Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Car choice

Like many men approaching retirement, I want to buy and old cool vehicle. Becasue my name isn’t Rockefellor or Romney, and due to a lack of grage space, I can only afford one cool vehicle. Considering purchase price, maintenance costs, scarcity of parts, and reliabkity, which one of the following dream vehicles would you recommend?

A Jeep Wrangler or CJ5
1970s Ford Broncho
1970s Toyota Landcruiser
BMW Z3 1996-2002
Land rover Discovery 1994-2004
Plymouth Prowler

Your opinion is the only one that matters. Buy what you like and enjoy it.

Of those choices, I’d say the Wrangler, CJ5 or Bronco will have the most options for aftermarket parts. Though the Prowler offers that quirky, cool looking vehicle, you’d probably have a harder time finding parts, or even people who know how to work on it.

If you’d consider a land rover and a 70s Bronco or LandCruiser, why not consider something like a Series II or III Land Rover? They aren’t terribly expensive…

Sure, parts aren’t as easy to find as for a CJ5, Wrangler, or Bronco… but they’re brutally simple vehicles that are relatively easy for DIY maintenance.

A neighbor once had a Series II - you could fix almost anything on that vehicle with what seemed like 4 tools…

Been in a Prowler. You could climb up into a WWII German helmet and get the same effect.

But of the choices listed, it’d be the most fun to me. The real question is, what will be the most fun to YOU!!

The Land Cruiser appeals to me. Worldwide they’re a common sight and highly valued, so parts should be around forever. The Bronco would be my second choice of the utes. Most I see look to have been seriously abused, but they are powerfully nostalgic for me. Only buy the Jeep if you’re going to use it off-road, as it is painful on roads. The Prowler is all looks. The Z3 was sold in large numbers and shares parts with many other BMW models, but those parts will be premium priced. The Discovery is one of the least reliable vehicles ever made. When they redesigned it they renamed it in the US for a reason.

I took an Audi Cabriolet to the only local shop recommended to fix the convertible top when it refused to retract properly. It’s a nightmare of sequential micro switches and such. When I went to pick it up, I noticed that there were several Land Rovers at the same shop. We only have a metro population of half a million, so there is no local Land Rover dealer. A guy who was there picking up his three year old Rover (named Dog?) remarked that he may have been able to afford to buy the Rover, but he didn’t think he was going to to pay for the upkeep. He paid $900+ for a brake job. I’ll never own one.

Of those listed, I’d rather drive the Z3, but you are not me. You need only to make yourself happy. Drive any of those listed for an extended test drive just to see if they fit. The Z3 may not.

Check your cartalk inbox Tommyboy.

And the Z3 is an All-American car; built in Spartanburg, SC. Actually, all Z3s are built in Spartanburg. This plant is the sole source of the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle, Z4 Roadster, M Roadster, Z4 Coupe and M Coupe.

I would go for a CJ-7 Jeep. More of a “real” jeep than the more “civilized” Wranglers, but roomier and better ergonomics than the CJ-5. Lots of aftermarket parts available and easy to work on yourself. The straight 6 engines were virtually bullet proof. But then I am biased as I had an '84 CJ-7 that I bought new and loved!

@jtsanders -

Careful… all 2009+ Z4s are imported. Current US-built lineup from BMW is the X3, X5, and X6… Of those, only the X6 is exclusively made in the US. I doubt any X3s are imported (other factory being in India). The X5, I’m not so sure about - they make them in Mexico, too, but I don’t know what level (if any) they import into the US.

Prowler offers that quirky, cool looking vehicle, you'd probably have a harder time finding parts, or even people who know how to work on it.

Not as bad as you’d think. The drivetrain was also used in the Intrepid/Concorde, and there are a squillion of those on the road. It was used in a bunch of other vehicles as well.

Body panels might be challenging, but mechanicals wouldn’t be too bad.

Still, you can get an NSX for what some of those Prowlers are going for, and it was a lot more fun to drive.