Monthly Archives: August 2014

october news ssangyongFor a company that has not much of a heritage in the UK, it may surprise some to discover that SsangYong is now celebrating its 60th Anniversary. Established back in 1954, it is Korea’s oldest manufacturer and the only one making 4x4s and SUVs. The company is now majority owned by Indian manufacturing conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra, and its history even back in the Fifties has always involved collaborations, including Mercedes-Benz, Daewoo and the Chinese SAIC company. The first model to come to the UK was the Musso.

If you want to confirm the company’s 4×4 heritage, take a look at this jeep (right). Looks familiar? It’s hard to understand how companies managed to produce vehicles that shamelessly looked like someone else’s vehicle. This is the Shinjin Jeep of 1974, and yes we think it looks like a Wrangler.

Quality shackleWell known for an extensive range of high quality overland adventure gear, Front Runner has a great range that is ideal for Challenge competitors. Front Runner has a recovery range that includes Sand Traxs right through to canvas recovery bags. The company also makes this exquisite titanium shackle, and it’s a work of art! Rated for 4.75ton it does the job as well. Now available in the UK from Front Runner dealers. To find your local dealer just email [email protected]

Website: www.frontrunneroutfitters.eu 

Motoring travel bagIt is worth remembering when travelling abroad, there are different regulations in different countries and if you are crossing Europe this year for a holiday, it would pay to check up on the law. Ring actually produce a European Travel Kit, reasonably priced at £29.99 that should have you covered for most trips. Some of the products that you need are pretty obvious such as having a GB sticker for the vehicle, but do you know you need alcohol breathalysers when driving in France? The kit also includes a warning triangle, high vis jackets, universal bulb kit, beam convertors, GB sticker, first aid kit, foil blanket, twin pack of breathalyser tests, all in a compact carry bag. Available in many motor factor outlets or check the website.

Website: www.ringautomotive.co.uk 

Range Rover bush toolChanging suspension bushes on older models of Range Rover can significantly improve the vehicle’s handling and ride quality. The problem can be that they are difficult to remove. These two new rear suspension bush tools are designed for the Range Rover L322 (2003-2012), the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery 3 and 4. The lower hub bush tool and the upper hub bush tool have been developed to allow you to remove and refit these rear suspension bushes with the minimum of dismantling required. Being able to perform the task on the vehicle saves considerable time over the more traditional use of a workshop press and the requirement that the hub be completely removed. Check out the website to find out more.

Website: www.lasertools.co.uk 

FROM AFGHANISTAN BACK TO SUSSEXWe have a detailed feature this month (October 2014) on Overland Cruisers, the company that specialises in converting Toyota Land Cruisers for overland trips and expeditions. It is fitting, therefore, that we can report on one trip that fully endorses the tough character of the model. Domenic Senger-Schenk drove a 1993 model for a 4600 mile trip from Afghanistan to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and in the process raised a significant £22,000 for Mission Motorsport, a group that helps the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations by offering a chance to get involved in the business of racing cars and bikes. Domenic was joined on the trip by ex-Royal Marine Chris Short, who actually completed the route on a motorbike; between them they traversed 17 countries and some of the most demanding desert landscapes in central Asia. The Toyota did the job as Domenic explained: “The only issue was a radiator problem that we easily fixed. Although I had never driven on roads anything like as rough as those in the Afghan and Kazakh deserts, and despite the fact the car was top-heavy with its load, the Toyota coped with it fine.” Looking for an inexpensive machine for a planned expedition? Worth considering the good ol’ Toyota Land Cruiser it would seem.

BobCookeBob Cooke – contributor

jeep cherokeeI watched with a certain amount of awe as Axel Seedig drove his Grand Cherokee up the narrow, steeply angled climb. It was more like a gulley than a track, with a couple of big humps and dips on the left which looked as if they’d not only get a car cross-axled, but would also tip it sideways into the steep gulley wall to the right if you weren’t very careful. Axel’s car, a well-modified off-roader (that has previously appeared in our Your 4×4 Life section), made it look easy, partly because the rear diff was locked up and partly because it didn’t look as if Axel cared one jot about smacking his truck sideways into the earth wall if it all went wrong.

