Street Spot Faceoff: Long Lived 4x4s

Which of these two cool offroaders is best?

5d ago

Yesterday, I managed to spot two utterly fantastic vehicles parked down at a local brewery representing two very different ways of going about building a 4x4. In the avocado corner, we have a 1973 Ford Bronco in a brilliant shade of, well avocado.

And in the grayish blue corner we have a 1992 Mitsubishi Jeep J54 complete with turbodiesel.

Let's take a closer look at the jeep. Licensed from Willys and built in Japan in RHD configuration, these didn't change much over their 1968-1998 run. They look remarkably similar to a Jeep CJ except for the more squared off front end and different front fender treatment. You'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a regular old Jeep (with a capital 'j') but in reality it's just a 'jeep.'

However, these vehicles have a party trick that their American cousins can't match. A lot of them came with a 2.7 liter turbo diesel engine that produces oodles of torque and about 60 horsepower. However, that power is directed through a four speed transmission while the era of Jeeps these are based off of always had only 3 gears. The owner claimed 70 mph is reachable with patience.

Of course, if you want that amazing powertrain, you're going to have to deal with right hand drive. It's a very basic vehicle but I'd say there's more to play with here than in a Jeep CJ. One of the owner's other two Mitsubishi Jeeps has a PTO winch that takes power off of the transmission, which is cool.

The two jump seats in the rear look entertaining. They were full on approach too. This thing is just so perfect.

But is it more perfect than this '73 Bronco? I didn't talk to the owner but the temp plate announces its year. I have never seen a more spotless example. It looks like it came away from a frame off restoration about 5 minutes ago. Not a bug splatter or door ding in sight. From the sound of it, it was rocking a V8 of some description that might have had some light performance mods. It was also a manual 4x4 based on the amazing houndstooth interior.

And best of all, it has uncut fenders! This is an extreme rarity for Broncos because they interfere with adding larger tires. Nearly all of these had their arches rounded off in the 70s and 80s when they were just cheap capable utility vehicles.

It does, however, sport a more recent trend in modding off roaders in the form of a massive body life so that larger tires could still be added. In that photo you can see the enormous spacers used to elevate the body off the frame to make it taller without actually having more ground clearance. I think this looks remarkably bad for how well the rest of the restomod is done.

Mmmmmm, this delicious shade of green is so right. A very 70s color on a very 60s car, but it is a '73 so I suppose it fits.

It's a really tough call between these two off roaders. The Mitsubishi would be better off road but the Bronco would be better on road. For the purposes of what you'd use it for, would you have more fun in the Japanese 'jeep' or the Bronco?

Note: this was originally posted to Oppo's other home on The Hyphen

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Comments (8)

  • I think you'd be afraid to take the Bronco further off road than a gravel parking lot, so the Mitsujeep gets my vote.

      3 days ago
    • Rightly so. One rock chip in that beautiful paint job and it's over. Might as well off road it now as it will happen eventually.

        3 days ago
  • That paint evens looks thicker. American manufacturers didn't do very good paint jobs in those days.

      3 days ago
  • Paint on a '73 Bronco never looked that good when new.

      3 days ago
    • It looked like it had been first buffed yesterday. I couldn't believe how pristine it was.

        3 days ago
  • A 100k Bronco! I can get you a Mitsujeep in Japan pretty cheap. People used to have those in the mountains where my wife is from but most would rather have a nice new Jimny now. I have seen them on used car lots around there.

      4 days ago
    • These used to be worth about as much as the Mitsubishi but nostalgia really did a number on their pricing. All the decent affordable drivers are getting restomodded into the 100k range.

        4 days ago
    • My dad actually has a bone stock one in Montana, it's white with a red interior, small wheel normal one. I believe it even has period correct beer cans under the seat.

        4 days ago