Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second hand picks for 12 November
We take a look at some of the most interesting off roaders on the used market
News
5 mins read
12 November 2021

Off roaders are some of the most practical cars money can buy. We take a look at some off-road oddballs.

Isuzu Vehicross, £9800

Some might reasonably argue that car design is becoming increasingly homogenised as the years go by. But one car with its own sci-fi character (and certainly a unique one at that) is the Isuzu Vehicross, a midsize SUV produced by the Japanese car maker before it moved exclusively to the truck and pick-up markets. 

The Vehicross was never intended for the UK market. It made its debut at the 1993 Tokyo motor show and four years later went into production with few changes made to its design. Two-door SUVs were nothing new (the Land Rover Defender and Jeep Wrangler were already well established), but the Vehicross possessed its own rugged and distinctive styling. Based on the platform of the Isuzu Trooper, the model featured 16in wheels with chrome centre caps, pronounced overhangs, a pair of titanium ‘teeth’ in the grille and even a rear spoiler. 

Click here to buy your next used car from Autocar

Its production run from 1997 to 2001 was intentionally restricted, with just 5958 models produced. Only 1805 of those were for the Japanese market and as such right-hand-drive. The rest were shipped over to the US. That doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting and eye-catching used buy, though, and a few models are dotted around the classifieds, having been imported to the UK. 

A choice of 3.2-litre and 3.5- litre petrol V6 engines meant the Vehicross wasn’t exactly a slouch. In its strongest guise, the model provided a 0-62mph sprint of less than 9.0sec and a torque-on-demand four-wheel drive system helped direct its 230lb ft of torque while retaining comfort on the road.

Its capability extended to other terrains, too, as it was brought onto the scene to show off Izuzu’s off-road technology: it was one of a small number of cars to be fitted with motorcycle-style coilover shock absorbers and head-expansion chambers. 

Back to top

The Vehicross was priced from around £21,000 in the US, but we found an imported one-owner model with 54,000 miles in the classifieds for £9800 – a price that may seem hefty but for which you can get your hands on a truly unique SUV with genuine off-road capability

Toyota Land Cruiser, £8500: This 1988 Land Cruiser appears to be in good condition, especially since it has covered 108,000 miles. It’s driven by a 2.4-litre turbocharged engine mated to a five-speed manual, plus a high-and-low-range gearbox. Proper project car material, this.

Land Rover Defender 90, £15,495: A yellow Defender is rare in itself, but this model is also an ex-Land Rover Special Vehicle. It has seen 104,000 miles but has a complete MOT and is equipped with plenty of extras, including a Flat Dog roof rack, foldable side steps and floodlights.

Back to top

Suzuki Samurai, £6000: Few Samurais remain on UK roads. This soft-top has a low mileage – just 53,000 – and its current owner has spent money bringing its interior and exterior up to top condition. Other than that, it’s largely the same as when it left the factory.

Jeep Wrangler, £9995: This 2004 Wrangler's front end has been transformed into something of a monster. The car is described as mechanically sound, despite its 144,000 miles, but watch out for that 4.0-litre V6: the fuel costs alone will be enough to spook anybody.

Auction Watch - Amphicar Model 770, £57,000

Back to top

The Amphicar of 1960 to 1965 rose to fame as the only mass-produced amphibious vehicle available to the public. It’s equally as capable on the road as it is sailing down river, driven by a 45bhp four-cylinder Triumph Herald engine that also drives two reversible propellers at the rear. The Amphicar is capable of up to seven knots on water or 70mph on Tarmac. Just 4000 were produced, and prices are rising, thanks to its rarity. This one is Official Boat Safety Scheme-certified, has an MOT for use on UK roads and has been restored to be E10-fuel-compliant. Most remaining models are in the possession of Disney’s resorts, but this one spent some of its life in the Beverly Hills Car Club. It sold for £57,000, having received an £83,000 restoration that included a complete mechanical overhaul.

Future Classic - Fiat Coupé, £4200

​​While many Fiat Coupés were lost to the government scrappage scheme of 2008, those that remain are steadily rising in price and represent one of the finest little sports cars around. Drivers had a choice of a few 2.0-litre options, ranging from a naturally aspirated 135bhp engine to the supremely desirable turbocharged in-line five with 214bhp. Capable of 0-62mph in 6.3sec with a top speed of 150mph, the Coupé turbo has the performance of a brand-new hot hatch of today, but some might argue it has more charm. It was designed by Chris Bangle, who would later move to BMW, and featured an interior styled by Pininfarina. Today, a Coupé will set you back anywhere between £1500 and £6000. A late-model turbo we found came in at £4200 with vital repairs completed and a recent engine overhaul.

Back to top

Clash of the classifieds

“Can I have a yellow car that looks cool for less than £10,000?”

Ford Puma 1.7 Millennium, £3995 vs Porsche Boxster 2.7, £9995

Oliver Young: The Ford Puma is – or rather was – a compact, Ford Fiesta-based coupé with a cute yet athletic design. This particular example is yellow, as requested, and is one of 1000 Millennium-spec cars produced, meaning it has a leather interior complete with sporty Recaro seats. And the sportiness doesn’t stop there, because its naturally aspirated 1.7-litre engine has variable valve timing courtesy of Yamaha. Okay, its 123bhp isn’t much, but the Puma only weighs a little over 1000kg. It’s fun, agile and a future classic. 

Back to top

Mark Pearson: Speaking of future classics, welcome to my mellow yellow Porsche Boxster. You see, the thing about this is that you can buy it now and keep it for another 21 years and you know it will then be worth more than you paid for it, come what may. So a beautifully balanced, 156mph, mid-engined investment, with only 50,000 miles and a full service history. And if the sun in the sky matches the luscious paintwork, you can also enjoy a little wind-in-the-hair fun. 

OY: A good choice, if the maintenance costs don’t empty your wallet. Not saying they will, not saying they won’t. But the Puma is a bargain that won’t keep you up at night, and this example is going for only £3995. Running costs will be as cheap as chips, too. It’s a lovable little thing, isn’t it? 

MP: Umm, no. It isn’t. Your Yamaha, or Ka+, or whatever it is, is just a puny heap of tarted-up everyday mundanity. It’s overpriced and it certainly can’t match the thrills of a Boxster. OY Harsh. But possibly fair…

Verdict, James Ruppert: I’ll take the luvverly lemon Boxster, please.

Join the debate

Comments
5
Add a comment…
artill 12 November 2021

Seems whoever modified the Jeep went further than its appearance. These only ever has a straight 6 ( of 4 pot) so a V6 must be some engine swap too.

I hope the mechanical changes work better than that front end!

scotty5 12 November 2021

I'd take that V6 3.5L Vehicross, load it with a petrol driven air compressor, then drive to Glasgow offering to pump the tyres on the SUV's those climate activists let down yesterday.

 

 

Leslie Brook 12 November 2021

I'd take the yellow car in the future classics article. A 5 cylinder 20v version please.