Here is the latest reader comment, along with my reply:
Arthur writes: Original Land Rovers – the real SUV – were 4 cylinders. Everything else you say is true. Frame, 4 wheel drive, etc. What separates them is the simplicity. No air bags. computers, sound systems, etc. If fact, no upholstery on the interior for many of them. They were more truck than car. Today most trucks are more car than truck. That’s why I’ve kept my 1996 Ford Ranger 4 cylinder, 5 speed pick up truck. It can go anywhere, and only two wheel drive is necessary.
My reply: Agreed, Arthur – though I don’t think I wrote that real SUVs have to have V8s. As you note, many did not – including classic Jeeps. I also like simplicity but disagree that it is an essential SUV attribute. A new Benz Gelandewagen, for instance, is an off-road gorilla – but simple, it’s not!
I do agree with you, though, that simple is desirable – because simple is more durable. That new Gelandewagen will be economically unrepairable before it is 20 years old, assuming regular use. A 1970 Bronco or similar can be repaired/kept on the road almost indefinitely.
What we have today are truly disposable cars. Cars that one cannot keep forever – because their systems are too complex and expensive to maintain relative to their depreciating value.
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OTOH, the company I previously worked for had a 5500 Dodge roustabout truck, 3′ deep front bumper with chain vices each side for making up pipe joints, etc. It was a nightmare, just loved the stealership, of which Dodge is king in calling things “non-warrantied”.
Cruising the interstate one day it began burning underhood. Stopped, put it out, continued on….somehow. It was famous for crap like that.
One day a pickup pulled out from a lease road right in front of it. Totaled the pickup and did significant damage to the big truck but that bumper kept the bags from going off, a sure way to total the bastard. Sometimes you can’t win for losing. I’ve had to take an equipment hauling trailer more than once 150 miles to haul that POS back to the yard/dealer 2 month wait is uncommon, more like 3 months or more.
A friend has an ’07 Tahoe, 4WD, nice vehicle. He hit a deer, almost no damage to the front but all 6 airbags blew. You can guess the rest. I believe his words were “bullshit”……among others.