6 Affordable Classic Trucks & SUVs

A list of some great vintage off-road vehicles that are affordable and are gaining in popularity among off-roaders

Oct. 08, 2014 By Jeff Ross
There are a number of vintage trucks and SUVs out there that would make for great projects. The Dodge Ram Charger is the perfect example a cool vintage vehicle that can still be found for a reasonable price.

Classic Off-Road Trucks

Head down to your local car show and there’s no doubt you’ll see plenty of muscle cars, Corvettes and 911s, but for those of us who grew up riding in and wrenching on trucks and SUVs or are just fans of these vehicles, it’s usually slim pickens. Fortunately, it seems that popularity of trucks and SUVs over the last 20 years has made for an increasing demand for classic utility vehicles, and right now, it seems that the 1950s are the hottest for pickup trucks like the Ford F-100, while the first-gen Ford Bronco and Toyota FJ40 help prove that the ‘60s were a groovy time for SUVs.

If you can’t pony up the kind of money for these models, though, the late ‘70s and ‘80s saw plenty of trucks and SUVs that are now tip-toeing into collectability status. The problem, of course, is that the true utilitarian nature of these vehicles means that most were worked hard and can be harder to find some of these in good, unrestored condition. With this in mind, check out this list of six classic trucks and SUVs that you can still find laying around in sound, drivable shape for a decent price, but ones that can also command a hefty sum when in mint condition whether original or modified.

Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer

Jeep Wagoneer Classic

Perhaps one of the hottest classic SUVs on the market is the Jeep SJ Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, and it’s not hard to understand why. Its throwback styling (right down to the iconic wood paneling) lasted for almost three decades as production spanned from 1963 through 1991, and its legendary Jeep capabilities put it ahead of its time laying the ground work for future SUVs. Surprisingly, it seems the newer, more modern examples seem to be the most popular despite the fact that the styling of this SUV changed very little over its almost-30-year run.

Looking around on Craigslist, you can still find decent examples of the Grand Wagoneer priced well under $5,000, but flawless, bone-stock examples of the Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer have commanded prices close to $30,000 at Mecum Auctions this year. On top of that, there are even companies – like Wagonmaster out of Kerrville, Texas – dedicated to the full restoration of the Grand Wagoneer. If a four-door SUV isn’t your speed, you can probably still find the closely related SJ Cherokee and J-Series pickup in good shape for a reasonable price, but you’re definitely going to pay a little more as these tend to be a little more rare.

Third-Gen GMC/K Pickup Trucks

1978 Chevy E-Rod

After the bubbly Ford F-100, the second-gen Chevrolet C10 from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s is another popular choice among truck-loving restorers, which has driven the price up considerably. The third-generation C/K pickup trucks from Chevrolet and GMC have been popular for customizers for a while, but the latest trend for these trucks is fully restored or great original shape. For example of this, we only have to look back to last year’s SEMA Show where Chevrolet Performance debuted a meticulously restored 1978 K10 restomod.

To find a good example of one of these third-gen trucks on Craigslist, it will probably take a lot of work since there are plenty out there with most leading rough lives. The sheer production numbers of these trucks, though, means that you should be able to find a good project at an affordable price possibly in the sub-$1,000 range. Of course, if you’re looking for a shining example like the one Chevy showed at SEMA, then you’re going to pay a pretty penny, and at the auctions, it’s still going to be hard to find an untouched example. A super-clean unrestored 1976 C10 crossed the auction block at a Mecum Auction earlier this year for $16,000.

1990-96 Range Rover “Classic”

Range Rover Classic

The Range Rover has become an icon of tough luxury in the modern SUV market, but this off-roader has its roots in the same vehicle class as the above-mentioned Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Even though Land Rover has been building the Range Rover since 1970, U.S. buyers had to wait another 20 years before they could get their hands on one of them affordably. The Range Rover “Classic” was introduced in the U.S. in 1990, and while it lived for only six years (before being replaced by the next-gen model) and was plagued with reliability issues, these are still incredible off-road vehicles with a timeless style that changed very little over the SUV’s 26-year model run.

A quick check on Craigslist shows that you can still snatch up a solid and running 1990-96 Range Rover Classic for less than $2,000, and even eBay has some in pretty good condition listed at under $4,000. It’s hard to get a gauge on how a restored or excellent condition Range Rover Classic will command since few are popping up at auctions right now, but Land Rover just sold a 1900 Range Rover it restored for a charity auction on eBay for $55,000.

1984-89 Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner

The eventual buying spree of SUVs that took off in the 1990s is rooted in popular compact SUVs that sprouted up a decade earlier such as the Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet S-10 Blazer and the Toyota 4Runner. While the XJ Cherokee is perhaps one of the most iconic of the current generation of SUVs, the original Toyota 4Runner (1984-89) helped carry over most of what made these vehicles popular throughout the 1970s Using a formula from many ‘70s-era SUVs, the first-gen Toyota 4Runner was little more than an enclosed version of Toyota’s compact pickup truck with rear seats and a removable top

Most Toyota products from the 1980s were a testament to the Japanese automaker’s durability and reliability, and these early 4Runners were driven hard and modified often. As such, most are in pretty rough shape on Craigslist and eBay, but the good news is that prices are still amazingly affordable if you’re looking for a project. Even those that have been restored and/or modified, though, still seem to be commanding decent prices that rarely top the $10,000 mark. If you’re looking for a classic SUV to stand out at car shows and tackle tough terrain, then it’s hard to beat the first-gen Toyota 4Runner.

Dodge Ramcharger

Dodge Ramcharger

It seems that just about any Mopar product from the 1970s is going to cost you a fortune these days even in barely running shape, but truck and SUV fans will be happy to know that the Dodge Ramcharger is, generally speaking, not in that group. Perhaps it’s the fact that Chevrolet K5 Blazer and full-size Ford Bronco command most of the attention in this two-door SUV market, but you just don’t see many Dodge Ramchargers out on the road – regardless of condition – despite the fact that they were built from 1974 through 1993 for the U.S. market. Throughout its lifespan, the Dodge Ramcharger was tough off-roader, but if you’re looking for a cool example to show off, be sure to check out the earlier examples (pre-1981) that came with a removable top.

On Craigslist, prices for a solid 1980s Ramcharger are all over the place, but it looks like if you do your homework, you can get one of these bad boys in great shape in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. In a similar fashion as the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, it seems that later models seem to be more prevalent in the auction scene, and even in great shape, prices are still fairly affordable with a sharp 1985 MY selling for just $5,500 at a Mecum Auction earlier this year and 1991 Ramcharger going for $10,500 last month.

1978-79 Ford Bronco

1978 Ford Bronco

Perhaps one of the most popular trucks or SUVs for collectors in recent years has been the first-gen (1966-77) Ford Bronco, which can command hefty prices even for a non-running intense restoration project. If you’re looking for a good, eye-catching Bronco but don’t want to drop a serious amount of cash, the short-lived second-gen Bronco is an excellent choice. Ditching the small body style, Ford upsized the Bronco in 1978 to coincide with the F-100 pickup trucks, but this line was redesigned in 1980 meaning this style Bronco was around for just two model years.

Despite the short lifespan, it isn’t hard to find a 1978-79 Ford Bronco priced under $2,000. The trick is finding one with a clean body and its removable hard top still in place, and even then you can probably still get a Bronco worth taking to a local car show around $10,000. If you want a serious second-gen Bronco to show off, you’re still going to pay far less than a flawless first-gen Ford Bronco such as an unrestored 1979 MY with just 9,000 miles that Mecum sold last month in Dallas for $18,500.

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