We all know the appeal of the SUV. It brings about a sense of adventure filled with thoughts of powering through snow-covered roads while other lesser cars get stuck or trekking to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of camping. And while today’s SUVs are marvelous with their iPhone connectivity and plush leather seating, you are way more likely to find one filled with groceries on the way to Starbucks for a latte. So we decided to go on a mission. A mission to find the origin of the SUV, to invoke the nostalgia of the first time we saw a Jeep CJ. We are talking about sheet metal, vinyl interiors, and carbureted engines. Four-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive. A mission to find the coolest vintage SUVs.
1968 Ford Bronco
While playing second fiddle to the Jeep Wrangler, the 1968 Ford Bronco has actually made appearances in dozens of movies and TV shows ranging from Speed and Smokey and the Bandit to 127 Hours and True Blood. Conceived by Ford in 1966 as a competitor to the Jeep CJ, the Bronco was designated an ORV or Off Road Vehicle. Power came from 2.8 liter straight six fed through a Dana transfer case and locking hubs for off-road ability.
1965 to 1969 International Harvester Scout 800
International Harvester? Don’t they make agricultural machinery and what not? They do but they have also made some of the coolest early SUVs. The Scout, like the 68 Bronco, was designed as an alternative to Jeep with features like bucket seats, optional rear seats, and 4,6, or 8 cylinder engine configurations. Photo Source
1981 Toyota FJ40
More commonly known as the Toyota Land Cruiser 40, the 1981 FJ looks remarkably similar to the current model Mercedes G-Class. With dimensions slightly longer than the Jeep CJ, the FJ40 was produced from 1960 till 1984. Despite being out of production, the FJ40 remains very popular with off-road enthusiasts. Photo Source
1987 Jeep Wagoneer
1987 was the last year the Wagoneer was produced by AMC or American Motors. Yep, AMC – the company that brought us such legendary cars as the Javelin, Matador, Gremlin and the Pacer. The Wagoneer was available with a slew of features including leather seating, air conditioning and heating, and 5.9 liter 360 cid engine. That stuff is cool but we really love the faux walnut wood panels on the exterior. Pack up the family and head out to Wally World. Photo Source
1948 Ford F-Series Panel Truck
The panel truck in its original configuration was simply a windowless cover on the back of a pickup truck that was used primarily for commercial purposes. It was, essentially, the origin of the modern day SUV. The original F-Series was available with either 6 or 8 cylinder flathead engine as well as Marmon Herrington All Wheel Drive. Style for miles came standard. Photo Source
Land Rover Series III
Like most SUVs here, the Series III is fairly similar in design to the Jeep CJ. Hey, what works right? The Series III was made from 1971 to 1985 and was the predecessor to the wildly popular Land Rover Defender. Tons of off-road badassery and classic good looks are exactly what we would expect from the second oldest SUV manufacturer. Photo Source
First Generation Chevy Blazer
The first generation Blazer, produced from 1969 to 1972, was Chevy’s answer to the Jeep CJ, Cherokee, and the International Harvester Scout. Available in a myriad of configurations with top power provided by a 5.7 liter V8. Personally, the convertible version is just awesome for obvious reasons. Photo Source
No list of this magnitude would be complete without the Jeep CJ-7. Made from 1976 to 1986, the CJ-7 takes the original look of the Willys CJ (civilian Jeep) and looks pretty much like the Jeep you can go buy today. Configurations included the Renegade, Golden Eagle, Laredo, and Jamboree Edition. Go ahead, reminisce. Doors off, top off, headed to the beach with nothing but possibilities and every girl wanting a ride. You know it’s true. Photo Source