THE old red Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser was an even sadder sight than the last time I'd seen it, standing in Tai Long Wan village square rusting away, piled full of junk and growing roots. That had been two hot and very wet summers ago, and only 200 yards from the sea. Now friend Roger, who owned it, wanted me to move it, me and my Land Rover. But it didn't look like it was going to agree.
___The last time I'd been in the village the Toyota hadn't been alone: parked nearby were Roger's immaculate white Jeep Wrangler, his big beige Mercedes saloon, his Suzuki SJ410 long-wheelbase 4x4, his Yamaha RD350 kid-killer bike, seized, and his two big 250-hp powerboats. This didn't leave much room in the square for the use of the other villagers, and it was their square, not Roger's. It was a source of friction, but Roger couldn't find anywhere else to put it all. He came to visit me at the old farm in the mountains I was living in at the time and immediately eyed the farm sheds: "Can I put my cars here?" No way! A boat maybe? No!
Me and my Land Rover (photograph Dan Groshong)
___Anyway the villagers were winning. The Jeep was gone, one of the boats was gone, and the Suzuki and the Mercedes (now resprayed mafia black) were both in daily use, which left one boat, the dead bike and the red Toyota. And now the Toyota had to go too.
___That wasn't quite how Roger put it. The body was badly rusted, he said, so he'd bought a new body for it in Canada. ("Don't contact us if you live in a wet state," the dealer's Web page said.) Later, probably after having a closer look at it, it turned out he'd also bought a new frame, in Australia. Well, he hadn't actually bought the body and the frame yet, but he intended to. The engine, diffs and shafts were still fine, he said, so he'd cut them off with a torch and build a new one, fine car, the FJ40, well worth saving it. Surely so, but I guessed that line failed to impress the villagers any longer, they wanted it gone, today, now. I stared at the crumbling wreck, up on a jack with one wheel missing.
___"No problem," said Roger, "it had a flat, so I had it fixed." He set to work putting the wheel back on, made sure it turned and let the jack down. "Right!"
___He wanted me to tow it down to his house, one of the new three-storey "Spanish villas" the villagers started raising on their defunct paddyfields a few years ago instead of rice. This meant pulling the old wreck round the corner, off the road, up a bank, over a sort of wall, then across two steel beams over a stream before bumping it down to the paddyfield.
Tai Long Wan valley
___"You're kidding," I said.
___"That's how I got the Wrangler down there," he said. (In fact the Wrangler was now parked in his living room, he'd somehow got it in through the french windows. "Only place it won't rust," he'd told me.)
___"Oh," I said. "Well. Do the other wheels turn?"
___"Um," said Roger, "let's pull it away from the wall first. Have we got a cable?"
___I had a cable. Actually it was Roger's cable -- I'd ripped it off another of his cars, a '73 Land Rover Series III military lightweight truck, utility, 1/2 ton like mine he'd picked up five years earlier when it seized and towed into the bushes for safekeeping near Shui Hau, a village a few miles away, where it had since rusted to death. I'd been pillaging it for spares. He'd dumped another ex-Land Cruiser there too.
___I turned the Land Rover so its big NATO rear towhook faced the Toyota's rather smaller rear towhook, and we fitted the cable. I transferred to low ratios and pulled; the Land Rover roared and strained, the Toyota dug its toes in, the Land Rover roared some more, and pulled the Toyota 10 feet away from the wall. A glance in the mirror showed the nearside wheel, the one Roger had fixed, was turning, but I couldn't see the others properly. Then there was a ripping sound.
The dead Land Rover, ready for pillaging
___"Stop!" Roger yelled. I stopped and got out. We stared at the Toyota's rear bumper, now crumpled. "Man, this rust!" said Roger.
