There was a time when owning a sport utility vehicle made a statement, one that let other motorists know that comfort and luxury were the least of your priorities. Whereas family cars of this era were limited to rush-hour traffic and suburban driving, SUV enthusiasts weren’t afraid to take the road less traveled.
But somewhere along the way, this type of vehicle went soft, and lost its “cool” factor. Now, anything with plastic molding around the wheel well, and a ground clearance of more than eight inches, calls itself an SUV or crossover.
Translation – what was originally designed for rebellious off-roaders of the 1970s and 80s has now transformed into the vehicle of choice for soccer moms wanting to transport their kids in style.
And though there are still some newer models that have a shred of traditional SUV credibility, even the famed Jeep Wrangler has become the suburbanites’ stereotypical grocery-getter. Thus, if you want to reclaim the glory that was the SUVs of yesteryear, the best way to do is to buy one of these bulky machines before prices, and consumer demand, start to skyrocket.
It was the quintessential SUV of the 1990s, if only because 95 million Americans watched Al Cowling and O.J. Simpson lazily cruise down the freway in one while being chased by half a dozen California highway patrol officers.
But to the off-road enthusiast, the Ford Bronco is so much more that O.J.’s getaway vehicle.
For one, it offers the trifecta of style, power (courtesy of a 351 cu. Windsor V8), and badass appeal.
And the removable fiber glass top means that the Bronco can fit virtually any need, from beach cruiser to trail mudder, and everything in-between.
The square-body design may not have aged as well as the aerodynamic 1992-99 K5 Blazer/Tahoe, but the Bronco is still an iconic ride. And with the new Bronco expected to hit Ford dealers in 2020, it’s the perfect time to hunt for an original model, which can go for anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000.
International Harvester Scout II
When you think of International Harvester, chances are that farm equipment and semi-trucks come to mind. But it wasn’t too long ago that IH produced an SUV on par with its main competition; the Bronco, Blazer, and Dodge Ramcharger.
Meet the Scout II.
It may not as collectible as its Big 3 counterparts – mainly because International Harvester doesn’t have the same name recognition – but this full-size SUV offers all the frills at a fraction of the price.
And because the Scout II sold surprisingly well during its nine-year run from 1971-80, with approximately one million units built, finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. However, since they were designed primarily as utility vehicles, the condition may not be car show worthy.
Although you can most likely find a lower-end model for about $7,000, a fully restored Scout II can go upwards of $30,000. In other words, grab one while you still can.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer
The modern SUV has spoiled us with its bells and whistles – including heated seats, a backup camera, and touchscreen navigation – all of which are usually standard equipment nowadays.
There are some people who wouldn’t drive a sport utility vehicle without these features. And then there are others, mainly the SUV purists, who would argue that the only thing needed is a lift kit, four-wheel-drive, and a sense of adventure.
So, if you want to find middle ground between old-school luxury and 4×4 capability, look no further than the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Complete with plush seats, faux wood trim, and Quadra-Trac four-wheel-drive, this vehicle offers the best of both worlds for the weekend warrior anxious to hit the trail on Saturday and drive to church in style on Sunday.
The Grand Wagoneer is modestly priced, with most retailing for $12,000. And if Fiat Chrysler’s plan to revive this classic in 2021 is any indication, this SUV will be a quick sell.
If you have a vintage SUV, and need a tune-up for either off-road or casual driving, contact Andy’s Auto Service at 412-478-9304 for all your service needs.