The car

When the plan is to drive across half the world pretty much, including some difficult terrain and the absence of decent roads for miles and miles, you need a good car. I did see a documentary once about a retired South African couple who drove through Africa in a Rolls Royce, so it can be done, but I guess they didn’t choose quite the same route as us.

Four wheel drive is a must. It’s also a good idea not to buy a too modern car since they tend to be very computerized and that would make repairing it almost impossible in that little town in the middle of nowhere where your car decided to stop working.

Toyota HDJ80 became our choice.

The car the way it looked when we bought it, June 2011.

Toyota is a very common vehicle throughout Africa which means there will be spare parts accessible in most places, would we lack something. The Landcruiser 80 series are popular around the world and considered really good cars by Africans, overlanders and people who come to work in Africa.
So with all this is mind the decision wasn’t very hard, since we both grew up with Toyota. (Well, Brian grew up with the type of vehicle we’re talking about here. I grew up with normal passenger cars that rarely touched mud. I’m also slightly less biased when it comes to cars, while Brian has his opinion set. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard him say he’d rather push his Landcruiser than drive a Landrover.)

Since we’re planning on keeping the car in Africa after the trip, it had to be a right-hand drive. Our search started this spring and Brian spent hours and hours on the Internet looking for British landcruisers. Eventually we found the one we wanted – but it was in Croatia. (That you can read more about in this blog post.) One of the reasons why we bought this car was that it had already been out on an expedition before, so it had a lot of the equipment needed.

Our 1993 Toyota Landcruiser VX HDJ80:


  • 4,2 liter 1HD-T diesel engine
  • 4 speed automatic transmission (A442F)
  • Aircon
  • Power steering
  • Electric windows
  • Climate control
  • Power locks
  • Tilt steering
  • Electric sunroof

Expedition equipment and other modifications

  • 170 liter stainless steel water tank
  • Hot water shower system with Sure Flow pump plumbed to water tank
  • Secondary water outlet with Sure Flow pump going through marine filter for clean drinking water
  • Long Range 160 liter fuel tank with dual funnel (total: 250 liters of diesel)
  • 40 liter Engel fridge/freezer
  • Pure sign 600W Inverter
  • Viair Compressor with tank
  • Eezi Awn roof tent (2.40 x 1.40 m)
  • Stainless steel brake pipes
  • BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tyres (255/85 R16) mounted on Toyota steel 16″ rims
  • Old Man Emu 2″ lift kit with 30 mm polyurethane spring spacers (total: 3,1″ lift)
  • Old Man Emu 4×4 steering stabilizer
  • Heavy duty Koni Raid shock absorbers
  • Polypro bushes
  • National Luna Split charge system
  • National Luna Dual 12V battery monitor
  • Two auxiliary 75 ah Yellow Top Optima batteries
  • Mad Man sensor (measures pitch and roll, boost pressure, exhaust temperature, voltage, coolant temperature, automatic transmission temperature, engine run time)
  • Extra radiator for automatic transmission
  • Custom made storage system
  • Custom made side hatches for easy access
  • Tail gate hatch modified for maximum storage space
  • Center diff lock modification (7 pin mod)
  • 12 000 pound winch (other recovery equipment includes high lift jack, 4 ton hydraulic bottle jack, exhaust air jack, axe, shovel, 12 ton recovery rope, various tree trunk protectors and other straps)
  • Custom made bull bar with two safari lights
  • Custom made rock sliders with jacking points
  • Custom made roof rack to carry roof tent, camping table, high lift jack, sand ladders, 2×2 m awning, 6 safari lights, 2 rear working lights and storage box
  • Safari snorkel
  • Tinted windows
  • Custom made rear bumper with swing out spare tyre carrier and carrier for one Jerry can and gas bottle
  • Pioneer radio with 6 speakers and one 10″ MDS subwoofer
  • Custom made center console with drink holders
  • 3 fire extinguishers, 2 foam and 1 powder
  • Free flow 2,5″ exhaust