___"Are the other wheels turning?" I asked
___"Uh, no, only that one."
___"Oh." There was a short silence.
___"Can you pull it a bit further?"
___"Sure." So I got back in and tugged it as far as the first house. "Stop!" Roger shouted as the edge of the rudderless Toyota bore down on the house's balcony pillars. It was Ah Fung the Shopkeeper's house, and Mrs Fung the Shopkeeper's Wife stood on the steps watching the spectacle with some interest. I grinned at her, she grinned back. We're old friends, I lived in Tai Long Wan for three years, back when they still grew rice there, one of the very last villages in Hong Kong still doing so.
___"Want a beer?" she offered.
___"Later," I said, nodding at the Toyota. She grinned again.
___Roger finished his assessment of the situation and came across, the plan to tow the car down to his house abandoned, what a relief. "Can you pull it to the other end of the village?"
___"I guess so. And then?"
___"There's room for it there at the side of the road."
___"Not for long though."
___"No, I'll cut it up in a few days. So we need to turn it round. Can you drag it forward so we can turn it?"
___I took the Land Rover around to the front of the Toyota and we looped the cable round the two mean-looking hooks on the Toyota's front bumper.
___"Right!" said Roger. The Land Rover strained and roared, but with both front wheels locked the Toyota wouldn't move forward at all. I tried again, nothing. "Jerk it!" yelled Roger. "Maybe it'll free the wheels." Some hope. But I reversed a few feet and plunged forward, giving the Toyota a tremendous jerk as we hit the end of the cable slack. It bounced forward a foot and dug in again. I jerked it again, and there was a tearing noise.
___"Stop!" yelled Roger. We'd pulled one of the Toyota's bumper hooks loose, tearing the metal underneath, and the rest of the bumper was badly twisted. "Hm," Roger ruminated as we stared at it. "Weak. They made the frame a C-section, it should be a box section, like the Land Rover. Actually they just copied the Land Rover. They improved a lot of things, the engine's much better than the Land Rover. They were selling 100,000 of them a year in the 60s. But the frame's weak. They break, here, behind the rear leaf spring." He showed me.
___"Ulp," I said, appalled. "Anyway I can't move it."
___"Unless we free the wheels," he said. "We need a big hammer, knock the rust away."
___"Haven't you got one?"
___We unlooped the cable, got in the Land Rover and prowled off to find a big hammer, but nobody in the village had one. Then we encountered Fung Wah, one of the younger men and another old friend. I once helped his mother a lot, a really sweet old lady, and after she died Fung Wah gave me the use of the family farm for a traditional farming research project.
___"Hey," Fung Wah laughed, shaking my hand. "I haven't seen you for 10 years!"
Fung Wah when he was a lad
___"No," I said, "except for three times on the ferry."
___"Yes," he agreed. "Ten years! I haven't got a big hammer," he told Roger. "But I'll try to find one." He loped off. We returned to the Toyota. Roger jacked up the front and took off one of the wheels, exposing a deeply rusted hub. Fung Wah returned with a largish hammer, well short of the required sledge, but Roger took it and fetched the hub a series of hefty whacks. Mounds of rust fell off. He whacked it again, got underneath, fiddled with the shoe adjustment at the back of the hub with a screwdriver, wrenched powerfully at the hub, and it creaked and turned.
___"Good!" Fung Wah shouted. He helped Roger put the wheel back on and tightened the bolts as Roger jacked up the other front wheel. A few whacks later that was turning too. The other rear wheel was less co-operative: Roger whacked and fiddled, but it wouldn't budge. "Beer," he said, and went into the shop, returning with a six-pack of Heineken. He whacked and fiddled some more, growling a lot, and two Heinekens later the hub reluctantly turned.
___"Ha!" said Roger, taking another beer. "When you get stuck in the middle of the desert you need someone like me."
___That was probably true. Or something like him anyway. "Hopefully I'd have less rusty hubs," I hedged. He joined me on the step of the shop.
___Meanwhile Fung Wah, having put the wheel back on, and also fortified by Heineken, climbed into the Land Rover and was playing with the steering wheel. He found my hat, one of the two-foot-wide pointed bamboo head-umbrellas Chinese farmers use in the fields, which I was using instead of a roof when it rained.
