There are different types of vibrations. As the Beach Boys and any good sex-toy salesman will tell you, there are good vibrations. But there are also bad vibrations. Vibrations that are unrelenting and worrying; oscillations that can loosen any lug nut, dislodge kidney stones, and shake whole dashboards into your lap. I’m not sure if there’s a Richter scale for such a thing, but just a few kilometers into an endless washboard better known as the R355, the longest uninterrupted gravel road in South Africa, we must be at a solid seven. Possibly eight.
Now, this is the point in the story where you expect me to say—in typical Top Gear fashion—that I’ve doubled down on the jeopardy by driving an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera on space savers or something. Ha! You couldn’t be more wrong. For once, I’m in the absolute best car for the job: a near-as box-fresh Toyota Land Cruiser from the mid-’80s. This isn’t a story of suffering, or an act of escapist philanthropy, for you, the readers. It’s a celebration. A toot on the kazoo for one of the most legendary nameplates in motoring.
This year, the Land Cruiser blows out 70 candles on its birthday cake—comfortably making it Toyota’s longest selling car. With over 10 million units sold across 170 countries, you’d think it’d be going off the boil by now. Quite the opposite: It’s showing no signs of slowing down, with around 400,000 of these mechanical cockroaches produced a year. For many people around the world, it’s not a car—it’s a lifeline.