We've had a few between us, and this section is to serve as our reviews of them.
Reviews are on-going, and opinions might change as events unfold.
Toyota HIlux Double Cab 2.7I SRX 2000(jANNIEL)
I bought it secondhand with 183000km and sold it with 252000km on the clock.
The bodywork was bashed-up a bit, but the mechanicals were in quite good condition.
It had a dent on the right-hand side of the bin which I bent out with the high-lift jack, and reshaped to the best of my ability from the inside.
I had re-occurring problems with the rear propshaft, but this was mainly because I stupidly used inferior workshops.
The rear differential was also re-worked, but in retrospect, I would have left it alone. It wasn't really necessary to service it. It was simply done as preventative maintenance. But the workshop messed up time and again, and left a sour taste...That's how we learn.
When adjusting the wheel alignment, the camber bolts proved to be stuck. This was resolved with some force, and future occurrence prevented with some copperslip.
I built a roof rack and mounting brackets myself. The rack from extruded aluminium and a friend helped to Tig weld the brackets. It was then drilled and screwed into the roof gutter with a nice blob of silicone to seal it. It worked a treat, even thought I used to joke that the roofrack would be the only thing that survived if the bakkie was ever bombed: It was slightly over-engineering.
I really wanted to add a difflock, but I think the experience gained from driving without was priceless.
I added nice and big mud-guards made from old conveyor belt.
Cheap Hella 500 spots.
The vehicle was stock standard in all regards, including the suspension and tyres. I later put BFG All Terrains on.(Before the rumours of de-lamination and chipping began. I never experienced this)
The engine performed well enough and I never needed to do anything else than to service it.
It didn't use a drop of oil between services.
I got up to 8.5km/l on the open road, doing 120km/h.
It was bullet proof and super-reliable.
Because of the saddish state of the bodywork, I wasn't afraid of some bundu-bashing.
It was not the most powerful or frugal vehicle I owned.
Volkswagen touareg 2.5tdi 5-cylinder 2005(janniel)
I bought it secondhand with 125000km and sold it with 153000km on the clock.
I removed, glued and replaced a faulty rear parking sensor.
It got a piece of fishing tackle into the left front wheel bearing after a short trip through a river. That caused the front hub, incorporating the ABS sensor ring to need replacement.
A few discrete anchor points were added inside the cabin, as I wanted to separate the luggage from the passengers. I fitted a custom made net to these brackets.
This thing was fantastic. A better cruiser than a Touareg, I am yet to experience.
I added a chip at some stage, and it went even better. Though this did probably cause it to go into safe mode from time to time later-on.
I got very close to 10km/l at 120km/h.
Offroad was a breeze, tending to become boring. The traction control did almost everything that was needed to be done. You did however have to be more careful of the under carriage, as clearance is not always that good.(Apparently the air suspension models are much better in that regard)
Absolute amazing cruising machine.
Fuel consumption compared to performance was amazing.
Being so shiny and high-tech, I cringed every time I used it for what it was(or wasn't) built.
Repairs and spares are a few miles beyond expensive!
Toyota Hilux double cab 2.7 2001 Raider(Janniel)
This Hilux had a factory difflock, canopy, extra petrol tank and slightly raised suspension with camel helper springs in front.
When I bought it, there were something wrong with the ABS system. I took it to a Toyota dealership for a service, and requested them to sort it out. In-line with service delivery of today, they didn't.. So it went through the system, and discovered that one of the sensors were dirty( the sensors are magnetic, and attracts....metal). I cleaned it, put a new o-ring on the seals and the problem was solved. (That wasn't so difficult, was it Toyota?)
This one had the same rusted camber bolt problem that my previous Hilux had.
On one trip to Mozambique, I discovered that the difflock does not work. I did some scratching and found that the main power feed to the electric motor that engages the actuator were faulty. All that was needed was to crimp them tightly to the wires again.
I left the driver side window open in the rain once. A nice puddle formed on top of the electric window control panel. The auto-down function of the window stopped working....For a while. And then it worked again. It fixed itself. That's a Hilux for you..
Spot lights, again cheap, but this time Hella 700's. If I had to do it again, I'd go for the 500's, as they are even cheaper, and they are more effective in my opinion.
