As I gripped the garden hose thin steering wheel of the 1976 Toyota FJ40, seemingly large enough in diameter to seat a family of four for Sunday dinner, I shifted my gaze to Dean, my copilot for the morning’s session. My voice already hoarse from constantly shouting over the sound of what can only be described as a symphony of rattling panels, I asked him how many people he thought would have ‘driving a clapped out, 40-year-old four wheel drive across one of the world’s largest sand dune deserts’ on their bucket list.
To be honest, what he replied I couldn’t tell you. Not only was the volume of the acoustic experience so great that I couldn’t hear a word he uttered, the vibrations generated from the endless corrugations, amplified through the agricultural chassis and out through every fibre of Dean’s body, were such that my brain’s image stabilisation wasn’t capable of deciphering a head shake from a nod. I can only imagine that his response was something along the lines of “not many”.
Despite the obvious shortfalls of this age-old, battle weary vehicle, there was a rawness to the driving experience that woke the child inside me, a smile from ear to ear etched across my face as we crested yet another dune. In part, this was what the whole ARB Off Road Icons project aimed to typify. Not just a marketing stunt designed to draw attention to the brand, but also a shout out and a big high five to some of the vehicles that paved the way for the off road lifestyle so many Australians enjoy today.
The premise was quite simple, really. Purchase four of the most iconic four wheel drives of the past forty years (see breakout), restore them to their former glory, prepare them for the harsh and unrelenting environment with a swag of ARB 4×4 accessories, fill them full of journos from around the world and drive them from Alice Springs to Broken Hill via the Simpson Desert. What could possibly go wrong?
Read the full story here – Icon Vs. Aircon – Part 1