10 Trucks from Bring a Trailer to Pretend You’re a 1990s Building Contractor

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. It’s the kind of thing that makes a programmer in Seattle wake up on a Saturday morning in the year 2020, pour some coffee into a metal thermos, put on a plaid shirt and yellow Timberland work boots, a John Deere baseball cap, and head on down to Home Depot in a correct vintage (but not too vintage) truck to buy something industrial-looking.

If you haven’t noticed, minty trucks from the 1990s have been all the rage on online auction sites for the past few years, and they’re being bought by the kids of the 1980s and 1990s who now want to reenact a Saturday morning at a lumber yard, or go inspect some forest road or railroad despite being employed by neither the forestry service nor a railroad. Nostalgia for days just far enough in the rear view mirror to seem distant is what’s driving some to spend almost as much on a truck from 1990, with a Clarion cassette player for infotainment, as a truck from 2020.

We call this the Nineties Building Contractor Cosplay Lifestyle, and if you have the right wardrobe and the right truck for the job you too can pretend you’re doing something burly and industrial decades ago. If this sounds like a niche hobby, every week tidy trucks from the 1990s attract frenzied bidding on auction sites, and we’ve compiled a digest of the right models and examples to give you a taste of this LARPing lifestyle.

Here are 10 trucks from Bring a Trailer in which you can cosplay as a building contractor from the 1990s.

It doesn’t get much more authentic early 1990s than this C1500 Silverado, which was somehow optioned with a diesel. Let’s just pause for a couple of minutes and fully process how rare a thing a diesel Silverado that’s not a dually actually is. Where do you even see this sort of thing these days? Finished in a two-tone Light Quasar Blue and Indigo Blue, this truck featured such luxuries as corduroy seat inserts and a Delco AM/FM/cassette stereo. Which, to be fair, is all you need to cosplay a mustache-owning truck user from the early 1990s, like someone working as some kind of cement plant foreman.

Authenticity Rating: 10/10. The color is perfect, the engine is perfect, and a long-bed layout and modest interior makes it ripe for, ahem, pretending to be much more handy with power tools than you really are.

Sold For: $12,600.

Remember that Ram truck that Dodge couldn’t figure out how to stop manufacturing, so it just made them forever, through the mid 1990s? Yes, this is that truck, and it’s got a 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-six teamed up with a four-speed automatic transmission. Diesels that weren’t duallies were kind of rare, but not with this model because it was very towing-oriented to begin with, and it made that angry growling sound like a much bigger truck — its bark was scarier than its bite.

Authenticity Rating: 10/10. This is an ancient, ancient, ancient platform that somehow made it into the 1990s, and it sits high off the ground while making all the right noises. At the same time it’s modestly optioned and the cabin looks very bare-bones. Difficult to improve upon.

Sold For: $30,250. That’s right. And that is not far from where something vaguely like it would start today. Except you can’t really buy that kind of street cred today at a new truck dealership.

First of all, let’s once again just pause for a minute and try to recall the last time we saw a flareside F-150 from the early 1990s on the street. Whoever walked into a Ford dealership in 1991 and asked for this light-blue F-150 XLT with a flareside bed is our kind of truck owner. And this truck, powered by a 5.0-liter V8 coupled with a four-speed, somehow survived in this condition while accumulating only 69,000 miles. As you’ve probably guessed by now, it was first registered in Washington state and then relocated to Oregon — the capital of absurdly well-preserved classic trucks.

Cosplay Rating: 9/10. The rarity of this specification makes the truck a spectacular sight, and it happens to be finished in a very 1990s color. It only loses a point for its short bed — its usability is dinged just a tiny bit.

Sold For: $20,000. What can we say? You have to pay to play. And in this case multiple bidders fought over the privilege of owning a flareside F-150.

A minty F-150 in a teal and silver color scheme is very 1990s, and they’re not easy to find in a condition this tidy today, even though the numbers of F-150s are still strong. This example was bought new in the driest place on Earth — Alberta, Canada — whose climate we have to thank for its preservation, and it’s optioned with a 5.0-liter V8 coupled with a four-speed automatic. Lest we forget, this was the last year of the F-150 of this generation, before they became all oval and Navigator-like.

Cosplay Rating: 10/10. This ticks all the right boxes, and we’re ready to put on a pair of jeans, suspenders and a hardhat and buy something very industrial at Home Depot. Alberta and Oregon Northwest provenance adds to the flavor.

Sold For: $10,750.

Everyone knows that Silverados from the early 1990s look best in two-tone color schemes, and with as many classic truck details as possible. We’ll give you two guesses which state this minty 1994 Chevrolet C2500 Silverado hailed from, but you’re only going to need one. Optioned with a 350-cu-in V8 paired with a four speed automatic, this truck was finished in the correct color scheme of two-tone blue and silver, with a gray cloth interior. The most modern and decadent thing about this truck is the Kenwood CD player — a modern touch for the CDs you burned in college — and air conditioning. This truck had just 47,000 on the clock, and the long bed option and the 16-inch steel wheels with chrome rings went a long way toward adding an industrial touch.

Cosplay Rating: 10/10. The color combo is likely impossible to improve upon, and the gray interior has just the right visual flavor. All the right boxes were ticked here.

