It's been an uncomfortable, unfamiliar feeling, having had a 4x4, and sometimes two at my disposal, without interruption for 31 years, and now nothing. My Cruiser still sits on display in a showroom in Johannesburg, while I'm in England. I have some plans to shoot some new shows, so I need a 4x4 for that, and to keep from dropping into a deep, dark depression and feeling of abandonment, and . . .
I've been toying with a number of vehicle choices. My conclusions are:
Land Rover Defender. An exciting thought, but my budget doesn't reach to a new one. And used Defenders hold there value quite well. And as my main use for the vehicle is overland expeditions, I'm not convinced the Defender is the best option. If I was going pure off-roading, then it would be at or near the top of the list. And rust is a problem. Land Rover owners who reckon that they don't rust need to come to England. The body may survive a little longer but the chassis, floor pan and firewall are prone to rust in a big way. I looked over a five year old Defender last week and was shocked.
Toyota Land Cruiser-80. They are all old, and to find a good one, with mileage under 100K, is a real challenge. And rust is a huge issue. Unless the owner has had a love affair with the vehicle and maintained it exceptionally well, it will likely have serious rust. And if I miss rust in a vital place, it being covered up by the seller, I could easily have myself a very bad purchase, only good for scrap. But if I get a good one - they are cheap.
Toyota Land Cruiser-100. The Td 4,2 VX, called the Amazon, are here in large numbers and prices are very keen. The most expensive would be a 2007 model (the last year they made them), with all the luxury stuff, with 60 000 miles (100 000 kms) would sell for around R370 000, about R100 000 less than in SA. The trouble is, they are heavy, not particularly good off road, although not bad by any standards, and are tricky to modify for overland use. The air suspension has to be removed, and replaced with coils. This is expensive, and the lift cannot be more that about 40mm without risking CV joint damage. But I have travelled with these on expeditions and they have always been absolutely trouble free. And of all on my list, they are by far the most luxurious, and better in so many ways than the 200 series. But England is crowded and such a large vehicle as my everyday transport is not idea.
The Nissan Patrol is another thought. As an overlander, it is brilliant in so many ways. But the standard ride is horrible, the petrol engines are too thirsty and the diesel engines too sluggish. I've never been a big fan of Nissans, and so I have not taken this option too seriously.
Mercedes G-wagen. There are quite a few available here, and they hold their value exceptionally well. There are a few G500s, about ten years old, and the price is in the ballpark, but a G500 would be useless for expedition use. Most others are too old, and while the G is one of the most rust-resistant vehicles on the planet, they do rust. So while I can buy older than a Defender or Land Cruiser, they are expensive, and anything pre-2000 or with a manual gearbox, I would not consider it.
But the good news is, I've found what I would like to buy! I'm not saying what it is right now, because I may not get it as I must sell the cruiser to pay for it. All I am saying is, it's ten years old, only has 25 000 miles on the odo, is in exceptional condition and it's dark grey. So forgive me if I ask you to share this link: http://www.4xforum.com/category/autograph/
My best as always