Many of you out there are looking for a capable but interesting classic off-roader, dreaming about big Benzes and forbidden-fruit Land Rovers. Here’s a simple piece of advice: just buy a Jeep.
You might be thinking of tracking down a cool old Toyota Land Cruiser. Those are wonderful old cars. Do you know what other vintage off-roader has a significantly stronger aftermarket support system and parts supply? Yep, an old Jeep.
You might be thinking of spending big bucks to get your hands on an old Land Rover Defender. Many of these were never imported to the United States, and they carry a kind of out-of-reach cool that delights car aficionados. Do you know what other vintage off-roader has an unquestionably cool classic vibe? Yep, a send-me-to-the-Hamptons Jeep.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore other weirdo off-roaders! I wish I could get my hands on a Toyota Blizzard, or an original Land Rover or a Daihatsu Taft if it were at all possible. Hell, I myself went out and bought a Baja Bug, which I have adored. But I mostly like those things as objects that exist, or interesting things to tinker with, in the case of the VW. If I actually wanted to own and maintain an old (hell, or even a new) dirt-friendly vehicle, I’d b-line for a Jeep of some kind.
There are many great old trucks to buy to get places and get seen, but really, America is Jeep’s country. Here, there’s nothing wrong with embracing the easy-to-own, almost universally beloved, honest old Jeep.
Want something with some style to bop from the cobblestones of SoHo out to the beach? Pick up an ‘80s Grand Wagoneer.
Is that too new for you? Not your style? An easy alternative is...an older Wagoneer.
Looking to really get out onto trails for cheap? Pick up a four-liter XJ Cherokee and never worry again.
Is a four-liter XJ a little old for your comfort? Too big of a leap? Another easy alternative is...a later Cherokee. They made them for 18 model years.
Want something to absolutely conquer the roughest terrain? Find a used CJ. You won’t feel so bad if you dent a fender, as you would with a rarer Landie.
Want something really quite vintage? Actually, don’t get a Jeep for that. The desperately old ones are either hoarded by WWII recreationists or have been all used up by now. Just ask my coworker David.