Range Rover Classic

Hooniverse Asks: What’s the best car you shouldn’t buy?

I’ve been searching for an older SUV for weeks now. I want something boxy. Something fun. Something simple yet capable. What I don’t need is an old Range Rover. My “goal truck” is a first-generation Isuzu Trooper or Mitsubishi Montero. But when a Range Rover Classic falls into your lap, it’s hard to ignore.

Now, this isn’t a done deal. Far from it, actually. But I arrived for a press event in Utah and got to chatting with an old friend. She’s raced off-road for decades. Her friends have last names like Hall and Gordon. She was driving in the dirt when I was trying to figure out middle school. And she overheard me saying how I am on the hunt for an affordable old SUV.

Her friend has a Range Rover Classic that used to be owned by said friend’s son. That son has passed away and the Range Rover is just sort of sitting there. She drives it occasionally, but it needs to go to a new home. It’s a California truck, and it’s a down-market Hunter Edition as well. That makes it oddly rare and yet not desirable at all, at least at the time.

And I may be able to scoop it up for a song.

I wanted a Range Rover Classic, but I really wanted an affordable Japanese near-classic. My plan is to find a Trooper or Montero and show how they’re going up in value, and why they’re going up in value. But I’m torn here because I love old Land Rovers. I know what to look for, and if this head gasket is toast so is the deal.

But if it’s not… I may be driving an old Range Rover home very soon.

So I ask you, what’s the best car you shouldn’t buy?

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45 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What’s the best car you shouldn’t buy?”

    1. Victor Avatar

      One of my power ashtrays opens slower than the other ! I demand this be fixed !

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      You could get an Audi A8 instead, they’re an Audi so they should be built better, right?

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          I was being sarcastic, though Mercedes Benz’s relaunched budget brand has gone onto great things/got ideas above it’s station, since their purchase by the Beetle makers.

          1. nanoop Avatar

            Oh, I was trying to pick up the sarcasm and reshape it with a little irony. Now that the jokes are explained they are probably even better.

            That’s the door right here, right?

    3. Turbobrick Avatar

      All I’m going to say is that a $900 V8 Phaeton drives way better than any other car in that price range. One cannot possibly understand it until you try one.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        Wait, a $900 Phaeton drives?

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Sub $3000 Discoveries are so tempting.
    Sub $20,000 Ferraris have now disappeared.
    Pretty much anything German made after about 1996.
    Pretty much anything British made after 1980.
    Anything Italian.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      After 1980? But that includes everything British that I… Oh.

    2. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Yes, indeed on the Discos. There’s a Disco I near me for 2,700 right now.

    3. Smaglik Avatar

      Rather a broad brush you paint with…. I only have experience with the German side of things, but if you buy a properly maintained specimen and maintain it like BMW would have recommended before 1996, they’ll treat you just fine. Of course, things will break, but that’s the choice you make for not driving an appliance. I will admit though that my most recent example is now 12 years old, built on a 20 year old platform, so I cannot speak for anything newer than that …

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    My mustachian ways, my inner car guy, my family’s needs are all conflicted. I’d love to scoop up one of the handful of specimen available in my country. But my brain keeps screaming no in all possible ways.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      They sound amazing. They probably suck to live with. Do it.

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        The Yamaha V8 is such a sweet engine. And I agree, these cars sound amazing.

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    Every time I stumble across an ad for a Bentley Turbo R in immaculate appearance, with about 37,000 on the odometer and an asking price less than a new econobox, I hide my checkbook from myself.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      The brother in law of a guy I worked with bought one of the last pre BMW era cars for 1/20th of its new price, low mileage, all was fine until something stupid went wrong with the engine. First problem was finding someone willing to touch it, who wasn’t going to charge more than he paid for the car in the first place!

