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08-12-2020, 05:20 PM   #1
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Vehicle advice

At some point after this pandemic is under control and travel restrictions are lifted, I will be returning to Africa, to resume a small housing development project we started some time back. I will be needing a car, and I typically enjoy one that provides reasonable power and good handling (currently driving an aging Alfa Romeo 156). I will also have use for a small pickup, or something similar, for hauling things like bags of cement, lumber, etc. However, this would not get constant use, so although I could save some money by having such a truck (i.e. by not having to pay someone else to transport my merchandise), it may also be difficult to justify buying one because of the limited use it is likely to see. And I'd really prefer to drive a car rather than a truck...

Funds will be very limited, especially after this pandemic, so I will not be able to buy both a car and a truck immediately, and whatever I get will be second-hand. I suppose I could simply get a pickup, and use that as my car, until I'm able to buy a decent car. However, it has occurred to me that perhaps a better solution would be to get a car with decent power, and a trailer of some sort. The only difficulty that comes to mind is having to learn how to reverse a car with a trailer In addition to the benefit of driving a car instead of a more crude vehicle, I Imagine there would also be the benefit of lower fuel costs when the car is used alone, compared to driving a truck.

So, any thoughts on the trailer plan? Is there anything I'm neglecting to take into consideration? How much power am I likely to need in the car, if it's going to haul the trailer plus about a ton?

Thanks for any advice.

08-12-2020, 05:55 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I'm in Western Canada. I've towed a bit over the years, using larger American vehicles, such as V8 powered , large Chevy sedans and Chevy rear wheel drive vans. They tow well.

But your in Europe, planning to go to Africa and you want to use a car.

I would check the tow ratings from the source, manufacturers of cars. As you're based in Lisbon, but plan to go to Africa, I would check to see what tow ratings...and requirements (trailer brakes, etc.) that the car maker specifies.

Remember terrain makes a big difference...do you plan to tow a trailer and heavy load on mountain roads, as aside from towing up the mountain, you'll also be going down the mountain...so think about trailer brakes, whether you want a manual or automatic transmission. Also with terrain do you want all wheel drive or 2 wheel drive.

I don't know which vehicles are more easy serviced and have greater parts availability in Africa. This should be a consideration.

Remember that a tow rating from a maker, usually is for the entire weight...trailer, load, number of passengers and personal baggage you are taking. It all adds up.

I don't know how things work in Europe (Portugal, etc.) or Africa, but you may want to talk to dealer representative, who is knowledgeable about conditions in the area you plan to use the vehicle and trailer.

About 25 years ago, we bought a folder RV trailer...all up weight about 3000 lbs and it had trailer brakes. We took an initial trip about 100 miles away...first....to see how our tow vehicle handled the extra weight of the trailer and we also had the people aboard...our family of four in the car.

The car was an older '76 Chevy Impala with a 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) V8, body on frame construction and it weighed alone...4300 lbs. It was big and powerful and handled the trip with no issue.

At the campground that weekend, a guy approached me and asked me how our big Chevy handled the trailer. He had the exact trailer and he had towed it from the same city with his small Toyota Tercel which had a 1.5 liter, 4 cylinder.

I said the Impala handled the trailer well, didn't even notice it behind us. He replied good to know as his small Toyota, struggled the whole way, the engine temp gauge was close to red all the time and he couldn't go over 45 mph. He said the trailer salesman said to him he would have no problems, but he did and he planned to tow it over the Rocky mountains that summer. Did I think he could do it with that car ?

I said no. You're having problems with it now, towing 100 miles on flat prairie land. You'll need to get a larger vehicle, one which has a tow rating that can handle the additional weight. This is no reflection on Toyota, it is my view to get the right vehicle for what you want and Toyota, among other makers have a wide variety of vehicles.

So, make sure beforehand the car you select can handle the exact load you plan to tow and don;t forget to add passenger and baggage weight ...when figuring out the rating.

I'm not saying you need a very large vehicle with V8 power. I am saying check things out carefully beforehand and try out what you plan to haul beforehand. Also ensure you have a spare tire and a jack on the trailer, and find out the best way to distribute any load properly on a trailer and the tow vehicle. Remember tire pressure is very important in a trailer, any vehicle and I used to check air pressure every morning I was traveling. Check in the morning before you drive, as driving heats up tires and expands the air pressure. Check air pressure, cold, before driving.

One thing to consider is perhaps a SUV. Also perhaps a diesel, maybe a turbo diesel for less power loss at higher elevation, than a non turbo engine and I believe diesels are fairly fuel efficient.

Hope this helps and there is more to learn about towing trailers.

