Personalised 4x4 Wheel Covers Custom made wheel covers in both semi rigid vinyl and stainless steel wheel covers from The Sign Maker. Single colour, reflective colour or full colour printed. New to 2013 - Full Wraps
You may recall in the March 2013 issue of 4x4 that I waved goodbye to my Ford Maverick. I challenged myself to run a capable 4x4 on a shoestring budget, and I pretty much managed it for an enjoyable eight months. The Maverick was surprisingly good off-road, but didn't quite deliver what I wanted. The main problem is that I really wanted a Land Rover Discovery. I paid £500 for the Maverick and thought there was no way I could get a Discovery for that. However, I boldly stated in March that I'd sell the Maverick in the winter, to maximise income, then see what I could buy in the spring. It required a level of patience that I'm not really used to, but I actually did it.
But why did I want a Discovery so badly? When I told Editor Fryatt of my plans, he laughed and said I'd only get a complete wreck. Glancing at the classifieds, I was forced to concede he might be right.
The answer stems from the fact that I had my school work experience at Lode Lane back in 1993. Scary to think that's over 20 years ago. I rather naughtily got the chance to drive a Discovery 200Tdi automatic prototype at the Eastnor Castle proving ground – most 15-year olds don't get that much excitement on work experience! From that moment on, I simply had to have a Discovery.
The only thing I generally tow behind the Cherokee is the Hotchkiss, and since last year’s summer wasn’t much better than this year, the poor old thing – which really needs a dry and sunny day to provide the necessary driving enjoyment – hasn’t been out of the garage for at least 10 months. However, since we have experienced a few sunny days and there’s the prospect of a few more to come, it looks as if we may be able to take the Hotchkiss out one weekend soon, so I decided it was time to do something about the dodgy trailer lighting socket on the Jeep’s tow bar. Off-roading mud and water splashes had taken their toll on the socket’s contacts, which hadn’t been in the best state when I’d acquired the car. I figured it was time to clean the socket out with a wire brush and a strong blast of cleaning air from my compressor. However, when I saw the state of the contacts after a year’s negligence I realised there was no alternative but to replace the socket.
Halfords provided the necessary. For little more than a fiver I could have bought a nice black plastic one that would have been a straight swap for the original, but the shiny silver metal one caught my eye and I thought wow, that’s the one for me. I’m not sure it was the right choice. It got so hot in the sun that I could hardly handle it, and I can imagine it freezing solid in the winter. Still, it was only eight and a bit quid and it does look good.
My original decision to buy the Hilux was really by a process of elimination. Returning to the Editor’s chair of this magazine after (quite) a few years absence, the Alfa GTV on the drive and Lotus Elise in the garage didn’t quite seem suitable! My first thought was that I would get a Jeep, and this was thanks to the excellent bargains available on the second generation Grand Cherokee (something we highlighted in our Buyers’ Guide last month). However, Hils already had one of those on the magazine’s fleet, and with Bob having a Cherokee, we seemed a little ‘Jeeped out’. There was no chance of me getting a Land Rover, I’d have one of the latest models tomorrow if my Lottery numbers came up, but back in the real world the thought of a Discovery or ancient Range Rover filled me with dread… Then it came to me that I should have a pick-up. Once decided, the option as to ‘which one?’ was simple. It had to be Toyota Hilux.
I do not like mud on my 4x4s. In fact, I hate it. Mud damages bodywork and mechanicals so I clean my 4x4s as soon as possible, usually directly after the trip before the mud has a chance to bake in hard. The ‘wash’ is exactly that, a wash, not a wax and polish by any means, more of a rinse.
To my mind, driving around with a dirty 4x4 is not a badge of pride, it is sign of laziness. If you’re inclined to show where you’ve been and what you do then you don’t need to leave the car filthy to do that. It is easy enough for the initiated to pick a 4x4 used for off-roading regardless of how clean it is, and I think it a better look to have a tidy vehicle with subtle clues to many past adventures than a wheeled mud bath that’s clearly only had an excursion or two. That said, I do love mud driving, just not the aftermath. I’m past the stage where I feel the need to drive a giant bog hole just because it’s there, but if it’s along the way on a trip then it’ll be conquered.
Just for a moment I thought the Cherokee wasn’t going to make it. It was Pete’s fault, because he thought the Cherokee blasting through one of the water splashes would make a good picture, but he needed me to come in from the other side because of where the sun was. That meant bypassing the splash through a stretch of gloopy mud and turning around on what turned out to be not only gloopier mud but deeply rutted by other cars with bigger and more aggressive tyres. What was meant to be a quick three-point turn developed into a painfully slow seven pointer, taking it ever-so-gently to give the Wrangler Duratraks every chance of grabbing some grip in the cloying mud. Fortunately the mud at the Hop Farm isn’t of the seriously slippery clay-heavy type, so heavy-treaded tyres can find something to bite into. Time after time the Cherokee sank into the ruts, but gentle near-tick over tickling of the accelerator eased it out until it eventually lined itself up with the water splash. From then on it was easy.