Regular visitors to my much rambling blog will know that apart from trying to climb mountains, and run around the bush with a back-pack, that we frequently get “Out and About” in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
A Landrover Defender that co-incidentally goes by the name of “The Landy”. A vehicle that you’ve got to love, even if it is too slow to keep worms in a tin.
Janet is suggesting you go and grab yourself a cocktail to sip on, after all it is approaching the cocktail hour, and she knows too well I can be Harry-have-a-chat, you know, the sort of bloke that can talk under wet cement with a mouthful of marbles.
Um, I see you made yourself two, good, it is nice to have company.
Strewth, you’re going to drink them both?
Anyway, where were we?
Oh, yes, and don’t we love “The Landy” as it gets Janet, TomO, and me “Out and About” in the Australian Outback, soaking up the big blue sky country.
Recently, around the camp fire with “Bluey and the Boys”, the conversation got around to the money we spend on our toys.
A self-confessed newbie to off-road travelling and touring posed the question…
“What should I buy and how should I equip my vehicle”…
Crikey, these types of questions are welcomed around the camp-fire as it means at least another couple of beers while answers are given and debated, and besides there is no such thing as a silly question.
Janet is hovering a bit and has just suggested silly questions are highly probable if it involves, four-wheel drive vehicles, beer and boy’s around a camp-fire.
But this question got me thinking that perhaps it is asked the wrong way around.
I thought, how much better our bank balance would be money one could save if the question was turned around to read…
“What equipment shouldn’t I buy?”
An often held view is that today’s modern four-wheel drive vehicle needs to be optioned up and fitted with all kinds of after-market gadgetry.
In reality, late model examples of the most the popular brands, including Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, and heaven forbid, Landrovers , yes I have two Defenders, are quite adequate straight out of the box, right off the showroom floor.
The vehicle after-market parts industry would have us believe that a five-inch lift, winch, diff-locks, a bull bar big enough to push over a small building, and an over-haul of the suspension system is required…
And that is just to get you down the front-driveway to the gate of your house!
But strewth, the reality is quite different, and a slightly different approach could have you banking cash to spend whilst on a trip, or something to put away for the next.
Whoops, Janet is still looking over my shoulder…
Yes I’m hearing you sweetie… or that new dress!
Mind you, after that big event you went in whilst in London recently, you remember shop till you drop, will mean “The Landy” won’t be getting any new gadgets for at least another week a long, long time.
Crikey, when it comes to vehicle modifications I reckon you’d be best to just go out and enjoy the country and “suck it and see” on any short-falls you might find.
So I tossed this little list of “things you can do without” into the discussion around the fire…
Bull bars, nice to have, but adds a lot of weight to the front-end almost guaranteeing you’ll need a suspension upgrade.
And yes, I know your uncle lives out at whoop, whoop and he hits a “kangaroo-a-week” and no doubting he needs one.
But I have never hit one in years of travelling the outback.
A Winch… no Bluey, I said winch, so watch your tongue and go and grab yourself another beer…
Well if you get a bull bar, a winch is a great accessory to adorn it.
But really, unless you actually “intend” to go into areas where it is almost guaranteed to be required, than save your money.
Many want to add it for insurance, just in case, and it usually dies from under-use.
A suspension upgrade – crikey, this can be a tricky one, if you have wasted spent money on the first two then you’ll probably need to chuck some money at this as well. Besides, your Toyota Prado will look great in traffic driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, head and shoulders above everything else.
But if you can drive with caution and approach obstacles carefully, and not like you’re in the Paris to Dakar rally, you might get away with the stock standard system that was fitted to the vehicle when you drove it out of the show room.
Communication radios – okay, if you like colourful language and you’re as lonely as a country dunny, it might be a useful addition to an already cluttered dashboard.
Otherwise, if your wife blushes at the thought of a four-letter word, or you have got three kids strapped in the back, then save your money, you can do without it.
If you keep a look out the front windscreen you’ll probably avoid most vehicles coming the other way, after all seeing is believing, or so they say!
Although, come to think of it, if you have got three kids in the back, it might make a change from the “are we there yet” whine.
Power and Engine upgrades – strewth, isn’t that the beauty of modern motor vehicle engines that use computer technology.
You can just plug a few leads in and spend lots of your hard earned cash tweaking something the vehicle manufacturer and its engineers’ spent tens of millions of dollars on ensuring was the best combination when they made it.
Sure, if you want to tow a caravan half-the-size of a Hollywood Mansion behind you, or you have a need to cover the breadth of Australia in record time, then I can see you might need it…
But hey, don’t get me wrong, there are people out there doing chip-upgrades and they need a retirement fund, so live in the knowledge you’ll be making it a more comfortable retirement for them.
A Fridge – hell, this is heading into dangerous territory, after all how do you keep
Janet’s wine TomO’s milk refrigerated without it?
Back in a ‘sec, Janet has just suggested that it would be best if I went to the fridge and get her a top up from that lovely bottle of Hunter Valley Chardonnay she has almost knocked off bought the other day.
Dual Battery System – well, if you need a fridge to keep things refrigerated then you’ll need a second battery to run it, and perhaps a couple of beers to get you over the bill when it comes in from the auto-electrician.
Roof Rack – have you ever lifted one of those things, they’re usually pretty heavy if you want a good one and another reason you’ll probably need a chip-upgrade and better suspension.
But if you can leave a few items at home, like three-quarters of the things that Janet tries to stuff in “The Landy” you think you’ll need, then you may be able to say no thanks to your local four-wheel drive warehouse, I’ll not be needing one.
Spot Lights – the bigger the better, after all if you’re going to spend money on those shiny things that go up front, you might as well get a pair that would spot a Spinifex Hoping Mouse at three miles.
But many of the people I see with them on the front of the vehicle are tucked up in bed at one-minute-past-sunset, which sort of makes them a bit redundant…
Um, the spotlights that is.
But hey, what better way to let someone into your wallet again.
Anyway, I hope you’re still around and not rolling around on the floor somewhere as I can see you finished off those two cocktails…
See, reading a long rambling post does have its merits.
So what makes me an expert anyway?
Yes, I heard you whispering!
A four-wheel drive named “The Landy” that is full of gadgets, and an empty bank account to go with it…
Hey, and good luck out there, wherever there is!