'm not an expert, but you probably want to consult with one in Portugal, before you buy tow vehicle and car.

Last edited by lesmore49; 08-12-2020 at 06:03 PM.
08-12-2020, 06:21 PM - 1 Like   #3
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High quality Diesel is probably easier to get a hold of if you are headed into remote areas, and they are better for towing heavy loads due to lots of torque down low in the Rev range. your comfort level says whether to get an older Mitsubishi or Toyota 4-Runner. Not a handling vehicle but can tote and tow a load.
08-12-2020, 06:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by bxf Quote
At some point after this pandemic is under control and travel restrictions are lifted, I will be returning to Africa, to resume a small housing development project we started some time back. I will be needing a car, and I typically enjoy one that provides reasonable power and good handling (currently driving an aging Alfa Romeo 156). I will also have use for a small pickup, or something similar, for hauling things like bags of cement, lumber, etc. However, this would not get constant use, so although I could save some money by having such a truck (i.e. by not having to pay someone else to transport my merchandise), it may also be difficult to justify buying one because of the limited use it is likely to see. And I'd really prefer to drive a car rather than a truck...

Funds will be very limited, especially after this pandemic, so I will not be able to buy both a car and a truck immediately, and whatever I get will be second-hand. I suppose I could simply get a pickup, and use that as my car, until I'm able to buy a decent car. However, it has occurred to me that perhaps a better solution would be to get a car with decent power, and a trailer of some sort. The only difficulty that comes to mind is having to learn how to reverse a car with a trailer In addition to the benefit of driving a car instead of a more crude vehicle, I Imagine there would also be the benefit of lower fuel costs when the car is used alone, compared to driving a truck.

So, any thoughts on the trailer plan? Is there anything I'm neglecting to take into consideration? How much power am I likely to need in the car, if it's going to haul the trailer plus about a ton?

Thanks for any advice.
Cowboy Cadillac

Heated leather 6 way electrically adjustable seats, cruise control, air conditioning, remote power door locks, power steering, power brakes, tilt column, 6 liter Cummins diesel engine, 6 speed manual transmission. It will haul most anything, tow even more, and do it in style and comfort.




08-12-2020, 06:57 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Racer X 69 Quote
Cowboy Cadillac

Heated leather 6 way electrically adjustable seats, cruise control, air conditioning, remote power door locks, power steering, power brakes, tilt column, 6 liter Cummins diesel engine, 6 speed manual transmission. It will haul most anything, tow even more, and do it in style and comfort.


He said he had a budget and will be picking out a vehicle in Europe or Africa, I doubt a Cowboy Cadillac would be found at the right place where the OP is looking. Nice truck though!
08-12-2020, 07:29 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bxf Quote
At some point after this pandemic is under control and travel restrictions are lifted, I will be returning to Africa, to resume a small housing development project we started some time back. I will be needing a car, and I typically enjoy one that provides reasonable power and good handling (currently driving an aging Alfa Romeo 156). I will also have use for a small pickup, or something similar, for hauling things like bags of cement, lumber, etc. However, this would not get constant use, so although I could save some money by having such a truck (i.e. by not having to pay someone else to transport my merchandise), it may also be difficult to justify buying one because of the limited use it is likely to see. And I'd really prefer to drive a car rather than a truck...

Funds will be very limited, especially after this pandemic, so I will not be able to buy both a car and a truck immediately, and whatever I get will be second-hand. I suppose I could simply get a pickup, and use that as my car, until I'm able to buy a decent car. However, it has occurred to me that perhaps a better solution would be to get a car with decent power, and a trailer of some sort. The only difficulty that comes to mind is having to learn how to reverse a car with a trailer In addition to the benefit of driving a car instead of a more crude vehicle, I Imagine there would also be the benefit of lower fuel costs when the car is used alone, compared to driving a truck.

So, any thoughts on the trailer plan? Is there anything I'm neglecting to take into consideration? How much power am I likely to need in the car, if it's going to haul the trailer plus about a ton?

Thanks for any advice.
In terms of your query, it depends largely on what part of Africa you're planning to return to. If you're going somewhere like Angola, Mozambique or such, where roads are questionable, then a sporty type car like an Alfa Romeo would probably not be a good idea, especially considering spare parts and repair knowledge. For such an environment, you'd ideally want a Toyota Hilux ute / truck, either in single or double cab configuration. Parts are plentiful and repairs can be made most anywhere. In terms of driving, it's really very little different to a car although not, of course, sporty. Certainly avoid USA style trucks as spares would be nonexistent and any repair is likely to hurt your wallet.

