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Demand for old-school 4x4s are driving prices up

By Dean Mellor, 07 Apr 2019 Opinion

Demand old-school 4x4s driving prices up opinion

More than $30,000 for a Suzuki Jimny... who'da thunk it?

THEY SAY fortune favours the brave, but in the case of Suzuki Jimny ownership I reckon fortune favours the patient. The pint-sized 4x4 used to have a pint-sized price tag, but it seems that solid local demand for the little off-roader, and limited supply, have seen people paying big bucks to be one of the first to nab a new Zook.

I can see why Jimny demand is outstripping supply: not only does the new Jimny look bloody fantastic, it has ‘genuine’ off-road credentials that few vehicles can match these days including a ‘proper’ separate chassis, live axles front and rear and decent low-range reduction.

Architecture like this is rare in the 21st century, where even old stalwarts like the Land Rover Defender are expected to go the way of semi-unitary body construction and independent suspension (although I hope I’m proved wrong).

The Jimny represents all that’s good about old-school 4x4s, but with a healthy dose of modernity including a safety package that incorporates lane departure warning, six airbags, high beam assist, electronic stability control, reversing camera and LED headlights. And it’s packed with plenty of comfort and convenience goodies such as climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, privacy glass, and a seven-inch multimedia system with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity.

Yep, the Jimny looks like great value for money with a list price of $23,990 (plus on-road costs), but not so much at $32K. You read that right. I’ve seen a Jimny manual advertised online with a whopping $32K driveaway price-tag … and that’s for an ex-demo with 1012km showing on the odo.

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Of course, there are better deals to be had than that, but still, the cheapest Jimny I could find online was priced at $27,500 driveaway, which is still pretty hefty even when stamp duty, registration/insurance and dealer delivery charges are taken into account.

For those who can wait, Jimny prices will inevitably begin to fall as the initial demand for the vehicle begins to subside. And, as is usually the case with new vehicles, demand will eventually drop to a point where Suzuki will likely discount the Jimny, or add extra ‘no-cost’ features and introduce new model variants to the range to keep the market excited.

While the above downward pricing trend is typical, there have been a few exceptions over the years, with vehicles increasing in price after their initial launch, usually because of a threat to future supply. Some examples are the Ford F250 and the Land Rover Defender.

When Ford relaunched the F250 to Australia in 2001 it was an instant hit, and it became even more of a hit when Ford announced the Effy would be pulled from the Australian line-up just five years later. All of a sudden secondhand F250 prices went through the roof, and they still command good money today.

Back in 2003, for example, a Ford F250 XLT 7.3L TDV8 auto 4x4 dual cab was listed at $77,600 plus on-road costs. Today, there are examples of this model with more than 200,000km on the clock still fetching $70-80K.

When Land Rover announced the end of Defender production in 2016, the list price was $42,800 for a 90 and $47,500 for a 110 Wagon. Today, you’d be lucky to find a stock 2016-model Defender 90 for less than $65K and a 110 Wagon for less than $70K. And, as you’d expect, the limited-edition Heritage and Adventure models now cost significantly more than they did when new.

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As I write this, there’s a bloke in Queensland asking $125K for a Defender 110 Adventure which, when new, was listed at just $68,510 plus on-road costs. Now that’s a good investment.

Not many vehicles increase in value in the short term, but in the long term there are plenty that do. Original two-door Range Rovers are now starting to command good dollars, as are Series I Land Rovers, and even later Series II, IIA and III models. Likewise, prices for Toyota 40 Series Land Cruisers are also starting to skyrocket.

I wonder if the new Jimny will one day fall into the collectible, appreciating-asset category. As one of the last remaining separate chassis, live-axle 4x4s, it’s a possibility.