Short of posting a couple of links to trucks, here's my take on the circumstances after being in a similar and yet far cry from similar situation.
As I've posted many times before....
On Feb 16, after my classes, I went out to one of the local mountain ranges here in my 2wd '93 5 spd 4.0L ex-cab ranger to photograph some rattlesnakes at a densite I know of. In the previous 6-8 months I had a new clutch put in, new brakes, new trans, and upgraded to 15 inch rims and 29 inch (LT235) BFG A/Ts....I was at ~172,000 miles. On my way home, at approximately 5:28pm a 16 y.o. kid blew through a stop sign in a '72 chevy truck. The damage didn't seem that bad visually. Posted speed was 35, I probably hit him at 20-25. No license, no insurance, no permit, no registration...nada. I called 911, got that ball rolling and then called my mom. Hey mom, I'M OK, I REPEAT, OK, but what is my accident coverage on the insurance. Under and non-insured motorist, why? I tell her the above.
KBB and NADA valued my truck between 2300-4400 (I believe it was NADA that gave me the highest quote). State Farm gave me just over 5000 for it. That was the start. There then entered lost wages, lost school time due to the awesomely annoying pain meds that made me feel like a mentally-handicapped kid high on god knows how many tons of sugar, lost of job performance due to lifting restriction, rehab, etc......to sum it pain and suffering. Needlesstosay, had I used ALL the monies I received from my accident I could have almost paid off my truck. Matter of fact, the 3K my mom put in would have allowed me to owe nothing on the truck and have about 600 (only 2 zeros) left to play with. We talked, as I own no credit cards thus no credit.
I began searching for a new truck days after my accident. A friend of mine has a '98 taco trd, he tried talking me into one. I searched for manual trans ones, but couldn't locate anything for a while. The ones I located ranged from 20-25K and were over 55,000 miles already. Months back I had located an '03 FX4 Level II for 19K. Manual, etc, this was back when my '93 was giving me troubles. I tried locating that truck, nada. I searched and searched. My mom told me to be patient and that I'd find what I wanted in due time. I wanted a 4x4 ranger. Partly because all my friends had 4x4s and mainly because of my liking to go reptile searching (stop squirming Colin
), hiking, exploring, etc. I got my first taste of 4x4 in may 2000 in my mom's '92 4x4 explorer while on my post-high school graduation trip to the Harquajala mnts outside of PHX, AZ. I knew that what I enjoy doing as an escape would need me to eventually own a 4x4 vehicle. AND I LOVED my '93 ranger. She was everything I wanted except 4x4 and she lacked some bells and whistles. So I started my search plus 2 months of driving a chevy cavalier was cauing me to climb the walls. I felt metrosexual driving it, with a slight lean towards homosexual. I needed a truck back and BAD! No fu fu car! I felt pathetic picking up this one girl I was seeing while in that rental. I knew I wanted, I needed another ranger.
BUT, with all that above I also knew this. A new city position was going to open at my place of work and I was a prime candidate for the job. My only flaw was i lacked my bachelors degree (still do) and the job calls for having one. I also knew at this time that I had no idea what my insurance company was going to give me for my injury claim and also had no clue of what my truck claim would sum to. I did know that if I got that job I'd be looking at anywhere from $11.33 to $16.00 per hour. One day in March, while going through a "pissed off I miss my truck" temper tantrum I finally found what I was after. I found my '04 FX4 Level II. Everything I could ask for in a ranger (stock) minus a manutal transfer case (damn you '03 losers!
) It was that week, before finding my truck that I knew what State Farm was going to give me for my truck. I called my mom, told her I found what I was afgter, what I dreamed of. She tried to talk me out of it, we still had no clue on my injury settlement and my mom really couldn't afford to dump any large amount of money on a truck until I got my injury claim so I was screwed. I told her I was going to call the dealership and see what I could do. 15 minutes later I was calling her to find out when she'd get my truck claim check (the '93 truck was in hers and my name even though it was paid for). The dealership would take a non-refundable $500 down payment to hold the truck for 2 weeks. And the rest, well do a search
Basically, I knew what I wanted. I knew that this was my opportunity to get a newer more "dependable" vehile (grrr
pressure plate #1 and slave/master cylinders #1). I also knew that I was going to transition from intern to acting naturalist (the new position would be naturalist) at work which would entail more hours and a pay raise. I went up from 25hrs to 30 hrs, but never saw the raise....not until Aug 7th. I interviewed and got the job, beating out a PhD for the job. I'm still probationary, only working 30 hrs a week, and when the probation period is up, next Aug, I'll hopefully have had my BS in Biology for 2 months and I'll be anticipating a shift to salaried pay. So my timing was right, in a sick way.
So Gearhead....this is your opportunity, and yet it isn't. A LOT of what Colin (NHBubba) says is very true and definitely something to consider. On the other hand however, is the fact that you had a 4x4 ranger and a nice one at that. I can't really see taking a step back and downgrading from what you had to a "lesser" ranger. But again, I understand where Colin is coming from. Especially so since I owe like 15K in student loans. If I play my cards right everything should work out. I now what I want out of my life and out of my job/job future now more than I ever knew. Take everything into consideration. I'm not saying get a Level II, but I'm not saying don't get one either.
My mom has told me 2 things that keep me going and there's even times where I doubt these saying but some way some how they always work....
Good things come to those who wait. Good things happen to good people.
So again, sit back and take EVERYTHING into consideration. Weigh in all your options. I know I can't be more happier with my decisions, but that's what worked for me.