The Put Foot Rally was partly designed to prove you could take a trek across Africa on the cheap in any old vehicle. Sure, it’s been proven and disproven, but here are some thoughts to help you choose your steed and prove your own worth.
FOUR VEHICLE CATEGORIES OF THE PUT FOOT RALLY
Vintage: This is considered any vehicle born on or before 1994, which makes me a fossil. Consider me classic rock. Sure you’ll look cool when you are broken down in the desert, surrounded by lions. You are also promised instant legend status by the Put Foot team, so get weird, go old and break down often in your tanker.
Car: This is any ol’ average car born after 1994. We took a VW Polo across Mongolia, and can recommend that tiny beast. You can read all about the Noddy cars under consideration for comparison sake in the chart we created for the top ten cars we considered for the Mongol Rally here. Then pile in your sleeping bags and cram your adult frame into your new whip and hang your head out the window on your African road trip.
4×4: The 4×4/SUV may guzzle more gas, but it carries more as well. These deeper tanks reach into deeper pockets, but you won’t be sweating over the next petrol station in the middle of Zambia. People will relate your massive vehicle to your manliness and ability to change tyres and guzzle cold beer (because surely there is a mini-fridge in that thing).
Bike: Anything from a scooter to a touring bike. Not suitable for most of the trip. Plan to slip on sand, dip into potholes, and drop that bike at least once. Blow a tyre? You only have one left. Tailbone? Who needs it? This is the most extreme, exhausting choice we can think of. We hear the story is true that one Put Footer fell off and broke a knee 100m from the Finish Line. We’d say you’re off your nut for making this choice, but you would laugh in our faces while pulling a wheelie. Also, we also rode a vintage bike across the ice of the deepest lake in the world, so helmets off to you.
TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION, THEN THROW BRAINS OUT THE MISSING WINDOW
- Solid build – Steel over plastic. Metal over designer wood. This, of course, will make your vehicle heavier, slower and guzzle more fuel. If you do end up in car class with something less sturdy, there are upgrades you can add. Replace metal alloy with solid steel wheels. Consider increasing the size an inch or so to give more ground clearance. African potholes can pull off impressions of mini moon surface craters. Save your undercarriage by adding skid plates. If you are as unskilled as us at repairing a transfer case, or steering linkage, or using duct tape on the side of a desert road, this is a great consideration. So, choose a solid built, heavy beast, or take your Nobby car and add armor.
- Aesthetic – If you look cool, who cares if you survive? This resilience is practical and all, but I want my pictures and video to make me look amazing. I want lion jaws to drop open when we drive by and the hippos to give us a high five. Many a VW Bus has made the trip, appearing to solve crimes across the tundra. Another car was completely covered in pink velvet. Kill it with a classic look and you can James Bond your way through the rally and guarantee many a photo opportunity, if not a finish line. The Put Foot Rally is not about winning anyway.
- Fuel efficiency – How thirsty is your vehicle? Bikes = great gas mileage. 4×4 = not so much. Car = somewhere in between. Vintage = Don’t do diesel. There are variances in every class, but you don’t want to be stranded on the salt flats without a jerry can and a prayer.
- Handling – Some of the rally will be off the beaten track and some of the track will be beaten. Sure you can get you some tractor tyres and a few to spare, but some vehicles are going to handle better than others. Bikes are near guaranteed to go down at least once one the sand, gravel or salt. I hear the Forester is fine, the Tiguan is tops and the Fortuner is a twitchy ex-girlfriend.
- Value – The investment is the adventure, so suck this all down, then hit the junkyard. Compare all your options including the Rand you could spend on being randy. Or call your rich uncle and take a 1935 Bentley across Africa. Someone did it. Their support car broke an axle and gave in, so sometimes you have to put your money where your adventure is.
BUY OR HIRE
Crews from across the world join in the Put Foot Rally every year. Most traveling from afar hire a car, and that is as close as we will come to poetry. You can find options with kitchens, roof racks, storage and pup tents. Ours has a tent, perhaps we will all try to squeeze in at once for your entertainment, but only that. Some ship cars over on a ferry, but beware the timing so it does not arrive late, or worse, arrives early, but gets held up in customs.
OUR PUT FOOT RALLY CHARIOT
We decided to hire a Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series. The less confidence, the more car. It is a 1993, so we are authorized to go into the vintage section and feel better about ourselves. Add to that, the car was apparently written off, then put back on it’s wheels. So fear not, the shitbox lives on in ourselves and outside ourselves.
What are your recommendations?
What are you driving?
What do you think our chances are of making the finish line?