Of course, as you point out, a car and trailer will work well in most situations and it's not hard to learn how to back a trailer. Most cars cannot tow very heavy trailers and if you're hoping to tow a tonne or more, you really want to ensure that you buy a vehicle that is rated for towing something heavy as brake failure with a heavy trailer is not a pretty sight.

Depending on where you go in Africa, it will make sense to establish the common / cheaper fuel source. It could be that diesel is more easy to come by than petrol and you'd want to make sure you buy a vehicle that can be fueled easily and cheaply. In some parts of Africa, petrol stations are few and far between, so it would make sense to find out what will work for the distances between refueling options, especially if you're planning to drive the vehicle there from Europe rather than buying it there. I would suggest that, in most cases, buying it there may be the better option as roadtripping through Africa has it's own special pros and cons.

As for a trailer, the only other thing to consider is secure storage when the trailer is not in use. Trailers have the uncanny ability to disappear in some parts of the world and some parts of Africa. Parking a vehicle with a trailer, only to find the trailer gone when you return, is never fun, so a good quality lock and a sturdy chain may be a good investment.

Last edited by MarkJerling; 08-12-2020 at 07:45 PM. Reason: Info added.
08-13-2020, 12:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
I'm in Western Canada. I've towed a bit over the years, using larger American vehicles, such as V8 powered , large Chevy sedans and Chevy rear wheel drive vans. They tow well....
...

Hope this helps and there is more to learn about towing trailers.

'm not an expert, but you probably want to consult with one in Portugal, before you buy tow vehicle and car.
That is a lot of information, which I'll be sure to digest, so thanks.


QuoteOriginally posted by SSGGeezer Quote
High quality Diesel is probably easier to get a hold of if you are headed into remote areas, and they are better for towing heavy loads due to lots of torque down low in the Rev range. your comfort level says whether to get an older Mitsubishi or Toyota 4-Runner. Not a handling vehicle but can tote and tow a load.
Yeah, but I don't know if, for example, 25 bags of cement constitute a "heavy load", though I imagine that what may be considered heavy for 2 litre 4-cylinder engine would not be heavy for V-8.


QuoteOriginally posted by Racer X 69 Quote
Cowboy Cadillac

Heated leather 6 way electrically adjustable seats, cruise control, air conditioning, remote power door locks, power steering, power brakes, tilt column, 6 liter Cummins diesel engine, 6 speed manual transmission. It will haul most anything, tow even more, and do it in style and comfort.


Great, but sadly neither likely to be available nor affordable.


QuoteOriginally posted by SSGGeezer Quote
He said he had a budget and will be picking out a vehicle in Europe or Africa, I doubt a Cowboy Cadillac would be found at the right place where the OP is looking. Nice truck though!
I will be buying it in Ghana - too many taxation hassles to import one myself, so you are correct on both counts.
08-13-2020, 01:55 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bxf Quote
Great, but sadly neither likely to be available nor affordable.
Available in Africa, probably not.

Affordable?

Well, they are 19 years old now, and go for $15,000 to $20,000 depending on condition and mileage.

New ones are going for around $60,000 to $80,000.

I bought mine new in 2001 for $36,000, and at 140,000 miles it is barely broke in. It has been reliable, and economical to own and operate.

Mark's recommendation for a Hilux is good though. Pretty common there, so it should be pretty cheap to get one for a decent price that will serve you well. Toyota makes very good vehicles. I had a 1975 Toyota Hilux, SR5 Long Bed. Bought it used in 1981 with about 60,000 miles on it, and a bad clutch. I replaced the clutch, and finally parked it in 1998 with over 500,000 miles when the bearings for the differential wore out.



08-13-2020, 02:45 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bxf Quote
I will be buying it in Ghana
As before, I'll reccomend Toyota Hilux, or if your budget will stretch that far, a Toyota Landcruiser. Firstly, in the wet season, if you venture outside of the cities you'll need a 4x4 or, at least, a vehicle with higher ground clearance. Bigger wheels are good to, due to the severely potholed roads.

Toyotas are plentiful in Ghana so, even if your budget only stretches to something more basic, an older Hilux is probably your best bet. Avoid the petrol V6 Hilux. Those are highly uneconomical. The diesels are generally better value.
08-13-2020, 02:48 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Racer X 69 Quote
Available in Africa, probably not.

Affordable?

Well, they are 19 years old now, and go for $15,000 to $20,000 depending on condition and mileage.

New ones are going for around $60,000 to $80,000.

I bought mine new in 2001 for $36,000, and at 140,000 miles it is barely broke in. It has been reliable, and economical to own and operate.

