1946-56 Dodge Power Wagon
MSRP (1946): $1,627
Current value: $8,000
Auction value: Up to $20,000
The descendant of the legendary WC-series 3/4-ton Army troop carrier, the civilian B-series Power Wagon is the godfather of 4x4 pickup trucks. By all accounts, they were grossly underpowered, rode like hell, were slow as molasses on the highway (those stock 5.83:1 gears will do that), and their proud owners wouldn't have them any other way. The original first-gen Power Wagon changed very little over its production run, with the 94hp 230ci L-head six-cylinder, New Process 88845 non-synchromesh four-speed, NP200 transfer case, and Dodge 95/8-inch axles standard on nearly all models; a power-take-off option and Braden 7,500-pound winch (with 250 feet of cable) were available throughout the run; the 230 engine received compression bumps (and horsepower increases) in 1953 and again in 1955, and '55-and-later versions got the more refined NP420 four-speed with Third- and Four-gear synchros. The truck was offered in both pickup and chassis/cab configurations, though an 8-foot longbed option was offered after 1953. Several third-party suppliers such as Monroe Automotive and Crosley offered a number of add-on parts (such as farm implements for them) and/or body-style conversions for firefighting duty; intact models are quite rare). Dodge expanded the Power Wagon line to include light-duty models (the WM-100) for 1957, and the truck was built, with a number of mechanical and styling upgrades through 1968. But these O.G. first-gen trucks, of which only 46,000 were built, are easily the ones most sought after by aficionados.
1958-74 Land Rover Series II/III
MSRP (1958): $2,700 (est.)
Current value (est): Up to $15,000
Auction value: $25,000+
Homely? You bet. Crude and unsophisticated? No doubt. But who among us hasn't lusted after one of these aluminum-bodied rigs at least once in our lives for bragging rights alone? Offered in both 88- and 109-inch wheelbases, the second- and third-generation Rovers epitomize off-road coolness. The '61-and-later diesel-powered Series IIA versions are quite rare, as only some 2,800 were ever sold in North America; '67-and-later models came with a 2.7L Straight-Six sourced from the FC trucks, and the '72-and-later Series III sported relocated headlights (outward, from the grille to the fenders), but otherwise, these vehicles' basic designs and underpinnings remained remarkably unchanged throughout their production cycle: 2.3L petrol engine, 4-speed manual trans, solid Salisbury axles packed with 4.7:1 gears, and the optional iconic "blade bonnet" (hood-mounted spare tire carrier). Originally intended for use on the farm, old Landys were purpose-built vehicles with limited audience appeal; they were also considerably more expensive to buy (and maintain) than comparable Jeeps or Toyotas of the same vintage, and only some 20,000 units were sold in the U.S. before Federal safety and emissions regs eventually forced Land Rover out of the U.S. market in 1974. Aftermarket support for these rigs is minimal, and NOS replacement parts are increasingly difficult to find, so if you've got an intact running specimen of one, treat it like the off-road royalty it is. A concourse-ready model can fetch a fair farthing at auction.
1994-97 Land Rover Defender 90
MSRP (1994): $27,900
Current value: $25,000+
Auction value: Up to $35,000
Before there was the Wrangler Rubicon and the Hummer H3, there was the D90-a purpose-built, out-of-the-box full-time factory fourwheeling machine sporting a 3.32:1 low-range gear, locking center diff (that could be engaged in 4-Hi), wrap-around bullbar, coil/link suspension, and 31x10.50 BFG Mud-Terrains all standard. And if you were one of the 6,529 lucky duckies (give or take) who ponied up close to $30 grand for one of these during its all-too-brief production run, only to be told you could've bought two Jeep TJs for the same amount of money, you just may be having the last laugh. While they don't break the bank at Monte Carlo in auction terms, these 15-year-old rigs have lost virtually none of their value to depreciation over the years. Not bad for a vehicle that was expensive for its day (a base 4x4 Suburban cost six grand less), was plagued in its lifetime with fit and finish problems, and sported OE soft tops that leaked and optional fiberglass hard tops that were prone to cracking. Desirable versions include the '95-and-later versions that came with an optional metal hardtop and full interior rollcage. We've heard rumblings that Land Rover might re-introduce the Defender to the US one day, but given the relative scarcity of these first-gen specimens, we have little doubt the value of these rigs will go nowhere but up in the years to come, even if Rover should bring an updated version back to our shores.
MSRP (1959): $1,700 (est.)
Current value: $17,000
Auction value: More than you'd imagine
Yes, it's a Postal. And it's pink. With stripes. And fringe on top. And most awesomely of all, it's not even a four-wheel drive. But other than that, it's basically indistinguishable from a CJ-3A minus the transfer case and front drive assembly: 134ci L-head Four, T90-A three-speed, and Dana 44 rearend with 4.56:1 gears. Originally inspired by the Ghia-built Fiat Jolly microcar (irony of ironies, 60 years later), the Surrey was used primarily as a rental ride at hotels and resorts in Hawaii and the southeastern U.S. Only 1,089 Surrey models were ever built for domestic sale (a right-hand-drive Gala model was sold overseas), so if you ever find this proverbial pony in the barn, you can laugh all the way to the bank; it's probably worth ten times its original purchase price if it's in fair condition, and a low-mileage example owned by the late comedian Red Skelton sold for $77,000 at a recent auction.