___"Good!" he said, putting it on. He's a Chinese farmer and didn't look downright odd in my hat like I'm told I do, but like many Chinese farmers Fung Wah's a short guy and he looked totally silly sitting in my old army half-ton -- a very un-Chinese object, I suddenly realized -- trying to peer forward through what must have been only a narrow gap between the leading edge of the big hat and the spare wheel on top of the hood. I started laughing. Then he found the keys and started the engine. I stopped laughing.
___"It's okay, he's got a licence now," said Roger. "God he looks funny!"
___"Not if it's your Land Rover," I said, getting up. "Wah Jai, what the hell are you doing?"
___"Nothing!" he shouted, putting it in gear and setting the car rumbling forward towards us in low first. What the hell, I thought, getting my priorities straight, he might demolish the village but he probably won't hurt the Land Rover. However, he brought the car to a smooth halt in front of the shop, engaged the handbrake, switched off, dumped the hat and climbed out, grinning at me.
___"Oh, very good!" I said. "But you're too short."
___"You're too thin!" he said. "I'm stronger than you!"
___"No you're not," I said.
___"Yes I am!"
___I grabbed his hand and had him on the ground in no time, both of us laughing. And I remembered having exactly the same argument 10 years before, and it ended the same way too, with Fung Wah on the ground, laughing. There was even a car involved, a Suzuki van. I was leaving Hong Kong and I gave it to Fung Wah, who badly needed a van, only he didn't have a licence, so I told him to get one. And now he finally had one. Steady people, these villagers, they don't hurry. I wondered what had happened to the van. "Have you got a car?" I asked him.
___"No," he said. "I want to buy one. Do you know if any of your friends can sell me a cheap van?"
___I said I'd ask them. Did he have a wife yet? No, and he didn't want one, he said, wives were too expensive and they were useless anyway. I laughed at him. One of the old village men of yore once told a field researcher that wives were cheaper than land when he was a lad, you could get a wife for a couple of pigs. But no longer, alas, and in fact Fung Wah really couldn't afford a wife, nor a $40,000 village wedding. His elder brothers spent the family money 20 years ago, leaving nothing for him (or his mother), and now he works for the Water Department, earning not very much, or he'd have a wife -- village wives are far from useless, they do more than half the work and they're skilful and strong, they're a hell of a good deal for a couple of pigs.
___Roger reached a decision. "We have to clear the steering wheel so we can turn the car round," he said.
___I peered in through the dirty screen at all the junk stored in the Toyota. "Can't see a steering wheel," I said. "Which side is it on?"
___"The right side, dumbo." He looked at the locked driver's door, walked round to the other side and looked at that locked door, then stepped back and fetched the door a mighty kick. He's a big man, Roger, more like a bear, 6ft, 240 lb and a famed fighter, and he was wearing heavy boots. The Toyota reeled with the shock, shedding showers of rust flakes, but the lock held. It took two more kicks, then the door sprung back on its hinges. Roger reached inside, but he couldn't reach the junk covering the wheel from that side without taking out a whole lot of other junk first, which he seemed reluctant to do.
___Just then his wife Tina arrived and sat down on the shop steps. "How're you guys doing?" she asked.
Roger's graveyard of jeeps
___Tina's Chinese, but she was born and raised in England and in fact she's more of an English rose, she only recently managed to get her tongue round Hong Kong's Cantonese. Roger, on the other hand, is a Westerner, but he was born and raised on the island and could speak Chinese before he spoke much English, and in some ways he's more Chinese than they are.
