Veteran workhorse still cruising after all those years

2011-05-06 00:00

THE Toyota Land Cruiser celebrates its 40th birthday as a South African vehicle, and Pietermaritzburg’s Robin Phipson owns one of the oldest Land Cruisers in the country. The 1971 model has been part of the Phipson family for over 20 years.

“We’ve been using it for anything and everything. You can see how battered it is 20 years later,” said Phipson of the Land Cruiser, which is still running and in use today.

Phipson’s love for the Land Cruiser started when he was 12 years old, before the Land Cruiser was even available in South Africa.

Living on a timber farm near Boston, his first glimpse of a Land Cruiser was when a new neighbour brought one with him from Zambia. Phipson remembers being impressed by the vehicle’s toughness and reliability compared to other 4x4s.

“This neighbour of ours made us all look a bit stupid,” he says of the vehicles being used on the farm.

The early 1970s saw the Land Cruiser introduced in South Africa, and the vehicle soon made its presence felt on the local market.

“I had always wanted one for myself,” Phipson explains, and in 1990 he bought one from a friend. “I had to redo everything,” said Phipson, “but the engine was perfect.” And so started a two -ear project to rebuild his Land Cruiser.

Phipson spent R7 000 on repairing the vehicle, doing almost all the work himself. He hasn’t had to put much into maintaining it, saying, “They are so reliable that you hardly ever need spares.” The Land Cruiser is not the most collectable of vehicles, according to Phipson.

“Land Cruisers are used for real things,” he said, adding that they will always remain highly valued for their hardiness.

The first Land Cruiser was made 60 years ago and they are still being manufactured today.

To see other collectable vehicles, visit Cars in the Park on Sunday, 15 May. The 35th Annual Cars in the Park will be held at Alexandra Park. Gates open at 6.30, and visitors can expect to see about 1 000 exhibits. With the theme of ‘Restoration – Work in Progress’, the exhibition will feature several vehicles to show the public how many of the gleaming restorations start out.

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