QOTD: Can You Build an Ideal Crapwagon Garage? (Part VI: SUVs)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd can you build an ideal crapwagon garage part vi suvs

In our creatively organized Crapwagon Garage, we’ve seen varied body styles like wagons and trucks. Today we’re going to pick out some truckwagons, which you may know as SUVs.

Let’s pick out four or five four-by-fours for cheap.

But first, I’ve perused last week’s coupe comments for the Forgotten Gem Award:

An easy choice, and one I should’ve remembered. It’s Ajla’s number one selection, the 1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo. At over 200 inches in length, the full-size final Toronado featured flip-up headlamps and an interior full of CRT digital goodness. They’re hard to find in good condition, but it can certainly be done. And it’s sure to always run, as it is blessed by GM 3800.

Time for today’s SUVs, so let’s look at the rules:

  1. A crapwagon must be a vehicle which is relatively easy to find and purchase using an internet.
  2. All vehicles in the crapwagon garage must have been sold as new, in the North American market.
  3. Said vehicles must be obtainable to the casual crapwagon collector (CCC). This means in clean, running condition each one asks $7,000 or less on a normal day.
  4. Your suggestions must fit into the vehicle category of the week. If you don’t like the category, that’s tough. We’ll get to a category you like eventually.
  5. There are five rules to this garage game, and that’s the maximum number of vehicles you may submit for each section. Just five.

In order to be considered an SUV, a vehicle must have a rear cargo area covered by a roof, and a vertical liftgate or swinging rear door. For our purposes, it must also have been offered with either all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Vehicles with sliding side doors do not qualify as SUVs. My first pick was an easy one.

It’s the first generation Lexus LX450. A thinly-broughamed inline-six Land Cruiser which was always loaded with options, it usually featured gold badges and two-tone paint. Just as capable as its Toyota brother, it came from a time when luxury SUVs outside of the Range Rover were still an experiment. Well-heeled owners hung onto these, and they’re not too hard to find in great condition.

Here’s my second choice, the final North American Mitsubishi Montero from 2006. Comfortable and capable, it had the veneer of luxury Mitsubishi thought necessary to compete with other luxury truck offerings of the time. It’s just as well, since Mitsubishi had the gall to ask $47,000 for the Montero Limited. Most of these have been beat up, and people like Gtem tell me that parts aren’t the easiest to find — but that doesn’t stop my Montero desire. Special nod to the simply gigantic glass sunroof present on all models without rear DVD player. I’d find the cleanest one I could, and it would still be within budget.

Let’s hear your SUV Crapwagon Garage picks.

[Images: JLR, sellers, Lexus]

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4 of 59 comments
  • Ernest Ernest on Jun 20, 2018

    I'm gonna cry foul on the Land Cruiser idea. In Portland and Seattle, after deducting non-running examples, obvious spam bait, and "for parts only," you have something on the order of ten vehicles total to pick from. All high miles and with issues. The "Toyota Tax" lives. On the European front, the two candidates (Land Rover and Mercedes) have potential repairs waiting for you far in excess of that $7000 price point. Not no, but he** noes. So... a Chevy Tahoe (or it's GMC counterpart) would work great, as would a Jeep Cherokee. If you could find one that hasn't been hooned to within inches of it's life. I'd recommend a Bronco, but I already own one of those. A pristine example will come closer (or over) you price point than you'd believe possible. But they don't know what a rust-free 25 yr old truck looks like east of the Rockies.

    • Gtem Gtem on Jun 20, 2018

      Yep, the fullsize Broncos are easily cresting $7k in original, rust free shape. I was quite enamored with them a little while back, scoured the craigslists of the entire of Southeast for a decent one for fun. The best was a Kenne Bell supercharged '96 that had obviously been cared for, right at $7500 asking. 2 door GMT400 K5 Blazer/Tahoes are getting up there as well, another cool SUV I lust after.

  • Shortest Circuit Shortest Circuit on Jun 21, 2018

    *searching furiously if the 4-door Niva was sold in NA or not* no, saad :( any GMT900 platform then... ugly to look at, outperformed in each and every way by the orientals and even Ford.

    • Gtem Gtem on Jun 21, 2018

      Our family friends in Siberia had one of the 4 door (VAZ-2131) models. I think the proportions are awkward compared to the classic 2 door design, but it is a very utilitarian and capable little rig. We rode to their dacha (small rural summer home) in the back of it once. The three levers sticking out of the transmission tunnel (shifter, center diff lock, hi/lo range), the incredible amount of gear whine, and surprisingly soft ride all stood out. They also have a gen 1 ML320 Merc but for winter duty to get down the unplowed dacha road only the Niva is trusted.

  • Cprescott Lucid has the right idea about building cars - I agree that these have a presence to them and certainly make all Teslas look like cheap golf carts with doors in comparison. I hope Lucid survives because they actually build luxurious products and not pretenders like Tesla.
  • Cprescott Well, the shift in 1977 to the down-sized T-Bird was a great move - it did not diminish the T-Bird as clearly there was more in kind with the 1958 than the 1976. Sales were golden for that clever shift. What really did damage was that "thing" that was the Fairmont based one - that was hideous. I was surprised that the Futura wasn't really a T-Bird - a bit of work on the front and rear made it a clear kinship to the prior generation one and the Futura sold very well. I loved the Lincoln Mark V and all of its air craft carrier bulk - the next generation was okay and I owned a 1985 Town Car and loved that car (30 mpgs on the highway and able to drive one's livingroom with you!). Wish I still had it.The Mark VII was an incredible effort IMHO.
  • Arthur Dailey Ford by messing around with its market positioning and adding different models destroyed any prestige/panache associated with the Cougar which was originally regarded as 'a gentleman's muscle car/coupe'. As for the T-Bird, I had considerable driving time with a 'big Bird', and subsequently had a 'Torino Bird' which was a very good looking car for the time but mine was plagued with mechanical issues. The following generation known as the 'box Bird' was a disaster, both in looks and style and moved the 'Bird downmarket. I never drove the next generation 'aero Bird' but did later have a very rare FILA edition of the 'super Bird' generation. For the time it was a very competitive vehicle. Just wish that I had more driving/riding time in an LSC. For my money the last 'great' Lincoln coupe.
  • Ehaase Chinese Ford Escort because I wish entry level cars under $20,000 were still available.
  • Ajla Yaris hybrid