A coworker of mine in the early 90's had a mid 70's Accord that he had paid $100 for. He junked it because the starter went out, and a starter was going to cost him $300. He didn't want to pay 3x what he paid for the car to fix it. I told him to buy American next time. I had just replaced the starter in my Buick for under $50, and it came with a lifetime warranty.
And $300 is what...one, at most two monthly payments on a new car?
And nowadays, a starter for a '78 Accord is only $39.99 from Autozone anyway!
I have heard over and over again someone say "Oh, I got rid of the old car because it was not worth fixing." Usually, it was, worst case, a bad engine or transmission. Almost never (at least here in CA) was it due to something catastrophic, like the car was so rusted that it was no longer structurally sound. Usually the cost of the repairs was less than 10% the cost of a new replacement car. And a good portion of the cars replaced by people who have told me this, were replaced with new ones.
__________________ "We are forces of chaos and anarchy. Everything they say we are we are, and we are very proud of ourselves!" -- Jefferson Airplane
Dick Naugle says: 1. Prepare food fresh. 2. Serve customers fast. 3. Keep place clean.
I agree with your general point, that the Toyota name isn't magic, but I'm not sure I see that pickup truck ruggedness is why they last. I think the reason they last is that people are willing to fix them.
It does have a lot to do with pickup truck ruggedness, however.
Or more appropriately, pickup truck simplicity.
The body on frame construction helps a LOT with rust issues. I've seen them with a 2x6 bolted to the floor across the hole in the floor pan to rest your heels on while operating the pedals, I've seen them with more rust holes than solid structure in the bodywork, but none of that effects the structural integrity of the truck, since it's just body on frame.
And with those old truck owners, they're more likely to do the work themselves, as that seems to be the sort of person who would drive an old pickup (that's not a show car). Plus, with little to no amenities, and no emissions to worry about (until MUCH later than cars), there wasn't NEARLY as many things that could go wrong.
About the only thing that could possibly go wrong with some of those things (that couldn't be repaired/replaced with a basic hand tool set), is in depth engine and transmission work. And with a big v8 that isn't stressed to put out much power, you have a VERY strong and reliable powertrain, and so engine repair is a very unlikely thing.
They're simple and cheap to repair (as Jay said, parts are cheap and darn near universal), they're very ruggedly built, and they're owned usually by people who know how to repair cars.
All those things add to the longevity of pickups, especially old, rugged, and simple ones. (Honestly, how many 70's an earlier cars (of any make) do you see on the road? Show cars and sunday drivers don't count.)