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        We need to hear the rest of the story, too.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Last I heard a nephew who was a mechanical engineer and also worked on cars as a hobby was going to have a go at it, but the car was sitting on a farm one of the brothers owned. I saw it there when helping my friend restore an old Land Cruiser.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Any new crossover. By any practical metric, any one of them would make an excellent choice for a vehicle. You should not buy one. Crossovers mistake complacency for contentment. People convince themselves that they want a crossover because they don’t want to feel that they are settling for one. Crossovers are competent for 99% of the needs of 99% of drivers. They are a wonderful compromise. Don’t compromise. Don’t buy a crossover.

  5. Lokki Avatar

    “Sadly”, said the aging Alfisti through his bitter, bitter, tears, “we have another contender in the Alfa Romeo Giulia”

    Alfa Romeo Is Its Own Worst Enemy

    …Consumer Reports’ Alfa has been to the dealer service bay three times since they bought it. The UK’s Sunday Times had three Giulias crap out on them. Forums abound with reliability issues. Pistonheads had an Alfa Giulia break down in the middle of a test against a Mercedes and a BMW. Motor Trend’s Alfa was completely defeated by a normal driveway.
    The above lines were published a day after Jalopnik’s editor-in-chief, Patrick George, found himself on the side of I-87 with a Giulia that simply stopped running. The same exact vehicle that R&T’s web team had a week earlier, which also threw a check engine light. Motor Authority went to Gingerman and had issues…I asked C/D’s technical director, Eric Tingwall, if there was a common thread. “They don’t fail with any kind of consistency, in my experience,” he said. “It’s not like there’s just one component that’s causing this. It’s not just Quads, it’s Quads and 2.0-liters, engines and transmissions.

    I am going out to my garage now, and hug my old Alfa Spider…

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Every time a pub patron says “every new car is reliable today”, a Giulia somewhere craps out, I guess.

      1. crank_case Avatar

        Every new premium car seems equally dodgy, it’s just that people that buy German cars don’t admit it.

      2. outback_ute Avatar

        On the other hand if they reported issues with other brands with the same level of expectation?

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Just playing on the trope here that buying a new car today is supposed to be “safe”. Not just good warranties, but also better cars than ever before. But Alfa Romeo and Chrysler seems to be a marriage of equals when it comes to product planning and quality control. Good ideas, poor execution.

          1. outback_ute Avatar

            True but the three Germans are by no means flawless. I remember speaking to a guy who had bought a Mercedes ML that broke down several times, once he rang the dealer to tell them where to find it and walked home. They might have actually fixed it after that.

            I understand that the magazines would often ignore faults in ‘early production’ cars.

  6. Manxman Avatar

    I know it’s German and I should run away but I still look on CL every day for just the right MK1 Audi TT. Because it reminds me of a Gmund Porsche and Borgward Rennwagen and Goliath Sport. I guess I like Bauhaus design on a bierhaus budget. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/22d027c3377bfdabc79207868b0c89d650ee3616d4a2eee136261b6076df06dc.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9d245397282574f3d87af8dc688410f31f0373d23c821e3050e004855a5126cb.jpg . What can go wrong? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/18f5279cf3493d7c5af9cced13bf43a6430d1504d4947ee5981b181e717f9fa3.jpg

    1. nanoop Avatar

      It’s ok.

      I’ve had a poster of the mk1 (no spoiler) in my dorm. Later I heard that the TT is considered a hairdresser’s car, but I’m not aware of any hair dresser who could afford one back then. And those who could probably were really successful hairdressers, so that deserves respect.

      They are ok to sustain: the interior is holding up (aside from the window lifters and the matrix display in the dashbord – but there are fixes), lots of part bin elements and VAG compatibility, the I4 engine is a known stone. it’s the third owners who abuse them, but that’s the same for all sporty cars in that price bracket.

      1. Manxman Avatar

        I’ve been following a youtube channel “Sarah-n-tuned” in which Sarah, an ex-US Air Force mechanic, is resto-moding a TT MK1 that had a lot of issues. She’s done a lot of serious wrench work and her videos are very informative and practical. She comes off as being a ditsy air-head but that’s just for “content”…she’s quite good at diagnosing problems and fixing them. It’s taken the mystic out of the TT – just another car.

