These Classic SUVs Have Bronco Style Without the Price Tag
Even before Ford introduced the remake, the Bronco’s popularity has been on the rise. Even amongst other classic SUVs, Ford Bronco values are particularly high. And that’s before restomod companies like Zero Labs or Gateway Broncos get to them. However, if you’re after the old-school styling and off-road capabilities, there are a few Bronco alternatives.
The direct Bronco rival: the Chevrolet K5 Blazer
The pre-remake Ford Bronco was in production for a fairly long time—from 1966-1996. Not only are all but the very last models considered classic SUVs, the oldest can technically be labeled ‘vintage.’ And in that time, the Bronco’s biggest rival was Chevrolet’s K5 Blazer, also sold as the GMC Jimmy.
Although the new Blazer is more a mildly-sporty crossover, the K5 Blazer was a genuine body-on-frame off-roader. In fact, the US Army used K5 Blazers before the original Humvee was designed. But while it was the Bronco’s equal in off-roading, it was a bit more luxurious, offering options like A/C, power steering, and power-assisted brakes. Though its large V8s weren’t particularly powerful.
As with the Bronco, the Chevrolet K5 Blazer has become a popular restomod subject, Hagerty reports. And the earliest 1969-1972 models are approaching Bronco-level prices; according to Hagerty, the best can go for $40,000-$60,000. Though, to be fair, Ford’s classic SUV is typically priced $10,000-$15,000 higher.
However, the 1973-1991 models are noticeably more affordable. It’s possible to find relatively-clean examples on Bring a Trailer for $20,000-$30,000.
Toyota Land Cruiser 60- and 70-Series
Like the Bronco, the original Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser has become not just an off-road icon, but a desirable classic SUV worthy of high-dollar restoration. The later 60- and 70-Series models, though, are not only cheaper but more daily-drivable.
The 1980-1989 60-Series, BaT reports, offers power windows and locks, power steering, and A/C. And it still retains the boxy design of its FJ40 predecessor, but with more-comfortable suspension. However, despite the added refinement, the 60-Series is still a capable off-roader.
Much like the Jeep Wrangler, the 60-Series Toyota Land Cruiser has 4-wheel drive and live axles, Car and Driver reports, and roughly 8” of ground clearance. And compared to the FJ40, it has a more powerful engine, a 4.0-liter six-cylinder making 155 hp and 220 lb-ft.
The US never got the 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser, but it’s arguably the closer FJ40 descendant. And unlike the 60-Series, it was also available with a diesel, and in shorter Prado form. It’s also so rugged, it’s still produced in Australia.
Although their prices have risen in recent years, a 60- or 70-Series Land Cruiser is still significantly cheaper than a Bronco. The former can be found for $20,000-$30,000 on BaT. And the latter is regularly imported by companies like Japanese Classics, often for $10,000-$20,000.
The Nissan Patrol often gets ignored compared to the Toyota Land Cruiser, but it’s just as capable of keeping up with the Bronco. It was briefly sold in the 60s as the Safari in the US and was re-introduced as the more luxury-focused Armada. But overseas, the Nissan Patrol remains a desirable and iconic classic SUV.
It’s competed in the Paris-Dakar multiple times, coming in 9th during the 1987 race. The 1987-1997 Y60 models were fairly-advanced for the time, offering front and rear sway bars, coil-spring suspension, and power steering. The earlier 60-Series Patrol was the 1st vehicle to cross Australia’s Simpson Desert, with a 2-speed transfer case and gearing low enough to climb hills at idle. And the 5th-gen 1997 Y61 models came with a 4.8-liter six-cylinder that, like the Nissan Skyline GT-R’s engine, offered massive tuning potential.
The Nissan Patrol’s relative obscurity in the US means the classic SUV doesn’t pop up for sale as often as the FJ40 or Bronco. However, that does mean prices are fairly low. The most expensive Patrol sold on BaT, a restored 1977 example, went for $25,750. And importers like Duncan Imports or Toprank occasionally feature later, even cheaper examples.
The other classic American SUV: Jeep Cherokee XJ and SJ
In addition to the Bronco and Blazer, there’s another classic American SUV experiencing a popularity boost: the Jeep Cherokee. In the case of the earlier SJ models, the more luxury-focused Wagoneer trims tend to attract the most attention. However, both the SJ and XJ have plenty to offer, both in vintage styling and off-road ability.
The 1984-2001 XJ in particular is popular, not just amongst Jeep fans, but off-roaders in general. The SUVs are extremely robust and reliable, and very simple to work on. Trim pieces are easily replaced, as are headlights and taillights. And its 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine has a legendary reputation, Road & Track, and FourWheeler report. But it also makes a capable daily-driver, Hagerty reports, thanks to shift-on-the-fly 4WD and a unibody design.
While the Wagoneer models command a premium, it’s possible to find a well-kept XJ or SJ Cherokee for less than $10,000. And even the best examples rarely exceed $15,000-$20,000 on BaT.
Finally, if you’re looking for a classic SUV that can rival the Bronco, there’s the Mitsubishi Montero, aka the Pajero. As with many other 90s Japanese cars, the Montero has also gotten fairly popular. And, in terms of what it offers, that’s easy to understand.
The Mitsubishi Montero is one of the most successful Paris-Dakar racers. The SUV won the 1985, 1997, and 1998 races outright. And from 1982-2009, a Montero/Pajero was on the podium 12 times. That’s thanks to advanced (for the time) suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, and even ABS that worked with the 4WD. The Evolution homologation model offered suspension seats, multiple skid plates, and fully-independent suspension. In many ways, the Montero makes the contemporary 4Runner feel almost primitive.
Despite all this, prices remain fairly low. Most Monteros sold on BaT go for less than $10,000. The most expensive example was a Paris-Dakar special edition—which included Recaros and other mods—that sold for $22,750. And importers typically offer Pajeros for $10,000-$15,000.
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