There used to be lots of options for people who wanted an SUV with a removable top. The Ford Bronco, International Harvester Scout, Chevy Blazer, Dodge Ramcharger, and the Suzuki Samurai and Sidekick all had removable tops at one point.
The options are much more limited these days thanks to noise targets and safety requirements. And while it would be nice to remove the top of my 4Runner, I’m not sure I’m ready to trade in the modern comfort and reliability for a 35-year-old, first-generation 4R. The top on mine is removable, you just need a special tool called a Sawzall, and it can only be done once. Not so for the first-gen which had a top that could be removed and installed easily, as long as you had a couple of mustachioed friends.
This classic MotorWeek review makes a pretty good argument for the ‘85 Toyota, noting that “Luxury abounds everywhere,” with the velour seats and thick carpet. I don’t have velour seats. It also comes with an altimeter and an inclinometer.
In this video, the 4Runner is referred to as a “smaller multi-purpose vehicle,” which is a pretty good description as the 4Runners have always been well-rounded. The first generation can have a little more purpose as it can become a truck when needed. Why was all this velour and utility not in later generations?
The new Ford Bronco is reportedly getting a removable top, which is pretty exciting for those of us who don’t understand how a new Wrangler can so easily creep past $40,000. I think the Bronco will pull more buyers away from the 4Runner than the Wrangler, especially considering that the current 4R generation is a decade old.
I hope Toyota is cooking up a 6th generation to compete. I also hope it has a removable top, an altimeter, and velour seats, but I’m not holding my breath.