Right from the start, this was an opportunity to have a lot
of fun designing a unique vehicle from scratch. There are always trade-offs –
size and space versus fuel consumption and manoeuvrability, weight versus
strength, comforts and sophistication versus reliability and ease of
maintenance, etc. However, from our previous trips and off road experience,
Sandy and I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted.
In broad terms, we wanted a diesel Land Rover with six
wheel drive (giving it a very high carrying capacity, while still having
excellent off road ability), seating for two, plus two occasional passengers,
and sleeping quarters for two.
We commissioned Foley Specialist Vehicles to undertake the
construction work, as they have lots of experience in preparing off road
vehicles, including armoured Land Rovers, 6x6 campers, etc. Equally importantly,
Peter Foley was always willing to find a way to make our sometimes unusual
requirements possible. So many other “experts” just wanted to sell us
off-the-shelf solutions, and gave us dire, almost superstitious warning about
what disasters would befall us if we did things the way we wanted to do
Here is a picture story of Nyathi's life...
She's naked here, waiting to be dressed.
A useful warning...
The very beginnings of the body building.
The rear diagonal strut was welded in temporarily to give
her a bit of stability, while we did testing.
Looking down at the six-wheel drive unit on Axle #2-
only the front section of chassis has floor-boards in at this stage. (The
visible propshaft drives Axle #3).
The two 200 litre fuel tanks are in place and the first
of the body panels are in place.
Here she is in Foley's workshop. She is beginning
to take shape. The tent still has to be fitted and so much more besides.
The bench seat is fitted in the cabin.
A room with a view. The compartment around the
exterior will store clothes and we have a custom mattress being made, which
folds in the middle to be taken out easily and has a zipped, washable cover.
There she is - shiny and new. We replaced the
awning with a Hannibal one, which we prefer.
The kitchen compartment was made to fit around our
combination of boxes, to prevent as much rattle and movement as possible.
Just look at that rear! Both kitchen tables fold
up flat against the interior (a long time was spent developing a workable
solution - particularly as the right hand table needed to be dropped down an
extra 30cm to make it a comfortable working height).