___"Doing okay, but we need the key to unlock the steering lock," Roger told her. "You've got the key."
The red FJ40 wedged in next to the dead Land Rover
___"Yes, won't you go and find it, please?"
___"Where is it?"
___"I don't know, you've got it somewhere."
___"Well I'm not searching downstairs because it's full of cars, and I'm not searching your hell-hole on the top floor."
___"Oh come on, Tina."
___She went off, returning 15 minutes later with three keys on a ring.
___"Thanks, that's them, great!" said Roger. "Where were they?"
___"Top floor," she said.
___Roger fiddled with the stiff driver-side lock, found the right key, got it in and turned it. With a bit of persuasion the door came open and some nondescript junk fell out, bits of washing machine or something. Roger pushed more junk aside -- a stray dashboard, some kitchen drying racks -- and reached in with his foot towards the pedals, but the floor was completely rusted and fell away as soon as he touched it. "No floor!" he laughed. He pushed more junk aside and slotted the key into the ignition, turned it and freed the steering lock. "Great, the steering's free." He climbed out and went to the front of the car, assessing how we'd turn it. I joined him.
The second dead Toyota
___"The steering'll work?" I asked.
___"Yes, it'll be okay."
___"And the brakes?"
___"The brakes'll work." Roger turned and walked towards the shop, slamming the Toyota door closed out of his way as he passed. He stopped dead, grabbed the door handle and tugged it, but it stayed closed. He said some hard words.
___"What's wrong?" I asked.
___"The key's locked inside," he said.
___Meanwhile the sun was setting over the bay and some of the villagers were starting to return from whatever it is they do these days now they don't tend their fields much anymore. Sundown means dinner, and the good smells of traditional Chinese village home cooking filled the evening air. These people don't say "Hello", they say "Have you eaten yet?" instead, just to show what their priorities are. "Not yet," I kept saying as my stomach rumbled.
___So Roger now had an audience, an openly amused one, face was at stake. He took the hammer, crouched into a low kung fu stance, touched the ball end of the head to the door lock, swung it far back and dealt the lock a tremendous blow, hitting it spot on. Another blow, just as accurate, knocked the entire lock right through the door, leaving a neat hole. We were all very impressed.
___Face restored, Roger tugged the door open and started pulling stuff out, throwing it out of the door -- bits of plastic piping, parts of an electric fan, lengths of wiring, an egg tray from a fridge, some kitchen containers, other containers, some old jeans. Some of the villagers were laughing again at the strange junk Roger had thought looked useful enough to keep, but he took no notice. Finally he was able to turn the steering wheel, and the front wheels turned too. "Let's turn it round," he said.
___"Right," I said, getting in the Land Rover. I positioned it and we looped the cable round the Toyota's battered front bumper hooks again. Roger yelled instructions while somehow standing with one foot on the floorless Toyota's doorframe and the other working the brake while one hand steered and the other gripped the roof, and I pulled it away from the shop, shoved it backwards with the rear bumpers, pulled it forward again, pushed it back again, and so on, and we accomplished a four-point turn, or was it five, but at last the old Land Cruiser was pointing in the right direction -- out of the village.
___"It's much easier when the wheels go round," I remarked. "What now?"
___Roger considered. "Can you tow it to Shui Hau?"
___"I guess so, if you can steer it and stop it. Are we legal?"
___"Don't worry about it. Do you think there's room for it next to that Land Rover? Then I can cut it up there, as well as the other one."
___"Should be room," I said, amused, sure that both the other cars had been towed into the bushes with just such constructive intentions.
___Fung Wah climbed into the back of the lightweight behind me to keep an eye on the cable, Roger clung four-limbed to the Toyota, Tina brought the Suzuki 4x4 up behind in case anything fell off (probably Roger, I thought), and we set off through the village, creating much good cheer at the various dinner tables inside the open doors we passed.
___The Toyota wasn't exactly rolling along, it had to be pulled, and the road up out of the valley is steep, but the Land Rover chugged up the hill without much effort, then along the flat winding bit at the top and down again to the main south Lantau coast road, taking it slowly, with everyone yelling a lot. We pulled onto the main road, crossed the big dam at Shek Pik and were climbing the hill on the other side when Fung Wah yelled "Shit!"
