I have always been fascinated with overlanding and overland vehicles. When we were young, my uncle had a converted Volkswagen Kombi T2, which I was loved. The two back seat benches faced each other and with a table fitted in the centre which he could magically turn into a comfortable bed for a night on the road.
About 15 years ago, I was on a beer trip to see the BREWERS & UNION bar which was in the basement of an 18th century church on Cape Town’s historic Riebeek Square. I was a bit early for my meeting, so I drove up Lions Head. On my way down to my meeting I saw it. The perfect camper.
Indoctrinated by a Land Cruiser family, deep down I knew I could never get myself to buy Land Rover. I left the dream there on Lion’s Head.
During the pandemic I watched way too much YouTube documentaries about Unimog’s and Defenders crossing continents. Then one channel reminded me that there was something called the Land Cruiser Troopy. The closest vehicle to a Defender, with its own community and tribe. To top it all I discovered that AluCab made a roof conversion for it, what a co-incidence!
The Search for a Land Cruiser Troopy begins.
So the search for a Troopy began. None of the dealers that I visited had stock, some had a few on back order, but the delivery date kept getting moved back. So I turned to Autotrader and occasionally one would pop up. But I was not ready to spend so much money on a toy.
February 2023 I am heading to Pretoria and I spot about 5 or 6 Troopy’s in Pretoria advertised on Autotrader. Some at Sunward Motors in Silverton and two at WeBuyCars in Silverlakes. One a high milage vehicle and the other only 9000km on the clock. Would be nice to compare the two. To see if it is worth buying a high milage version. The weekend in Pretoria is busy and when I finally get to Silverlakes, the high milage Troopy is long gone. All the Troopy’s in Silverton are gone. I have a look at the 2021 model, it looks brand new and I start scheming. I hesitate for another week or two.
Now there is only one Troopy in Pretoria, the one at Silverlakes. I visit a few dealers and they tell that the Troopy no longer appears on the Toyota SA price list. “If you want one you must buy it when you see it”, they say.
Back at WeBuyCars Silverlakes, I get a trade in price for my beloved Toyota Fortuner and I arrange for the balance of the cash. The vehicle goes on auction. The WeBuyCars does accept my bank, Bank Zero. I can’t make an offer. I am in Pretoria East and I pop in to WeBuyCars and find a salesman on the floor. I want to buy the Troopy. But before that, can I please take the car for a test drive? I ask. The salesman goes to fetch the key and as he passes it to me, another salesman sticks a SOLD sign on the vehicle. Shit! Sold to someone in Cape Town. Secretly relieved I carry on with my Beer Expedition in my trusted Fortuner.
A few weeks later. I am in Cape Town. I make a pilgrimage to AluCab head office. There in the parking I see “my” Troopy, the one I missed at WeBuyCars in Silverlakes! Can you believe it! The Troopy someone snapped away from me at WeBuyCars is standing there waiting patiently to get a Hercules Conversion.
I complete my Beer Expedition. 12000 km later. I must have saved a pretty penny doing that in the Fortuner, rather than a Troopy.
Home. a few weeks later. I get a notification from Autotrader. A Land Cruiser Troopy has been listed for sale by Rand Stadium Toyota. I immediately call the dealer. Vusumuzi takes the call. “A Land Cruiser 78 Troopy? No there we only have a Land Cruiser 300 on the floor!” Disappointed I end the call. A few minutes later my phone rings. It’s Vusumuzi. I found it! Lessons learned I ask him if I they can hold for me. For a R5000 deposit, I get 7 working days. Watch how I collect my Troopy.