They don’t make ‘em like they used to!

No one can deny Toyota’s reputation for exceptional reliability. Grahame McLeod’s 1989 Toyota Hilux is a shining example of what a vehicle can be capable of if you take proper care of your four-wheel partner.

My Four-Wheel Partner

I was driving into Francistown in Botswana recently when a driver behind me started flashing his lights, overtook me, and signalled me to stop. A hijacking? No, this isn’t Jozi! I stopped, and he complimented me on my vehicle. He also said that he wanted to buy it, right there and then! Strangely enough, this wasn’t the first time this had happened … it’s been a regular occurrence over the years.

It reminded me of the saying: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” This is true, even for old 4x4s like my 1989 Toyota Hilux 2.2. I bought it second-hand in 1993, and since then, it has stood the test of time and has given me over 700 000km of trouble-free motoring. Admirers get really excited when I show them the original 4Y engine under the bonnet!

Hardly a week goes by without someone offering to buy it, but I have no intention of parting with my Hilux… even though I could probably get around R100 000 for it! The book value is considerably lower, but the demand for such vehicles is very high here in Botswana as many locals see the Hilux 4×4 as a reliable workhorse, especially in the sands of the Kgalagadi.

And besides, what would I replace it with? The equivalent present-day model can’t compare. As I said, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to!

On buying The Beast – as my Hilux is affectionately known – I noticed that it had retread tyres. I consider them to be a safety hazard, so the first thing I did after completing the sales transaction, was to replace them with a new set of Wranglers. I have found them to be very reliable and as such, Wranglers will always be my tyres of choice.

The vehicle has a steel canopy and the load bed was converted into a mobile bedroom with curtains, a mattress, blankets and pillows. I also replaced the standard shock absorbers with heavy-duty ones and had the engine overhauled some ten years ago. The original body colour was beige, but around two years ago I had to have some panel beating done and it was spray painted in a yellow-brown colour. The upholstery inside the cab was also given a serious workover.

The Beast is as tough as nails and I have been off-roading with it throughout Botswana and Zimbabwe. It just keeps on going!

The only downside is that it is rather thirsty. But at least the comprehensive insurance premiums are affordable – about R2 600 a year, compared to a whopping R21 000 for a new model! I can use the money I ‘save’ on insurance to buy new spare parts or perhaps even a new engine. That way The Beast will keep going for at least another ten years!

VEHICLE: 1989 Toyota Hilux



• Goodyear Wrangler tyres

• Steel canopy

• Heavy-duty shock absorbers

• New front bumper

• New wheel rims

• Major and ongoing TLC on the body

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