Sunday, 9 May 2010

3. Which 4WD?

Which 4WD to buy for a 15,000 mile trip from the UK to Australia?

Toyota Landcruiser                       Land Rover Defender 130                   Isuzu Bighorn / Trooper

The 4WD would need to fulfil the following criteria...

1). Large enough to fend off some of the Worlds craziest drivers.

2). Carry all our kit; roof tent, Jerry cans, water, supplies, etc

3). To be priced under £5,000 - I wish it was more, but its not.

4). Reliable - neither Zowi or myself know any more than how to change the oil or a tyre.

5). To be located on a Used Car forecourt next to the pub, so that when I came out drunk on the Friday night and trip into it, I would know that it was a sign, and therefore buy it the next day.

There is a little debate as to whether Landrover or Landcruiser is the ideal vehicle for an Overland Expedition. I have read several blogs in which people mainly took Landrovers for their "Romantic Value" and the fact that they are "so British" - but they also seemed to take so many spare parts with them, and then some more parts just in case, and then the cautious / realistic would carry just a few more "essentials" just in case! - Worse still was that most of the spares were needed along the way.

A Nissan Patrol and a Shogun / Pajero also appeared as options, we looked at a couple of Shoguns, although they were well within budget, they seemed "tatty" to our untrained eyes. We almost bought a '94 Patrol, but we missed out by just a couple of hours. Shame really as this Patrol seemed to have been really well looked after.

We then got back on track and started hunting for an 80 Series Landcruiser, we were advised that we should be able to get a good 'un with around 100,000 miles on the clock on a 93/94 plate - but I swear that they went into hiding as soon as we started looking, and the 3 Landcruisers that we uncovered were very tired.

It wasn't looking promising until one night when I stumbled out of the "Thatch & Thistle" pub in Southport after quite a few beers. Across the road from the Thatch is Steve Newman Car Sales, and on his forecourt I spotted a large LWB 4wd. I wasn't able to tell the make of the 4wd due to the darkness and drunken stupor, so I went in for a closer look. It was love at first sight, especially when I saw a huge rusty winch on the front, I knew this vehicle was ready for some real action.

We went to look at the 4WD the next day when I was sober for a closer look and a test drive - we weren't let down. 40 minutes later the Isuzu Bighorn was ours for the princely sum of £1,900. He was immediately named Barnaby by Zowi, and quickly became the 3rd member of the team.

Barnaby is an imported 1995 Automatic LWB Isuzu Bighorn - similar to the Isuzu Trooper here in the UK, and similar to the Holden Jackaroo in Australia. Barnaby has a (virtually) indestructible 3.1TD engine with only has 71,000 miles on the clock, Lotus Handling and a 9000lb Winch to help get himself out of trouble when things get interesting. He also has Air Con for when it gets too warm, Heated Mirrors & Seats for when it gets chilly.

Barnaby has his own email address - and usually responds to emails quickly. Clever little things these Japanese cars aren't they?


2. The Route

View zo2oz map in a larger map

Can we go through China? How many Stans are there? What is the Silk Route?

We used Google Maps to list the places that we wanted to visit and worked from this.

The route isnt set in stone and it will change frequently, hopefully because we will want to see an additional place, and not because of any tension in any area.

There is currently an outline plan for the route as follows...
Southport (England)
Newcastle (England) - (ferry to...)
Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Nurburg (Germany) - (To do a lap of the Nurburgring)
Brussels (Belgium)
Paris (France)
La Rochelle (France)
Santander (Spain)
Lisbon (Portugal)
Algeciras (Spain) - (ferry to...)
Ceuta (Morrocco)
Casablanca (Morrocco)
Marrakesh (Morrocco)
Ceuta (Morrocco)
Valencia (Spain)
Barcelona (Spain)
Monte Carlo (Monaco)
Zurich (Switzerland)
Rome (Italy)
Bari (Italy)
Patras (Greece)
Istanbul (Turkey)
Ramsar (Iran) - my Dad worked in Grand Hotel Casino here!
Bandar-e-Lengeh (Iran) - (ferry to...)
Dubai - (ferry to...)
Bandar-e-Lengeh (Iran)
Lahore (Pakistan) - see Border Closing Ceremony Video

Chennai (India) - (ferry to...)
Singapore (Malaysia)
Perth (Australia)
Melbourne (Australia)

Phew! - it has felt like ages just typing this, and it has reminded me that it will be a long journey, but it should be an amazing experience!

1. In the Beginning...

The idea of completing such an adventure first happened back in 1998 when both Zowi & I lived in Sydney, Australia.

Zowi was a student at Sydney University and I was travelling in Australia on a working holiday Visa.

A mutual friend suggested that he would one day drive from Oz to the UK. Everyone laughed and told him he was bonkers, completely mad.  We parted ways with our friend so I don't know if he did the journey in the end, but a seed was definitely planted...