For those not already familiar with the name The Car Wizard, I’ll throw out a quick intro. My name is David Long, and I own an auto repair shop in Newton, Kansas, focusing on European and exotic cars. I also can be found rambling weekly on the YouTube channel Car Wizard, where I review cars, show tech tips and deliver my opinions on car purchasing. I got the name Car Wizard from my good friend Tyler Hoover, whom most of you will know as a fellow Oversteer writer and the YouTube star of Hoovie’s Garage. He has a knack for giving people off-the-cuff names, and like most nicknames, they always seem to magically stick.
Now, enough about me. Let’s move to today’s topic: What’s the best cheap 4×4 buy right now? Through my years of working on all makes and models of cars, my answer is simple: a 1994-to-1998 Land Rover Discovery I. I know you’re already yelling at the screen, thinking my first post is nuts, but hear me out. As you read further, you, too, might start seeing the hidden value of these machines.
It’s widely known by most car enthusiasts that aging Land Rovers can be expensive to maintain and are labor-intensive, and many older models are prone to head gasket failures. I’d have to agree with you when it comes to most of them, but for many years, Land Rover used an engine that wasn’t even English. It’s fully American at its roots and is based on the Buick 215 all-aluminum push-rod V8. Designed by Buick in 1961 and discontinued in 1963, the design was sold to British automaker Rover. After this venerable engine was installed in several Rover models, it eventually found its way into Land Rovers, including the mighty Discovery I. Unfortunately, even when Buick was producing them, these engines were known to blow head gaskets. However, if you’re a DIY guy and can get past this stumbling block with a few weekends in the garage, you’ll have yourself one dandy gem of a 4×4.
My favorite example currently for sale on Autotrader in my area is this 2000 model for only $2,500 — but I regularly come across overheating Discovery vehicles for $1,000 or less. “Runs and drives, but overheats,” the ad will say. This is where you make your move. Fix the head gaskets, and boom — you’ll have a fantastic off-roader. Not only do these Land Rovers have very good entry and departure angles, but they also have extremely flexible axle articulation, good low-down V8 torque and wonderful ride quality — and it does all this bone stock! No need for $15,000 worth of mods here. Best of all, it has unmatched name recognition. You, too, can own a Land Rover like a Kardashian, except it’s also one of the most prolific models in the brand’s history. Discovery I models remain very popular in places like Africa and Australia — they’re still trusted in some of the most demanding climates on earth.
If I had to traverse some badlands in South Africa or just wanted something interesting to drive and occasionally take off-road, you would not find me in a Jeep, a K5 Blazer or a Bronco. In my opinion, no other vehicle of this era was built to take the same off-road punishment as the Discovery. Given such a low cost of entry compared to other appreciating vintage 4x4s, if you can do basic repairs yourself, as the British say, “Give it a go!” Find a Land Rover Discovery for sale
The Car Wizard is a mechanical, maniacal shop owner and YouTuber who started his life wrenching on Army tanks and couldn’t find the will to stop there.