31" BFG Mud Terrain tires (I think very highly of these. Fantastic for my purposes, and they last forever)
Fibre glass canopy
+- 25mm lift, bringing the total lift, including the height the tires gives to about 50mm(2")
52 liter additional stainless steel petrol tank above the spare wheel.
Camel Helper springs and shocks in front.
12V wiring for fridge and lighting in the load bin. (Fridge and double battery system to follow)
This one had a Unichip fitted. It definitely goes better than the first one, but not in such a way that I'd spend the money again.
Fuel consumption is down to 7km/l at 120km/h(Well, actually at almost any speed).
I guess that can be blamed on the bigger tires and suspension lift.
This bakkie is a real work horse and can be loaded to the brim, without as much as a complaint.
Offroad ability. The lift did wonders for its clearances.
It looks the part.
The canopy is a must in my opinion. It transforms practicality.
It has all the luxuries anyone should ever need: Electric windows, air conditioning and power steering.
Again it's bullet proof and super-reliable.
The Mud terrains are a bit noisy, but you get used to it.
It's a bit bumpy, but that's the compromise between load-ability and comfort. (We are not here to be comfy!)
Suzuki jimny 1.3 2001(CArl)
Carl replaced an Opel Corsa 1400 with the brand new Jimny. So the 1300 engine didn't bother him too much. It ticked almost all boxes for him: Fuel economy, easy drive in the city, serious off road vehicle.
None, as it was new. But much more on that later.
Very few. We removed the rear seat for one of our trips, and we fitted a home made roof rack for the same trip. Other than that, nothing.
Performance is a big word.. The Jimny has a VVT engine, which means that the available power is distributed well over the rev range. Though, there's not much power to talk about. But still, I guess it is adequate for the application. We did 160kph on a downhill once (In controlled conditions of course!). And you can quite easily cruise at 120kph. But, a gear change to 4th is required for anything else than a mild up-hill.
Extremely maneuverable, not only in traffic and parking, but also in quite serious off road conditions.
The car is much more off road capable than you'd think, owing to the solid axles and coil springs.
Fuel consumption averages around 13km/l in mixed cycle. Open road driving can return up to 15??km/l at 100km/l.
Wind is not your friend, my friend. Negotiating cross winds needs serious concentration to keep your line. Then, wet roads requires you to slow down. Aquaplaning is a very real danger.
Space: there's not much of it. Though as previously mentioned, if you manage it correctly, you can fit much more in there than you'd think.
We did a full West-Coast trip where you have to be completely independent.
Yes, we had the back-up of the Land Rover for a few extra liters of water and the fridge facilities.
But, we had included in our luggage; a huge box filled with tools and camping gear, 50l water, 2x 75mm mattresses, and all other essential camping gear.
All that weight did reduce the under vehicle clearance, which caused us to hit a few hidden stones in the sand.
Basically, what I'm saying, is that space is not really a negative.
What certainly WAS negative, was the dreadful service from Suzuki Centurion. Do yourself a huge favour and never even consider doing business with them.
BMW R1200GS Adventure 2008
The first bike I baught was BMW's F650GS Single. I picked it up for a really good price with only 250km on the clock.
Next up was an F800GS twin. WHAT an improvement! But then, I started to itch again. The time arrived to move on to the mother of all adventure bikes. The R1200GS Adventure. There are a lot of opinions out there about this bike, but only doing a few kilometers on it, can explain why it has such a huge following. It is big, yes. It has a 33 liter petrol tank! But once you get used to the bulk, it really melts away under you. Even slow speed maneuvering become childs play.
It had 20000km on the clock when I bought it, but the engine really only became loose after 50000km.
On 61000km, I suddenly realised that the rear shock absorber was shot. It made all kinds of noises, and the oil was dripping from it. I had it sent to MP Suspensions in the Cape with the help of martin from Offroadtouring and Equipment. Martin is a great help, and knows all about these bikes.
The shock seems to be sorted out at a fraction of the price of a new unit. The cause of this breakdown was most probably because I was pushing it quite hard on a gravel road in the Cedarberg. It was getting dark, and I did not take the time to deflate the tires a bit. One of the spot lights also broke off due to the harsh vibrations.
