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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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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.

  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo inline 6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.