___"A bus!" We were taking up most of the road, not worrying much about white lines and stuff. I hastily moved us to the left. The bus roared up behind Tina and paused while the driver took stock, then passed us carefully, astonished passengers tugging at each other and pointing at Roger through the windows. "Wah!"
___We pressed on, but halfway down the hill on the other side, with Shui Hau at the bottom, we had to stop for a while so Roger could hop about in the road on one foot trying to get the cramp out of the other one from working the brake, cursing heavily, while another busload of interested passengers went past. Off again, and into the village, just as a police van full of coppers pulled in at the other end, damn. Too late to stop so I drove on towards them, fighting the urge to whistle nonchalantly. We rumbled past, Roger staring at the coppers over the roof of the Toyota, but somehow they all had their backs to us and didn't notice the strange convoy going past, very odd, I thought, shrugging. Fung Wah laughed in derision. We reached the turnoff to Roger's graveyard of jeeps, I tugged the Toyota over the pavement and we bumped up the narrow track.
___"Stop!" Roger yelled. I stopped. He more or less fell off the Toyota and staggered about again, laughing this time -- "What a way to drive! And the cops didn't even see us!"
___I glanced at the dead lightweight in the bushes next to the track, lit up by Tina's lights. Just like mine, only it was 24-volt and mine was 12, and instead of olive drab it was painted in white and black zebra stripes and didn't have any doors or a windscreen, let alone a roof. I had the windscreen at home -- I'd taken it off so it didn't smash when I'd used my lightweight to pull the old rustheap onto its side on top of some tyres, taking off the 4-wheel-drive box before putting it down on its wheels again.
___This was when I'd discovered that you don't take a 4-wheel-drive box off a Land Rover, you take the Land Rover off the 4-wheel-drive box. I also discovered a whole new dimension in dirt -- a heady blend of severe rust, WD-40, the thick coat of black tar-based sealant under the car which the WD-40 melted, plus liberal applications of heavy-duty mosquito repellent, lots of sweat, and some blood, along with the usual measure of road-dirt, leaking oil, sand and stuff, and a tropical downpour. I don't recommend it at all.
___This one isn't the only dead lightweight on Lantau. There's another 24-volt in the village of Pui O, in storage in a lot for the last four years with its engine shot, but it's been shunted to the edge of the paddyfield and is infested with creeper weed, and the rust is advanced. My lightweight only narrowly escaped such a fate -- it spent 18 months stalled by licensing difficulties next to a paddyfield in the village of Luk Tei Tong and was also full of creeper and encroaching rust when I eventually managed to rescue it. Two other old Land Rovers -- one a Series I -- were standing thus when they got incorporated into 20 feet of landfill and are now under a road instead of on one.
Removing the Land Rover from the 4-wheel-drive box
___I wouldn't be turning this one on its side again -- Roger and Fung Wah had just concluded that, with the other wrecked Land Cruiser taking up the far side of the track, the only space left for the Toyota was right next to the Land Rover, a tight squeeze, with the two old 4x4s tucked between a tree and a pile of scrap iron. Awkward -- I could pull the Toyota past the spot so I could push it in backwards, but the track was narrow there with a sudden rise and twist, and a big pile of bitumen slabs making a sudden 45-degree slope on the other side, which I'd have to move onto to push the Toyota in.
___I did the first part by taking a run at the rise to get the Toyota far enough before the Land Rover lost traction and started skidding, but pushing it in next to the other lightweight was not a subtle business -- the only way I could do it was by sailing backwards down the bitumen slope and thumping the front of the Toyota with the Land Rover's rear bumperettes, shoving a bit, then backing off to do it again at a different angle. Four times, and the Toyota was parked. More crumpled, but parked.
___I got out and stared at its bent front-end. Roger disentangled himself from the Toyota and was staring at the Land Rover's rear-end. "God," he said, "look at your bumpers."
