May 17, 2024

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

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Here Come the Low-Mile SUVs

This past weekend, Bring a Trailer sold a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 for a stout $135k. The truck had just 13k miles from new and no visible wear anywhere — a far cry from the 250k-mile examples that are generally on the market on any given day.

BaT has only sold one other 80 at auction for a price anywhere near this level — and that was a 1,000-mile 1994 example, sold in 2021, which made just $1k more than this price.

1k miles, $136k in 2021. Image: Bring a Trailer

Now, you can say that one sale doesn’t mean anything for the market, and I’d tend to agree with that. But in this case, I think we need to look out at the larger picture. 

Later-model SUVs in wrapper-fresh condition have not been as thick on the ground as, say, Pony Cars or sports cars — or even pickup trucks — over the past several years. I think a big part of that has been scarcity. There just aren’t that many unused 1990s SUVs out there. But just as vital is an owners’ drive to sell, which up until now wasn’t enticed by big dollar signs. In this superheated market, that’s starting to change.

Sold price: $135,000 in July 2022. Image: Bring a Trailer

Looking back, when the classic SUV market started its climb just after 2008, FJs were on the cutting edge of value growth. Vintage FJ40s took off in value before first-gen Broncos and Blazers did — and their popularity created enough buzz to kick off several viable FJ40 restoration shop business models. Other builders of other vintage SUV models have followed suit. Now you can buy a brand-new Bronco or FJ40, if you’re willing to spend a good chunk of change and are willing to wait for the shop to complete it. 

Image: Bring a Trailer

Now, later FZJ80s have always been more expensive than their SUV counterparts from the same era, and owners tend to be true believers in the strength of the model. That, along with sales like this one, are a perfect catalyst for some greater market movements. 

Predicting the market is never a safe bet. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more sales like this in the near future, as well as a growing market for later FZJ restorations, and similar uptake on other later SUV models. 

What do you think that 1k-mile example sold last year would be worth today?