Hey dmc, I'm with you on this. I was looking at smaller trucks like s10's and sonomas originally (which is what I started this thread for- to see what was thought to be a good truck & then a good engine/trans combo for it), but then realized i might be better off with say an f150 with the I6 manual.
The problem which has made this thread so long is that almost everyone thinks I'm foolish to think I can find a cheap and reliable truck to take down there. I personally disagree, and though I'm not sure what price range you're referring too, this was my plan originally, except I was gonna take a trailer.
The reason for the trailer (in my mind) was that I didn't think a front end clip and a tub would fit in an s10 bed or even an f150's (maybe I'm thinking of a short bed) for that matter. You've had lots of tubs though.... Do you think both items would fit in an s10/sonoma/ranger?
I will definitely be making some calls regarding truck renting today. and also whether I'd be able to fit a hitch to a full size car possibly.