Bob Cooke – contributor

1-isuxuI remember being thoroughly impressed with the Isuzu Rodeo when it first appeared in 2003 as a replacement for the truly trucklike Vauxhall Brava. Not that I approved of the styling, particularly, too school-run sleek for my liking compared with my favourite at the time, the Nissan Navara, which has a much more off-roady appeal. But I did like the gutsy 3.0-litre turbodiesel, which gave the Rodeo lustier acceleration and much easier cruising than its 2.5-litre opponents.

Hence I was pleased to have the opportunity to drive the long-term Denver Max LE. My, what a lot of pretty chrome trim, pretty blue-illuminated dials, complete with sporty red needles, and what a lot of gadgetry to play with! Personally, I could do without the silly gleaming sidesteps, all they really end up doing after a spell of off-roading is to smear mud all over your trouser legs as you get out; I’d be too afraid of scraping the plating off against a rock. I’d rather have a chunky length of angle iron there to protect the sills. Still, the rest of the chrome I can live with. What did leave me cold, however, was the sat nav system. I don’t really have a problem with systems that don’t allow you to select a destination on the move, but this one seems only to allow you to do so after first initialisation, which takes agonising minutes. If you drive off while it’s initialising thinking to pull into a layby later to set your destination, forget it – you’ll have to switch off again and wait for the entire deadly boring initialisation process to happen again. And then…the system doesn’t seem to recognise postcodes, so you have to go through the whole process of selecting city, street etc which is of no use at all if you’re going to anywhere that hasn’t got a suitable street number.

Louise Limb – contributor

2-vitaraHaving borrowed some Mediterranean weather for a few days, Britain basked in some pretty noticeable warmth and I snatched myself some time to get out on the hills and enjoy the fabulous Karst landscape that’s some 20 minutes up the road from me. The wild pansies and skylarks took my mind off the impending expenditure that the Grand Vitara was bound to incur.

Tuesday arrived, the sun went in and I handed over my keys to the nice people on the service desk at my local Suzuki main dealer. The good bit was that Phil was to be my grease monkey for what should have been the GV’s 36k miles service – a big one. He’s taken his Jeep to Croatia, knows his off-roaders and has a reserved view of anything Land Rover that was manufactured after 1971. His last Defender cost him £1000 in one year and that was using his immense skill and experience as well as secondhand parts. Phil was keen to show me what he was doing to my precious daily drive so off I went, beyond the edge of the carpeted public area and into workshop land.

drive1Nissan’s well-proven Navara truck picks up a power, emissions and consumption upgrade plus meaty V6 turbodiesel that oozes torque. Of course there’s been the inevitable cosmetic tweak, too.

Words: Graham Scott; photos: Nissan

Peeking into the cargo box in the bed of the Navara showed that Nissan takes hardcore seriously. I’d been thinking the ride wasn’t bad for an unladen pick-up with leaf springs and the sneaky peek confirmed what I thought – the box was full of hardcore, helping settle the ride. In case you’re thinking of buying a Navara and getting enough free hardcore to sort your garden path out – this is not standard fitment.

Garry Stuart – freelance photographer

nissan3Following a photo shoot in Wiltshire with a pair of Pinzgauers, the Terrano was pointed towards France once again as Qt Services was holding a Wildcat testing weekend in the central Burgundy region.

Making an early evening crossing from Dover, Stella and I had hopes of a nice little B&B and a decent meal in an Auberge. These hopes were dashed when the LD Lines Ferry was unable to let us off the boat because it had lost all the hydraulics controlling the ramp. Instead of disembarking in Boulogne at 19.00hrs we eventually were set free at gone 02.00hrs, so, not for the first time, the Terrano became our overnight accommodation. The next day entailed driving through the St Denis region of Paris, as there appears to be no real bypass, and six hours later we reached our destination – the beautiful mediaeval town of Autun where we did find a good place to rest before an early start at a nearby off-road testing ground, favoured by French Dakar and WRC Teams.

Shion Scudamore – contributor

4bedfordWith the MoT test booked and the fear of the VOSA testing station kicking, I have started to remove the wings and sort the holes in the cab floor. I had hoped to do a complete stripdown and clear the cab of rust once and for all, but a mass of other time commitments have ruled that out. My sons are, understandably, more inclined to hit the beach in the old lady rather than hear the sound of dad angle grinding and welding; come to that, so am I!

The KAB seat suspension units are waiting to be grafted in underneath the Range Rover seats, which, we hope, should go some way in easing the discomfort of the solid-mounted cab. Removal of the floor mat by the driver’s feet revealed a lot of daylight and, to be honest, I have neglected the cab since I bought the truck six years ago.

Bob Cooke – contributor

5hotchThe tank was seriously stuck. The engine roared, the clutches slipped, the tracks churned but the megamass of military metal had clearly bellied out on a hidden chunk of rock. There was only one thing for it – Eugene to the rescue. With a 10-metre strop shackled to the blighted behemoth the lighweight veteran hauled the tank free…

In our dreams. Eugene just happened to be charging past the tank when photographer Pete Robain snapped it, and he couldn’t help Photoshopping in the towrope. Good one, Pete – but not as good as Pete’s later effort, when, with his 1947 Willys CJ3A, he used a real strop to pull a bogged-down Defender out of a hole – one-upmanship, or what!