As you will have noticed, cars are getting bigger. Many think that also means they’re getting less exciting, less charismatic and a good deal more ubiquitous, but that doesn’t have to be the sad truth of the matter if you step outside the world of PCP deals and boot-space bragging.
Some hilarious SUVs can be found on a stroll through the classifieds, each serving as proof that opting for a bit more height doesn’t mean having no enthusiasm for cars. Take the Jeep CJ-7, for example – a high-riding runaround that couldn’t be further removed in its conception from today’s crop of jacked-up hatchbacks.
Preceding the better-known Wrangler and packing a whole host of refinements and luxuries not afforded to its military forebear, the Civilian Jeep is as much at home on the Rubicon Trail as it is cruising up and down Blackpool Promenade. With styling that has gone largely untouched since World War II, it’s America’s Land Rover Defender, if you like, and it certainly turns more heads on this side of the pond.
The one we found is particularly eye-catching, with the fantastically retro stripes and stickers that came with the Laredo package on top of its original gold paint, massive all-terrain tyres and chunky chrome bullbar. The original 4.2-litre AMC straight-six engine – revered for its dependability – remains, as do the Bestop Dualmatic canvas hood and tan leather seats.
It all looks in fabulous condition, too, probably because it has covered just 67,000 miles and been mostly garaged since it arrived here in 1986. A CJ-7 won’t be as cheap to run, easy to fix or ruggedly capable as a contemporary Land Rover, but it lends itself to regular use in all weather far better than a V8 muscle car of similar vintage so is Americana that makes sense to own in Britain.
Looks can deceive, though, so we would look underneath with a torch to check all the chassis’ known weak points, ensure the aftermarket Holley carburettors are tuned to perfection and thoroughly examine the notoriously troublesome electrics.
Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet, £15,995: The Range Rover Evoque Convertible wasn’t the first drop-top crossover; the Nissan Murano was available with a folding fabric hood as early as 2010. This import is keenly priced, but think of it as an open-air 350Z with a lift kit installed and it seems good value.