By on June 19, 2019

In the Wednesday QOTD last week, we began our considerations of the truck and SUV models from the nineties which aged most gracefully. American offerings were the first up for discussion, and the majority of you chimed in to agree with my assessment of the GMT 400 trucks as some of the best-aged designs. There were so many great GMT variations from which to choose!

Today we move on to Europe, which may be more challenging.

Unlike the truck and SUV craving North American market, Europeans didn’t (perhaps don’t) feel quite the same animal magnetism. We may have to dig into the realm of the forgotten today to find some stylish winners. Let’s refresh on the rules:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a European manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Opel Monterey).
  3. The only eligible body styles are trucks and SUVs.

Though your author will likely never own one, the gracefully aging European SUV below comes to mind readily.

It’s the charmingly blocky Land Rover Discovery II. The first Discovery model stormed the European market in 1990, as Land Rover’s first family friendly SUV. It had seating for seven people, and was much less agricultural than the Defender. Discovery was also considerably more affordable than the luxurious Range Rover, but offered some of the same brand prestige for people in the Midlands or wherever. The Rover Group drove profits by enforcing cost saving measures like switches from the Rover Maestro and Montego. In 1994, the first Discovery made its way into eager North American hands, and shortly afterward returned to dealer service bays.

1998 saw the introduction of the Discovery II. Wearing very similar sheet metal to the original, all body panels were redesigned except the skin of the rear door. Utility declined slightly with greater overhangs, but luxury increased over the outgoing version. 2003 saw a visual facelift, with more modern looking front and rear clips, the former of which tracked closer to the new Range Rover. Discovery II lasted through the 2004 model year before its replacement by the filing cabinet chic LR3. The II is odd enough to look great, even today.

Time for your Euro truck and SUV style selections.


[Images: Land Rover; Opel]

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34 Comments on “QOTD: Trucking Great Nineties Design in Europe?...”

  • avatar

    The “Rambo-Lambo” – the Lamborghini LM002. Designed in the cocaine-fueled 80s, sold in the 90s, Countach V-12 power (and thirst), and pure 90-degree angle design. Still looks bad-ass today!

  • avatar

    Well, now that you’ve thrown out my answer (the Series 2 Disco), next answer is the original, Spen King-designed Range Rover (sure, it’s a design from the late 60’s, but it was on sale through ’95), which has also aged really well (and seems to be going through a Wagoneer-esque rise in values accordingly). The P38 that followed it is nice as well, but seems more of the era, if just because the first gen RR’s transcended a couple eras to the point of timelessness.

  • avatar

    P38 Range Rover
    1998 Benz ML (In JP2 guise)

    And why not, the Vauxhall/Opel Frontera is so fantastically 90s.

    Would the G-wagen and Unimog count in this discussion?

  • avatar

    Since the Land Rover has already been mentioned I’ll go with the equally timeless Mercedes G-Wagon. It hasn’t changed in a 100 years and I don’t think it ever will. German Wrangler

  • avatar

    Bertone Freeclimber.

  • avatar

    Keeping it simple, stupid…

    Land Rover Defender 90 & 110

    Mercedes Benz G-wagen (do a bunch of gray-market machines count?)

  • avatar

    Range Rover Classic
    Land Rover Defender

    Some of the best-looking trucks ever built, and a permanent employment program for mechanics.

  • avatar

    Lada Niva.

  • avatar

    All of the Land Rover talk reminded me of an old review from the early Farago days of this site. Good bye Disco, hello LR3.

  • avatar

    “Unlike the truck and SUV craving North American market, Europeans didn’t (perhaps don’t) feel quite the same animal magnetism.”

    Very much ‘didn’t’, the 90s the sedan was very much king amongst the company car market. But in the 21st century the SUV and crossover have boomed, nearly every manufacturer offers a range of SUV/crossovers.

    Actually struggling to think of a European SUV from the 90s but from family experience will offer the Nissan Terrano / Ford Maverick.

    Yes Nissan are Japanese, but this was built in Spain and the Terrano name was for Europe.
    And yes Ford are American, but this was a special model for their European arm.

    Seemed a lot more rugged than the Renault-based softroader that replaced it (and the Ford Kuga/Escape and later Ecosport)

    • 0 avatar

      Europe was a little slow in taking up SUV/crossovers, but gas is awfully expensive there. I am really surprised how popular they’ve become

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, that Ford Maverick version of the Nissan Terrano seemed popular in the UK during the 1990s. It was often featured in British TV drama series driven by the hero . The Vauxhall Frontera or Opel Whatever Is Was supposed equivalent to the Maverick used to inspire hilarity in the UK motoring press reviews.

      But then they had Range Rovers, Discos, Land Rovers and that little t*rd of a Freelander from 1997, possibly the most unreliable vehicle ever, to be getting on with.

      Honda CR-V and RAV4 first gen models sold better over there, but the Terrano/Maverick was at least semi-rugged.

  • avatar

    Not European, but Mexican— the 1999-2001 Dodge Ramcharger.

    I don’t care if the paint scorches or the dash cracks as wide as the Rio Grande— that thing will run forever and is a manageable size compared to today’s trucks/SUVs.

    Whether with the 318 or the 360, 4×2 or 4×4– manual or plain old 4-speed automatic—everything was sorted at the end of the run for those trucks. Just a beautiful almost-modern beast with EFI, ABS and heavy steel errythang else.

    A dream.

  • avatar

    I’m with the Lamborghini mentioned above.

    Also range Rovers from that period are timeless.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The picture above of the Opel looks a lot like an Isuzu Trooper from the late 90s.

  • avatar

    I honestly can’t think of any 1990s SUVs out of Europe, aside from the Mercedes trucklet that they used in Jurassic Park 2. That’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

    There’s a G-Wagen running around here, but I think it’s too new. Otherwise, that would probably be my pick.

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