In total, I have owned five 4x4 vehicles. Before you think this is impressive, read the tales of the vehicle.

My first 4x4, bought in 2005, was a 1984 Nissan Safari bakkie that I first saw in a workshop without an engine. It had 467 000 km on the clock and was in pieces following a spray job. It was in a terrible mechanical and electrical state due to plain butchery and abuse.

The Safaris we know in South Africa, were all fitted with the Nissan L28 straight 6-cylinder petrol motor. I installed the LD28 motor in the bakkie, which is a direct equivalent of the petrol motor and it fits on exactly the same bellhousing and mountings. It was virtually a drop-in conversion.

The simplicity of the Safari was exactly what I wanted in a 4x4. I also did my 4x4 training in the Bakkie and it performed very well, kicking dust in the eyes of the newer bakkies with independent front suspension (IFS). The very last obstacle of they day was one killer of a climb with loose round stones from bottom to top. The Safari was the only one that could make it.

The bakkie was the sole reason why I bought my second vehicle, aptly called Gifappel, in 2006; a yellow 1984 Safari station wagon (SW). Although I was thinking of a family 4x4, Gifappel was a fairly impulsive buy, I saw it in Autotrader and bought it the next day. It was still original with the petrol motor in place.

Gifappel was later exchanged for Safari SW with a LD28 motor and I also bought a Safari SW for spares. It came from Durban and was a piece of rust held together by gaps of air.

And then I moved over to the Dark side, and bought a Land Rover.

In retrospect then, I owned 5 4x4's of which only 3 was used for holidays.

By that time, 4x4 accessories were big business already and there was endless discussions on forums of what was supposed to be essentials. I was a bystander in these discussions and soon found that owners too often kit to keep up with the Joneses. They fitted snorkels for water crossings, and if not that, then for cleaner air on gravel roads. Most of them never even get to the gravel, let alone water crossings, and they fail to accept that farmers drive their standard vehicles almost exclusively on gravel road without much trouble.

They fit winches and replacement bumpers only to find that the only way they ever use it, is to deliberately go to places and drive into a pit of mud.  Winches normally get used when tested after installation, and never again.

Then there are the drawer systems, long range fuel tanks, rooftop tents, inverters, solar panels, big fridges, VHF radios, satellite phones. The list of gadgets is endless. Pretty soon the vehicle is so  heavy that uprated springs and chip tuning is required to get it off the driveway.

I modified all of my vehicles to suit our family better with DIY accessories, but I kept it simple and functional.