Clockwise from top left: 1950s-era Jeep CJ5, 1980s-era Chevy Blazer, 1960s-era Ford Bronco, 1970s-era International Scout II.
There's a saying among car geeks: When the top goes down, the price goes up. And when it comes to vintage SUVs, truer words were never spoken. Topless versions of these old-school four-wheel-drives are almost sure bets if you want to sell later—prices are up 42% over the past five years—but why would you want to? They're the driving equivalent of a beach house: the ultimate second-home car. "These vehicles tick a lot of boxes," says McKeel Hagerty, publisher of the definitive Hagerty Price Guide. We asked specialists at high-end auction houses what's tops on their topless lists.
The Off-Roading Original
1950s-era Jeep CJ5
"Jeeps are a go-anywhere, fun American product," says Gooding & Co.'s Paul Hageman. The CJ5 had one of the world's longest production runs—from 1954 to 1983—and appeals to both collectors and those just looking for a surf wagon.
Look For: A bare-bones model with a classic four-cylinder engine known as the Hurricane.
Top Notes: The fabric roof and door skins peel back and roll up; windows zip out. Starting at $14,000
The Next Big Thing
1980s-era Chevy Blazer
This powerhouse was never as popular as the Bronco, but it's "very up-and-coming," says Hagerty, with a look that's both menacing (like an eighties DEA pursuit vehicle) and refined (vinyl seats, power windows and locks).
Look For: Metallic-brown, fuel-injected 1987-89 models.
Top Notes: The fiberglass top runs from just behind the half-cab's fixed-steel roof to the back. Starting at $12,500
1960s-era Ford Bronco
"I don't know if Steve McQueen ever drove a Bronco in a movie," says Eric Minoff, of Bonhams. "But you could imagine him in one."
Look For: The 1969 Sport model comes with chrome trim, power steering, and an optional V8.
Top Notes: The compact metal-glass hardtop unbolts. Customize it with a cloth Safari or Bikini top, shading the full length of the truck or just the front seat. Starting at $20,000
1970s-era International Scout II
Its original competitor was the CJ, but the Scout is not as well known, says Hageman—which means it "can be bought at a lower price than a Land Cruiser."
Look For: A 1978–79 Rallye or Selective Edition with outrageous side stripes, a V8, disc brakes, and options like cruise control and A/C.
Top Notes: Full-length metal top, but Safari and Bikini tops are also available. Starting at $15,000
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