97 Toyota Colorado/Prado through Africa. West Coast Route
I am planning on taking my 1997 Landcruiser Colorado (aka Prado) through Africa. (west coast route)
I am going to emigrate to South Africa, so instead of shipping the car I thought it would be more fun to take 2-3(max) months and drive it there. :funmeteryes:
So, I am not planning on some heavy expedition, and the point of the trip is really just to get to SA. Main roads as much as possible. I'm on a budget, so I was thinking on doing the following mods only:
- Suspension upgrade. Possibly OME or Ironman. My main concern is REALIABILITY. I am not useful with the spanners, so want to minimise breakdowns. Car wont be heavily loaded.
- General Grabber AT2 x 5 or maybe even x 6 .
No roof-tent, no fridge, no Winch (probably hand winch), no Snorkel etc like I said I'm on a budget. The car wont be too heavily loaded.
It will be just me and the wife, so I wont want to attempt any deep water crossings alone. Hence no snorkel. Although might get one just cause they look so damn cool.
Am I Crazy?
Can anyone give advice on some essential things to check/upgrade ? I will probably have it fully serviced and looked over by Overland Cruisers here in the UK. I hear they know what to look out for.
Any ideas/opinions welcome. Thanks
No, I would say you are not crazy at all!!! For simple, light overlanding I would say keep it all original - including suspension unless yours is really starting to sag. There is a hell of a lot to be said for the argument that original unmolested = reliability. As for water crossings well you have to be pretty deep to be needing a snorkel - I have one but even after one week in the Okavango and several more weeks in wet areas (incl some pretty hairy crossings) we still could have managed fine without one. General overlanding and trying to avoid trouble you will not need one. Same goes for the winch etc... I have been pulled up for questioning if most overlanders really need proper recovery points etc but I still maintain that for most people on most trips a standard unmodified vehicle is asking for less trouble. Obviously if your suspension is not up to the load then that needs to be sorted. Oh, and for most toyotas you actually need to worry about the relatively low breathers before worrying about the air intake.
My only other 2p worth is General Grabber AT2s. Frankly they are not up to the job, with very weak sidewalls and a short lifetime. On my heavily laden HZJ78 they lasted 11,000kms... On a lighter vehicle with less off road abuse maybe they work for overlanding, but do you really want to? Buy BFG which are tried and tested and mostly loved.
(internet in the remote parts of Kafue NP in Zambia was an amazing find!)
Thanks for the advice Gil.
Some good food for thought there. Especially regarding the stock suspension. I think its easy to get carried away with mods to a vehicle. Maybe when I'm living in SA I will go all out with winches bullbars, etc, at least the stuff will be cheaper there to source.
I will see what my load will be like closer to the time. Then fully consider suspension options. Maybe airbags if im running a bit heavy.
Reckon you are right about getting BF Goodrich. Heard nothing but good things about them
If you were going to eastern route, I'd say no problem...
The western route is a little more interesting and I'd suggest the following:
Suspension lift by 5cm
Bull Bar and rear bumper to get rid of Tupperware.
Otherwise it is a very capable vehicle.
I have recently gone through the same research about tyres and found that although BFG's have a great name, they are very expensive and notoriously difficult to source in Africa. Long story short, I went with Bridgestone Dueller Mud Terrains. Less expensive, readily available and every bit as reliable as BFG.
Being one not to spend money on stuff unless I have to, so I have money to travel and owning a 90 LWB Auto (Colorado) heres what I have done to mine.
OMU Shocks and springs
255/85/16 BFG M/T's
Outback Drawers (found second hand, very nice but very expensive new)
Swapped one battery for a Leisure Battery and fitted basic isolaters on the batteries (cost £16)
Cam belt change (use genuine belt) very simple or cheap to fit.
Rebuilt starter motor (kit from Roughtrax)
Replace U/J's 3 off (again from Roughtrax)
New Radiator. (very important in a Auto)
Check / replace brake pads (front calipers tend to seize, so make sure they are free)
Replace oil / filter every 5K at most
Replace air filters often if dusty (Milners Offroad are cheap for air filters)
and mine has not let me down and travels everywhere offroad where anyone else has gone.
My 90 in Zagora this year and I'm off to Western Sahara next year (Cannot wait)
Nothing wrong with your Vehicle. But I would advise Bridgestone AT as they are reliable,and available in Africa. If you leave in the European spring you dont need mud tyres.
Definately upgrade the suspension - OME HD Nitrochargers and HD springs - don't worry about the bullbar as you'll then want to add HD torsion bars, No winch - no winch bullbar therefore saving alot of weight.
Swop out the 15" alloys for 16" steels - buy some 750/16 Michelin XZY's (235/85R16) incredibly durable BFG ATs are a cheaper alternative.
Get a FULL service - changing ALL oils/fluids/consumables etc.
Extra spots high up on the roof bars are handy as is a second complete spare.
1KZ-T engine is a good'n - lots of torque. Lots of info in the links below.
Go well and travel safely.
It does not have torsion bars, it has springs and 16" wheels are standard 15" don't fit because they don't clear the brake calipers (at least My spare Hilux 15" wheels don't fit)
I know but the last Prado I saw (in EA) had 15" rims and could do with a suspension upgrade! It still has the KZ-T or TE though doesn't it? May have made an error on the IFS though... :)
It is a bit confusing because Toyota used the name Prado for many models (some 70s 90s and 120s).
A 1997 will be the same as my picture which does have the 1KZ-TE engine :)
Roads in West Africa are much more difficult than East Africa and are harder on the vehicle. Weather is more critical in West Africa and traveling through the rainy season in Cameroon, Gabon etc is virtually impossible so check your dates before you head off. Also visas are more difficult to get especially Angola. You will have fun. We have driven both West and East Africa
Adventure Travelers, Overlanders, Travel Presentations | Adventurous Spirits
[QUOTE=twenty4seven;262963]Swapped one battery for a Leisure Battery and fitted basic isolaters on the batteries (cost £16)
Matt, any more detail on your battery set up? particularly the isolators anything like this on fleabay?
12 Volt 30 amps split charge relay system. | eBay
Hopefully your Colorado has two batteries under the bonnet?
Not all did, hence it can manage with only one starter battery.
I fitted two of these (ebay) and replaced one battery with a Lucas leisure / starter battery
When stopped overnight I just isolate the starter battery and then the whole vehicle is running off the leisure battery. I did run a dedicated supply off the leisure battery for the fridge, one for the extra size cable and secondly to have power without the ignition key being in.
Simple, cheap, easy to fit and nothing to go wrong.
What a brilliant solution :) (rushes off to spend more money on ebay)
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