Mark's recommendation for a Hilux is good though. Pretty common there, so it should be pretty cheap to get one for a decent price that will serve you well. Toyota makes very good vehicles. I had a 1975 Toyota Hilux, SR5 Long Bed. Bought it used in 1981 with about 60,000 miles on it, and a bad clutch. I replaced the clutch, and finally parked it in 1998 with over 500,000 miles when the bearings for the differential wore out.

As nice as the Ram is, you'll not find parts for it in much of Africa and where parts are available, it will be lots of $$$. Hence the Hilux. Which is everywhere and shares parts with many other Toyotas so, push comes to shove, you'll keep it going.
08-13-2020, 02:51 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
In terms of your query, it depends largely on what part of Africa you're planning to return to. If you're going somewhere like Angola, Mozambique or such, where roads are questionable, then a sporty type car like an Alfa Romeo would probably not be a good idea, especially considering spare parts and repair knowledge. For such an environment, you'd ideally want a Toyota Hilux ute / truck, either in single or double cab configuration. Parts are plentiful and repairs can be made most anywhere. In terms of driving, it's really very little different to a car although not, of course, sporty. Certainly avoid USA style trucks as spares would be nonexistent and any repair is likely to hurt your wallet.

Of course, as you point out, a car and trailer will work well in most situations and it's not hard to learn how to back a trailer. Most cars cannot tow very heavy trailers and if you're hoping to tow a tonne or more, you really want to ensure that you buy a vehicle that is rated for towing something heavy as brake failure with a heavy trailer is not a pretty sight.

Depending on where you go in Africa, it will make sense to establish the common / cheaper fuel source. It could be that diesel is more easy to come by than petrol and you'd want to make sure you buy a vehicle that can be fueled easily and cheaply. In some parts of Africa, petrol stations are few and far between, so it would make sense to find out what will work for the distances between refueling options, especially if you're planning to drive the vehicle there from Europe rather than buying it there. I would suggest that, in most cases, buying it there may be the better option as roadtripping through Africa has it's own special pros and cons.
I'll be in Ghana (source of current wife). The roads can be decent in some places, and worse than you can imagine in others. Lots of unpaved roads, where, even in residential areas, weather and vehicles have created undulating mini-hills that could challenge a 4x4 Nothing yields a greater instant thrill than going on a highway and hitting a pothole with depth that reaches the diametrically opposite side of the earth.


Toyotas are everywhere there, so your reference to them is fitting, though there are plenty of F-150s and other trucks, most probably imported privately. As far as cars go, Camrys are very popular, but from what I see, they have a towing capacity of about 400-500Kg (about 1000lbs). This is borderline, so a truck, as you suggest, may be the required option. I'd still prefer to get a normal car with an engine powerful enough to do what would be required. It did not occur to me before I posted that I can find the towing capacities of various vehicles online


QuoteOriginally posted by Racer X 69 Quote
Available in Africa, probably not.

Affordable?

Well, they are 19 years old now, and go for $15,000 to $20,000 depending on condition and mileage.

New ones are going for around $60,000 to $80,000.

I bought mine new in 2001 for $36,000, and at 140,000 miles it is barely broke in. It has been reliable, and economical to own and operate.

Mark's recommendation for a Hilux is good though. Pretty common there, so it should be pretty cheap to get one for a decent price that will serve you well. Toyota makes very good vehicles. I had a 1975 Toyota Hilux, SR5 Long Bed. Bought it used in 1981 with about 60,000 miles on it, and a bad clutch. I replaced the clutch, and finally parked it in 1998 with over 500,000 miles when the bearings for the differential wore out.

You're not the first to point out the impressive lifespan of these Toyotas, and if I were a strictly practical person, that would be an obvious choice. However...
08-13-2020, 07:43 AM   #12
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Towing a trailer is kind of a pain and doesn't really replace the convenience of a pickup truck although the trailer does have value. Even many truck owners also have a trailer. I've been a mechanic for 45 years. My choice if I was going to Africa would be the Toyota Hi Lux (Tacoma here in the US). They are rugged and parts are available anywhere in the world. When I visited the US Navy Seal museum in Florida a couple of years ago, they had a Hi Lux on display that had been used in overseas operations. They buy them retail wherever they are and outfit them with their military necessities. The retired Seal I was talking to said they are better than anything they could bring over.
08-13-2020, 10:44 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Racer X 69 Quote
I had a 1975 Toyota Hilux, SR5 Long Bed. Bought it used in 1981 with about 60,000 miles on it, and a bad clutch. I replaced the clutch, and finally parked it in 1998 with over 500,000 miles when the bearings for the differential wore out.

Haven't seen one of those in a long time. I recall seeing one, new around 1974 at the local Toyota dealer in my burg, where I had bought my '73 Corolla.

