Here’s why an old school SUV is better than any new SUV


  • Vintage SUVs from the late 1980s to early 1990s offer a crisp, mechanical driving experience without complicated electronics.
  • These vehicles are known for their reliability, ease of maintenance and off-road capabilities, making them cost-effective and attractive to car enthusiasts.
  • Compared to new SUVs, older models are mechanical and simpler, and the robust designs are more reliable, capable and cheaper to operate, but less refined. Prices for these classics are on the rise, so get one soon.

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We live in a world of excess and high consumption; We constantly crave the new, the modern, the flashy, the “latest, the best.” But what if the greatest existed in the past? What if, in our pursuit of the latest, we miss the great? Of course, there’s no denying that the new vehicles are amazing; However, for those of us who love cars, like you and me, they often leave us longing for the past.

This article will look at older machines, specifically older SUVs from the late 1980s to early 1990s. Sure, like these vehicles it’s not For everyone (and we’ll explain why), but we think it’s the best way to get for some.

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Vintage SUVs are machines in their purest form

There is something very satisfying about driving an old machine. By old, we mean something that has little or no electronics, something that is completely mechanically operated. Changing gears, starting off, and driving on long mountain roads all require effort. For many, this can be extremely annoying, but for others, it is incredibly satisfying.

The main features of old SUVs

  • Mechanical Simplicity: Older SUVs offer a crisp, mechanical driving experience free of complex electronics.
  • Reliability and ease of maintenance: These vehicles are known for their reliability and simpler and more accessible repairs.
  • Off-road efficiency: Older models typically featured rugged designs like solid axles and ladder tires, enhancing their off-road capabilities.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Low maintenance costs and the possibility of doing repairs yourself make older SUVs economically attractive.
  • Investment and Nostalgia: The increasing popularity and appreciation for their classic design makes them have sentimental value and potential investments.

With older SUVs, the driver is connected to the device; A machine cannot choose what it wants to do. For example, modern SUVs use electronics in their transfer case to shift from 2WD to 4WD or to low range. In order to do this, the computer performs a set of tests to ensure that all mechanical and electronic components are in order. One wrong reading or one problem with the vehicle could result in the inability to switch transfer case positions. When you’re off-roading and need more capability, this can be quite annoying.

However, with an old SUV, the machine can’t choose. If the driver wants to be in four-wheel drive, he can do so simply by moving a mechanical lever. Even if this lever fails, the transfer case can still, in many cases, be converted to the desired setting from under the vehicle. This, of course, makes the car more reliable and repairable.

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Older SUVs are more reliable than newer models

    Land Rover Classic Defender 110 V-8 powered Trophy
land Rover

Old SUVs are some of the most reliable cars one can get. This is due to several reasons. First, it’s incredibly simple. Older diesel engines typically use a mechanical fuel pump or a simple electronic injection system. Gas-powered SUVs often use older electronic injection, or in some cases, a carburetor (carburetors can be unreliable, avoid them).

Of course, if you end up buying an older SUV, that’s the case will You’ll probably have some problems. These older vehicles are not without problems, but they are very reliable if taken care of. You could also say that with far fewer electronic devices, there are far fewer mistakes that can be made. Therefore, it is best to get a good example from the beginning.

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SUVs of the past are more capable than today’s cars

Land Rover Discovery
land Rover

This simplicity is coupled with an incredibly powerful and capable legacy platform. For example, the old Land Rover Discovery Series One sits on a ladder frame chassis with solid front and rear axles. Solid axles basically mean that each wheel on each axle is connected to each other via a solid beam. There are no independent monitoring arms here. As for longevity and ability, that’s a good thing. The inherent solid axle design is stronger and lower maintenance than the independent suspension design. Furthermore, it provides more articulation, making the vehicle more capable off-road. Finally, it makes modifying your 4WD vehicle much easier, as it can require jacks and larger tires easier than an independent suspension system.

Now, let’s take a look at the all-new Land Rover Discovery 5. The current model features a unibody design with independent air suspension at all four corners. This certainly results in better road manners and adjustable height. However, once those airbags are at full height, there is very little vehicle articulation. All that keeps it going is traction control.

Land Rover Discovery 1
Theodoros Georgiou

Now, when you compare the stock Discovery 1 to the stock Discovery 5, the new model’s traction control will put it over the top. However, once the old car was equipped with two differential locks and a simple suspension lift, the new model had no chance.

Of course, you may think this is an unfair comparison to the new model. But it is not. The new Discovery (and many other new vehicles) is extremely difficult to modify. Independent air suspension and incredibly complex computer systems lead to a large number of problems that prevent the installation of lift kits. Most kits available are in the form of subframe spacers. This only provides an increase in tire clearance and not in articulation.

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Older SUVs are much cheaper to run

80 Series Land Cruiser front three-quarter shot
Bring a trailer

This may come as a surprise, but an old SUV like a Land Rover Discovery 1 is cheaper to run than a new car. Due to the lack of sensors, cameras and complex electronics, parts for older vehicles are much cheaper than parts for new vehicles. Furthermore, the used parts market is full of sellers who are likely to offer the used part you are looking for.

And let’s not forget that if you are interested in working on your own car, an old SUV will allow you to do that. In most cases, older cars don’t need any type of specialized equipment, making them an ideal platform for home maintenance. This will of course save you a lot of money but it will also teach you mechanical skills. Such a trait is becoming more rare nowadays.

However, keep in mind that these older trucks are not suitable for everyone. If you like new technology like an infotainment screen, a more efficient engine, a quiet cabin, and great road manners, then older SUVs probably aren’t for you. They may be very capable and reliable, but that comes with the price of being less accurate.

RELATED: Why the Land Cruiser 80 Series is the best SUV ever

Unfortunately, older SUVs are becoming more expensive

Land Rover Discovery 1
Theodoros Georgiou

It’s no secret that the world has fallen in love with old SUVs. The square design, simple interior and great capabilities have captured the hearts of people who long for the good old days. Prices for old Toyota, Jeep and Land Rovers have skyrocketed. However, there is still one great SUV you can get for relatively cheap because it’s about to start going uphill (this may be the last few years it can be had for cheap). The SUV we’re talking about is the Discovery 1.

These could be anywhere from $3,000, and in some rare cases $20,000. Being Land Rovers, they had a bad reputation for reliability, especially around the head gaskets. However, these are incredibly simple engines, and the head gaskets are easy to use and incredibly cheap. Once done, it works fine with few issues.

Its solid axles and coil suspension also make it incredibly capable off-road. In fact, they sit on the same platform as the classic Defender, which means they’ll go places the vast majority of SUVs can’t. As you can probably tell by the higher end of their price spectrum, the classic design and capabilities of these vehicles are beginning to be recognized. Therefore, they will not stay cheap for long. So, if you want one, we suggest you get it soon, because the prices will only go up.

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