well, the good news is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! thanks for the help and motivation!
i'm super happy, and ended up with a WAY nicer truck than i thought i was going to get in my intended price range. its in excellent shape in all respects and is outfitted exactly as i would like. even came with a TON of nicely done performance upgrades. it took a bit getting used to, but i really enjoy driving it. i guess i'm going to go try it out in the snew...
downside: yeah, its got over 200,000 miles... but for my purposes i think i can keep her on the road for quite some time.
the thing that REALLY bugs me, is that i need to add a cat before i can etest it
oh yeah... and uncle ben harrasing me about owning fords... and my 17 year old son harrasing me about driving it.