces as needed, and use it to evaluate how components hold up after 300,000 miles of use.

2015 Ford F-250 Specifications

Fair Market Price $29,885
MSRP $31,810
Editors' Overall Rating
Mileage N/A City / N/A Highway
Engine 6.2L V8
Horse Power 385 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 405 ft lb of torque @ 4,500 rpm
See all Specifications


RTR Services
Slalem, OR 97301
The Fordson House


Truck Trend Network


Ford F 250

Fair Market Price
Editors' Overall Rating
Basic Specifications
MSRP: $31,810
Mileage: N/A
Engine: 6.2L V8
get a free quote

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