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Reader test: Land Rover Defender

2010-11-04 06:56

GREAT OUTDOORS: Mollie's little lady is right at home in the veld.

Mollie Kruger, Centurion

Faithful? Mostly. Quiet? No way! Sexy? Absolutely.

No, I am not referring to a human spouse or girlfriend. The object of my desire, devotion and passion is my 1996 Land Rover Defender Tdi County station wagon.

With Land Rovers, and Defenders in particular, there are no grey areas - you either love them or hate them. These girls are despised mostly by guys driving around in oversized pickups with fat tyres and rows of spotlights on the roll bars, easily identified by the Blue Bull sticker on the tailgate and the strange blue plastic ornament hanging from the tow hitch.

On the other hand, people who worship these ladies from Solihull in England will greet each other in public with a friendly wave or a flash of headlights. This veneration has more than once caused personal embarrassment when flashing a fellow Defender man while driving past in a lesser vehicle.

So why does anyone fall in love with a Defender? In the first place, it is not the proper partner for a man who thinks that Bakkies Botha’s most recent banning was a mistake, neither the suitable match for one of the Blue Bulls-beer-brandy-braai brigade. Defenders are more suited to men who are in tune with their softer, feminine side. There, I said it!

Of guitars and SLRs

Amongst Defender owners you will find people who own cats and play guitar (no, not “Die Leeuloop”, but stuff that Koos du Plessis wrote). Land Rover lovers are men who actually understand all the functions of a digital SLR or video camera. A Defender is not a one-night stand, she becomes a partner, maybe for life.

So, more about my lady. She was on the rebound in 2002 after leaving her previous lover, a Jo’burg doctor, a boring city slicker. She was then 143 000 kilometres young, now being a more mature 275 000 kilometres. I replaced the clutch a year ago, not because I had to, but while the opportunity presented itself because of a clutch-fork failure. Apart from that, I had to replace a number of bearings here and there. She has been to Botswana and the Epupa Falls and back, not complaining once, meticulously dressed from head to toe in safari gear.

I don’t allow anyone to touch her, which causes some friction between us at times. I have had some harsh words about her English parentage while lying beneath her, drenched in gearbox oil or losing knuckle skin trying to tighten up the handbrake cable. But, while driving her, I recognise every groan, I know her limits and understand her every move.

Yet, my soul mate is hiding her innermost secrets from me. Recently, heading up a pass in the Eastern Cape, for no reason, she blew her top. Not literally, but she overheated badly. Signs of age, or some concealed crankiness? The end of the relationship, or time for medical intervention?

This relationship will last until death us do part...

Inside Wheels24

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