  7. nanoop Avatar

    First 928 in Scandinavia was listed for 30kUSD s few years ago. Light blue metallic on caramel. It would just rot away in my shack, suffering from my home depot runs with it.

    Used Tesla S. So many incentives (hence overpriced), but the wrong car for our needs and expectations.

    Any replacement for the 944: it will die, probably earlier than me, but with equal dignity (see 928 remarks).

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      Don’t be too hard on those 928 hardware store runs. I once helped someone buy a large scratch and dent (thus out of the carton and with exposed sharp corners) lateral file cabinet and load it into his 928 so he could avoid a nominal delivery fee.

      The 928 was only about a year old at the time.

      1. Snowman McChillin Avatar
        Snowman McChillin

        I once hauled home a water heater in the back of a 280 zx.
        Hatchback sports cars are just wagons with less roof.

        1. 0A5599 Avatar

          True, but when this occurred, the 928 was worth $50k. A new Silverado was a third that price and those could haul stuff in the back without risk of slicing the interior.

          1. nanoop Avatar

            The delivery fee was like, USD20?
            Also, what do you want with three Silverados?

  8. neight428 Avatar

    I’ll (not) take the worst of German “engineering” combined with British build quality.


    Don Sherman: If this car were a Christmas present, I would instantly regift it.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Somewhat ironically, some of the new MINIs are now the same size as a Range Rover Classic, and even more complex.

      The Rangie Classic would be one I’d go for. For a start you can still actually get every part for them from Rimmer Bros in the UK or other suppliers. Try that with your Trooper or Montero/Pajero, and you will need some parts on vehicles this old. Rangies also tended to be bought by people who actually did look after them, and by now the niggling little faults should have been sorted. Remember how surprisingly reliable Top Gear’s Rangie Classic was in South America. Perhaps not so surprisingly.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Plus they still had old Land Rover engineering where it only takes 2 spanners to do anything

    2. Lokki Avatar

      I really, really wanted to like the Mini. I need to get a car for my wife to replace her ancient 328i that she never drives. I drove one and thought it was fun, but fortunately the spouse vetoed it. She wants more comfort and less econobox pocket rocket. I say fortunately because I later started hearing horror stories from so many people.

      1. neight428 Avatar

        I’m the same way, I love what they want it to be, a slightly upscale performance focused small car. But whatever premium it cost to achieve better performance, they evidently subtracted from the reliability, fit and finish and ergonomics budgets to pocket the profit. A 200-hp mini sized 3 door hatch could be awesome fun and practical. Apparently we’ll have none of it.

    3. nanoop Avatar

      Unintended irony: sitting here behind a European IP the link is giving me “Sorry, this content is not available in your region.” – as if they created the car (apparently a “2014-mini-cooper-s-hardtop”) neither for GB nor for Germany. They’ll know why…

      1. neight428 Avatar

        It was a savage review of a long-term test. The EU is clearly covering its industrial ass on this one.

  9. Maymar Avatar

    At least locally, there’s not a huge gulf in price between MkVI Golf wagons and B8 A4 Avants (so, figure 2010-ish for both). The MkVI Golf with the 2.5 is probably about as close as VW’s gotten to building a dependable car since the O.G. Beetle, but the Audi’s extra stuff (power, drive wheels, toys, whatever) would be tempting, and it’s probably (outside of reliability) one of the most ideal cars in my hypothetical price range.

    Also, anything with a V12 below $10k. I want an XJS, or a CL600, or a 750i (I’m not daft enough to think a sub-$10k 850i is a good idea), but the purchase price is just a down payment.

  10. Tank Avatar

    While importing an Old Toyota Century or Nissan President sounds tempting. I think finding parts for even normal wear would prove difficult. This is being said with practically no knowledge or research. So take it as you will.