Our Home on Wheels
We drive a Land Cruiser BJ45. No, the Land Cruiser was not built in 1945 as some Surinamese assume(d), as in their country BJ stands for Bouwjaar (Year of Construction). The Land Cruiser dates from 1984.
The famous 3B Engine
Why this Land Cruiser?
Before our journey we had no clue what car to buy but that we didn't want to spend much money on it. After all, every penny spent on stuff can’t be spent traveling.
What car would be good to drive to Asia with? We asked on a forum and this was the unanimous answer:
“A Toyota Land Cruiser. It can be fixed anywhere. Make sure to buy one from before 1987, when it was still made entirely mechanical.”
We followed the experts and bought this Land Cruiser.
Has it been a good buy?
Yes. This Land Cruiser has become our home, our comfort zone. We love traveling in it despite the continuous maintenance (see below).
It’s relatively small so driving through narrow streets is easy. On the other hand, its height – 2.7 meters (8.8ft) due to a 25-cm extension + a roof rack with stuff – has caused problems. The Land Cruiser doesn’t fit in underground parking lots and has faced other barriers (e.g low bridges, low entrances to courtyards or car workshops). In forests we've had to cut branches when driving on a slant on narrow trails with rutted tracks.
In South and Southeast Asia we lived mostly outside, sleeping in our rooftop tent. We had all we needed.
In South America, however, this was not always the case. Cold and rainy weather in Patagonia and the Andes forced us to spend many hours if not days – and even weeks – cooped up inside. We came to acknowledge the advantages of more comfortable rigs. Among our favorites are the Volkswagen Combi and the small Iveco 4×4.
The perfect car:
What we learned is that the perfect rig does not exist. It all depends on where you go, when, for how long, and what your comfort level is. And, as you can see, this can change.
2003 - 2006
2007 - 2015
2016 - sep'17
Maintenance & Breakdowns
The road conditions in South America demanded much more maintenance on the Land Cruiser (or any other vehicle for that matter) than those in Asia. The latter mostly has asphalt roads whereas South America was largely unpaved (at least where we drove). The roads in the Far East are perfectly tarred but the Landcruiser Community in Japan has given our home on wheels some much appreciated TLC.
We regularly visit workshops to fix/replace/adjust leaf springs, shock absorbers, batteries, tires, and so on. Among the problems the Land Cruiser has caused:
We feel lucky to have met numerous workshop owners and mechanics who went out of their way to help us. Apart from the massive overhaul in Bolivia, which was a disastrous experience in many ways and an ugly welding job in Guyana, our experiences have largely been positive. Something simple as the repair of a flat tire can make our day.
Before our departure, each time I had found myself in the presence of men talking to Coen about the Land Cruiser I had seen the list of spare parts grow.
“You’ll need to bring an extra alternator.”
“What if your generator breaks down, you’d better bring one.”
And Coen had added more to his list.
Until I had been fed up with it.
“Before we bought this car we asked around to find out which one was the best choice for this journey. People told us to buy a Toyota because it never breaks down. Secondly, they told us to buy one from before 1987 because they are entirely mechanical. In case it does break down—which according to the first premise it shouldn’t—it can be fixed anywhere because mechanics all over the world know this engine and spare parts are available worldwide. This doesn’t square with your ever-growing list of spare parts. It will cost a fortune, not in the least because we’ll have to tow a trailer to carry it all. I veto bringing these parts,” I had stated.
Coen had looked at me in amazement while I held my soliloquy, and thought about it for a moment.
“You know what, you're right. We are not going to buy all this stuff. We will take it as it comes,” he had responded.
Just the idea of not having to make the decision on what to bring or not had taken a load off his shoulders.
We did bring an oil filter because we thought we couldn’t buy one in India. However, we learned on the road that indeed, there’s always a place where you’ll find something that does fit the Land Cruiser.
The regulator: An original 24-volt regulator was tough to find in India so we got it from Bhutan.
The regulator, again: A couple of years later, in Argentina, it got busted and was replaced by a generic lorry regulator. It works fine except for the head lights that have found a Knight-Rider rhythm of continuously growing stronger and weaker.
No, it's not necessary to tow a trailer full of spare parts for this type of Land Cruiser.
More about the Land Cruiser
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