The second dead Land Rover lightweight being eaten by weeds
___"They're not bent, are they?" I asked, hurrying across.
___"No, not even a scratch," said Roger. "Amazing -- what the hell are these things made of?"
___"Just steel," I said. "But these T-sections in the sides make them really strong."
___"No, I meant the car. Actually it is scratched," he said, bending to take a closer look at the right bumperette. "One scratch!"
___Actually it wasn't scratched, it had just taken a lick off the Toyota's undercoat. Roger hasn't had much to do with Land Rovers, the 24-volt was already defunct when he inherited it and I think the only one he'd driven was mine. He'd helped me get it back on the road. "I like working on these cars," he'd said. "You can actually fix them instead of just taking bits off and replacing them with new bits." So he didn't know how strong they are. Neither did I really -- I'd often driven Land Rovers in South Africa years ago, but I'd never tried beating up a Land Cruiser with one before. I did used to know a professional game catcher who tested 4x4s by driving them fast over a bank into a dried river bed, and if they broke he wouldn't buy them. He claimed this was a fair test for what might happen to you when you're chasing a wildebeest through a thorn thicket. He said only Land Rovers didn't break.
___"Strong!" said Fung Wah, slapping the lightweight's tailgate.
___"Hungry!" I said, slapping my empty belly.
___"Yes!" he laughed.
___"Dinner," said Roger. Tina took off home in the Suzuki, to join us later at a Chinese restaurant in Pui O.
___"May I drive please?" Roger asked me. So polite!
___"Okay, but it's not the kind of car you do 130 mph over the new airport bridge in."
___"I know!" he laughed. And he drove very sedately.
___Dinner was on Roger. We were joined by Ah Fung the Shopkeeper's eldest son Ah Ming, who drives Land Rovers for the Forestry Department, and a bunch of the local good ol' boys, eight or nine of us in all, and finally Tina, and the talk was about Land Rovers, Roger and Fung Wah shaking their heads in admiration and Ah Ming nodding wisely: he preferred the old ones, he said, stronger than Defenders, and leafsprings were better than coils, more stable in the rough. But it kept coming back to what a mess my lightweight had made of the old FJ40. Damn, I thought, now she's a hero -- it'll go to her head.
___Meanwhile various hotpots arrived, were emptied, vanished, a chicken dish, a rich vegetable stew, and many beer bottles, and I'd just decided I'd had enough and had work to do and a deadline to catch when the real dinner was borne to the table in triumph: a massive platter piled at least 18 inches high with choice cuts of raw pork, beef, chicken, garoupa, abalone and squid and a boiler to dip them in, leaving a rich soup at the end. This was going to be an all-nighter, and if I was going to escape now was the time.
___"Gotta go," I said. "Work to do."
___A good decision -- I'm still hearing about some of the things that happened that night, some of them seriously heavy. And the lightweight is indeed famous -- nobody on this island, not even the local constabulary in their 90s and 110s, argues with my Land Rover.
___And the mortality rate's changed. When I started this there were three lightweights in the bushes and none on the road, and one Land Cruiser in the bushes and three on the road, counting the red one. Now there are two FJ40s in the bushes and only one on the road (the fourth left the island), and two lightweights in the bushes and three on the road -- only 10 per cent short of Rover's old claim that 70 per cent of the Land Rovers ever built were still running.
___Roger forgot his plan to restore an FJ40 and bought a lightweight himself, and so impressed a local friend with his talk of my beast's exploits that the friend bought one too.
For a while all three were parked here at the Beach House at Pui O, while the "new" ones waited for their road tests. I was amazed at the interest they attracted: gawpers kept gathering at the gates, and people -- all kinds of people -- kept waking me up in the morning, hammering on the door to ask me if they were for sale. There's definitely something special about lightweights.
