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Reader test: Toyota Conquest

2009-08-27 09:42

The remains of Terry's house following a flash flood on the Kaaimans River. Her Toyota Conquest survived.

Terry Cohen, Knysna

I've always gone for guts, not great looks.  

Old and trusty friends may not be the best lookers, but hey, if they can rise out of the dirt with you, then who is complaining?

In the 80s, I worked for a Johannesburg-based newspaper that acquired a fleet of Toyota Corollas. I soon figured that if these little babies could handle the abuse of a bunch of journos getting their jollies off by driving up mine dumps and travelling the less-travelled roads of Soweto, then indeed one would survive me - albeit the torment was to be no less.

My introduction to my new home in Wilderness (circa 1988) was via a homemade barge that took me up the Kaaimans River. The road to the property was treacherous, and for the 11 years that I lived there, guests approached either by canoe, or were fetched from the Map of Africa viewpoint overlooking the riverside “dream”.

Sole survivor

In 1996, my then Toyota Conquest lived through a devastating flood. My home was destroyed in an overnight flash flood, but the blue Conquest that had been parked in what was deemed to be relative safety (half way up the drive), was also engulfed in mud and rocks from a landslide.  

My insurance company agreed to have the car airlifted by a standby Russian helicopter that was doing disaster missions in the area, but some macho guys from the disaster management team decided to lay some material over the chasms, and drove her to safety.  

Indeed, one of the only material survivors of this episode was the Conquest (and the library book in the boot!). Sadly, all cameras, photographs and a lifetime of memories went to sea. I have included a photograph illustrating the road that the Toyota travelled on a daily basis. I often thought that Toyota should run an advertising campaign using this road!  

The home was featured in the Country Life magazine in 1995 and Alex Cremer wrote “Friends who visit ... should not be scared of steep inclines, or drive under-powered vehicles … the only access was via a precarious track that would have tested even a 4x4..” 

Who needs a 4X4?

I always had the confidence to strap my young daughter into her seat, and just drive. The car took care of the rest. I remember one occasion when my ex-husband was convinced that I would get stuck on the farm road leading out of the property, and followed me in a Range Rover.

We simply did a twirl in the mud, flicked some dirt, and left him to be “tractored” out of the mire.

I currently have a RunX, live in suburbia on the beaten track… (very well beaten are Knysna roads), and know, that no matter how wealthy, stealthy or wise, I shall always revere the trustworthiness and sense of security that Toyota offers.

After all, what else is there in the world left to trust, but your Toyota?

Terry's Conquest's daily route

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