Robert Pepper – contributor

Ford RangerThe Ranger is going well. In fact, better than well, I love it. The Ranger has that rare quality these days of driving enjoyment. Most modern cars have the driver involvement engineered out of them like the taste is processed out of food. But the Ranger has that certain interest, that feel that appeals to the enthusiast in me. I can’t quite identify what it is exactly, so it must be the sum of a few parts. Certainly the steering has the right amount of feel, and it’s true the car isn’t as refined as many wagons, but that means you are more part of the car and less isolated above it all. Either way, I love driving my Ranger.

julystaffhilsphotoHils Everitt – Editor at Large

Subaru Forester 2.0D XC Premium

Last month I pointed out a few negatives about our long-term Forester in the mechanical department. But there are many things I do like about it. Apart from the styling, which many find bland, but I rather like, and its typical Subaru solidly-built body work, excellent electrical seating adjustments and unfussy interior which retains its credentials as more of a workhorse than its prettier and more cluttered peers within the huge SUV crossover sector, there are some great practical attributes that have impressed.

For starters there’s the rear view camera that our XC Premium spec includes. My 09 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland which would have been many tens of thousands of pounds new, has a rear view camera, but it is rather blurry with not the best reproduction. The Subaru’s, however, is very un-blurry to the point that I was very surprised at its clarity and definition. Rear view cameras have always perturbed me (and the Editor it seems, in his report on the Freelander this issue!) and it has taken a while to get used to them and trust them without looking in door mirrors while reversing. As my Grand’s is not the best view, I tend not to look at it a lot and follow the old traditional method of constantly flicking my eyes from each mirror. The Subaru’s, however, is so clear and with the guiding red, yellow and green lines makes you put your wholehearted trust in that little screen on the dash.


Hils BlogThis month our columnist has been ‘off-road’ in two-leg drive, traversing the Italian Dolomites, where she spotted some very interesting 4x4s – but very few of them being posh SUVs

have been on my travels again. As usual, I have been chilling and doing some tromping in the mountains; this time the Italian Dolomites. I was based at Cortina d’Ampezzo, a ski resort for the rich and famous, but in the summer it is buzzing with mountain bikers, road cyclists, trekkers and walkers, mountaineers and those having a go at via ferrata.

Whenever I am in the mountains of Europe I always come across loads of 4x4s of various shapes, sizes and ages. Old, loyal, rust-ridden and battered vehicles that are properly ‘worked’ as they should be, make a refreshing change from the big, shiny, expensive 4x4s on the school or supermarket run that I see more often in the south east of England.


October 2014 Issue of 4×4 Magazine

october coverIt’s always refreshing learning something new about four-wheel drive, especially the technology used to get a vehicle across impossible ground, or through poor weather conditions. This month, I certainly learned something new, albeit something that was actually conceived some 60 plus years ago!

Now we are all getting used to the amazing technology that is fitted to 4x4s these days, plus all that mind-boggling stuff from the wizards in white coats at Jaguar Land Rover. Actually, they probably don’t wear white coats anymore, I’m just showing my age and love of an ancient cliché; these days it’s all designer suits, Google glasses and virtual reality caves… But I digress. This month’s piece of wonderful ‘new’ technology for me was the amazing Elston Skid-Master Sander fitted to the unique 4×4 Dodge woodie station wagon, featured on page 44. I won’t explain what it does here, just read through the feature and see what you think. I guarantee it will make you smile, both at the ingenuity, and sheer barmy, craziness of the whole idea. It’s probably not going to be included on the next Discovery Concept from the guys at Jaguar Land Rover, but you feel learning about it should increase their education on the history of four-wheel drive. Some years ago I was privileged to get to know John Cooper, of Mini and World Championship motor racing fame. John was no mean engineer himself, but he told me a story about how an Italian engineer once said to him, “if you want to learn something new, then go to the museum”. Meaning that you’ll be surprised how many ‘new’ developments have been tried before. Mind you, I’m not sure that the Skid-Master will be making a comeback on the next generation Range Rover!