Then there were three -- Land Rover lightweights at the Beach House
___Roger also moved his powerboat, the Suzuki SJ410 4x4 died of rust and is now disintegrating on his lawn with the Yamaha RD350 in the back, and he sold the Mercedes, so the villagers got their square back.
___And Fung Wah bought a car, not a lightweight and not a cheap van but a sleek silver-grey Toyota saloon -- what the coarser of my teenage friends used to call a "cow-catcher".
___"Wow!" I said when he brought it to show me. "Smart! What did you pay for it?"
___"$35,000," he said.
___"But you could've bought a wife for that," I said.
___"Not enough!" he laughed. A week later he drove it into a wall.
Death of a T*y*ta
Postscript: The 4x4 jihad
I just wrote this story for fun really, without any serious intentions of publishing it -- the whole incident amused me. Then some guys persuaded me to post it on one of the Land Rover Owners' mailing lists on the Internet.
___"But it's long," I said. "Bandwidth."
___"Never mind," they said. "Do it!"
___So I did, and people liked it, it drew a lot of comment, really good feedback, and it started travelling -- it was published in a Land Rover Club magazine, and I think it's still doing the rounds.
___But some of the feedback I got was a bit strange: they said some nice things, but with some odd comments as well, like this:
___"The best part was where Roger used that tool #1 on the doorhandle!!" (Tool No. 1 is a hammer.)
___That's not what I'd felt about it -- sure, I was rather amazed at how tough the Land Rover proved to be, but I wasn't trying to put the boot into the Toyota.
___My own feeling about the story was that it would've been better balanced if I'd managed to fit in something about the fact that the toughest ride I'd ever done was in a Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser like this one. I remembered it vividly, and I'd often wondered whether my Land Rover would've handled it so well -- up a steep river of deep mud churned up by fleets of huge lorries doing illegal logging in the mountains of the Philippines.
FJ40s can do the job (from dirttrack's cruiser page)
___Now it seemed I'd taken sides in a war I didn't even know about, and had no sympathy with: Land Rovers vs Toyotas. Land Rover owners HATE Toyotas. Why on earth? Isn't that a bit teenaged?
___I responded to a message on the mailing list about the story, mentioning "Toyota", and got ticked off: "You know you're not allowed to say that word here!"
___Sure enough, you can only say it like this: "T*y*ta", or even "T*y*ta L*nd Cr**s*r". Ridiculous. Look at this list message:
___"At the risk of blasphemy, I will say that I have driven a T*y*ta RAV4."
___Blasphemy? What is this, a jihad?
___He goes on to say a lot of nice things about the RAV4, he "cannot find any account on which to fault the RAV4, other than -- it's not a Land Rover".
___And so he HATES it -- "totally lacking in character", a "tin box" with a "pile of complicated alloy junk under the bonnet", and "it will look good, drive good, and feel good until 48 hours after the last payment is posted, then it will rapidly self-destruct leaving a pile of rust in its trail".
___Come on -- Land Rovers don't rust? They most certainly do rust! According to all the complaints on the list, this is what Land Rover "character" amounts to: the doors don't close properly, the roofs leak, they're slow, uncomfortable, noisy, the electrical system is lousy, and something always need fixing. Unlike the RAV4. And why don't they have locking differentials?
Journey to Forever's Land Rover lightweight
(photograph Leung Kwong-fuk)
___They're just machines, there to do a job. Toyota FJ40 Land Cruisers can do the job -- they're tough, capable and simple, and they've had 40 years to prove it.
___We left the Toyota in Roger's graveyard of jeeps next to an old Land Rover lightweight that was even more dead than the Toyota -- nothing will survive that kind of neglect in that rusty place.
___And as it turned out, neither of the two Toyotas in the graveyard was quite as dead as it looked. Some months later a Pakistani paid Roger good money for the pair of them, loaded them onto a lorry and shipped them off to Pakistan, fully confident he'd get at least one of them running again for another 20 years. I'm sure he succeeded.
Kings off the road