Life on a farm is tough for any vehicle, even big and rugged off-roders. So it doesn’t make much sense to spend £40,000 on a brand-new SUV when it’ll get destroyed in five minutes flat.
So it’s better to spend just a few grand on an old off-roader with a bit of life left in it, that you won’t feel bad about killing in short order.
For just £5,000 there’s a surprisingly big selection of off-roaders capable of standing up to the hard graft of farm work. Here’s the Only Motors top five.
The Terracan was only briefly sold in the UK in the mid-2000s, but it managed to carve out a small niche, offering an awful lot of car for not much money. It was huge, had seven seats and lots of standard kit.
It’s based on the then-defunct Mk.2 Mitsubishi Shogun chassis, with power from a 2.9-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. Most UK cars had an automatic gearbox. It’s hardly sophisticated to drive, but is almost unstoppable off-road and can tow nearly three tons.
You won’t pay much more than £5,000 for any sort of Terracan. There are plenty of tidy, c.2006 examples about for our budget. There are no major worries; just make sure the engine is healthy, the electrics work and the chassis is rot free.
Land Rover Defender
Well, it’s the archetypal farm hack, isn’t it? No other off-roader will go as far into the wilderness and it has character and charm to spare.
But it needs charm because, with the best will in the world, Defenders are not easy to live with. Hard work to drive and notoriously temperamental, it takes a dedicated owner to put up with it. But that, in turn, means fans are fiercely loyal.
You have be careful at this price point, as there are a lot of ropey ones around. Electrical gremlins and chassis rot in particular are common, but anything that looks generally shabby is best avoided. On the plus side, there are lot of bodystyles to choose from, parts are plentiful and relatively cheap, and they are endless moddable.
The current Shogun is one of the last proper, heavy-duty off-roaders left. It’s always been a favourite of farmers since it was introduced 30 years ago, combining just as much load-lugging and most of the off-road ability of the venerated Defender, with better value and reliability.
Mitsubishi recognised as much and offered a stripped-back 4Field model in the early 2000s. They all come well-equipped for their time and, rust aside, are pretty much unbreakable. Power comes from a big, four-cylinder diesel engine or V6 petrol, with manual or auto ‘boxes. Towing capacity is around three tons.
There are loads of Shoguns out there – pre-’91 Mark 1 cars are getting rare – and there are almost as many grey import Pajeros as UK Shoguns. So you can afford to be picky about condition. £5,000 buys a decent early 2000s example.
The Patrol has always been enormous, the third generation cartoonishly so. Which means it’s better suited to the farmer whose land is on A-roads, rather than fiddly country lanes. It’s as unsophisticated as it is big, too. Really, it’s not at all good to drive. But it is unstoppable. Visit somewhere harsh and remote, and there will be a Patrol around somewhere.
Nissan gussied up later models with plush trim and lots of kit to take the edge off the crudeness. As per usual, a big, torquey four-cylinder diesel engine lives under the bonnet, the interior is bigger than the O2 Arena, and it’s one of the few cars that can tow 3.5 tons.
Early Patrols are hard to come by, but post-’98 Mark 3 cars are relatively common. There are no real worries, but as ever rust and general neglect can be killers. £5,000 buys a tidy early 2000s example.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The iconic Toyota Land Cruiser has come in seemingly dozens of shapes and sizes in its 64-year career. Only a few of those have reached the UK, but there’s still a bewildering array of varieties. Our budget does just about stretch to the full-size Nineties Amazon, but only a pretty ropey one. We reckon the smaller Colorado is a better bet.
Smaller it may be, but the Colorado is no less capable – towing capacity aside. The interior is vast, the engine powerful and it will go as far off-road as any sane person would want to go. As with all these cars, it’s a bit crude to drive, but Toyota loaded it with kit.
There’s a good choice of Colorados – and Japanese-market Prados – to choose from, with either petrol or diesel engines. As always, buy the best you can find – plenty have been neglected.
By Only Motors