Toyota used the Hilux model name back then and this one was an SR, believe it had a 5 speed manual and had the long box as the one in the picture (yours) had.

I could be wrong, long time ago, but I thought Toyota was rating it as a one ton, which surprised me, as to me a one ton to me would of been a F 350, D350 , C 3500 of the domestics.

Anyway, I liked the length of the pickup box, thought it would be great to get a cap for the box and my wife and I could use it for camping, as tent camping was not our thing, as we had found out.

Well we didn't in the end, as we needed to pol our money to both go to school. But did like that early Hilux...big 4 cylinder (2.4 liter ?) for the time, 5 speed manual, long box and good payload rating for a smaller size truck.

Another small truck that impressed me back then was the Datsun pickup of the time .

You could also get a diesel in some of the Datsun (Nissan ) trucks. I recall the last older Datsun truck I came across. It was in the mid '90's, in the Black Hills in South Dakota and we were behind it, going up a mountain road. Many small diesels back then didn't have turbos and of course the resultant power that a modern truck turbo diesel has now....and it showed.

The little Datsun was the little engine that could, black smoke pouring out of the exhaust (too rich a setting ?) as he worked his way through the gears going up that mountain road. Even in the mid '90's this truck was probably, my guess 15-20 years or so old and probably had a hard life, but it was running and working. What more could you want from a vintage truck.

---------- Post added 08-13-20 at 12:49 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
In terms of your query, it depends largely on what part of Africa you're planning to return to. If you're going somewhere like Angola, Mozambique or such, where roads are questionable, then a sporty type car like an Alfa Romeo would probably not be a good idea, especially considering spare parts and repair knowledge. For such an environment, you'd ideally want a Toyota Hilux ute / truck, either in single or double cab configuration. Parts are plentiful and repairs can be made most anywhere. In terms of driving, it's really very little different to a car although not, of course, sporty. Certainly avoid USA style trucks as spares would be nonexistent and any repair is likely to hurt your wallet.

Of course, as you point out, a car and trailer will work well in most situations and it's not hard to learn how to back a trailer. Most cars cannot tow very heavy trailers and if you're hoping to tow a tonne or more, you really want to ensure that you buy a vehicle that is rated for towing something heavy as brake failure with a heavy trailer is not a pretty sight.

Depending on where you go in Africa, it will make sense to establish the common / cheaper fuel source. It could be that diesel is more easy to come by than petrol and you'd want to make sure you buy a vehicle that can be fueled easily and cheaply. In some parts of Africa, petrol stations are few and far between, so it would make sense to find out what will work for the distances between refueling options, especially if you're planning to drive the vehicle there from Europe rather than buying it there. I would suggest that, in most cases, buying it there may be the better option as roadtripping through Africa has it's own special pros and cons.

As for a trailer, the only other thing to consider is secure storage when the trailer is not in use. Trailers have the uncanny ability to disappear in some parts of the world and some parts of Africa. Parking a vehicle with a trailer, only to find the trailer gone when you return, is never fun, so a good quality lock and a sturdy chain may be a good investment.
Excellent advice. And with particular reference to trailers having the uncanny ability to disappear, lock it up. I can vouch for that as our Folder RV trailer was stolen from our back yard.

Fortunately we had insurance. But if we had a trailer now, we'd have a hitch lock, and maybe even remove one of the trailer wheels to make it more difficult for thieves, when the trailer is not attended. Although I think a problem with a hitch lock is sometimes thieves get around that by clamping the trailer to a truck and hauling it away to somewhere quiet, where they can work away at removing the hitch lock, etc.

Last edited by lesmore49; 08-13-2020 at 10:53 AM.
08-13-2020, 11:20 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote

Anyway, I liked the length of the pickup box, thought it would be great to get a cap for the box and my wife and I could use it for camping, as tent camping was not our thing, as we had found out.
I slept in the back of mine hundreds of times.

Often with girlfriends, later with Mrs. Racer 1.0, and later yet with Mrs. Racer 2.0.

And Miss Zoe.



She loved to go for rides, almost as much as she like to swim.

QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
..big 4 cylinder (2.4 liter ?) for the time,
The largest engine was the 2.2 liter 20R.


QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
The little Datsun was the little engine that could, black smoke pouring out of the exhaust (too rich a setting ?)
Dirty air filter, causing an over rich condition.
08-13-2020, 02:13 PM   #15
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There might be an advantage importing a vehicle yourself, particularly a truck. Supply and demand might make them expensive or rare in Africa but cheaper in Europe. Transportation costs aren't too bad, but you'll have to deal with customs and paperwork.
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