Interest in classic SUVs has reached such a fever pitch even the car companies want a piece of the action. Many are bringing back modern versions of their beloved old school off-roaders, just as Toyota did with its legendary FJ back in 2006. The 2020 Land Rover Defender and 2021 Ford Bronco are leading the charge, but the list of returning icons also includes the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and, hopefully, an all-new version of the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Older versions of the Toyota Land Cruiser are at the heart of the classic SUV market, which is booming as Millennials and Gen Xers begin to participate in the old car hobby. According to Hagerty, the popular insurer of classic cars and trucks, these younger enthusiasts are fast changing the demographics of the hobby, once the exclusive territory of Baby Boomers and their parents.

But which used Land Cruiser makes the most sense for you? Toyota has been building the Land Cruiser since the 1950s, and it has changed quite a bit over the decades. There are many different generations of the SUV, from the original FJ40, which was first imported into the United States in the mid-1960s, to the latest version of the 200 Series, a model that’s still available at your local Toyota dealer.

With so many different versions to choose from, there’s quite a bit to consider before you purchase a secondhand Land Cruiser. Although every Land Cruiser features four-wheel drive with a low range transfer case, and they all have a well earned reputation for being among the toughest and most off-road capable SUVs ever made, each generation of Land Cruiser is very different than the other. Each has its own appeal and its own trouble spots buyers should be aware of.
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Every car buying expert will tell you the same thing. Don’t buy a used car without reading its vehicle history report thoroughly and carefully.

It’s good advice. Unless the used car in question has always belonged to your uncle Harry, a vehicle history report is the only way for you to learn about the life it has led. A vehicle history report lists the car’s prior maintenance, repairs, accidents, owners, and locations. It’s part report card, part biography, and part memoir. It can tell you if that SUV is a lemon, if that pickup truck has had an airbag deployment, or if that little red convertible has really lived a pampered life by the beach.

There are two major brands of vehicle history reports out there, Autocheck and CARFAX. However, CARFAX is the most well known and by far the most popular. CARFAX reports are also the most comprehensive, and it’s the brand used by the vast majority of America’s used car dealers, both big and small, as well as most private used car sellers. CARFAX vehicle history reports are used so universally that the name has become synonymous with any vehicle history report, like Kleenex is for a facial tissue or Xerox for copiers.

But what should you look for when reading a vehicle history report? And how do you to scrutinize the info to ensure the seller is being honest? We’ll answer those questions and more, but first let’s cover the basics.

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Sports cars are an indulgence. Comfort, space and even reliability are all sacrificed on the altar of Handling and Speed. And if that altar is busy, then all that can be offered up to the God of Beauty and Allure instead. In most ways, sports cars are just like other cars. But it’s the ways in which they’re no like other cars that matter most.

Sure, there are a few of us who hit it big when they’re young and can afford to buy a brand-new Ferrari. After all, when your initial NHL contract includes an $4 million signing bonus, the $350,050 price of 488 Pista seems almost inconsequential. And all the guys who graduated from high school with you last year, will be envious when you drive it through downtown Saskatoon.

But a first sports car for most of us will be a used sports car. And two sports cars stand out as the greatest used sports cars of all time. One of those is better than the other, but the other one is radically more affordable.

So it’s a tie.

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Trucks aren’t about beauty. But there are beautiful trucks. Trucks aren’t about comfort. But a comfortable truck is a better truck. Trucks are about work. And a truck that can’t work isn’t much of a truck.

Evaluating the greatest used pickup of all time requires a clear-eyed evaluation of how well a truck can be used to get things done. All the other things that matter a little, only matter a little. Working matters a lot.

Finding the greatest half-ton pickup means ignoring big one-ton duallies, and even heavy duty ¾-tonners. The half-ton pickups are trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. Full-size trucks that are also used as everyday drivers and family haulers. They are the heart of the North American market.

The greatest used half-ton pickup truck of all time is beautiful, is comfortable, but most importantly, it works great. First, though, let’s understand why pickups rule North America.

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Things have gone well. The IPO sold out 20 minutes after the market opened, smart accountants have sheltered your accumulated wealth in several creative ways, your health is good, the house is paid for and the pool cleaning guy comes every single day because, dang it, you like a clean pool. Now’s the time to dip a bucket into your river of revenue and buy your first million-dollar car. Or two-million or three-million or, hey why not, go deep into eight figures for that perfectly extravagant used car.

Back in March 2019 Bugatti sold what it says is the most expensive new car of all time – the single “La Voiture Noire” went to a “Bugatti enthusiast” for $12.5 million. But that’s an anomaly. The world’s most expensive cars aren’t new, they’re used. Often well-used too, doing things like winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, earning world championships and hauling movie stars from Malibu to MGM and back in the 1930s. Noble work.

But classics, no matter for how much they trade hands, are still also used cars. Big prices don’t patch leaking gaskets, rust doesn’t know it’s dining on Ferrari steel, and you can’t store a car in a safe deposit box. And if you’re not happy before you drop seven figures on a car, that car isn’t likely to make you happy just because you own it. Living life with money doesn’t guarantee anything beyond being able to afford what you like.

That in mind, a million-dollar car has its own challenges. There’s a reason a car sells for a million dollars, and it’s not because it’s a Camry. A hyper-expensive car will certainly be rare, definitely high-profile, likely powerful, probably temperamental and usually pricey to maintain. There’s nothing normal about a classic. Except the normal things.

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The now iconic 5.0-liter V8 equipped “Fox body” Mustang, whether in plain Jane LX or gussied-up GT form, has seen its stock rise quite a bit in recent years. We like these frisky, squared-off “Box body” ponies as much as the next car buff. But these days it’s getting increasing tough to find one that hasn’t been ridden hard and put away wet, modified in questionable taste, or priced too optimistically.

On the other hand, the Fox’s successor, the ’94 to ’98 Mustang — known to pony car fans by its “SN95” internal factory moniker — is, in GT form, something of a dark horse that is currently an outstanding value.

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It’s no secret that we’re fans of the Mk6 generation Volkswagen Golf. In our model-specific buying guide, we say that anyone “looking for one car that’ll do it all” for under $15,000 should look no further than VW’s popular hatchback, which manages to balance performance, economy, refinement, and even reliability with surprising grace.

At the time, we stopped short of recommending any of the turbodiesel, or TDI, variants. That’s not because they aren’t good cars. On the contrary, VW’s punchy turbodiesel engine pairs quite nicely with the Mk6 chassis, making for an efficient and fun-to-drive all-rounder. However, in the wake of VW’s emissions scandal, aka “Dieselgate,” there was too much uncertainty about how the the TDI models would be affected to give them a solid thumbs up.

But in recent months, the Dieselgate dust has begun to settle, bringing some important new factors to light — factors which have caused us to revise our stance. Dramatically.

In fact, we now believe that VW’s TDI models represent one of the best used car buying opportunities to come along in years.

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We’re no doubt preaching to the choir here, but there are lots of great reasons for buying an older used car.

If you’re nostalgic for the style of a past era, these vehicles will satisfy your thirst for vintage design. For example, there’s no denying the elegance of a classic Jaguar.

In some cases, older used cars offer performance benefits that are hard to duplicate in newer models. Case in point: With its high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 and sonorous engine note, the E39 generation BMW M5 delivers a driving experience that’s one of a kind.

Finally, buying an older used car may allow you to take a big step up when it comes to your choice of vehicle. Thanks to depreciation, older used cars are just a fraction of the cost of their new counterparts. Hardly anyone can afford a brand new Mercedes-Benz SL roadster, but one that’s 10 or 15 years old can be had for used Camry money.

While we do advise paying cash for a used car rather than financing it, we recognize that not everyone is in a position to do that. So if you are going to make your purchase with the help of an auto loan, it’s important to know that there are significant differences between financing a new vehicle and an older used car.

Because financing an older used car comes with a unique set of challenges, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process from start to finish.

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Imagine a spirited drive along your favorite road in a top-down roadster. The scenery rushes past, and there’s nothing but sky above you. With nicely weighted steering and near 50:50 weight balance, the chassis becomes an extension of your fingertips, while your feet coax beautiful arias from the smooth-spinning inline six under the hood.

It’s no pipe dream. Thanks to the magic of depreciation, this fantasy, in the shape of the E85 generation BMW Z4, can be yours for less than $10,000.

And considering that buys you a premium German roadster with some of the best powertrain options ever offered in a BMW, we think it represents an outstanding buying opportunity in today’s market.

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It would have been rare a few years ago for hybrids to show up on most used-car shopping lists. There weren’t that many in the market, and there wasn’t much choice.

Toyota’s hybrids dominated, with gas-electric models from Honda and Ford in distant second and third place.

But stuff happens. Things change.

Today there’s a wide selection of used hybrids available, from almost every manufacturer. Because of their often-stellar fuel efficiency, plus the high-end trim and standard equipment levels among many of the more recent models, they are cars – and crossovers, SUVs, and trucks – that most every used-car shopper should consider.

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