What's your recommendation for an SUV to drive around Africa for a year?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

My daughter and I want to go to Africa, buy a car and travel around for a year.
I am 53, she is 22, and we are both in reasonably good health. We have agreed
that if one of us begins to bleed from the eyeballs, the other one will shoot
her (from a distance) and run. Neither of us is a good mechanic. What kind of
vehicle would you buy and where would you suggest buying it? I have thought
about buying a Land Rover in England and then driving down to Africa. I would
rather buy a used vehicle, because of the cost, but must have something very
reliable. What do you two sages think? New or used? Where should we get it? --
Ann (for Ann and Shannon)

RAY: I'll tell you exactly what to do. You fly into Nairobi, or wherever you're
planning to start your trip. You make some local friends there, and you have
them help you hire a "guide/driver/translator/bodyguard" for the year!

TOM: What you want is a guide who already owns a Toyota Land Cruiser (the
official vehicle of sub-Saharan Africa). Most of them are old, but that tends to
make them extremely fixable since they use nice, easy technologies like
carburetors, points and condensers. And any guide who owns one (and takes people
out on trips) will be -- by necessity -- an experienced roadside mechanic, too.

RAY: And you make a deal with this guy to hire him and his Land Cruiser for the
year. It'll probably cost less than buying a car, and he may be thrilled at the
opportunity. That way, you'll have an experienced driver, an on-board mechanic,
a local translator, a cultural attache, and someone to help you with whatever
else comes up during your adventures -- like hungry lions.

TOM: And, of course, someone who can shoot both of you if you both start
bleeding through the eyeballs! Have a wonderful trip, you guys! And send us a

* * *

What's one secret of financial success? Driving a used car! Read How to Buy a
Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know. You can order it by
sending $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Used Car,
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