Sold For: $11,500, owing to a nice color combo and low miles. Not easy to find another like it.

An F-150 XLT with a long bed is tough to beat when it comes to driving around town in an orange hardhat, looking for random tree trunks to slice up with a chainsaw. And this XLT optioned with the big 5.8-liter V8 coupled with a four-speed automatic ticks just about all the right boxes. This truck, of course, hails from Oregon, and its luxury features amounted to air conditioning and a cassette stereo. The interior features obligatory gray fur, gray cloth and gray plastic, ready for a metal coffee thermos and a metal lunchbox.

Cosplay Rating: 8/10. The color here is a little on the boring side — it’s not teal or light blue — but low miles and Oregon provenance make up for that.

Sold For: $12,500, so these aren’t cheap. But where else do you get one without rust and under 50,000 miles on the clock, The Henry Ford Museum? (Do they even have one?)

That’s right: This is the Walker: Texas Ranger generation Ram 2500 Diesel 4×4, and somehow it hails not from Texas, where the sun would have done a real number on its paint by now, but from the dry prairie part of Washington state, halfway to the Idaho border. Sold new by Mid Valley Chrysler Plymouth Dodge in the town of Grandview (we had to look up where that was), this truck is powered by a Cummins 5.9-liter turbodiesel inline-six coupled with a four-speed automatic. Finished in two-tone maroon and silver, this diesel Ram showed 97,000 miles on the clock, but we could give it half that many

Cosplay Rating: 8/10. This specification is almost “too nice” for a working truck, and the exterior colors too fancy. Still, the higher miles here didn’t really reflect on the exterior condition, which maintained its dark, rich colors. 4×4 specification also probably a little too much for a Bob the Builder truck — this is more of a big shot boss truck.

Sold For: $22,000. Probably cannot be found easily in this condition.

When the Tacoma debuted it replaced Toyota’s line of small trucks, ushering in a new era for the brand while keeping the attractive footprint and dimensions. You already know what state this SR5 Xtracab 4×4 hails from — zero surprise there — and its wearing beefy tires and a Snugtop. Finished in Pewter Pearl with some snazzy Jazz Solo-style zigzag graphics, this Tacoma is powered by a 3.4-liter V6 paired with a four-speed auto. More importantly, it looks very clean and is showing no signs of rust and has been in a single family home all its life, until the seller dealer bought it. But can you guess which town in Oregon it hails from, judging by the photo above? (Of course, being a major western railroad town, the answer rhymes with Blue Jeans).

Cosplay Rating: 7/10. The Tacoma SR5 4×4 might be a Pacific Northwest truck, but it’s not really a contractor’s truck because it’s too small and also too off-road. This is more of a private Pacific Northwest commuter, and a Jeep Wrangler The Truck in spirit.

Sold For: $15,750. A clean Tacoma with less than 75,000 miles isn’t easy to come by, and the bidders here seemed to realize this fact.

This list wouldn’t be complete without a late Comanche with some graphics, and it’s a base Sportruck version sold new in Hawaii, and then made its way to you already know what state. With a 2.5-liter inline-four good for all of 121 hp coupled with a five-speed manual, this Comanche had 95,000 miles on the clock, but somehow managed to not gain any fist-sized rust holes in its body. That’s Oregon’s contribution here. It’s also very base inside, featuring a gray vinyl bench seat in a brick pattern, and luxury features such black vinyl mats. The infotainment system is a Clarion cassette stereo, for all those tapes you still have.

Cosplay Rating: 9/10. The base spec here, coupled with a vinyl gray interior and a manual transmission (rare on this list) made this a very attractive option. However, it lost some points for being smallish and not very contractor-oriented. The Comanche, lest we forget, was a very small and very cheap truck, so it was more of a rear-wheel drive commuter.

Sold For: $5,100. Let’s face it — the buyer here got a massive steal here — and the truck even got fresh paint and new vinyl upholstery very recently. That’s like two thirds of the price of the truck itself. We’re tempted to call the police and report an obscenely great steal that took place, and have them show up in a 1993 Caprice to investigate.

An early 1990s Dodge Ram is a working-truck icon, especially if wearing towing mirrors. Most of it is also made out of very boxy steel and there are hardly any elements that you would call “styled” in any manner. This 1992 Power Ram 250 LE Diesel has all the right stuff, optioned with a 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-six paired with a five-speed manual transmission — a rarity for this list — and it’s not a dually either. It’s also a rarity on this list because it doesn’t hail from Oregon or Washington, but rather Kansas. This truck also had 189,000 on it when it was sold on Bring a Trailer two years, making it by far the most high-mileage truck on this list. What drew our attention to it was its tidy exterior condition, big rig engine and manual transmission. This thing was not used as a commuter, and we bet it sounds angry and commercial when just idling. It also probably doesn’t like running around town without cargo.

Cosplay Rating: 9/10. The burly drivetrain and towing mirrors let it score a lot of points, and this is definitely not a lifestyle truck. This is also more of towing truck, probably for a horse trailer, which is a little different than a contractor’s truck, but still in the same general orbit.

Sold For: $14,250. Not cheap, but not easy to find this clean either. (Bring a Trailer is also owned by Autoweek’s parent company, Hearst Autos).

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