Izak Breytenbach recently had some time to think deeply about a proper replacement for his darling Datsun – while giving her a good ol’ scrub. By the time he was done, he had come to a decision…
Calcrete is a white, gravelly material which is often used on dirt roads in dry and remote parts of the country. It is detested by motorists for its fine dust, which infiltrates any unoccupied space, sealed or unsealed.
This was the first thing that came to mind when a Saturday morning abruptly interrupted my slumber party for one a few weekends ago. I had spent the preceding week working on sites near Burgerville (near De Aar) and Harrismith, before heading home to Pretoria.
As an engineering geologist by profession, I find that the biggest tool in my daily grind is my vehicle, a white(ish) Nissan Navara with a 4.0l V6 heart. Yes, it may be a Japanese V6, but the engine beat is still enjoyable – and dare I say enchanting.
Born in 2010, my Datsun drinks from the green fountain labelled “95” and has been a devoted, reliable companion who has always brought me home safely to my loveable and worried wife.
On this particular weekend, the Nissan must have carried a few extra kilograms in the form of said Calcrete dust which I collected on the excursion. It was everywhere, inside and out – enough to drive any proud man to the brink. So, there was only one thing for it…
Eventually my caffeine-lubricated juices started flowing, so I parked my bakkie outside and started rinsing off the worst dust in phases, using a pressure hose.
The bull bar and front bumper hosted a representative sample of insects from across half of the country, though in a disintegrated and largely rearranged display. While the water jet went about its task, the thought dawned on me that I would have to replace this fantastic vehicle sometime in the (hopefully distant) future.
As the soapy wax mixture went onto the bonnet, I thought of other vehicles available on the market and – as all men do – reasons why each of them was inferior to mine.
After resisting for many years, I have recently (though very gradually) come to accept the fact that my next purchase would probably have to be a diesel vehicle, as opposed to my beloved petrol V6.
A few letters from Leisure Wheels readers came to mind. The Ford Ranger with its tearing load bin. Though this is an attractive vehicle, a torn load bin would not suffice for a man in my profession – other engineering geologists would scoff at the trail of samples blowing through my disintegrating load bin as I drive along.
The Amarok, with 180 000km on the clock and a blown head gasket. My thoughts jumped back to our old 2002 Hardbody (3-litre V6) which – at 260 000km – had a buyer even before the trade-in successor was ordered; or our 1993 Golf III GSX which (when last I heard) had 360 000km on the odo and was still going strong.
By now I had rinsed off the remnants of the soapy wax and set about drying my vehicle, one panel at a time.
My thoughts turned to Chris Cloete, owner of Chris Cloete Motors in Pretoria East. Chris is a mechanic and friend and one of only three people I would trust to drive my Datsun in my absence. He has an affinity for working on anything with three stars. (Chris is a Merc man.) But despite this inherent character flaw, he is also a very pleasant fellow and I value his opinion on car-related topics, probably above all others. Like me, he prefers petrol engines to the more agricultural variety and drives an older model 2.7-litre petrol Hilux which is in the condition you want your mechanic’s car to be in.
Having had a plethora of different vehicles through his garage over the years, Chris maintains that if you insist on buying a diesel bakkie, it can be anything as long as it comes with a D-4D engine. Unlike Henry Ford, though, Chris does not mind if it does not come in black.
Whereas most Hilux owners will cite the brand name for their reason of ownership, Chris will list his specific reasons, chief among which you will find the durability of glow plugs and injectors. This makes sense and supports Toyota’s reluctance to completely upgrade the Hilux, based on its proven durability and reliability. The only problem is that I have driven a D-4D Hilux or two over my usual long distances and found them very laborious and uncomfortable when your journey gets beyond 400km or so.
As I put the last Wynn’s Dash on the tyres, mud flaps and bull bar fitting, I stood back and marvelled at the shining, dust-free creation in front of me. Yes, “she’s a tough ol’ bird”, they would say in the movies.
I reversed her into the garage, because it is the proper thing to do. Thankfully there is no need to replace my Navara just yet…
About the Author
Izak Breytenbach travels large parts of South Africa in the line of consulting. From cities to rural villages and Karoo farms, he enjoys all manners of site work and loves the outdoors.