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A Car for Barbara Heading to Panama

Barbara from Portland is heading to Panama with her kids and was looking for recommendations for a good car for off-roading. My first suggestion was a Jeep Wrangler, but I’m biased having owned one for many, many years and can’t imagine driving anything else. However, in a Wrangler you can either haul a small number of people, or a little bit of stuff, but never both, unless it’s three skinny passengers who don’t mind getting chummy and no cargo larger than a pack of cigarrettes. Having traveled to many third world countries, I can attest that the Toyota Hilux, circa 1980 to 1990 is a much-used truck in places like Panama. They’re all over the place down there, so finding one would be a snap, getting it repaired and maintained would be much easier than, say a Wrangler and they only have about 11 moving parts, so they’re rugged and reliable.

I think the wench should get a winch on whatever vehicle she chooses.

I think this week’s show, and that call, are about 10 years old. Barbara has long ago made her trek to Panama, or gave up. I think this was even a later subject for Stump the Chumps.

Ah. I had no idea. I don’t listen live. Here we have to listen to podcasts.

I can’t comment on the time stamp of the show, I am not able to listen every week. IF she has already gone, good luck to her and her family.

I won’t argue the Toyota HiLux, they are reliable little trucks and parts are still easily obtained. THey are lighter than the two I reference her:

The most reliable and versatile vehicle I have ever been involved with is the Diamler-Benz UNIMOG. Nearly indestructable and attachments for everything you could ever think about doing with a vehicle are available, from farm implements to de-forestation equipment. All kinds of configurations are also available. The UNIMOG is the only vehicle built that will safely climb a 70% grade as built. Good used ones are out there for as little as US$20,000. For this application, a ‘crew cab’ with air conditioning and a flat bed, with 40+ inch tires would probably be best. Parts are still available for every one ever made, kinda like John Deere tractors.

A well maintained nineteen sixties era Land Rover shouldn’t be ruled out either. The old gasoline models run on nearly any combusible liquid that will vaporize without assistance. I have seen those things run on a mixture of alcohol and kerosene, then on gasoline that was so old it smelled like varnish (it could have been varnish). One tipped over and became submerged in a water filled culvert on a mine project I was assigned to in Africa. It was then dragged out of the ditch, set upright, started, and immediately put back into service as a transport. (The occupants had to deal with wet seats for a day or so afterwards.) Parts availability might be a problem for the 60’s Land Rover these days.


I hope you’re right. I would like to think that today, Tom and Ray would not be so admiring of someone who to carve out their own piece of rainforest in Panama, when others are trying so hard to protect these biodiversity hotspots that must be preserved for future generations.

Has Barbara ever BEEN to Pamama?? Oh, “The Show”…I didn’t notice. For a moment there I thought this was something REAL…

I was born and raised in Panama (moved to the states in 2001). To address Barbara’s question: I would go with a Japanese car rather than an American car becuase of the following: American 4x4 cars only come in Gas (not diesel) engines and GAS prices are high in Panama. The HI-Lux recommendation is fine. I would also recommend a Toyota Prado (Turbo Diesel SUV - 4x4). The nissan frontier (Frontera) is also good for that type of work.

Of course that would depend on how much she has to spend there to buy a vehicle just for 3 months.

Well, they don’t always announce when they are broadcasting an old show. They did not say this week was an old show that I noticed, but I remember hearing some of those calls in the past, and one caller referred to his new 1999 Jeep. I think they put a new puzzler into an old show and called it good.

Bravo to no Bravdo, save the forest Frank and don’t feed the monkey’s.

I agree with ranck a winch would be essential. I bet there are plenty of trees to hook around when the mud gets deep. As for the Jeep, yeah, OK but maybe an old Ford F-100 4x4 to put the shovel in the box rather then in the back seat. And while we’re at it how about a “Hi-Jack” and several 3/4" plywood scraps about 3’x3’ to throw in the back and give some support to the “Hi-Jack” otherwise it will sink into the muck? I’ve been stuck in a verity of different 4x4 vehicles and the jack has proven the best way to get home for dinner.

The vehicle that will allow her family group to build their home is a 1990 Cummins diesel 4x4 Dodge pickup. $4k will get the job done.