The Toyota FJ Cruiser is known to be an absolute beast – one with impressive off-road prowess and a decent amount of power on tap, thanks to its proven 4.0 V6 engine. While many regard it as nothing more than a weekend warrior or a toy, FLIP and MARIANNE SNYDERS see their FJ as the tool with which they can escape from the mundane and experience the spectacular.
About three years ago, I was a great source of amusement for a second-hand salesman as I stood next to a pristine FJ Cruiser, dwarfing the truck with my sheer height. Truth be told, I couldn’t care less because as I sat in that driver’s seat for the first time, I knew that Ratel – as we have affectionately named it – and I would be best friends for the rest of time.
Fast forward a few years, and our bond couldn’t be stronger. Ratel is now less pristine than back then and has the perfect patina for an overlanding vehicle. She’s also had a makeover recently, receiving some goodies to make her more practical and badass looking. The modifications include BCB customs bumper, Tough Dog adjustable shocks and coils, a Stofpad4x4 underbody protection and a Front Runner roof rack to mount the rooftop tent on. One of my favourite modifications is the underbody protection, which has proven to be invaluable in protecting Ratel over rough terrain because – if I have to be honest – driver errors do occur.
Travelling with Ratel has had a significant effect on me. It has taught me the value of life’s creature comforts and that my wife isn’t overly fond of being dirty. So I would suggest that you invest in a decent ring seat and a shower cubicle. Happy wife, happy life…
Ratel has been a great and loyal vehicle and the essence of what a four-wheel partner should be. She has been my shelter from the elements and my faithful steed. She even took me above the clouds when we visited the beautiful Wolkberg region of Limpopo, and it was undoubtedly the highlight of my overlanding career. But rest assured, with only 140 000km on the odometer, there are still many adventures in store for us. One dream adventure is to explore the Skeleton Coast in Namibia and have this V6 bellowing in the mighty Namib desert.
Some of my fondest memories with the people I love dearly are thanks to Ratel, and I’ll always be grateful for that. The FJ has been a loyal four-wheel partner, and I am certain it will continue to do so for many years to come. It’s a kanniedood vehicle! It’s always willing to take the road less travelled, taking you through any creek and over any mountain as long as you can quench her thirst for petrol. All in all, it’s the perfect vehicle for us.
VEHICLE: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser
OWNER DETAILS: Flip & Marianne Snyders
• BCB Customs bumper
• Tough Dog adjustable shocks and coils
• Stofpad4x4 underbody protection
• Front Runner roof rack
• Rooftop tent
• Shower cubicle