You might picture a pristine muscle car or European roadster when you imagine a classic car, but old-school off-roaders are also highly coveted by enthusiasts. Better yet, rather than being locked away in a heated garage, these 4x4s still have what it takes to handle the punishment that an off-road excursion can dish out. Two of the finest examples on the classic car market are the Land Rover Defender 110 and the Jeep Grand Wagoneer — two large, rugged SUVs that have had long production thanks due to their popularity and proven performance. You don’t have to settle for a rusted-out hooptie, either — specialty shops have gone through the trouble to restore these behemoths from the ground up, bringing them back to showroom condition with a few extra goodies thrown in. Both the Land Rover Defender and the Jeep Wagoneer are as capable as they are classy; they both would look right at home in an Orvis catalogue or on a fishing trip. The only question is: how much money are you willing to throw at these bad boys?
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Land Rover Defender 110
Engines: 2.3-liter I4 (Petrol/Diesel), 2.5-liter I4 (Petrol/Diesel/TurboDiesel), 3.5-liter Petrol V8, 4.0-liter Petrol V8
Transmissions: 4-Speed Manual, 4-Speed Automatic, 5-Speed Manual
Drivetrain: Permanent Four-Wheel-Drive
Weight: 4,310 pounds
Restored Price: $85,000-$125,000
The Land Rover 110 was originally launched in 1983 and was a descendant of the original Land Rover series built in 1948. Though the 110 was widely used for both agricultural and military applications, it often saw use as a daily driver for European off-roading enthusiasts. The original Defender was available with a variety of petrol and diesel engines that output anywhere between 62 and 190 horsepower. While these were about as powerful as Elijah Wood, the Defender was never about blistering speed. A choice of four- and five-speed manual transmissions, coupled with a permanent all-wheel-drive system with lockable differential, made the Defender unstoppable off-road.
North American versions were made in small numbers between 1993 and 1997, and overseas versions from 1989 and earlier are legal to import. This means that in the U.S., the Defender is as rare as it is expensive. If you’ve got the cash to spend ($85,000-$125,000), LA-based West Coast Defender will import a 25-year-old (or older) 110 for you and restore it from the ground up. In founder Matthew Perlman’s opinion, “they got it right the first time”, so the mechanicals and exterior remain stock, though they are refurbished. However, WCD will update the interior to the level of comfort you expect in an expensive SUV, adding new leather and top-of-the-line infotainment.
Engines: 3.8-liter I6, 4.2-liter V8, 5.4-liter V8, 5.7 V8, 5.9-liter V8, 6.6-liter V8
Transmission: 3-Speed Manual, 3-Speed Automatic, 4-Speed Manual
Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel-Drive, Selectable Four-Wheel-Drive
Horsepower: 140-270 hp
Weight: 4,515 lb
Restored Price: $26,500-$60,000
The Jeep Wagoneer wasn’t Willys-Overland‘s first attempt at a family-oriented car, but it was the one that stuck: it remained in production, unchanged, for nearly 30 years. The Wagoneer featured amenities and a luxurious interior theretofore unseen in a 4×4, with the choice of an inline-cylinder engine or a variety of V8s, all churning out anywhere from 140 to 270 horsepower. Most Wagoneers featured Jeep’s Selec-Trac four-wheel-drive system, allowing for two-wheel-drive as well as low- and high-range four-wheel-drive operation. If you sill have doubts about the Wagoneer’s off-road prowess, we’ll be quick to point out that it was occasionally (and successfully) used in rallying.
If you want a pristine Wagoneer, Wagoneer World in Dallas, TX specializes in the acquisition and restoration of Jeep Wagoneers. Restorations are from the ground up, and while originality is the primary goal, a variety of performance and interior upgrades are available, like keyless entry and fuel injection, making the already practical Wagoneer an even better daily driver. The Wagoneer isn’t as lusted after as the Defender, but that’s good news for you: its price ($26,500-$60,000) is in the realm of reality for the average off-road enthusiast. The Range Rover might turn more heads, but the Jeep Wagoneer is a handsome alternative — it’s just as willing to go wherever you demand, at a fraction of the cost.
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