47 Years of 4X4’s
Let's Go Back
It’s been 47 years since my obsession with 4x4s began, and 38 years since I made it a life-long career. This is my journey through every 4×4 I’ve ever owned. At this time, the odometer reads 16 4x4s. I’ve driven about 1,3 million kilometres across 20 countries on five continents. July 2021. This is a celebration of my 47-year collaboration with 4x4s.
Chobe River, Botswana, April 1975.
My first day driving off-road. March 1982
The very first time I used a winch. DOn't laugh!
Range Rover. Obsession or mental Illness?
… and purchased a brand new Land Rover One-Ten V8
1993 was the year my first book was published. It went on to be sold in South Africa uninterrupted for 24 years. This was the fist cover.
As a result of the book, I was from then on asked to drive and review a lot of 4WDs. I was even given some long term sponsorships.
The one and only time I drowned an engine.
Range Rover was called the Classic to distinguish itself from the new P38 which was launched in 1996. For a while both were built, and this one was one of the last. It had the ‘soft’ dash later to be built into the Discovery, and air suspension designed for the P38. It was a 1996 model. I didn’t keep it for long and only did one big trip in it. The air suspension was so expensive to fix, it made me not trust it because how could I fix if if it went wrong in the bush?
The Last of the Range Rover Classics
The search for my next 4WD that would fulfil my desires was long but fruitful. In 2000 I was offered an ex-demo 290GD by Mercedes South Africa. Offered to me at around two-thirds its real value, I learned to adore the G.
I sold it after 127 000 kms, several major expeditions, and three years after I was made a can’t-leave-it offer. But I was then left high and dry. What to do next?
The start of a second love affair with a 4WD. The Mercedes G 461.
My long term relationship with the Land Cruiser began with one that was not a success. My first intro into the ute/pickup was well as mmy first intro into major vehicle modifications was a Land Cruiser VJ79 single-cab converted into a double-cab. (double-can Land Cruisers were not yet available at this time). With its 4.2 normally aspirated diesel, it was grossly underpowered for its weight. I kept it for about 20 months but it appeared in two TV series.
My first foray into pickup/utes.
The Land Cruiser 105 was to become another absolute favourite.
The best off-roader I ever owned. I doubt if it will ever be beat.
The VJ76 was a nice car, but didn't give me what I was hoping it would..
At last I had found a Land Cruiser that I loved driving.
It's such a pity about the LR4's inability to run smaller rims and higher profile tyres.
In Australia the huge and diverse 4WD accessory market greeted me with so many exciting products I had never had access to before. And also the full range of Land Cruiser 70-series with the 4.5 V8 turbo-diesel engine. So I bought a Troopcarrier and built it with all I had learned from my previous Troopy. It turned out to be the best overland tourer I’d ever built, and ever driven.
Thinking I could make a version of the Troopy Overlander even better, I tried with a Landcruiser VDJ79 chassis-cab 4-door, with a stretched chassis and camper on the back. It was better than the Troopy in some ways, but in many, worse. The chassis was excellent, but the camper was a disappointment. And so it never filled me with a longing to get in it and get out, which is the hallmark of any great overlander.
So I decided not to keep it.
I have a new V8 Troopy on order. Delivery took place July 2021. This is my third Troopy, and the story continues . . .