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Reader's ride: Hilux KZ-TE

2011-04-05 12:14

OLD SCHOOL, BUT COOL?: Remembered as the vehicle that popularised turbodiesel power amongst Toyota double-cab owners, are these original KZ-TE bakkies still a good buy?

Nadine Thomson - DriveOut

Johan Erasmus tells us more about his faithful off-road companion - a Toyota Hilux 3.0 KZ-TE of 2000 vintage.

On the odometer?

325 000 km – most of which unfortunately has been on tar, although we do go off-roading as regularly as our leave and budget allow.

How many owners?

I bought it new, and with the exception of the few times my wife drove the Hilux while her vehicle was being serviced, I drove each of the 325 000 km myself.

How much did it cost?

R244 000 in 2000

Why a Toyota?

My first two 4x4s were Land Rovers, my third a Toyota and my fourth an Isuzu. I learned enough about each manufacturer to make my fifth one a Toyota once again.

Where have you been in it?

Botswana (fifteen times), Namibia (twice) and Lesotho (three times). Also in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, the north of KwaZulu-Natal – and almost everywhere in between.

Your dream destination?

An extreme dune route in Namibia. But I recently drove the Baboon’s Pass in Lesotho, and it was the best 4x4 experience of my life.

Any breakdowns?

Apart from running out of diesel twice – it was my own fault – it has never left me in the lurch on the roadside.

Any repairs?

At 180 000 km I had to have the head replaced after it had cracked. I was very disappointed in Toyota, but all the KZ-TE owners whom I had spoken to, had the same problem. It was apparently commonplace, but I believe Toyota subsequently fixed the problem. I have driven 145 000 km with the current head without any problems. Apart from that it hasn’t even been necessary to replace the clutch.


The chassis and body were lifted by 4 inches (10 cm) with a Pro Comp system. The advantages of this were very clear in Baboon’s Pass. Thanks to this extra 10 cm I could fit 32-inch BF Goodridge Mud-Terrain tyres, which also make off-roading easier. Furthermore, I had a long-range fuel tank and intercooler fitted.

What do you like about it?

A twin-cab bakkie doesn’t have the most beautiful form on the market, but it’s just so practical. You can take away refuse over weekends and transport off-road motorbikes. I also put a canopy on it when we travel or go to the farm to prevent the smell of the tractor’s diesel cans and the dog’s hair from reaching the passengers. In the week you drive to work in it, and on Sundays it’s not too scruffy at church.

And what not?

The only niggle is the high fuel price, and that vehicles are so expensive and don’t last forever.

If you could change something?

A front diff lock would be useful for serious 4x4 trips.

Do you pack anything special before a long trip?

Numerous items remain in the vehicle permanently, but we go nowhere without a fire extinguisher– it has saved vehicles on three occasions. A high-lift jack is also worth more than a winch (you can even straighten out a Land Rover that has rolled on the Makgadikgadi Pans enough to get home…).

Best memory of the vehicle?

It used to be of playing around in Swakopmund’s dunes (in the area that has been set aside for it), but this honour now belongs to Baboon’s Pass in Lesotho. Two and a half days, 22 km…

Would you drive through Africa in it?

Anytime, but first there are still too many places in South Africa and our neighbouring countries that I want to have a closer look at.

If it were a person or celebrity?

Shrek – it might not be the most beautiful vehicle, but it’s as strong as an ox and you can always rely on it to get you to the other side.

If we gave you R10 000 …

I would add R5 000 to have that front diff lock fitted.

Drive Out: 1961 Unimog 411

2011-04-18 13:59

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