Kenyans are the most sensitive and highly considerate people when it comes to purchasing and owning a car. There are a number of factors they consider when buying a car; that is, the make, durability and reliability, fuel consumption, what others say about the car and finally the price. Toyota has won many hearts in Kenya. You will most often hear people discussing what a great car Toyota is. They claim it is fuel efficient, durable and highly practical. Our talkative uncles from rural areas would rather buy a Vasco Da Gama aged 1983 fourth generation Toyota pick-up and the 1985 Nissan D21 commonly known as the Nissan Datsun than a modern car for personal use. They believe what their friends have told them, that a pick-up is worth purchasing because it can be used to ferry cabbages to the market and bring in income, while a personal car is just, mere luxury. That is why our miser grandfathers and uncles own a fleet of old small sized canters and pick-ups, but ride to church, streets and other events on a bicycle.
On most roads and parking spaces, Toyota vehicles dominate, you can agree too. Over the years, Kenya has seen Toyota car’s use increase on the road, no matter how old they are. At this point in time (early 2020) when new cars are KCX, a KAU Toyota Starlet owned by a well-respected village chief or a young mzungu still runs on the road. If that isn’t enough, there are these trucks that carry sand and stones from quarries which never get old; The Isuzu trucks. You must have spotted one and wondered where they get the balls to keep up the performance. There are also rare vehicles with the number plate KLU 815 and the associates which are still struggling to keep up, one strong push on the accelerator and you will need a 10-men power to put the car into motion again.
Here is the list of cars that have proven durability on Kenyan rough roads over the years;
11. 1989 Nissan Datsun Pick-Up
These pick-ups are most common in the commercially active rural areas where they are used to ferry wood, fodder for livestock and an already sold cow to the slaughter man’s house. These pick-ups still manage to get spares, but one advantage they have is they were built out of strong pure iron metal as most would say.
10.1989 Subaru Legacy
This wagon by Subaru won the hearts of many for its all-wheel drive capability and the large luggage space. Some fanatics put a loud exhaust and graffiti on it and sure it did fit a super cool car to own. To no dismay, it did win the challenge.
9. 1988 ISUZU TF Double door/single door pick-up
Considered as a highly practical and reliable heavy truck duty for the bad roads in the rural areas, this pick-up won the hearts of many for being a vehicle which could be used for family travels, luggage ferrying and its powerful set of 4×4 and in some, real-wheel drive, became just but a good bonus.
8. 1987 Toyota Corolla
These vehicles were mostly owned by the well-to-do in society; chiefs, pastors and councillors. They were front-wheel powered but performed like an all-wheel 1997 Subaru Forester. These vehicles have been re-bought and inherited from great-grandfathers and are still on the roads. Several generations of the Toyota Corolla can be spotted on our roads; The Sixth generation (1987), the seventh generation (1991) and the eighth generation (1995).
7. 1985 Mitsubishi Pajero
Owning this car back in time was the ultimate test of social status. These vehicles were mostly used by government officials who were considered untouchable, rich and powerful. No common man could have such a powerful 4×4 car.
6. 1984 Toyota Starlet
It is not a surprise that this subcompact car from Japan has lasted the time to present. Its manufacture began in 1984 – 1999 and it won the love for a small practical car.
5. 1983 Land Rover Defender
This British four-wheel drive Off-Road vehicle was the ultimate success of an impressive strong and powerful off road car. After a continuous run of 67 years since 1983, production finally ended on 29th January 2016 when the last Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line. To this day, the Land Rover Defender is highly regarded as a valuable off-road car that meets expectations to satisfaction.
4. 1979 Nissan Sunny Wagon and Saloon
It is surprising how these Nissan cars have managed to retain the strength to time. These cars have been strong overtime, even though the present Nissan products have not met our market very impressively as they should have. Someone messed up something along the production lines, because no modern car has met the fulfilment the 1979 Nissan Sunny Wagon and Saloon cars brought.
3. 1975 BMW 3 SERIES
These cars began production as 2-door sedans and later on in 1983, came the 4-door saloon versions. The E30 was the first 3 Series to be available in wagon and 4-door sedan body style and also carried diesel powered engines. They were highly impressive that rally car drivers opted to customise the 2-door sedan for optimal performance on rough rally roads. The cars were later on also fitted with an all-wheel drive option, attracting the off-road users to the cars. In Kenya, these cars were a sign of optimal class and luxury, but now, they are just BMWs, just for the name. You will still find several on the road.
2. 1974 Volvo 240 GL Estate
These long cars had the largest trunk space, bigger than that of the Peugeot 504 wagons. These vehicles were so long in size that most would complain of the difficulty to manoeuvre them in tight urban road bends when they visited friends and relatives in the city. It is not uncommon to spot one on the road nowadays, although rarely.
1. 1970 Peugeot 504
How could this list be complete without mentioning our legated friend over here. No other car in Kenya could beat the size, performance and strength of the Peugeot 504. Till now, you will spot a man in spectacles in his sixties, probably having inherited it from his late father, driving it cautiously on the roads, careful not to touch another motorist because of the heavy stiff steering wheel.