Fifty grand in the hand – The used 4x4s we’d buy with 1000 pineapples

By Dex Fulton 10 Min Read

When it comes to off-road capable rigs, there really aren’t too many options on the new car market
for $50,000. You could grab a Jimny, but they come with significant size and space compromises.
You could slide into a base model dual-cab, or perhaps one of the cheaper LDV or SsangYongs, but
they’re not without their drawbacks either. Besides, most of us are after something with a bit more
comfort and resale value that isn’t on par with a second-hand tissue, right?


Luckily, fifty grand buys you a hell of a lot on the second-hand market. Vehicles that were well north
of six-figures just a few years ago can be had for bargain prices, so if you’re looking to hop into a
brand new-to-you off-road touring weapon, here’s where we’d start looking.

Buying used Nissan Y62 Patrol

The Y62s at this price point will have a few kays on them now, and you’re probably looking at
models that’ll be nudging the ten-year-old mark, but apart from that it’s all gravy. Capable of fitting
big rubber with minimal mods and having the running gear to handle it; plenty of aftermarket
support to choose from and that beautiful 5.6L V8 engine that can be tuned for surprising economy
and takes forced induction incredibly well, there is a hell of a lot worse than the big Patrol. Who said
you need a diesel to tour?


  • That engine would put a horn on a jellyfish
  • Extremely comfortable as a daily or long-distance mile-muncher
  • Can fit big tyres with minimal mods


  • Fuel consumption (small price to pay for that power, and it has a 140L tank as standard)
  • Fully independent suspension not as flexy as solid axles, but better at almost everything else
  • Although fundamentally reliable, age may be a factor at this price point – check all
    prospective purchases very carefully

Buying used Land Rover Defender

If you’re looking for a bare-bones, ultra-capable, reliable and world-renowned four-wheel drive that
has literally driven to every corner of the globe, then you’re looking for a Defender my friend. At this
price point you’re choosing between the tried and tested (yet older tech) TD5 or the newer, more
powerful (though some may say less reliable) Ford Puma TD. Either way, you’re getting one of only
vehicle on this list that will probably increase in value over your ownership.


Some naysayers will tell you the Solihull brand isn’t to be trusted – they’re noisy, smelly, smoky and
uncomfy (the vehicles, not the naysayers). Pfft, Defenders have more than earned their stripes –
from the infamous Camel Trophy to being the vehicle of choice for hundreds, if not thousands of
inter-continental trips, they’ve been there, done that and got the aftermarket support to warrant
serious consideration.


  • Simple, both to modify and maintain. Also means there’s not much to go wrong
  • Anything you may want to do to it or with it has already been done, and probably has an
    aftermarket bolt-on solution
  • They’re incredibly fuel efficient for their size, especially the Puma engines


  • Simplicity also means they’re agricultural. If you’re looking for lumbar massaging seats and a
    built-in Nespresso machine, this ain’t the droid you’re looking for
  • The Defender driving position is, objectively speaking, garbage. The steering wheel is offset
    from the centreline of the driver, so get used to cruising with an elbow out the window
  • They’re built for off-road use – which means they’re not much fun as a daily, unless you’re a
    masochist, we’re not here to judge

Buying used 200 Series LandCruiser

There’s not a lot to say about the venerable two-hundies that you probably don’t already know.
They’re big, they’re comfy and they have one of the nicest twin-turbo V8 diesels ever put into an
Australian-spec vehicle. To be honest, a chunk of your $50K is going towards the infamous “Toyota
Tax” but it’ll pay itself back with excellent resale and well-established big lap reliability.

Keep a close eye out for strong service histories rather than aftermarket add-ons at this price, as
they’ll pretty much all be out of warranty and higher than 200,000kms. Also, don’t forget that the
200s also came out with a petrol V8 which was an excellently reliable and punchy engine, and they
can be picked up relatively cheaply compared to the diesel models if you don’t mind getting on first
name terms with your local servo attendant.



  • Simply legendary pedigree
  • The twin-turbo diesel is way nicer than the LC7x single turbo engine
  • One of the nicest tow vehicles that’s not an actual truck


  • Interior has always been a generation behind the competition
  • Engine/drivetrain problems = big $$$ potentially
  • Emissions systems niggles (like all vehicles equipped with emissions systems to be fair)

Buying used Ford F250

Oooooh controversial! Yep, throwing a bit of a dark horse in with the over twenty-year-old Effy here,
but before you launch your tablet against the wall in disgust, allow me to explain why the first-gen
Superduty is a valid inclusion on this list.

First, the 7.3 V8 turbo diesel is a legit workhorse, and is famous for clocking up well over half a
million kays with regular servicing. Second, they’re built with that delicious old-school mentality of
“overengineer everything!” so the whole shooting match, from the diffs to the chassis to the seats is
big, brawny and badass. Can I get a yeehaw?

Yeah, they’re pretty long in the tooth these days, but if you’re hunting for a tow pig or a long-haul
cruiser that can carry just about anything and has one of the hugest aftermarket support networks
(thanks to ‘Muricans loving them), then an old F-truck may be your brand of whimsy.


  • They’re built to take a beating and keep on going, kind of like if a VN Commodore turned
    into the Incredible Hulk
  • Tow rating is measured in loaded 40ft containers (because Americans will use anything but
    the metric system)
  • Jeep-levels of aftermarket support, from fun-boy chrome mirrors to coilover suspension
    systems to suit 40in tyres


  • They’re huge. Parking at the local shopping centre will require a degree in advanced physics
  • They’re old. Expect to have to do a bit of maintenance
  • They’re thirsty. Big vehicles use big fuel; thanks for nothing, science

Buying used VW Amarok V6

Look, for this sort of money you can take your pick of any of the popular dual-cabs and get a damn
nice version with reasonable kays and maybe even a sneaky couple of aftermarket inclusions. So
why are we naming the Amarok over, say, a Luxy?

In a word, that V6 turbo diesel (wait, is that three words? Four? I don’t know, let’s move on). None
of the other mid-size utes have engines that’ll come close. You might get a 4J from the D-Max to
make similar power, but stock for stock, the V6 Roks take a bat to everything else.

They’re typically German inside too, with excellent ergonomics, one of the better suspension set-
ups, and notice how you’ve never seen an Amarok with a bent chassis, unlike every other ute on the
market? That’s because they’re actually built like a Panzer with nine crossmembers. In other words:
they strong. Practical too, able to fit a full pallet in between the wheel arches in the tray, tow an
honest amount and return excellent fuel economy while doing it. Bit of a quiet achiever really and
capable of high mileage with frequent oil changes.


  • Best engine in class
  • Typical German build quality
  • It’s not a Lux, Navara or Ranger (yawn)


  • Emissions systems problems can occur (again, not limited to just Amaroks)
  • Halogen headlights are about as bright as that apprentice who glued himself to himself

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