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Ten Modern Classics You Can Drive Anywhere, All Year

Where is it written that you have to put your classic vehicle away just because the leaves have fallen and there’s snow in the forecast? Bucking the trend of garage-bound classics is a new wave of vintage vehicles that offer year-round enjoyment. Whether it’s conquering rugged terrains or cruising through city streets under a blanket of snow, this group proves that classic cars can be more than just nostalgic relics. They can also be trusted companions on a year-round journey of excitement.

Here we’ve curated ten modern classics that balance performance, style, and functionality, making them ideal for year-round enjoyment. Not surprisingly, they all have one thing in common: all-wheel or four-wheel drive. They’re all icons of their brands with dedicated followings – bona fide collectibles in their own right. Seamlessly blending form and function, they prove the joy of motoring extends beyond the predictable boundaries of spring and summer.

Ford Bronco (1966-77)

Conceived as a competitor to the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout, the first-generation Ford Bronco is often considered the first true “Sports Utility” vehicle. Like those vehicles, it was designed for rugged duty but was civilized enough (barely) for on-road use. With a choice of open and closed body configurations, it proved popular with young drivers for recreational use.

Ford made more than 207,000 of them during the model’s 12-year run. Thanks to their popularity, you can virtually build one from scratch today with new parts. With the rebirth of the Bronco line in 202, interest in the compact original off-roader has reignited.

First-generation Ford Bronco hardtop
First-generation Ford Bronco Hardtop (photo credit: Ford)

Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer (1963-1991)

When Jeep introduced the Wagoneer in the fall of 1962, America was still in love with station wagons. This all-new rear-wheel-drive design was simply a replacement for the Willys Jeep Station Wagon that had been built since 1946. It featured a contemporary (and larger) four-door body on a frame shared with the Gladiator pickup truck. Eventually four-wheel drive was added and the legend was born.

The basic body design of the “SJ” Wagoneer endured for 29 years of production, evolving slowly with changing tastes. Perhaps the most memorable version is the later-model versions with rectangular headlights and faux wood paneling. These also saw more luxurious appointments on the inside, in line with the greater acceptance of SUVs as luxury vehicles.

1970s Jeep Wagoneer
Early Jeep Wagoneer (photo credit: Jeep/Stellantis)

Chevy K5 Blazer (1969-1972)

The first-gen Blazer is simply cool just to look at. Based on Chevy’s full-size K-10 pickup truck, the Blazer jumped onto the popularity of the fun-focused SUV craze led by the Bronco and the Scout.

The quintessential beach wagon/camping vehicle, it could be equipped with either a removable hardtop or a soft convertible top. For years the Blazer exemplified the “surf-to-slopes” lifestyle. And it still does, especially the earliest versions.

1971 Chevy K5 Blazer
K5 Blazer (photo credit: Chevrolet/General Motors)

International Scout II (1971-1980)

The first Scouts to come out of the International Harvester Corporation in the late ‘50s were intended to be more civilized versions of the WWII-era Jeeps that saw civilian duty in forest service, farming, and other essential services. By the late ‘60s, the market demanded even more refinement and the Scout II was born.

Like its now-established competitors, the Scout II was available in numerous body configurations, including soft top, full-metal Traveltop, or half-cab Roadsters. The most iconic may be the Super Scout II, or SSII with its soft removable doors and roll bar. The Scout brand is in the midst of a rebirth as a fully electric vehicle manufacturer. But you can still snag and enjoy the last of the classic Scouts, no matter the weather.

International Harvester Scout II in US Ski Team colors
International Harvester Scout II in US Ski Team colors (photo credit: Navistar archives)


Land Rover Range Rover Classic (1987-1995)

First launched in 1970 as Land Rover’s answer to the Bronco, Scout, and Wagoneer, it would take until 1987 before the company’s first welded-body station wagon came to the States. When it did, it had transformed from its “farm car” origins into a full-on luxury SUV. The interior featured rich Connolly leather and genuine walnut wood trim. Its all-coil suspension also rode like a dream.

In 1993, the standard 100-inch wheel base was stretched to include a 108-inch option. All of that additional length went to the rear passenger compartment, giving it limousine-like accommodations. With permanent four-wheel drive and a torquey V8, the later Range Rover Classics were positively effortless no matter the conditions.

