I travelled from Kenya to Uganda to buy my dream car – Amani

Before buying
The LandCruiser is bought by most people to work hard, so look for wear on the interior trim and general lack of care around the car such as dings and dents on the body.  Also, inspect the underside of the vehicle for damage.

What you need to know:

When Jeff Amani saw a Land Cruiser VX 80, his dream car in the parking yard of a busy mall in Kampala, he left a note to the owner saying he wanted to buy it. Although the initial asking price was too high, he did not give up and three months later, he bought it at Shs30m.

Jeff Amani bought his Toyota Land Cruiser VX 80 Series in September 2015. Before buying this car, he owned a Subaru Impreza STI but because of its low ground clearance, it was hard to navigate the bumpy roads. At some point, while driving on a marram road, the bumper went off.

“I had always wanted a Land Cruiser 80 Series but I could not buy one in Kenya where I lived at the time due to a ban on older cars. I could only look for it in Uganda,” Amani says.

Buying

Amani had been to Forest Mall in Lugogo, Kampala, several times in his Subaru Impreza. On many occasions, he would see a Land Cruiser in the parking yard and he would always admire it. One evening, as he drove away from the mall, he wrote an intention to buy on his business card and placed it at the front windscreen of the Land Cruiser, holding it in place with a wiper. Next to the Land Cruiser was a heavily tinted army pick-up truck that he later learnt would carry soldiers who guarded the owner of the Land Cruiser.

“Before I left Lugogo, I received a call from someone who asked why I had placed my card on their car. I told them I liked it and asked if they were willing to sell it. They asked me to meet them at a coffee shop. After a long conversation, they were willing to sell the car for Shs70m but I tabled Shs40m. We did not agree and parted ways that day. A month or two later, he called and asked how much I was willing to pay for the car. I had Shs30m and he agreed. After a test drive, all the paper work was signed and I drove away in my Land Cruiser,” Amani recalls.

Revamping the car

After acquiring the car, Amani took it to Kenya for a face-lift. He replaced the suspension to have it raised, bought a new bull-bar and tyres and took a while saving enough money to add other features.

Amani says he spent more than Shs10m on the revamp but since 2015, he has been adding one part after another to give it its current look, including the colour he has changed four times, from its initial green. At the moment, it has the matte colour that is like a gun-metal finish and a roughcast on the sides and the top. The roughcast finish cost him Shs1.2m while the matte gun metal finish cost Shs2.4m. In the interior, he has not only kept the Land Cruiser clean but also bought jungle army green seat covers.

“Giving it its current look is not something I have done at once. It has been a gradual process. For example, I saved money and bought five tyres and their rims from Dubai at Shs11.8m. I also bought a modified fuel tank that carries 100 litres,” Amani says.

A 1996 model FZJ 80 Series running on a 4750cc automatic petrol engine, the Land Cruiser is Amani’s daily drive. He says he has tried driving his other small car but he always falls prey to reckless motorcyclists.

“When I drive the Land Cruiser, they [motorcyclists] give way. The car intimidates them because of its size and height,” Amani says.

Service

Amani’s service manual dictates that he services his Land Cruiser after covering 5,000km, but instead he goes to the garage before reaching this mark. When he replaces engine oil, with his engine consuming 12 litres, oil filter, fuel filter and air cleaner, he spends between Shs1.5m to Shs2m on his Land Cruiser that covers between eight to 11km per litre in urban traffic and 14 litres per 100km on a highway. He also replaces spark plugs after every 15,000km covered. 

Performance

Off-road, Amani says the Land Cruiser is a beast. Off-road, he hardly gets tired while driving. He has driven it to Nairobi and Nakuru (in Kenya) and did not stop anywhere because of any mechanical issue. He used a full tank and a half of fuel. After fuelling in Kampala, he only refueled again after Kisumu in Kenya.

According to Amani, the FZJ 80 Series was the last true tough Land Cruiser that had a solid front axle. The models that came after it such as the 100 series had independent axles with each tyre not joined to the other.

The axle at the front of this car is one and this gives him so much articulation and tyre movement off-road to take on the most rugged of terrains. It is a tough workhorse.

When he bought it, it had only covered approximately 80,000km and the mileage has now gone to 139,000km.  He does not travel a lot because he is mostly at work. The longest he has driven the car in Uganda is to Fort Portal City and Mbarara City in western Uganda.

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