Recently after a few hours working on my Series 3 lightweight project, I stood back (with a cup of tea provided by the good lady wife) and pondered the thought, have 4×4 manufacturers of today started or already lost sight of what it’s all about ???
Typical examples are; the Suzuki Vitara, a well loved & capable little off roader, now evolved into a 2 wheel drive crossover for school runs with a part time 4wd button for when the need is required. When the legendary Defender, as we know it, goes what will fill that massive hole in the market ? and don’t talk to me about the DC100 lady-boy car !!
All of todays modern 4×4’s are all full of cup holders, arm rests, buttons and all types of electronic gadgetry … do we really need this stuff … or are we just told we need this stuff ?
Going back to the good ol’ days of off roading, the rule was keep it simple and it is easily fixed or at least cobbled up to get you back to civilisation or home at the end of the day.
Here are a few of the old things that cannot (or should not) be replaced by modern technologies, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Thank goodness some are still out there on our trusty off roaders … but for how long ?
A, Beam Axles; Not the supple ride of the independent types, but much simpler and a damn site more reliable if you are into the extreme off roading or safari adventures.
B, Roof Gutters; Simple fix for roof racks, bars & light bars. Not to mention keeping water away from your door seals. A diploma was not required to fit any of the above accessories to your old 4×4 guttering, not like the modern counterparts, with sliding hatches, fiddly clips and brackets etc.
C, Hand Throttles; The poor mans cruise control. The ideal weapon for water crossings, bumpy trails, steep climbs and any ancillary operations.
D, Mechanical Diesel Motors; Pure genius, once running it just keeps going if drip fed the heavy oil. Not even a battery required and certainly no electronic sensors to tell us “computer says no” !!!
E, Simple Strong Chassis; Light weight is not everything. This has lead manufacturers down the lost path of twisted & perforated art forms of metal that are called modern chassis. Is this why we now see many 4×4’s with bent & written off chassis??
F, Windscreen Vents; The most simple and direct way of getting cool air through the cab and to the occupants. A design marvel, why they have been removed … only the gods will know.
G, Genuine Bottle jacks; Remember the solid lumps of cast and hydraulic rams, not the flimsy modern version, don’t even mention the virtually useless pressed steel scissor jacks, unless you never leave the black top.
H, Gear Levers; Two, three or even four of them. When an off road driver needed the knowledge of gear use, not button pressing to deal with the terrain laid out infront of them. If that hill decent button fails, what are you going to do ?
So I say to all you old school 4×4 drivers, restorers and enthusiasts, keep the faith and keep those old motors rolling they will never be beaten. We all know these modern versions will not be trundling around in 30, 40 or 50 years time. You may well be using them after 15 years as cutlery to eat your Sunday dinner.
By Jonny Diesel.