Ranger Rover Classic driving through water
A late-’80s Range Rover fording a river in a print ad (photo credit: Land Rover North America)

Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen (1979-1998)

Before they were the default ride for Santa Monica yoga instructors and Cigarette boat enthusiasts, the Gelandewagen – or G-wagen for short – was simply Mercedes-Benz’s all-terrain military solution. They were not officially imported to the US until 2002, arriving as the V8-powered five-door G 500.

The rest of the world was more familiar with four- and five-cylinder diesel-powered two-door soft-top models. Often mated to manual transmissions, these were more in line with working-class Jeeps and Land Rovers than today’s Holloywood glam-wagons. And that’s exactly what we’d have and drive all year round.

Green Meercedes G-wagen flying through sand
The Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen isn’t too precious to be driven all year (photo credit: Mercedes-Benz)

Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Camper (1986-1991)

VW campers are the ultimate go-anywhere, do anything vehicle. The third-generation (T3) bus, known to Americans as the Vanagon, was a masterclass in efficient packaging. Adding the traditional Westphalia pop-top camper and fully outfitted kitchen makes it a condominium on wheels. But the addition of all-wheel drive (aka, “Syncro”) in 1986 meant you could now drive that rolling condo to even more remote destinations. As long as you’re not in a hurry.

Powered by an anemic (90 hp) 2.1-liter flat four-cylinder, the only transmission was a five-speed (4 + low-range creeper gear) manual. Many enthusiasts today solve the power problem by installing a modern Subaru boxer engine capable of more than double the output. With that kind of power on tap, you can actually get to the top of the mountain before the snow melts.

Vanagon camper ready for whatever
This Vanagon Synchro Camper can be rented any time of year (photo credit: Outdoorsy.com)

Audi Quattro (1983-1986)

Audi wasn’t the first car manufacturer to put all-wheel drive in its road-going sedans. But when it did in 1980, it changed driving forever, in part because of its instantaneous domination of world rally. It would be another couple years before “quattro” came stateside in the form of the 1983 Audi Quattro. Based on the front-drive fastback coupe, the (capital Q) Quattro used a turbocharged 2.2-liter inline 5-cylinder engine making 156 hp. Despite the modest power by today’s standards, it was Audi’s most expensive model at more than $35,000.

Between 1983 and 1991, just 11,452 examples of the original Quattro were built. Of those, only 664 were sold in the US between ’83 and ’86, making them extremely rare. But, like this one sold on BringATrailer.com, not so precious that they can’t be enjoyed in the snow.

1985 Audi Quattro
Audi Quattro coupe in Colorado setting (photo credit: bringatrailer.com

BMW 325iX (1988-1991)

In response to Audi’s success selling all-wheel-drive quattro models, BMW adapted its popular rear-drive 3-series. The 325iX coupe and sedan debuted in 1988 for American buyers and sold through the series end in 1991. Fewer than 3,000 were sold here, however, making thjem extremely rare today.

Combining the handsome looks of the iconic E30 3-series with all-weather capability makes for an impressive car. A lot of the survivors today seem to be concentrated in Rocky Mountains states and have deep six-figure mileage, meaning they still get a lot of use.

Red BMW E30 325iX coupe
A rare 325iX coupe with fewer than 100,000 miles (photo credit: carsandbids.com)

Subaru Brat (1978-1994)

Subaru was still a quirky newcomer to the American market in the 1970s. When it introduced its light-duty, four-wheel drive BRAT pickup in 1978, it cemented its reputation as an unconventional carmaker. The strange name stood for “Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter” and was a variation on the company’s four-wheel drive station wagon model.

Following the lead of coupe-like utilities like Chevy’s El Camino and Ford’s Ranchero, the BRAT was undeniably a lifestyle vehicle. If there’s any doubt, we’ll refer you to the rear-facing jump seats in the bed. We like the approachable face of the first-gen models with their round headlights. But honestly, any BRAT today would be a ton of fun to drive.

First-generation Subaru Brat
This 2500-mile first-gen BRAT is a rare survivor (photo credit: bringatrailer.com

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