The Ideal 4x4 Utility Vehicle

Illustration for article titled The Ideal 4x4 Utility Vehicle

Today it’s laughable to think that a vehicle should be built for one purpose and nothing more, but that’s the market we live in. Safety and efficiency are good to shoot for, but many of us pine for a time when we could buy something downright agricultural from a car dealership and take it anywhere with nothing but a flannel coat on the shoulders, a Thermos full of black coffee, a dog on the passenger seat and a shotgun in the back.


A few weeks ago I did a side-view doodle of my “ideal” small 4x4 incorporating these thoughts. Today I happened upon it again and decided to give the mini-project a little more thought. The result is basically a mash-up of the best compact 4x4 utility vehicles I could think of, with a little extra simplicity/usability thrown in.

These are just tarted up pencil sketches, but I think they are worth sharing. I mostly drew on the Moskvitch 2150 and Hopestar ON-360/Suzuki Jimny, with additional influence from the M422, Land Rover Series, IH Scout 80, Jeep CJ-2A, and others. Full inspiration list below.


The clamshell hood gives good engine bay access while slanting downward for superior forward visibility. It eliminates side fenders for simplicity and is held down by Jeep-style hood latches. The front fascia is a single stamping with two UAZ-469 style grille slats and 7" sealed beam lamps. Toyota Hilux style pod turn signals can be seen from the front and side at once, while rubber bumpers allow the windshield to fold down as in our favorite vintage off-roaders.

Two Land Rover style cowl vents and classic side vent windows keep the occupants cool with full doors. The fiberglass top shingles heavily over an indented rear section to reduce sealing problems in rainy conditions.


For warmer weather, half doors can be installed. The rear view clearly shows the indented section, which also has high-visibility pod-style turn signals and tie-down hooks. Scout 80 style tailgate latches are used for simplicity. Of course I used the classic circular tail lights we expect.

Jimny-style ribs stiffen the panels and external hinges make everything serviceable. Primitive 40's style mirrors are all you really need, but as with a Jeep CJ2A, there is no interior mirror. If you want luxury, buy a Lada Niva!


Under the hood I’d have a 1.5-2.0 liter inline four *multi-fuel* engine with a 4-speed transmission. Two-speed transfer case and reasonably small locking axles just heavy duty enough to sustain abuse. Geared for a top speed of about 60mph if you push it. There are only a few gauges- A large tach and small fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature and voltage dials.

Finish that all off with a classic off-white and pastel paint job, black wheels with painted dog dish hub caps and minimal cast metal badging, and I dare say you’ve got yourself a top notch, bare bones utility vehicle that is too rough for the posers who only want to drive around Beverly Hills.


Vehicles referenced, vaguely grouped by country of origin:
Moskvitch 2150
UAZ 469
Lada Niva
GAZ 69
IH Scout 80
Ford Bronco Mk1
Jeep CJ2A
Hopestar ON-360
Suzuki Jimny LJ/SJ
Toyota FJ40
Nissan Patrol 60
DKW Munga
Land Rover Series
Auverland A3

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