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Part II: Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive! (How about Trucks?)


Last week we launched into a great discussion about the price of new snowmobiles. I’m quite grateful for all the thoughtful, engaged comments that people wrote in response to that first part of the series.

As I wrote in the comments section, the point of that story and the subsequent parts is NOT to say that snowmobiles are inexpensive or that you should buy one. Rather, it was to refute the perception that new snowmobiles today are thousands of dollars more expensive than new snowmobiles from another era.

Today I want to talk trucks, since it’s a style of vehicle many of us drive, and because I was curious how its price has changed over the same period of time that we compared snowmobiles in Part I. 

Price comparison of trucks compared to snowmobiles.

As seen HERE, a 1994 Chevrolet C-1500 ½-ton 4x4 pickup truck (above) with an extended cab had a base MSRP price of $18,179.

When I plug that $18,179 into the same Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator that I used to compare the snowmobiles, the number it spits out into today’s dollars is $30,670. In other words, that’s the cost of our ’94 truck in today’s dollars.

2018 Chevy 1500 Silverado

By comparison a 2018 Chevy Silverado ½-ton, 4x4, Super Crew cab MSRP starts at $36,080.

Which means today’s “equivalent” Chevy pickup truck is $5,400 MORE than it’s 1994 equivalent. That’s a 17.64% inflationary price increase, as compared to the 15.1% inflationary increase in price on our snowmobile example. 

Hmmm... I'll admit that expected the inflationary price increase of trucks to be higher than it is.

Now, just like I’d argue that a 2018 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 offers FAR more features, comfort and capability than a ’94 ZR, the same is true for a 2018 pickup truck compared to its 1994 predecessor.

Whether you, I or anyone else thinks that the extra features and comfort we’d get for $5600 when buying a new Chevy pickup is worth it, is a personal decision. My personal choice in this matter is reflected by the just-beginning-to-rust 2006 Chevy pickup that sits in my driveway, which I purchased, used, in 2012 with around 90,000 miles on it.

I’ll pause for a moment to say that – from the nuts of wisdom I’ve gathered on the path of life – buying used vehicles (instead of new ones) has been a great way for me to save some serious coin. And I’ve consciously used those savings to buy kickass toys like snowmobiles, bicycles and motorcycles.

Let's Part II of this series here, with the above paragraph serving as an appropriate transition to what will be Part III later this week.

Thanks for reading.

Comments (18):

Chuck says:
12/3/2017 8:17:00 PM

Does the double cab 2018, or current “extended cab” affect the comparison much?
Like the discussion.
Oldcrow says:
12/4/2017 5:39:00 AM

What happen to the Havoc, big release Dec 1st.
Textron sure don't create much excitement
Ken says:
12/4/2017 7:59:00 AM

Another great perception John. I think we can all agree that the major purchases, cars, homes and riding toys, are just more expensive these days. My first home was $35,000. My new home now is $230,000. My first truck was a used 1956 F100 that I purchased for $150. My now new 2018 F150 Limited is $68,000. My first mini bike was $50. My now 2013 4 seat Wildcat was $19,000. My first snowmobile was $1,500. Now I have 10 snowmobiles. Cats of course! Not sure the total price of those.

I'm not trying to make any comparisons here. It just shows what things cost back in the day and what they cost today with what I chose to purchase back then and what I want to purchase today. It's every ones own preference what they want to live in drive in and ride on and what they want to spend on those items.

I totally understand what you are tying to compare here and I agree with the perception you are trying to portray. Like I commented in part I, you can't put a price on the smile under the helmet that snowmobiling does. That also goes for the satisfaction of living in a nice home and driving a nice vehicle. Again, that's me.
Jeff says:
12/4/2017 11:13:00 AM

I just wish you could get two tone paint like we did back in the 90's.
These single color trucks are so boring. Then there's the whole back rims thing the young guys like. Just doesn't do it for me.
Matt says:
12/4/2017 4:48:00 PM

Same story as with sleds most consumers can’t affford a new truck that’s why most of them are leased back in the day you bought you’re vehicle and owned it. Consumers incomes especially the middle class hasn’t kept up with the economy.
Allen Teach says:
12/4/2017 5:09:00 PM

I own a small business and purchase nonsubsidized individual health insurance. In 2016 I paid $455 per month, 2017 $775, and in 2018 will be paying $965 per month with a $6550 deductible. That extra $520 per month I am paying since 2016 would be buying a new sled or boat but instead will be going to health insurance. Sleds, trucks, boats are a great value compared to paying thru the nose for something needed but hopefully I will not use. Would be a lot for fun to spend this money on a toy than getting sucked away by insurance.
Darin says:
12/4/2017 6:38:00 PM

shouldn't we be comparing an 18 double cab which has 2 smaller doors
and and be a closer comparison to the 94 ext. cab?
it's also $4500 cheaper than the crew at around $31,500
that would make it less than a $1000 diff. or close to the same as in 94
with inflation included
if my calculations are correct
Flintstone says:
12/4/2017 7:34:00 PM

Trucks have established blue book trade in values that ANY dealer will honor.

