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When your dog dies....

Last night, I picked up my 2015 Landcruiser 200 Series. A stock version of the car with the exception of very solid 33" mud/all-trerains, a Toyota steel bullbar and a 12,000 lb winch installed. I drove home with my daughter next to me :-)... a pig in mud.

The sad backstory here is that my Nissan Patrol, fully decked out and that I loved, was stolen nearly two weeks ago. I woke up, went outside and nadda - gone. Lots of scouring online, reports to the cops and disappointment, I decided to move on and get a new rig and a new project to boot! ... a smile has slowly but surely returned to my face.

Making my mind that a Toyota 200 Series was the car for me took a few twists and turns - not a slam dunk but, in a relative sense, I got there pretty quickly. There's a few things that I weaved into the decision-making process I'll share here.

Firstly, my mate James has a Discovery 4 - well kitted out, but on principle, I wouldn't get the same car. When we tour around together, that would take a way heaps of the fun - seeing, learning and trying out the different cars, placing bets and sharing the pros and cons over a camp fire. I'm not fussed what the pros or the cons are of the cars, it's the diversity and story telling that's so much more important.

Secondly, there was the fact that I've already owned a Patrol - my first 4x4. I loved that car and knew every nook and cranny. For a little while, I've thought I'll just 'go again' however, it three things that had me decide to move forward: a) something new to learn - the 1,000's of hours ahead of me to get to where I was with the patrol; b) the transmission - I had a manual patrol and wanted to move on now to an auto; and c) the 3.0L diesel engine in the Patrol seemed a little less relaxing that I was looking for now. For completeness, I could have got an automatic patrol, and I thought about this for a few hours, but felt, the overhead of the automatic transmission on what I felt was an engine that was a little underpec'd already was final deicison. It feels bad talking negatively about the Patrol, but that's as objective as I can be and at least the rationale that supported a change.

Goodbye my old friend - here's many of my fondest memories.

One of the major benefits of the Patrol that I loved

, was its simplicity - the ability to look and see what's going on and maintain it well. I ended up doing full services myself and the 12v work was all mine soup to nuts. And so, in terms of a new car, my thinking moved on to a Toyota 76, 79 series or such - the v8 deisel engine was of great appeal. Aside from the engine, there's lots to like about these cars, except, in my view they are very very basic (almost too much so) however, they have leaf sprung suspension which seems like too hard to wrap my head around having come from coil sprung with the Patrol. And there's then the fact they are manual... keep reading.

For a night about a week or so ago, I tickled the idea of a Ford Ranger - top of the line with all the 4x4 stuff on it. This review process prompted me though to think about why I was purchasing the car in the first place, aside from the obvious need for transport! I didn't really have any serious dislike of the car itself, but moreso what it represented and to see whether I was actually the buyer they had in mind when they designed the car. My conclusion was that buyers of these sorts of '2020' propositions are looking for a finished rig - something they can use for work and play - a swiss army knife. There's also very little you can tinker with in my view which is most of the reason why I want a car in the first place. And so, after a night of googling and some long discussions with Greg, the idea of a Ford Ranger or anything else like that slipped away.

Finally then, what am I left with... well, I could get a new(er) Patrol, perhpas the latest model/spec but it's a petrol engine!... that just wouldnt feel right. Or there was a Prado... (more on this later). The upshot was that I ended up with a 200 series. I don't mean for this to sound like a 'last choice' at all but rather the best choice based on what I want and need. The engine I love so far (although more on that later) and I reckon there's a good thousand plus hours of tinkering ahead of me there too. As they say, "...something to look forward to.".

So, I now officially, welcome my new friend. I'll do my best to keep you clean, well fed (serviced) and occassionally excited. But also, not to smother you too much too soon - a flaw perhpas in my personality but this morning during a walk I reminded myself to take my time. Smell the roses and knock the ball out of the park from the start. That's what this is all about, not ripping stuff apart in hours and creating a mess (check out some of the patrol above in its early days).

It's a pity we are right in the middle of lockdown, as it would be ideal to drive around a bit and stretch its (name TBD) legs.

More stories, fun and games to come. And here's a few photos for reference.

I'll keep up this blog with a running catalogue of servicing, musings and to mark the stages and time as this project unfolds. Happy days ahead :-)

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