From the very inception of the trip, the plan was to take a car. It had to be a car. On almost every blog, book or forum you read, people universally recommend a 4WD. Inevitably, it’s a Toyota Landcruiser. This is by far the hugely sensible option. They are bullet proof, go anywhere and it’s easy to get parts. We didn’t want to drive a 4WD 15,000kms though- it seems like cheating, and boring.
One of the considerations for the choice of car, was what to do with it at the end of the trip. Since we are going to end up in Australia, being able to sell it there would seem to be a big bonus. Unfortunately, Australian Customs are quite restrictive on vehicle imports to Australia. Essentially the only options for us, are to take in something older than 1989, or take something newer, but take it back out of the country within 12 months.
The old option was briefly attractive, with thoughts of driving a 1988 Porsche 944 halfway across the world and then selling it in Sydney when we arrived. Very cool, but possibly not as reliable as you might like!
After a little bit of research, we’ve decided not to be quite so brave. A new, 4WD car might not be as glamorous, but it’s less likely to leave us stuck in the middle of the road half way across China.
We’ve now decided on a non-turbo Subaru Forester. These are still quite ‘car like’ to drive (they are based on a Subaru Impreza), but still have the benefit of 4WD and low range. The turbo (XT) model was also briefly appealing, but fuel economy and the ‘one less thing to break’ school of thought steered us back to the non-turbo. They aren’t exactly sports cars, but they aren’t a 2.5 tonne Landcruiser either.
Our actual car for the trip is a silver 2003 Subaru Forester X All Weather. In the UK, even the late model Foresters still have 2.0 litre engines, as opposed to the 2.5 litre engines you find in Australian spec Foresters of the same age. I don’t know if this makes any difference to fuel economy, but we don’t have a choice anyway! We’ve chosen a 5 speed manual, mainly because we’d both rather drive a manual than an automatic. I’d like to say it was after considerable research and thought, but an auto is just boring. When thinking about buying a car, we did consider buying something in Australia and then shipping it to the UK to start the trip. Thanks to car prices in the UK however, it’s less than half the cost to buy the same car in London as it would have been to buy in Sydney, so that decided things for us!
We won’t be making too many modifications to the car. The only things are likely to be a reinforced sump guard, and some sort of setup to carry fuel. The most likely solution for this will be a roof basket and jerry cans.