Willys

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Willy’s MB – popularly known as the Jeep. The first four wheel drive vehicle that many people came into contact with through service in the forces in the Second World War, it provided the springboard for the whole 4×4 industry – particularly once the Land Rover came along in 1948. There are an awful lot of Land Rovers – nearly five million in their various flavours.

One of them is sitting on our front drive – a 2003 Freelander. Want to buy it? It seems the market for older second-hand 4x4s has died. Our car has a book price of £3200, but the best trade-in we’ve been offered is £1400 because “nobody wants ’em”. With most 4×4 manufacturers now offering much more economical models (the latest Freelander diesel has similar mpg figures to a Ford Focus, compared with our model’s 29mpg on a good day, downhill with a following wind) and petrol at £1.35 or more per litre, people are shunning older models in favour of cheaper options.

As always, those who can not afford a new car are left to run more expensive models. Using the tax system to penalise drivers of gas-guzzling cars may seem well-and-good and is well intentioned, but it tends to penalise the poor twice over – first on the extra cost of running the car (be it an aging 4×4 or an aging saloon) and on the higher tax disc costs. In rural areas, a 4×4 is a pragmatic choice – when roads around here were effectively closed to non 4x4s by snow for more than a week earlier this year, if you wanted to get to work, school, the shops or – in our case – infirm parents who might need help at a moment’s notice, an older gas-guzzling 4×4 is vital. Our road is full of them (at least eight in a road of just 31 households).

So, what do you do? Wait for the new car fairy to wave a magic, fuel-efficient wand?

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