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Monday, May 17, 2010


What would William Morris drive if he lived today? I think it would be either a Volvo wagon or, more likely, a posh Range Rover. The back would no doubt be filled with fabric samples, pear wood wallpaper blocks, jars of dye powder and the like…namely, a mess…and the car would be suitably beat-up to boot.

In the last three weeks we’ve driven over 5000 km and I’ve heard much talk of gas mileage, head winds versus tailwinds, hubs in or out, cost of diesel, the advantages of turbo-chargers, gear ratios, tire pressure, and the like from my two Australian colleagues. After three trips to the Outback, I have no doubt that Aussies do four-wheel drive vehicles better than anyone else on the planet and it has been my great privilege to spend nearly a month in a car with the “Click and Clack” of Down Under. I’ve learned a lot. During this and my last trip, I’ve also taken pictures of my favorite Outback vehicles. Here they are with guest “vehicular analysis” by Mick, the Map-Wizard, born and raised in northern Queensland (my translations in parentheses ;-).

Land Rover Defender “County”, has a bit more mod cons (modern conveniences). Serious roo bar in front. I had a “TDI” (turbo-diesel injected) late nineties model…you can hose the inside out….totally unreliable but loved it.

A Toyota Land Cruiser….in the U.S., the current “FJ Cruiser” (those multi-colored car that are appearing everywhere lately) are modeled from this car…this one stretched but with original front end. “Checkerplate” sides a bit (la-di-da) No scratches? What is it doing in Eucla? What is it used for? These cars go forever, half a million miles on the clock, no problem.

Toyota, 80-something old-school Hilux ute. Space cab (two seater with a bit in back of cab), snorkel, big fat tires. Really light, no weight on the back…the ideal vehicle for driving on sand. He has hit a tree in almost identical spot as (Rock-Whisperer). Almost certainly diesel. Hilux is the perfect toy, light, flexible, nimble that will go over anything….can be very bouncy but can climb up a cliff. Number one 4WD in Australia. Finding an early 90’s space cab Hilux is gold.

Toyota “Troopie” (Troop Carrier) police…a “divi van”, short for divisional so you can put crims (criminals) in the back. HF aerial, “spotties” in front for extra strong beams for driving at night.

Another Toyota Land Cruiser ute (pick-up truck). Typical snorkel, roof rack, roo bar, winch. Rusty as well so obviously spent a lot of time near the coast….water tubes with taps on top. (Added by me: What is hard to tell from pic is that there are small red lights in the eye sockets of the skull….this car looked spooky in the dark parking lot with its red glowing eyes.)

Darcy’s (of Cocklebiddy) Hilux twin cab (e.g. four doors versus two door space cab), so smaller tray (truck bed) in the back, hydraulic crane to lift drums on-off back of ute. 

Old school Mitsubishi Pajero, 1988-92, roo bar, kind of car an old fisherman guy would drive….side rails helps with tree collisions, sun visor….great for bush camping, fishing. Designed to be abused.  Did you know that pajero in Spanish means wanker?

None of these vehicles are very expensive…..all are reliable, usable 4WDs. Unlikely to be carpet in any of these….would all be vinyl inside. 

(Finally, I just have to add that my 4WD-ing lessons have been in full swing over the last two weeks. My favorite nugget of advice from MW: “Try to just miss the trees on your side, then my side will be fine.”)