History Lesson: The 5 Best Classic 4x4s March 24, 2014

best classic 4x4s While new trucks and SUVs are pretty nice, nothing beats a classic 4x4. Trucks today are built for fuel economy and looks while the 4x4s of the past were made to get the job done first, and maybe look good second. There’s no leather seats, no push-button locking differentials, and possibly not even radial tires! Classic 4x4s are a thing of beauty no matter how ugly they look, which is why we compiled this list of the 7 best classic 4x4s, in no particular order.

1. Willys CJ2

classic 4x4 jeep cj When someone things of a Jeep, this is most likely the image that comes to mind. The Willys Overland CJ-2A was the first Jeep made specifically for the public, and while it was meant for everyday people to drive, it’s military heritage is what made it a great 4x4. This Jeep was originally meant for farming, ranching, and other industrial applications, which meant that amenities like a back seat, mirrors, and a front passenger seat were all extra. classic jeep work The CJ-2A came with a 2.2L engine, but today V6 and even V8 swaps aren’t unheard of. Even with the stock 2.2L, the Jeep can get around just fine. Production on the CJ-2A started in 1945 and ran until 1949.

2. Chevy K5 Blazer

k5 blazer classic 4x4 The K5 Blazer first came out in 1969 and from the beginning it was an enormous hit. This full-size SUV version of the C/K truck line featured a shorter wheelbase than it’s Suburban brother, but this only helped to make it great on the trail. The Blazer had a full convertible removable top that started a few inches from behind the front doors and went back to the tailgate. The Blazer came with just about any size motor from a 250ci I6 all the way up to a 350ci V8.

3. International Scout

International Scout 80 The International Scout 80 was built between 1960 and 1965. These original Scouts are much smaller than other trucks of their time, but what they lack in interior space they make up for in looks. While the 80 is a great little 4x4, most people think of the Scout 800 with it’s many upgrades including bucket seats, improved heating system, and available inline-6 motor. The 800 has a bigger footprint than the 80 and has it’s own uniquely beautiful look. International Scout 800 Both the 80 and the 800 were mostly underpowered with their base motors, but they are unique examples of early to mid-60s smaller 4x4s. Created as a competitor to the Jeep, the 80 featured a fold-down front windshield and both the 80 and 800 were precursors to the smaller SUVs seen today.

4. Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser

classic 4x4 land cruiser While Jeep is one of the most widely known 4x4 brands in the US, the Land Cruiser is easily the most well known throughout the world. Similar in both look and feel to a Willys Jeep, the FJ40s were more substantial and overall beefier than the original Jeeps. The FJ40s came with an available inline 6-cylinder engine for more power and came in either gas or diesel power. The FJ series was produced from 1960 all the way through 1984 in various iterations, making it quite prolific throughout the world. The Toyota Land Cruiser is the stuff of legends when talking about 4x4 trucks and SUVs, but in the US it rarely gets the respect it deserves.

5. Ford Bronco

best-classic-4x4-bronco The first Ford Bronco was produced in 1966 and was created to be direct competition with the CJ Jeeps and the International Scout. Unlike most other Ford vehicles of the time, the Bronco didn’t share a frame, suspension, or body with any other vehicles currently in production. The original engine was a 170ci straight-6 coming in at 2.8L. Everything about the motor from the larger oil pan, to the heavy duty fuel pump, to the DANA transfer case were all standard equipment and all meant to give the Bronco an untouchable off-road prowess. While there have been many iterations of the Bronco, the original that was produced between 1966 and 1977 is the best looking and easily the most iconic of the series.   Header image courtesy of flickr, all other courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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