Written by Chris Griggs
It’s no secret vintage trucks and SUVs have been rising stars in the collector car world over the past few years. These classic off-roaders came from very utilitarian roots, when the only people who owned one had a bona fide need for four-wheel drive. Due to this, it’s not uncommon to find one once owned by a government agency, such as a forest service or a rural fire department. Although there were many examples prior, the appeal of four-wheel drive didn’t grab hold of the American public until the late 1950s. After seeing the capability of the Willys Jeep during World War II, people started to realize the benefits to be had. Eventually the Big Three came on board, offering factory four-wheel-drive options in all their trucks and SUVs, and by the time 1970 rolled around there were several options available for those who wanted a dedicated four-wheel-drive SUV purpose-built for the dirt.
As time went on and the public began embracing these trucks and SUVs, they became more refined and more consumer-minded. For example, while Jeep offered the bare-bones, go-anywhere CJ to the pure enthusiast, they also offered an upscale, luxurious Grand Wagoneer to appeal to the masses who wanted a comfortable family rig that could handle itself on dirt roads.
Today, examples from all different periods can be seen crossing the Barrett-Jackson block as they continue to rise in popularity. The first-generation Ford Bronco has been a favorite for many, offering iconic, rugged style with plenty of aftermarket support to restore it to showroom-new or build a real-life Tonka truck. Fast catching up is the Chevy Blazer, with first-generation prices mirroring their Ford rivals and second-generation trucks not far behind. Not to be left out, Mopars like the Dodge Power Wagons have been known to ring the bell in both stock and modified forms. Even the Jeep crowd continues to grow as the classic CJs and YJs have been joined by Grand Wagoneers as a fast climber in both value and popularity.
Foreign offerings have also seen the appreciation over the years. Various models of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, ranging from the FJ40 all the way to the FJ60, have become a common site on the auction block and are rising in value. Even the English models have seen the appreciation, with the iconic Defender commanding some impressive sales numbers recently.
Classic 4x4s like these have multiple ways they appeal to buyers. Some like the idea of building a hardcore trail truck to take out and get muddy on the weekends, others want something that’s got the classic style but can fit the whole family and some luggage for a road trip. The appeal in these trucks is functional, stylistic and nostalgic all rolled into one.
For at look at what four-wheel-drive favorites and other vehicles are on the Palm Beach docket, click HERE.