What vehicle will pull you out of a potentially bad situation? Is a flood on the way? Are fires burning out of control? Is the zombie apocalypse upon us? Hollywood story lines aside, is there a vehicle that can save you from a potential disaster in the making?
You bet there are! With that in mind, here’s a list of potential trucks to keep in mind as you shop for your apocalyptic SUV.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The classic Land Cruiser is known for its bullet-proof reliability and steadfastness. The first generation Land Cruiser began production in 1951 and is the longest running series in Toyota history.
The J40 or 40 Series was built from 1960 to 1984. It’s jeep-like slab-sided styling is easily one of the most desirable among Land Cruiser aficionados. To find one today in excellent condition and fully restored can cost you as much as $30,000. But with a little searching you can easily find vehicles in good condition for much less money.
Land Rover Series II & III
Land Rover’s story is somewhat similar to the Land Cruiser. Inspired by the Willys Jeep, Land Rover came about following World War II with the introduction of the Series I. Production began in 1948 and ended 10 years later when the Series II was launched.
The early Series II and III models are the most recognized as classic Land Rover’s, playing a large role in the European military, Australian outback as well as Hollywood.
The Land Rover series will be more difficult to find in the States, with some available fully restored at auctions around the country. Again, values can push $30,000 but less-than-mint models can be found in need of some simple restoration.
Interestingly enough, the first Ford Bronco was considered a compact, not unlike some of today’s crossovers. Because of the Bronco’s small size, it proved popular among off-roaders.
The first generation Bronco was built from 1966 to 1977. It sold well in its first year, with nearly 24,000 vehicles produced. Competition was fierce with other manufacturers, particularly with Chevrolet and their full size Blazer. In 1973, Ford made some much needed upgrades to the Bronco with a larger 3.3-liter straight six and available automatic transmission. Sales jumped to over 26,000 but still could not compete with the Blazer.
The early Bronco’s are the most desirable among collectors and can be priced around $25,000 for a restored vehicle. Search for one with the larger straight six but in a condition you can afford and be willing to do some restoration work yourself.
Chevrolet K-5 Blazer
The original K-5 Blazer was introduced in 1969, much to the chagrin of its competitors. Buyers flocked to the Blazer due to luxury-like features such as air conditioning and an automatic transmission. Sales launched from only 4,900 trucks in 1969 to over 44,000 in 1972.
At its launch, the Blazer was 4-wheel drive only, with a 2-wheel drive sold in 1970. Chevrolet offered two straight six-cylinder engines and two V8’s. As the Blazer evolved, the obvious styling changes came with the front grill, with dual and single headlight configurations. Shop around for the grill and engine option you want. Aftermarket parts will help you build the Blazer you want. Expect to pay nearly $15,000 for a fully restored truck.
International Harvester succeeded at becoming the defacto SUV with the introduction of the Scout in 1961. Similar vehicles produced after it used the Scout as the model from which to build the truck to compete with it. Many succeeded but the Scout continues to have a strong following.
The upside when shopping is the vehicle went virtually unchanged after the introduction of the Scout II in 1971. Production stopped in October, 1980, with over 530,000 Scouts produced.
Surprisingly enough, a restored Scout can be valued as high as $20,000. But with so many produced and a little research on your part, you should be able to find one to build your off-roader.
The Wagoneer line of vehicles from Jeep are considered the precursor to today’s luxury SUVs. With niceties such as air conditioning and automatic transmissions, the Wagoneer easily outclassed early trucks from International Harvester and Land Rover.
Built from 1963 to 1991, it is the vehicle with the third longest production run among cars produced in the U.S. Because of this record, there are plenty of Wagoneer’s on the road or sitting idle in a lot somewhere.
The “Civilian Jeep” or Jeep CJ’s roots can be followed all the way back to World War II and its direct ties to the Willys Jeep the military used.
The CJ-5 and CJ-7 are the most well known models, thus the most sought after by trail runners. The CJ-5’s short wheelbase helped it climb tight spots but was also unstable because of it. The CJ-7 corrected this trait with a longer wheelbase. Other CJ-7 upgrades was the addition of Quadra-Trac, a new all-wheel drive system as well as some creature comforts such as an optional hard top and leather seats.
A Jeep CJ in excellent condition can be valued over $15,000. But with it in production for so long, there are many available that can be improved with minimal work.
The Willys Wagon is easily forgotten about but can be argued as being the first popular SUV, introduced in 1946 as the first all-steel station wagon. It was widely accepted by the buying public which, by complete coincidence, was on the move to the suburbs following World War II.
Bearing the true characteristics of the classic station wagon, the Willys was built until 1965, with a total production of about 300,000 vehicles. Finding one in good condition may be tough but could be worth the effort to restore or at least make drivable.
Classic SUV roundup
Truth be told, the trucks listed here have actually seen an increase in value in recent years. If you have an old-school SUV in the family, it may not only be a great escape vehicle but an investment as well. The upside to owning any of these vehicles is how easy each is to work on. Parts are readily available, especially from the aftermarket where the engineering done is more durable and longer lasting.
Find your favorite classic SUV and get the restoration clock turning. You’ll feel comfortable knowing you’ll be ready for your idea of the end of the world.