The dilemma
After our decision to go to Africa came the most important question how, and which car. We were driving a Landrover Discovery at that time and we were very pleased with that car but completely unsuitable for a rough African journey. With air-conditioning and automatic gear, electronics etc is asking for trouble. It has to be a car without any fancy electronics. And for Africa there are only two options: either a Landrover Defender or a Toyota Landcruiser.

So our first decision was: "it is going to be a Defender". After a Landrover experience terrain course we searched for a Defender but we realized that the Defender is much to small for a tall driver (2.07 m) as Peter is. A Defender would imply a huge change over, including changes in the steering part and windows. After talking to experienced Africa travellers about cars, we heard many stories about how nice it is to drive a Defender because you are getting in contact with a lot of people due to the fact that you always need help for the car. One of the statements was " if you like to maintain a car you should go for a Defender". It takes you 1-2 hours per day for maintenance. We like to go to Africa for nature and not for mechanics. These stories about Defenders in Africa were enough to switch our idea, so we decided to go for a Toyota Landcruiser. Nevertheless we still think that the Defender is much more sexy than a Landcruiser, but reliability is more important than looks.

Searching a car
Based on a list of our own wishes combined with advise of an experienced Toyota mechanic, Peter van den Burg we searched for:

- A Toyota Landcruiser
- A 4.2 diesel engine
- Lots of space
- Used but the mileage not more than 100.000 kilometres
- No electronics
- No larger maintenance required to get the can Africa suitable

So it had to be a Landcruiser HZJ75. A Hardtop long body commercial would fit our ideas about space (especially the space above the head). The disadvantage of a HZJ75 was that this type is no longer available in The Netherlands due to environmental laws. Reading the 4WD magazine and driving to several garages we could not find the car we wanted for a price we could afford. So we tried to buy one in South Africa. Using the internet this should be a piece of cake. Of a 100 requests for cars we got one reaction that they would contact us. We're still waiting.

Finally Peter saw a nice car on the internet at 4x4-Parts Europe in Culemborg. Unfortunately our experience with this company is not that good. We made an appointment to look at the car and to make a test-drive and after we decided to buy the car the salesman raised the price by 2000 euro. After some talking the salesman agreed with "only 1000 euro raise"

A week later we returned to the garage with Peter van den Burg, the Toyota expert. We met Peter at our first "Dream it, live it treffen", a get-together party organized by Kees and Sandra. Everybody who Kees and Sandra met during their two year trip was invited. Peter helped Kees and Sandra with their car during their trip using e-mail. This Peter judged our car matching our (his) requirements and to be the car we needed for the trip.

An here it is our fire-fighter truck !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Click for big Click for big Click for big

Technical changes
The previous owner was a window cleaner and the car was not suitable (yet) for the big trip to Africa. In order to get the car ready for such a demanding trip it needed some changes. An extra chassis-mounted diesel tank combined with the existing one makes it a total of 265 liter of fuel, giving a range of approx. 2000 kilometres. Also the springs are not heavy enough to carry a car including all luggage, extra diesel, water etc. up to 3000 kg. So we installed an extra heavy-duty spring set (Old Man Emu). Based on information from 4WD Centre Utrecht we bought tires from the brand Cooper (standard size 255-85-16). After seeing the result of water in the engine we decided to go for a snorkel (Safari) too. Furthermore we bought two sports chairs with 4-points seatbelts.

The interior
The interior is something we could not find a proper example, which would fit our ideas. The demands about the inside of the car are that all luggage are invisible for outsiders and we must be able to sleep in the car (rain or staying on a parking lot). In order to keep all our stuff a little bit dust-free we choose to buy aluminium cases, used in the army.

For the computer, photo and video equipment we needed higher demanding suitcases so we choose to go for Pelicases. Pelicases are 100% water and dust free. Although we never drink soda with ice we bought a refrigerator. At least we can keep the beer, butter and vegatebles cool. We bought a 32-litre Engel refrigerator (less energy consumption than the 16 and/or 24 litre ones). As being a chemist I insisted to buy a water purification system, despite the stories of Africa travellers who told us that there is plenty of clean water available. Also the nice story on www.getawayafrica.com about water and shower helped to go for water purification. The water purifier is fitted with a sediment filter combined with a ceramic filter from IMSO. The pump was bought from a friend who runs a shipyard. Now we can drink clean water and take a shower too.

We have a lot of electrical equipment on board so we need 220V and also 12V. The car is 24V so we need a power-converter 24V to 220V and 24V to 12V.

All these wishes and demands had to fit into the car. We had no idea how and where to start, so we made a scale model of everything we wanted and based on this scale model we started to prepare the car. We have made a double floor (16 cm) for the chairs and spare parts. On top of this, different compartments were made to fit a number of aluminium cases, but also water cans and refrigerator have to be easy accessible. The compartments are closed with lids that can be used as tables too. And this elevated floor can also be used as emergency-bed (in case of heavy rains).

It has taken quite some time to work it out, but we think it will work.