I had a 1992 3VZE Engine'd VZN130 for 6 and a bit years; it went in September. I went in eyes open to it, and knew there were some problems that can be encountered with the things (mainly fuel and head gaskets/heads)
How many engines or heads has it had?
By 360,000km (we had put about 110,000km on it) my old one had had:
- 2x engine replacements
- 1x set of cylinder heads
- (In fact I have a dead engine and set of heads spare here)
I reckon it cost me $500/year over the 6 years I owned it, but I do all my own maintenance - my stuff only goes into a workshop for RWC and wheel alignments, and occasionally something I don't want to do (bleeding brakes or the clutch is one I try to pass off onto someone else...).
Otherwise, they're not bad... Not great, but not bad...
- Has it got flared arches? If so, check behind them for rust.
- Back doors rust badly and are hard to get replacements that are rust free. They rust top and bottom, and suffer when the drain holes are blocked
- Make sure the tailgate window goes up and down properly, if not the wiper might not be parking properly or the switch in the tailgate latch.
- Does the 4WD shift? Does it have manual hubs (2H, 4H, N L4 on the transfer case) or ADD hubs (H, N and L with a switch on the side)?
Troubleshooting and maintenance fixes;
- If the fuel economy is ratshit, then a $110 O2 sensor normally sorts that; they typically last about 2 yrs I've found...
- Timing is best set using the sticker under the bonnet (10* BTDC with the diagnostic terminals jumped) Dizzy caps and rotors do wear as well, so treat those as consumable parts.
- They benefit from exhaust and headers (2.5" is a good size), ours had them after I first did the heads and I reckon that was worth a gear on the ranges here
- They only tow 1500kg brakes and 400kg unbraked
- The seating position isn't great if your over 6'
- Space is a bit tight loaded with gear for camping (fridge etc - the battery needs to be in the boot because there's no space under the bonnet for a 2nd battery)
- Roof racks are a nightmare because you need to put in tracks.
- Timing belt (but non-interference head) is a bit of a mongrel to do
- 1992 might be R12 aircon, so will need converting to R134a or run HyChill or similar.
I sold ours with 4 months NSW Rego for $3200 - it wasn't perfect but had a pretty good history and ran nicely with decent tyres (20,000km old on them). We paid that for it in 2013...
I replaced it with a 1994 FZJ80 Land Cruiser that I paid $3100 for; uses a bit more fuel (16L/100km vs 13L/100km) but has a ton more power - it shaved 1hr off of a 450km journey that we do regularly because it carries speed that bit better up hills.
Realistically, with your budget I'd be looking at:
- Mitsubishi Pajero
- Toyota VZJ95 Prado
- Toyota FZJ80 Land Cruiser (if you can afford the fuel...)
- Land Rover Discovery D1 with 200tdi or 300tdi
Hope that all helps,