When I Had "The Cleanest Truck on the Internet"
Take my money! The irresistible allure of Mazda B-Series trucks in factory-fresh condition.
Once upon a time, a nice gentleman told me I had the cleanest truck on the internet. He then offered me $5,000 for that truck—without looking it over in person—which was my oxidized-red 1986 Mazda B2000 SE-5 single cab pickup truck. He flew from Texas to Los Angeles to exchange $5,000 in crisp cash in a plain white envelope for that li'l red pickup that had stolen his heart—and mine, too. I didn't even try to clean it up too much before he bought it. I treated him to a nice Mexican lunch and then watched him drive away. He texted me during his road trip home to Texas, but not with tales of how the truck had broken down or overheated or somehow imploded. No. They were about how much fun he was having driving... the cleanest truck on the internet.
I made a pretty penny selling that little red '86 B2000 five-speed manual pickup, more than doubling my investment (after putting about 60,000 miles on it, to boot, while commuting 80 miles a day). In the nine years since selling that quintessential '80s machine, I've thought about it quite a bit and use it as a benchmark for which to compare other Mazda minis on the road. Indeed, it's a classic case of the older-I-get-the-cooler-it-was syndrome, but that sturdy B2000 truly was remarkable.
The interior was nearly flawless; I always joked it had lived in someone's living room, but come to think of it, it actually might have. The dashboard was in better shape than those of trucks a decade or two newer. The pristine sliding bench seat, void of any headrests, left your head basically resting on the rear window. But because it had seatbelts, it felt safe enough; because it had power steering, it felt nimble enough.
The body was pretty darn straight, and those robust bedsides could hold their own against dings, scuffs, and abuse. Although its unscathed, bare bed showed no signs of having done any real work in its lifetime, it was not a fragile truck. The SE-5 bed graphics were probably the most endearing feature, and you could not have paid me enough money to strip those rad emblems that screamed "I'm from the '80s!"
It shifted nicely through the gears, and despite its slightly sloppy manual stick-shift assembly, it was remarkably easy to drive. User participation was the name of the game, with manual windows, manual door locks (where you had to hold the handle up while closing the door in order to get the doors to lock), the aforementioned manual gearbox, and manual headlights.
I was living with the heavy burden of having sold the cleanest truck ever seen on the internet when I saw this light blue 1988 Mazda B2200 pop up on Bring a Trailer. I happened to catch the end of the auction, which saw a bidding war that brought the final price up to $8,300. That's not collector-car money, but it's more than the truck would have cost brand new when not accounting for inflation. The impulsive side of me wanted to start bidding on this B2200 to relive my life from 10 years ago and revisit the stoutness of mini trucks from 30 years ago.
Photo Gallery: 1988 Mazda B2200
The beautiful Bayside Blue 1988 Mazda B2200 Cab Plus that hit the Bring a Trailer auction block had a lot going for it: a rear step bumper, sliding rear window, forward-facing fold-down rear jump seats, air conditioning, and bucket seats. An aftermarket Pioneer CD head unit was the only interior upgrade; I did the same thing to my B2000. The side mirrors had been replaced, as indicated by screw holes; mine had the larger mirrors than this one probably once had. It had a mere 128,000 miles on the odometer, which averages to only 4,000 miles for every year of its 32 years of existence. While a bedliner and bed cap also came with the purchase, I'm glad they were removed in order to show off the pristine condition of the B2200. The exterior trim pieces looked to be in fantastic condition, and the front bumper caps looked brand new.
This Mazda B-Series is one of the freshest I've seen—but you know what? I don't think it holds a candle to my B2000. After all, that red Mazda will always be the cleanest truck on the internet.