Since the early 2000s, the Super Custom Limited model HiAce has remained a dominion in Uganda’s tour and travel world probably because in build and resilience it was made for adventure.
The Super Custom belongs to the wide HiAce family of cars that were introduced on the market by Toyota in October 1967 with the making of the First Generation (H10) Toyota HiAce camper van. The camper van was first made in what was then referred to as the 0ne-box design made for delivery and commuter services with a Cab-over build.
Toyota has since inception of the HiAce, maintained the Cab-over engine body style which has a vertical front, flat face or a semi-hood with the cab of the truck sitting above or in front of the front axle, unlike the conventional trucks and most other car designs that have the engine mounted in front of the driver.
The Cab-over body style was designed after the larger Toyota Coaster with the purpose of accommodating more passengers, up to eight, for most of them. Like the Super Custom, all the other HiAce cars have the engine installed underneath the seats between the front passengers.
The First Generation HiAce (H10) have largely become uncommon as a result of wear and tear. Mostly first sold in Europe, the vans were later exported to Africa and Southeast Asia where they have dominated the public transport industry.
The Super Custom comes in the 4th Generation (H100) produced between 1989 to August 2004 in standard wheelbase and long wheelbase variations made with engines ranging between 2.0 litre petrol engines to 3.0-litre turbodiesel engines.
The 4th Generation HiAce is perhaps the most popular of them all, with other vans such as the Grandia, the commuter HiAce, the semi-bonneted Granvia the Super Grandia and the RegiusAce, a HiAce made with a touch of luxury introduced in August 1999.
H100s have generally remained popular in production, for example Chinese car makers such as King Long Motorsand Foton Motor Company still to date produce the various H100 models for export.
In particular the 1994 Super Custom has remained on Uganda’s roads because it was made with the full-time four wheel drive (4WD) that keeps the wheels moving forward under tough conditions. Its make is designed to make deep treks into rough terrain.
For the adventurer, the Super Custom also has extra cargo capacity making it a comfortable sleeping and hang-out spot under any weather conditions. Basically, the van was made ideal for the road trip.
These are the features that have made it a popular van for hire by tourists and organisations that operate in the rough parts of the country.
Henry Baguma, a tour and travel operator, who owns three Super Custom vans says, his cars are busy all year round, making him enough money to cover most of his business and home expenses.
According to Baguma, stronger vehicles than the Super Custom, such as the Toyota Prado TX and the Pajero are less popular than the Super Custom because while they take almost as many passengers, the Super Custom will still have space for legroom and even sleeping space. “This particularly makes the Super Custom popular for family or group travellers.
He cautions owners of Super Custom vans to regularly inspect their car, looking out for engine heating, proper service since it is a turbodiesel engine as well as checking on the suspension system to ensure timely replacement of bushes and other parts in the suspension.
What to look out for in the Super Custom to avoid breakdowns
Experts advise that besides smaller repairs and upgrades normally made during service and inspection, super custom owners should ensure a full timing belt job and maintenance update.
Check the timing belt, timing cover gasket, the tensioner pulley, the camshaft and crankshaft oil seals, the water pump, valve cover gasket, thermostat, radiator cap, coolant flush, coolant carrying hoses, transmission fluid, fresh motor oil and filter, drive belts, fuel filter, fuel lines, air filter, differential oil, transmission oil.
Also, ensure the van has good all-terrain tyres and give it a modest suspension lift checking the rear springs and shocks.
Also, check the battery, CV boots, outer CV axles, the front wheel bearings, rotors, brake pads, set the steering alignment, and have the van fully detailed inside and out on top of other smaller repairs and upgrades.
HiAce Body Configurations