Thursday, January 6

Vehicle Options

Toyota Hilux 2.2 Solid Front Axle pre-1998 - My gut feel tells me this is the vehicle to take when all the costs are considered (including Carnet), the availability of already kitted out examples, the reputation for reliability (Top Gear) and the simplicity. They are good off-road and parts are cheap and easy to find (often with all the kit). These were made in South Africa and production continued for 10 years longer than the rest of the world for the local market. They are slow (ok cos we are on holiday), uncomfortable (OME suspension and bigger tyres should help) and use a lot of fuel (15l / 100km in normal driving, but 12l / 100km should be achievable on this trip). The last issue to investigate is quality of petrol in Africa - diesel is better for poor quality fuel and consumption, but the diesel version of these Hiluxes is very underpowered and not as reliable. Diff-lock and air-con is required.

We met up with a guy Nick who did the east coast in a Hilux 2.2l petrol of about the same age as we are looking at, and he said it was more than tough enough and a really good vehicle - their excellent blog is here - http://africa.nickandjoanne.com/

Toyota Hilux KZTE or 2.7i Independent Front Axle post-1998 - These are a lot more comfortable and better on tar than the older model with an independent front axle and considering the distances, this is important. The IFS does also makes them slightly less tough and not quite as good off-road (enough for what we need though). 2.7i has slightly better fuel consumption than the old 2.2. KZTE even better, but is this engine too complicated? They are more expensive than the 2.2, but enough around.

Which hilux - http://www.hilux4x4.co.za/which-hilux-to-choose/index.php
Solid front axle vs independent front axle - SFA vs IFA

Toyota Landcruiser
This would be my ideal vehicle for the trip, but probably too expensive. They are the ultimate for driving on and off road and toughness. These don't give many issues, but issues would be more difficult and expensive to fix than the Hilux 2.2.

80 Series 4.2 TD - These are the most commonly used Land Cruiser for over landing. They are very car-like to drive. There are a lot of electronic components that would be difficult to fix. Petrol versions are extremely heavy on fuel. Most of the ones for sale are out of our price range and come with no kit.

75 Series 4.2 D - These are the ultimate in simple, but old ones are extremely rare and new ones are extremely expensive. We have seen many of these ones very cleverly organised inside with bench seats and a bed inside.

60 Series 3.9 D - These are worth considering - affordable and very simple - the trick would be to find a diesel version in good condition cos they are old now. The version with the square lights is more common.

Landrover Defender 110 TDI
We both really like land rovers, having borrowed the Defender, Discovery and Freelander for other trips, however our choice is one of the Toyotas for this trip - many blogs mention things going wrong and how much time they spent fixing the vehicles. Probably the best option for off-road ability, but the others will be enough. Looks good in photos.

There are plenty of other good 4x4s, but Toyota and Landrovers are the only ones with availability of spares everywhere in Africa. Older vehicles are cheaper which is a major consideration considering the deposit required for the carnet. They are also simpler and therefore easier to fix.

Motorbike - that would also make a great trip, but it is a different type of trip. A bike can only supplies for a few days before needing to head back to civilisation - they can't go in game parks and can't accommodate guests.

Riaan Manser did a similar route on a bicycle - we will save that for our second lap. Guillaume and Enora are walking - maybe we will bump into them. How about a Rolls Royce or a Scooter?

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