Friday, September 23, 2011

Landrover to Lexus

I've just bought a 10 year old Lexus 470 Landcruiser. MAN, I LOVE THIS TRUCK. It makes a gravel track feel like smooth tarmac. Many vehicle reviews say it's the best 4WD ever made and I heartily agree. I see on TV that Tony Blair has one to cruise between Israel and Palestine, no doubt bullet proof. Hence, it is not surprising that my "so-called" mates say, "that truck is above your allotted station in life, James".

You may ask how the hell did a bloke from South Westland afford it? Well blame the global financial crisis. Those financial scoundrels in Auckland dumped their fancy toys at near firesale prices. I just happened to see one when looking for a standard VX Cruiser. Why have a VX when a newer Lexus is cheaper?

Wind back the clock (time not the odo) to the 1960's. The only available 4WD was the Series 1 Landrover. The Forest Service had dozens of them along with Bedfords, Commers and Vanguards. The short-wheelbase, canvas-top Landrovers rattled us out to work along miles of dusty gravel roads towing a one ton trailer trailer with the packs and food. We'd arrive at somewhere like Kuripapanga or Makahu Saddle bone shaken and covered in road dust for a fortnight's work in the mountains.

Fast forward to the 1970's, the damm Landrovers were still there. We worked them to the max; broke axles, drowned the motors in mountain rivers, tore off the aluminum panels on logs, but no matter how badly abused, the Forestry workshops would rebuild them back roadworthy.

By the 1980's the British fleet had vanished and the Mazda ute and Toyota Hilux held supreme, thank God! The Japanese trucks were indestructible! I remember the first Mazda arriving at Harihari workshops. Giving it the once over, the mechanics discovered it had no grease nipples in the suspension (all joints were sealed unlike the British trucks which dripped oil and grease). That was a serious fault, so they drilled holes in every joint and screwed in a grease nipple. Not long after most Forest Service mechanics became redundant.

Now 4WD's are as high spec'd as luxury sedans and Lexus is the pinnacle of this trend. Sorry to the climate doom merchants but this truck is my bliss despite it's gas-guzzling ways (16 litres/100km). Apparently one pet dog has the carbon footprint of two Landcruisers so I'm unrepentant. As yet no freshly-shot deer carcass has been heaved onto the cream carpet in the boot. We'll cross that hurdle soon but in the meantime I glide along the bush tracks in supreme comfort looking for some unsuspecting Bambi.H

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