Although widely separated in the timeline of my vehicles my Jeep, Isuzu KB230 and Nissan Hardbody, represented a longing for the rugged, all-purpose chuck things in the back and ride anywhere kind of feeling.
The first of these was the Isuzu. I first clapped eyes on her in Pietermaritzburg and bonded instantly. She had a canopy with a full door and I instantly thought of camping trips and useful stuff. She was very reliable and comfortable and did in fact cart a lot of stuff for our big new garden.
She drove like a car, sounded a little bit wheezy but was sprightly. I only felt like trading her in when I discovered the signs of rust inside the door.
The next time I succumbed to the macho feeling was unadulterated indulgence. We saw and we wanted. No excuse. It was a 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sport – 4 litres of straight 6 power.
I just loved that car until she dumped me in Ladybrand with a dead engine management system. The auto-electrician managed to lock the keys in the car so I was faced with an exceedingly heavy and useless piece of metal which was now impregnable. The men grouped around the car suggested breaking a window and then looked at me expectantly, handing me a large hammer. My first attempt rebounded straight off the reinforced glass and narrowly missed pulverising my frontal lobes. Then I steeled myself and shattered the glass in the back door. And with that crash died our bond. Then I called a towtruck, expecting a large flatbed but a normal bakkie with a flat trailer pitched up and I had the dubious pleasure of watching two tons of dead metal bounce behind me during the long and hot trip to the dealers in Bloemfontein.
With a regard tempered by my painful experience I still enjoyed the Jeep. She was pretty invincible, surviving some close encounters with other lesser vehicles with hardly a dent. She could climb anything and the power and acceleration was awe inspiring. I chased down a taxi driver who flashed though a red light in front of me and carried out a few gravity-defying deeds with those long long legs and incredible traction. But the prospect of a major breakdown and the engine beginning to overheat led me to attempt a trade-in from a dealer. It was difficult to find a dealer to take on a perceived gas-guzzler but eventually I traded her in for a Renault Megane, beginning our love affair with Renaults which will occupy another whole post.
The third macho vehicle was a Nissan Hardbody 2.4 Double Cab. I was fond of it but my family didn’t like its hard and bouncy ride and its wheezing engine. It was powerful enough but ended up with the name of ‘suckie-bakkie’ which was not really deserved! She was best under a load and on a dirt road and would probably have kept us going reliably for years but we got restless again and traded in for the Chevys which is the subject of another post!