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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