A lot can and has been said about this, but in my opinion, these bikes are not really meant for anything worse than some smooth gravel.
I bought it from BMW in Stellenbosch. The bike is a basic model, which means that is doesn't have any ABS or heated grips or electronic suspension magic that can break and cost an arm and a leg.
I added full BMW aluminium panniers, which is extremely expensive, but OH-SO worth it. It is fantastic to work with stuff that just works..
I built a side-stand enlargement pad myself out of some scrap aluminium, which works wonders for sand usability.(More on the subject of sand a little bit later)
Then I added a little gadget called an accelerator module. This thing effectively makes the air fuel ratio richer. These engines had a reputation of running very lean, which makes it run quite hot. It also causes the engine to run somewhat rough. Fuel consumption is claimed to decrease, but in reality, it doesn't. If fact, it increases. It is definitely possible to use the engine at lower revolutions which will in theory, have a positive effect on consumption, but the engine is just so silky smooth, that you tend to hammer it more.
Low down torque is the name of this game. Usable from as low as 2000rpm, the bike is extremely easy to ride. Taking the revs up to 8000rpm is absolutely no issue, but really not necessary.
In sixth gear, the bike pulls like a train past 160kph and runs out of steam past 200kph.(Don't ask me how I know that..Controlled conditions!)
Handling is probably the biggest asset this bike has. Going into long sweeping turns, you can all but let go of the steering. The steering is just so easy, stable and predictable. Stability is another point to rave about. Using the throttle controller, I can confidently set the speed at 160kph, and fold my arms. Relaxing and enjoying the ride.
Fuel consumption is a bit high in my opinion at about 16-17 km/l under normal use. Strictly keeping to the speed limit can improve that to 20km/l.
Wind protection is very good. Light rain is no issue, and only your upper arms gets wet. Very little buffeting is detectable behind the screen, and using a helmet with a peak is ideal.
Ease of use, stability and comfort is the major factors here. Due to the awesome suspension, height of the bike and the extra lights, the bike is very visible and improves safety on the road.
This is the ultimate long distance tourer.
They are damn expensive, but second hand pricing makes for a good buy.
The seat height might be a problem for those with shorter legs.
They are called dual sport bike, and yes, you can take on some gravel. But it is not a dirt-bike.
Make your peace with that.
I can't think of much else..
Toyota Hilux DOUBLE CAB 4.0 V6 2007 Raider
Everything works on this one! Even the main inside roof light.. The vehicle lived in the Eastern Cape, so there were a few patches where rust were evident, but only on a few bolts that weren't coated properly. I quickly remedied that.
It also smelled very damp inside, but that was sorted with some spray.
I only had it for a few days before I took it out to test the 4x4 capabilities. That was where it 'lost' it's nudgebar.. I didn't like it in anyway: They are attached to the chassis with very skinny brackets. I hit a rock, and bent the whole thing beyond recognition. The previous ones were much stronger. Is this the way cars will be built in future?
31x15" tires again, but this time Bridgestone Dueller All Terrains.I decided that mud-terrains are an overkill, and just too noisy.
I installed a dual battery system with a 100W solar panel on a Front Runner roof rack. Charging is done through a C-Tech 250s dual DC to DC charger. Cigarette lighter points from the second battery inside the cab as well as in the load bin. All of this, mainly to keep my Waeco 12V 50l fridge going.
2x 36 watt LED bar Spotlights in the grille,
Camping canopy, high enough to fit ammo boxes from the sides.
Rooftop tent mounted on top of canopy. The top of the tent when folded, is more or less in-line with the roof rack, which aids in aerodynamics.
Front runner long range fuel tank
Front runner roof rack
Reverse camera, as the canopy completely obscures the center rear view mirror view.
Front runner Passenger footwell 50l watertank
Some other goodies to be added later.
I had the car lifted by 50mm in front, and 25mm in the rear. This is well within the limits of prop-shafts and CV's, but adds that little bit of clearance for serious off roading. Both ends were done with spacers.
