The Toyota that will take me to all of Africa
Yesterday I posted the first picture of the Toyota Hilux that I purchased for my 5410Africa overland trip and the response was amazing. I am humbled by all the positive messages I received from so many people from countries all over Africa. I can’t wait to meet everyone as I travel from one country to the next. If you’re not aware, I’ll be travelling to all 54 African countries over a period of 10 years using the above-mentioned Hilux spending about 2-3 months in each. But this post is about the car and not the trip.
The long name is a 2000 Toyota Hilux 2.7L SRX D/C 4×4, but for now I’ll be calling it Luxie. That is until someone can come up with a better name. Luxie’s ancestors first made their appearance in 1968 on Toyota showroom floors in Japan. I’ll forgive you for believing the Hilux is a product of Southern Africa, I mean they are so at home here. But the Hilux only made it to South Africa a year later in 1969 and from there all is history. Southern Africans fell in love with the Hilux due to its extreme work ethic, reliability and durability. Today you’ll find them all over the continent and alongside their distant cousins the Land Cruiser make up the majority of pick up truck type vehicles. Well that is what the Americans call them pick-ups or trucks, locally they are referred to as bakkies (pronounced buck-ee).
I did quite a lot of research before I made my decision to buy. This included consulting friends that own various off road 4×4 vehicles, consulting online overlanding forums and sites including ones from North and West Africa, overland YouTube channels and off course local experts. The common thread in all responses was Toyota, specifically Land Cruiser or Hilux and preferably the older models. Their reasoning being that it will be easy to find spare parts and mechanics to fix them. So this ended up being quite influential in my final decision.
A second consideration was budget and this sort off ruled out the Land Cruiser, not only because of its purchase price, but also its near ridiculous thirst for fuel. But budget also influenced me in another manner. With this purchase, build and trip I want to show fellow travellers that you don’t need to spend big dollars to do a trip like this. Thereby inspiring more Africans to take on similar adventures.
This model from 2000 is the 6th generation Hilux. I found it online and immediately fell in love with it. Then after meeting Luxie in real life I had to have it. I called up a mechanic friend, Jan “Pyp” Retief, to do a thorough inspection, it did not take him long to approve. Pyp has owned from the 6th to the current generation. My main attractions to the vehicle was that the engine is still stock and the rear diff lock. As mentioned, the Hilux is extremely reliable and as long as the engine has not been fiddled with will remain so. And of course, that rear diff locker is going to be so valuable in so many situations throughout Africa.
My vehicle is the 2.7 litre double cab and comes with air-conditioning and electric windows. All of it still working 🙂 but the significant change to this model was the introduction of an independent front suspension which drastically improved drive quality and handling. The suspension is still standard. It can be switched to 4×4 using the front wheel hubs with a H4 and L4 gear. The SRX as far as I understand simply means it is the base model..? I must confess I am extremely happy with the overall condition of the vehicle.
The previous owner made many useful additions. It already has a snorkel, roof rack, a replacement rear bumper with a second spare wheel, a long range 90lt aluminium fuel tank fitted on the back, wiring is done for a fridge in the rear, a tyre pressure monitor system and custom made front and rear seat covers. Ooh and I almost forgot to mention the five General Grabber X3 mud terrain tyres.
It is now up to me to figure out what I need to add to make my trip around Africa successful and as comfortable as possible. As mentioned, I want to keep the build and preferably not add to much additional weight. This includes limiting what I add on top of the roof. I took Luxie on a trip to Etosha National Park over the weekend driving about 1000 kilometres, half of which was gravel. It handled well, the fuel consumption was above expected, and the night of camping showed me that I am woefully underprepared for long term overlanding.
With this in mind my priorities currently are a replacement front bumper and an aluminium canopy. The bumper will give Luxie a major facelift and improve visual aesthetics, but more importantly is a safety feature and once a winch is fitted an insurance policy. You never know which situations you will find yourself in when travelling solo in Africa. The canopy will provide additional and secure cargo capacity. Remember I want to avoid carrying weight on the roof.
Other changes and additions include a proper sleeping arrangement, a field kitchen, electricity supply system with a fridge, deflation and compressor for inflation, sufficient recovery equipment, spares and tools, awning and upgrading the shocks and lights. I don’t think I’ll be changing the suspension or adding a lift.
So there you go, what do you think? This is probably the longest post I have written. I just got carried away by the excitement of the vehicle build and then off course departing on this epic trip which by the way is scheduled for the end of June 2021 Covid 19 permitting. The coming months will be exciting and I hope that you continue to follow along on this epic journey.
In case you are not convinced, Top Gear (a legendary car show on the BBC) once TRIED to kill a Toyota Hilux, they failed: