A lot of people love the outdoors and pursuing an adventurous lifestyle. At the same time, collectible, vintage vehicles have been growing in popularity and value over the last number of years. Something that’s particularly hot right now is the vintage four wheel drive vehicles, particularly smaller ones. Most owners probably spend more time buzzing around town than crawling over rocks, but they feel like they’re driving something unique. Here’s a short list of a few cool ones:
The one people want is the first generation model, produced between 1966 and 1977. It’s a simple boxy two door with a rear hatch. They’re small enough and have enough ground clearance to actually be used off-road. I had a mustard colored one with a white top when I was in high school. I remember that it rattled a lot, but I still loved it.
This is similar in size and look to the Bronco. It actually preceeding the Ford, having been produced from 1961 to 1980. Also very capable on jeep trails and fire roads, it’s slightly less refined than the Bronco, which is saying something. Nevertheless, they look a bit more distinctive than the Bronco and have a very loyal following.
I live in Colorado and this little Jeep CJ5-size vehicle is in great demand. They will go anywhere, if you’re not in a hurry and they’re exceptionally reliable and durable. They, like the Land Rover, also have a little more serious “African safari” look than most anything else. Young guys around here are nuts for these, just like they are for vintage steel-framed road racing bikes. I want one, but the last extra- nice one I saw was on offer at $70,000 and I don’t’ want one quite that badly.
The early Series I models are rare and valuable, but I think the one to have is the Series II, produced between 1958 and 1969. These had the headlights in the grill, unlike the later models, on which they were moved to the fenders. This gives the earlier model a funky, distinctive look. These are very agricultural vehicles with a noticeable lack of horsepower. They will, however, go places nothing else can go. You would have to do something really crazy to get one to tip over. A pristine example in dark green would make me very happy.
To many people, the is the quintessential off-road vehicle and certainly the most prolific. It began life as a WWII military vehicle. The first civilian version was produced immediately after the war. The CJ5 model was made from 1964 to 1983. They came with a number of four and six cylinder engines. They’re really sized for two people and some gear, but they’re nimble and they look just right. They and their successors are extremely common around here, but I always like seeing a nice older one.
I absolutely love this vehicle. We used a nice khaki one in Sun Valley for a photo shoot a few years ago. These were manufactured from 1946 until 1965. They didn’t get four wheel drive until 1949. The very early ones had four cylinder engines, but, beginning in 1948, this changed to a straight six. They just have a great look and I plan to buy one sometime. They’re not particularly valuable, probably because the young guys don’t really want them. They were also offered as a small pickup. Parked outside a shop at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, there was a better than new pickup in lemon yellow. I told my wife I was going to go in. She said, “You’re going to try to buy that truck, aren’t you?” We walked in and I asked the only person in the shop if the Willys pickup belonged to him. He said, “Oh, Buttercup.” I knew right then that it wasn’t for sale. Shoot.
These are all special vehicles in their own way. They have a lot in common. They’re slow and rough-riding. They’re too small to hold very much and they’re not exactly built like Rolls Royces. They all do the business on rough terrain, but the main thing is that you feel like you’re driving something different when you’re in one of these even if you’re getting groceries. You’ll get a lot of thumbs up from people who wish they were driving your vehicle and you were driving theirs.
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