The shock absorbers were replaced with Rancho 9000 adjustable units. These work very well, and transforms the suspension from sporty firm on-road, to plush as a mattress offroad through 9 settings.
I added a Unichip with the 160000km service. Again it doesn't make much of a difference.. The advantage I have is that when the time comes for exhaust manifold branches to replace those ugly standard manifolds in the V6, the chip will definitely refine the engine considerably.
Fuel consumption varies between 6.5km/l in town, to 9.5km/l on the open road @ 100km/h. Consumption at 120km/l is around 7km/l under ideal conditions.
Having a 4.0l V6 at your disposal, is out of this world. The power is fantastic! This engine delivers 175kW @ 5200rpm and 343Nm at a very low 2400rpm. (Without the added chip, manual transmission version)
-Offroad ability. The lift is again essential in my opinion.
-It's ok-ish looking
-Again it has the basic luxuries : Electric windows, air conditioning and power steering.
-This engine also has loads of power through-out the rev-range. This vehicle should be a dunes-monster..
-The cab and bin is much bigger than the 2.7's
-The ride has been refined from the previous model.
Subaru Forester 2.5 2012(CaRL)
After a quick trip to Clarens, a strange noise and some tyre squeeling came from underneath the car. It was established that the center differential needed replacement...
The 2.5 boxer engine defines the cream of the Japanese crop. It delivers power smoothly and revs to the red line as though it is idling. It is not the lightest on fuel, but 11km/l is realistic on the open road. The suspension earns it's reputation. It eats ruts and gravel for breakfast. And on tarmac, it begs you to hammer it through those sweeping bends. The permanent four wheel drive or AWD balances the car perfectly. Going hard into a turn has the balance of the car perfectly between the wheels, if not slightly forward, depending on your right foot. It is such an easy car to get into big trouble with the authorities.
One of the best cruisers I know. Select your speed, dial it into the cruise control, sit back and relax.
Toyota Land Cruiser 76 4.5V8 2013(Janniel)
It is offered in pick-up and station wagon formats in South Africa. The best known engine offerings have been the 4.5 Petrol straight six and the 4.2 straight six normally aspirated diesel, until 2013 when the 4.5 V8 Turbo diesel was introduced. These vehicles are expensive for what you get. They only offer the basics in terms on luxury, but only the best in terms of reliability. They are the very definition of tough. Owning one of these have always been a dream of mine, and somehow I got to buy a beautiful second hand 2013 version. This one still has the manually locking front hubs, which are much stronger than the auto ones. It was stock standard when I received it, and in perfect condition.
To be honest, I think that the previous owner drove it too gently. I only had it for a few thousand km, when it started to feel more loose and run-in.
The vehicle had BF Goodrich AT tyres fitted. I love these tyres, and had them on a few other vehicles, but they are expensive. So I added Tyre pressure monitors to help extend their life as much as possible.
I added a 12V 10mm² positive and negative feed with a 50A breaker from the main battery to the rear, and underneath the front passenger seat. There is no space for an additional battery in the engine bay, as that V8 takes up most of the space. So I built a battery box with the Ctek DC to DC Controller and a fuse box attached.
I built a cabinet for the rear loading area, to make packing easier.
Front runner roofbars were added to support the Hannibal Impi clamshell tent.
In the dash, I added 4x USB power points for phones, tablets and GPS's.
In the future, I will add a Bullbar, skid plates, better shocks, and a roof console. I might build the console myself again.
Cruise control is another very handy convenience I had to add to such a competent over lander.
The V8 is not exactly light on fuel. But it isn't as bad as the V6 Petrol. I get around 8km/l in mixed cycle with the tent on the roof. I am considering opening up the exhaust a bit, as this upgrade seems very popular, without any detrimental effects on reliability.
It doesn't pull like you would expect from a 4.5 turbo diesel, but at cruising speed, no hill hinders its progress.
Extremely capable offroader, even in standard guise.
Tough as nails.
More than enough power.
This vehicle was built for Roughingit!!
Fuel consumption might be mentioned here, though it is not that bad.
Thanks to the suspension layout and high profile tyres, handling is ocean-liner like. Plan far ahead, and don't speed.
The engine might be a bit noisy and wind noise can also be a hindrance.