So, it’s been just over a couple weeks since I took the plunge and bought myself a 20 year old Toyota Surf, was it a good move?
Well, so far so good, before I even had the chance to fill the cubby box with all my tat, Deux Smurf, as we've christened her, was put into Mud Life action with blasts to the NEC in Birmingham, Wales and the Lake District, and before I knew it we had covered nearly 1000 miles in just a couple of weeks.
Our first expenditure came the day after we got her home. Although the windscreen wipers did their job, they did so in anger, they squealed with every single wipe they made, so I invested in a new pair of Bosch Aerotwin wipers.
I’ve used Aerotwin’s on my previous Smurf, Discovery and MM’s Skoda Fabia - ok they’re expensive, but they last for ages and work incredibly well, especially off-road when the windscreen becomes covered in mud.
I replaced the rear wiper too as it had began to split. I could have bought a strip of rubber and cut it to size, but in my experience these never last that long, so I got in contact with Roughtrax and ordered the complete unit - clicky link.
The rear wiper is attached to the arm with 2 very small screws and is quite a fiddly job to replace. You need to be careful not to thread the 2 screws as they don’t come with the wiper, so you better not drop them either!
One of the first things I noticed during our first morning commute was how good the heater is. After 3 days of not being used during a cold spell, Deux Smurf was blasting out lovely warm air within minutes of driving off. This is better than some of the new cars I drove last year, not bad for a 20 year old!
Fuel wise, I reckon I'm achieving around 25mpg, but I believe a max of 30mpg is doable if I took my time a little! I need to check on whether I can use veg oil to help keep the costs down.
On the subject of cruising, this is where Deux Smurf excels, it’s quite easy to forget that your in a 20 year old 4x4 as it’s so quiet and comfortable. I have absolutely no doubt that she’ll cruise happily all day at 90+mph if that's your thing and you didn’t mind footing the heavy fuel bills, and of course the points on your licence!
Although I haven’t gone too far off road yet, she’s proven that balancing on 2, or 3 wheels isn’t a problem. Of course a lot of the time success off road is down to the tyres, and although the General Grabber All-Terrains are road legal, they’re a little past their best for muddy sections.
Surely a 20 year old 4x4 can’t be perfect, can it? Well, thanks to its 2 previous UK owners, she’s been very well looked after, but yes, there’s a few little niggles that need to be looked at.
The first, although nothing to do with the car itself, was the hands-free kit. Made by www.my-io.com, it does a fabulous job and is very easy to understand and use, even for me. However, when KL used Facebook, created a ‘note’ and even took a photo with my iPhone 4s, it would interrupt the radio or USB for a round 10 seconds - very annoying, especially when Ken Bruce is in the middle of Pop Master!
A quick e-mail to www.my-io.com prompted an equally quick response from their technical guy with the answer, which worked. So far I can’t fault the product, nor their customer service.
Although I understand why they’re popular, I’ve never liked wind deflectors on bonnets, so when I’ve got a few minutes to spare it’ll be coming off.
The drivers door window makes an ear piercing squeal when it’s lowered, so I’ll be digging out my old tin of Vinyl and Plastic spray and gave all the rubber window surrounds a good dosing.
You can't see them from the outside, but the tinted windows are scratched. I don’t get to notice the marks on the side windows, but the missing piece on rear window is in my line of vision, so that requires looking at sometime soon.
So far then, Deux Smurf has very few niggles and I couldn’t be happier, which is both great for a 20 year old 4x4 and a testiment to its 2 UK owners. Apart from a quick off-road foray, she’s spent the last couple of weeks as a supermarket, commuting and motorway hack.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, we've named her 'Deux Smurf' because she's our second Surf (2 in French is deux), and Surf sounds like Smurf. I may be nearly 49, but I never said I was mature!