Choice of vehicle


The choice of a vehicle for such a journey is one of the first concerns when undertaking an overland trip. Your car will be both your mode of transportation as the roof over your head on many occasions. You will want it to be both reliable, simple to maintain and to repair. We considered all of the following criteria : reliability, availability of spares in the countries visited, volume and payload, conditions of roads. Although several people have driven their 2CV's and Ford Transit vans to Katmandu, we thought a sturdy 4WD might be a better idea. It will get us out of trouble and the real ones have been built to take a beating. We thought about a Land Rover, a VW Synchro van and several Land Cruiser models. We had seen what could be done with an old 60 series Land Cruiser during our honeymoon in Yemen. Toyotas have an exceptional reputation for reliability. In the Toyota Land Cruiser range, the 75 series model is known as a heavy duty model. It has been used by the UN and NGOs all over the world (amongst which our sister/sister-in-law Ségolène with Pharmaciens sans Frontières in Montenegro, check out the picture below). It has huge storage space and has a payload of 975 kg.    




Where do we find our HZJ 75 ? Few people own cars in HK so the choice is quite limited. Also, most of the 4WD are luxury barges fitted with electric mirrors, electric seats with memories and all sorts of luxuries that will malfunction on the first occasion. We found out that the 70 series was never sold in HK. As we initially thought we would prepare the car in HK, we also looked in Japan and Australia. Buying a new car means you might be losing a lot of money if an unfriendly man points his AK47 somewhere along the route asking for your car keys. We decided to buy a 2nd hand car with not too many miles on the clock. 25% of all 75 series are sold in Australia where they are known as Troop Carriers or sometimes bushcampers. Although they have been sold in several countries in Europe since 1985, very few 75 series are sold as 2nd hand cars as most of them will be sold to customers in Africa. We finally found a car surfing on the internet. Second-hand cars are sold in Belgium are sold through a newspaper called Autoccasion. Their website has more than 500 4WD for sale. Our car started its life in 1996 working for the Red Cross somewhere in the Balkans.. 


"Land Rovers can be repaired, Toyota's don't break down". Our choice wound down to a Land Rover 110 Defender or a Toyota Land Cruiser. Although were not keen on buying a Japanese car (the Land Rover looks much more cute, according to Kathleen) we decided the Toyota was the best choice for our trip. The availability of Toyota spares in Asia is second to none. The 75 model was introduced in 1985 and has been sold new until this day without any modifications whatsoever. In 1999, the suspension was updated from leafs to coils and the name changed to HZJ 78. 



"If you have to put luggage on your roof, your vehicle is too small for you or you have too much baggage". Of all available 4WD, the Toyota HZJ 75 has one of the highest volumes and payloads. We also wanted to avoid a roof rack for different reasons. Roof racks encourage overloading which is the most commons cause of breakdown. They raise the centre of gravity of the car and increase wind resistance and fuel consumption. At a height of 2m10, we wanted to avoid having weight on the roof. Also, the roof will be used to accommodate our sleeping box. The inside of the car behind the front seats is more than 2 m long, 135 cm high and 155 cm wide. 


Check out the following overland vehicles !


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