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James Ruppert: Off-beat off-roaders for those on a budget

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James Ruppert: Off-beat off-roaders for those on a budget


Suzuki Jimnys are great. Such a shame those daft EU CO2 rules have denied us new ones, unless you can justify a stopgap two-seat commercial vehicle as your brand-new brick-like pocket-sized 4×4 of choice. However, this is the used car section, so we can simply travel back in time and buy one of the old ones.

Go shopping for one and you will notice that the market has certainly hardened up. Jimnys used to depreciate fairly quickly. One of the last old-shape 2017 cars in SZ4 trim, with a full service history and 11k miles, will cost you £13,795. It would be at least a grand more at a dealer. There were some low-mileage ones that were straying into all-new Jimny money. Meanwhile, I find the high-milers reassuring, because they prove the little thing can do strong six-figure miles without bother.

These do come with an automatic gearbox, which can make life easier. A 2007 1.3 JLX was a reasonable £5995. The thing is, I would be inclined to pay £1995 and bag a 2002 example with 106k miles that had a year’s MOT and a lot of history. There are some alternatives, too.

The Daihatsu Terios has the benefit of a few extra doors and equally reliable Toyota-sourced mechanicals, plus a slightly bigger little engine. It certainly has a similar vibe to the modern Jimny at a fraction of the price. A 2005 1.5 SX example with 86k miles, air-con and just a couple of previous owners is £3250. Mind you, I was rather taken by a 2007 1.5 SE that had a “one not-very-careful lady owner” jibe in the classified advert. Apparently, a few panels were dented, but the 105k miles were fully documented in the service book. The asking price of £1495 seemed very good to me. They were dents, not rust holes, making it the perfect little pal for knocking around town.

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Then there’s the Daihatsu Fourtrak, which is a rare old thing these days and a proper hard-worker when required. It will do farm work all day long, and I was lucky to come across an ancient 1993 example in good nick, complete with very ’90s bumper bars on the front. It was very tidy for 170k miles, had a diesel engine and a year’s MOT. All that for £2995.

Finally, there has to be some room in your life for a true original. A Jeep. These will take you back to whatever decade you fancy from the 1940s on. Wranglers seem to hold their value quite well. Between £8000 and £10,000 gets you proper hardcore articulating-axle rock-climbers and ’90s classics. I was rather taken by a 1995 4.0 Limited Hardtop with 83,000 miles at just £6900. Six owners have previously enjoyed it. I’d happily be the seventh. Secretly, I still fancy a Jimny so much more.



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