Finding the right vehicle for the trip was more difficult than I thought it would be. I read almost everything around regarding which vehicle was best for doing this kind of trip in. The two vehicles which always turned up were your classic Land Rover (because people associate them with overland travel and not their reliability), and the Landcruiser which is reliable and tough.
I initially decided on the Landcruiser but after 3 months of trying to find a suitable vehicle I was getting pretty despondent. I eventually contacted Paul at Footloose 4x4. After our meeting I was more convinced that Landcruiser was the way to go, and with Paul also now looking for one for me I felt more at ease that I would get the vehicle of my dreams.
Shortly after the start of the new year (2007) Paul called me to say he was still looking, and to ask if I would consider a different vehicle, as one of his clients was selling a fully prepped vehicle. A 1997 Nissan Patrol 4.2diesel which had done 143000km, the only downside was that it had automatic transmission (not the manual I always looked for in a vehicle). My first thought was hmm, but yea Iíd come have a look.
The next few days I scoured the internet for info on Patrolís, as well as the pros and cons of automatic v manual transmission. From what I found the Patrol appeared to be a good alternative to the cruiser, and the auto transmission looked like it should not be a problem, and in some instances actually better than manual.
So a few days later Sarah and I climbed into her little Clio and headed up the A1 again headed for Footloose.
We spent a good 2 hours inspecting the vehicle inside, outside and underneath, and took her for a quick spin. From what we saw we were pretty impressed so went away feeling optimistic. Spent another week trying to find reasons not to buy the vehicle and could not come up with any. So a week later we went back for a further look and drive. The decision was made we would buy her.
- 2 turbodiesel
1997 (declared manufacture date on her papers)
She was basically ready to go other than needing some mechanical work done to make sure all was tip top for the trip.Sarah and I had ideas of how we would like to have her done out, so this is how she started:
Pretty basic, with the rear seat removed and replaced with the water cans on the left, fridge in the middle, and storage space on the right where the gas bottle is.
She had a very well built rollcage, 2 long range fuel tanks , and an electric water filter had already been installed. There was also a gas cooker which was attached to the rear door by bungee cords.
Sarah and I spent a fair amount of time discussing our ideas with Paul and had the changes done over a few months, this is how she turned out.
Work being done on the drawer system which we have had installed. The drawer is there to allow us quick access to the daily items used often. The water cans have been removed and a small seat has been put in place, for any passengers/guides we may pick up along the way. The battery management fuses and electronics have been moved onto the jump seat. The fridge has been left in the same position, and the storage has also been left on the right side of the fridge which is where the third battery is also situated. An inverter which runs off the third battery has been installed for running the fridge, interior light, charging camera batteries, laptops etc.
The reard of the vehicle has been separated from the front by a plate which has been bolted to the roll cage, and a 60 litre water tank bolted too it and the roll cage. The windows of the rear of the truck have also been reinforced making the rear of the truck completely lockable.