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Vintage SUVs Command High Prices, Celebrity Allure

The Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2020 auction in January resulted in US$141 million in total sales…
By Casey Williams
Every generation has its vintage car addiction. For the World War II generation, it was pre-war classics. Their Baby Boomer children collected 1960s muscle cars. Now their kids, raised in all-capable wagons, are bidding up prices of early SUVs. The recent Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, put a spotlight on some celebrity favourites from the 1960s-1990s.
1960s: Ford Bronco
Perhaps spurred by the Mustang’s success, Ford debuted the first Bronco in 1966 for drivers seeking adventure. Misers took theirs with 105 horsepower six-cylinder engines, but fly boys chose the 200 horsepower V8. Stylists kept it simple with flat glass, simple metal bumpers, and a removable roof for sunny days. This 1977 example of the Bronco’s first generation was owned by American Idol’s Simon Cowell. It cuts a swath painted monochrome black and raised for off-roading. It sold for US$86,900.
1970s: Chevrolet Blazer
To compete with Ford, Chevrolet introduced the Blazer on its full-size truck frame in 1969. It was offered with two straight-six engines and two V8s, the best with 255 horsepower. Part-time four-wheel drive earned it accolades when roads turned to mush. Like the Bronco, it bolted a removable roof over the rear section, but was otherwise aligned with GM’s full-size trucks. Barrett-Jackson sold a resto-mod 1972 Blazer with metallic green paint and cream leather interior, built by Dave Kindig of Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides, for US$120,000.
1980s: Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Designed by the Brooks Stevens firm to compete with station wagons from General Motors and Ford, the Grand Wagoneer bested competitors with a robust four-wheel drive system that could take it almost anywhere while making them darlings of the glitterati at chalets and ski lodges. By the 1980s, the Grand Wagoneer was an anachronism in technology and style, but enticed fans with leather-lined interiors and wood grain bodysides. It even starred in 1988’s Funny Farm alongside Chevy Chase. An exquisite example was auctioned for US$110,000.
1990s: Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer
The Ford Bronco regained its mojo when A.C. Cowlings ushered O.J. Simpson down L.A. freeways in a bright white one while 95 million viewers followed the chase via copter-cam. Perhaps the late Paul Walker, star of The Fast and The Furious, watched because he owned a 1995 Bronco with floor-mounted cellphone. Unlike Walker’s BMWs and Porsches, his four-wheel drive Bronco was powered by a five-litre V8 delivering 205 horsepower. Walker’s mostly stock 1995 Eddie Bauer edition brought US$73,700 at Barrett-Jackson.
Forever: Lamborghini LM002
Dubbed the “Rambo Lambo” in honor of Sylvester Stallone, it was hand-built in Italy from 1986 to 1993. A leather interior, power windows, air conditioning and roof-mounted audio were haute couture. Only 328 lucky buyers enjoyed its 444 horsepower V12 engine that took it 0-100 km/h in 7.8 seconds on the way to a 210 km/h top speed. Reflecting its military origins, it could run with its tires virtually flat, and deflected assaults with a tubular frame and riveted aluminum body. Expect to pay the price of a Cadillac Escalade for one today.

CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews to, the area’s PBS/NPR station.

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