Snowmobiles do not, in fact dealers do NOT want your old sled!! Why? It's not worth anything.

Game over unless YOU can provide with a number to an arctic cat dealer that is buying used arctic cats and you can't.

I can provide you a number that is currently buying used pick ups
Phil says:
12/4/2017 7:52:00 PM

Wow some folks just like to complain a lot. I suppose arctic should just give them away... take your kid sledding instead of texting them across the couch, it’s worth every penny. Can’t trade your sled? Try washing it, and Craigslist. Everything has gone up. But look at the stuff this generation has compared to one or 2 before it. Campers, fish houses, huge boats all over the road. It’s just about choices folks.
Tom Rowland says:
12/4/2017 9:11:00 PM

As the snowmobile market continues to stabilize and improve, I notice that more dealers are accepting at least some trade-ins again. We'll make an offer on an Arctic Cat trade-in at Thomas Sno Sports, Ogilvie MN. Won't make you rich, but will probably be $500-$800 less than what a comparable model is selling for in our area. We don't blame anyone for wanting that extra $500-$800 in their own pocket, for those folks we suggest Craigslist or similar, it's fast and free.
John Sandberg says:
12/5/2017 8:01:00 AM

Regarding the comparison of an 1994 Extended Cab truck to a 2018 Crew, I purposely chose these because the Crew is essentially today's version of that truck, both in terms of how trucks have progressed (in terms of feature evolution) as well as what customers are buying.

Same situation applies to the ZRs that I compared. The '18 version is longer, wider, taller with several additional features that the '94 didn't have.

Pluedy says:
12/6/2017 2:10:00 PM

It's interesting to make these product comparisons, and I think it can be argued we are getting more "bang for the buck" with a current snowmobile or truck in terms of performance, features and technology. But the comparison that needs to be made is one of earning power in 1994 vs. 2017, and a "disposable income" comparison that takes into account the escalating costs of health care (a point made above) and new costs like cell phones. I'm guessing (and only guessing) that many consumers have less to spend on discretionary stuff today than someone working a similar job or engaged in a similar profession 20 years ago. And many are making a lot less ... lost union job vs. service industry, even with more spouses working full time. My perception is that participation in activities like snowmobiling, boating and motorcycling have been slowly migrating from the middle to upper-middle class; for example $60K runabout and $25K Harley-Davidson.

Maybe this will be part three.
gbarchives67-72 says:
12/6/2017 3:35:00 PM

I once took the value of a new 1971 King Kat 8004 and flipped that into 2015 dollars. Came out just under the value of a new Thundercat for 2015. So yea features and inflation and all that I get.
But what's driving us away out here is no snow. Not like we used to get. And yes definitely this hobby has been moving up market from blue collar to UMC for several years now. No doubt you can get a decent new style rider for 7 grand used. But 7 grand over three months of use verses say 21 grand for an SUV or used truck that you need for work 12 months a year. In my area with the younger guys that have the money to blow, they are buying the side by sides because again use all year. Money for the average guy is tight. Has been tight, and continues to be tight, no matter who's in the white house. Its the side by sides that are carrying Cat's flag around here and keeping dealers going.
Megatron says:
12/7/2017 4:47:00 PM

john, love the effort in the article. however no matter your thinking, the crew is just a bad choice. how much less was a EXT versus the ZR? how much more is a crew to a double cab. there is the old line.... "there is statistics, statistics, and lies...."
Megatron says:
12/7/2017 4:49:00 PM


I think the Super is Ford's name. Just Crew Cab for chev.
Super 8 says:
12/8/2017 1:02:00 PM

In the article above, a C1500 is a 2WD which you got your numbers from, K1500 is the 4X4 version. My 1992 K1500 4X4 ext cab Silverado that I still drive listed over $24,000, I still have the window sticker.
Flintstone says:
12/8/2017 11:25:00 PM

Ok ogilvie stepped up to the plate with some cash. Is that fall cash, winter cash, spring cash, summer cash? $800 ain't nothing to me
John Sandberg says:
12/10/2017 9:44:00 PM

Super 8: According to the document on the '94 Chev price of $18,179 it's a 4x4, not a 2x4. I believe it's a base price, with no extra options.

Flintstone: You're being passive/aggressive. You claimed that no dealers take trade-ins. Tom responded that he takes trade-ins at Thomas Sno Sports. People are far more interested in having a conversation with someone who doesn't speak in absolutes or toss hand grenades.

Megatron: Regarding using a 4-door truck from 1994 to compare to the 4-dr of 2018, I didn't do this because almost nobody drove 4-doors back then. It wasn't the truck that 90% of all pickup owners had. Seems like that finally switched in the early-to-mid-2000s.

The whole point was to compare like-to-like from 1994 to present. In my example, I picked the second-most-badass Arctic Cat trail snowmobile from 1994 and compared it to the second-most-badass Cat trail sled from today. These are the "sleds for the masses." Likewise, I compared the most popular new Chevy from 1994 to the most popular version today. The "trucks for the masses" if you will.

Yes, the Chevy gained a pair of full-sized doors in that time. Well, the Cat gained about 1-foot of length and an infinitely better track, rider position and suspension package.

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