While there is an appeal to a vintage vehicle that lies in its age and the fact it harkens back to a different era of driving, that’s very different from a vehicle that breaks down regularly or fails safety tests. Those that enjoy owning and driving a vintage 4×4 appreciate the models that offer reliability as well as classic engineering and nostalgic charm.
For anyone that wants a vintage 4×4 that won’t let them down, there are a few worth considering:
Originally named the HopeStar and designed by the Hope Motor Company, this rough and tough little vehicle kicked off the 1970s with a bang. When Hope decided that wide-scale production wasn’t going to be practical, they sold the manufacturing rights to Suzuki who took the model into production under the name Jimny.
The two-cylinder engine generated only 25 horsepower, but because of its diminutive size, it proved more nimble than other vehicles. Suzuki had already launched their first four-wheel drive jeep, known as the LJ10, and subsequent models that had been designed to suit the Australian market.
There have been four generations of Jimny, all of which have featured a body with a ladder frame chassis, meaning that the body has no structural role and only exists to provide somewhere comfortable to sit for the driver. They are also all feature dependent suspension that enhances the durability of the component parts.
As one of the most iconic vehicles of its time, not to mention one of the most easily recognizable, Willy’s Jeeps were designed for use by the allies during the Second World War. A military vehicle that was an instant hit, the jeeps were the perfect alternative to motorbikes, offering more stability and load capacity but with the ability to traverse tricky terrain.
Its reliability was one of the most appealing things about a Willy’s Jeep and it has a utilitarian charm that can be enhanced by adding high-end accessories such as luxury Vogue tires.
Their popularity in the 1940s and the fact that they are so reliable means that there are still Willy’s Jeeps on the market, and any fan of vintage 4x4s would be lucky to find one.
Known for their longevity and capacity to rack up the miles, it’s no surprise that Toyota’s branded 4×4 was the ideal vehicle for anyone that wants to enjoy off-roading in the knowledge that their car will be able to keep up. The original design for the Hilux was created by Toyota, as the next generation of their Briska trucks, but it was Hino Motors that manufactured the first models.
These early Hiluxes went into production in 1968, with the 1.5-liter inline four-engine that generated just 76 horsepower. This new design of engine was originally made to meet Japanese car categorization regulations, but it was also reported to have a maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour.
By February 1971, the engine was upgraded to a 1.6-liter version, but still retained the straight four configuration. Over the years, there have been numerous models including both long- and short-wheelbase, and a range of body styles that have been available in different markets worldwide.
By 2017, Toyota reported that they had sold more than 17 million Hiluxes, but fans of the brand will always opt for one of their vintage models as they have a reputation for lasting the course without needing to be fixed every trip.
Land Rover Defender
As one of the bastions of British engineering, Land Rover has made its name by producing reliable vehicles that are up to the job of tackling almost any terrain in style. The brand is still synonymous with quality, and some of the older models maintain an appeal that demonstrates exactly why the company has been so successful over the years.
The original model was released in 1983, known as the Land Rover One Ten, as the British version of the now-famous Willy’s Jeep that had become famous during the period after the Second World War. The steel ladder chassis and aluminium bodywork combined to make a strong but nimble vehicle that could take on a variety of off-roading challenges.
While there have been significant changes made to the Land Rover Defender over the years, the original models are still in production in some parts of the world. This is a testament to the innovative design, timeless engineering, and practical nature of the original Land Rover Defenders – all things that make vintage models so appealing to drivers today.
While 4x4s may be a practical choice in most cases, a vintage model that you can rely on is always going to have a place in the heart of any vintage vehicle collector, off-roading fan, or anyone who appreciates the value of quality engineering. It can be questioned which are more reliable, the classic vintage 4×4’s or the modern versions. Time will only tell.