The search is over. We have found the car that will take us across Africa.
Those two sentences were exactly proclaimed 4 times in the last weeks, more specifically every time we were on our way back home after having looked at potential vehicles. 4 times because… 4 cars. So, either we do get excited easily (and also one of us might in general be somewhat of an impulse buyer) or we just did a great job researching and narrowing down our options (and by ‘we’ I mean the other one of us). Maybe it was quite simply fate, the stars aligning perfectly or the seller paid for having his ad show up at the top of the list every time we were looking at it.
Anyway, allow us to introduce you to Bogdan. Born in 1997 in the UK, raised in Bosnia, he found his way to Germany, where he had been owned by a blacksmith in the greater Cologne area until a week ago. The poor guy looked like he was attending his own funeral when he handed over the keys so we tried to ease his mind with a crate of Bavarian beer which only helped partially. But let’s start at the beginning.
Looking at the ad, Bogdan came across as almost too good to be true – very well equipped and also perfectly maintained with major parts having been replaced just recently. He was at the upper end of our budget and also came with the highest mileage of all the cars we had been looking at which is close to 400.000.
“So, note to self in case you’ll ever find yourself in our situation: less is more when it comes to Overlanding Africa in a Defender. ...?”
Bogdan is a Landrover Defender 110, powered by a strong 300Tdi engine and therefore the model with the fewest electronic parts which will be important once we’re out in the wilderness. The mechanics there have very limited access to spare parts and tools but if they have anything, it will most likely be for the 300Tdi. The other model we were looking at was the TD5 which is also recommended even though it already features an increased amount of electronics for engine management as well as ABS brakes and traction control. The TD4 is a no-go (as we were told by the experts), since the engine is not as reliable (first engine from Ford, whatever that means). So, note to self in case you’ll ever find yourself in our situation: less is more when it comes to Overlanding Africa in a Defender.
The one characteristic we were intrigued by immediately was Bogdan’s sleeping situation: a lifting roof. So far we had only looked at cars with roof tents (or with no equipment at all), which we would have totally been fine with, but this special features definitely got us hooked. Besides the comfort it offers it could also be one more thing that can break. Especially when in Africa, that might not be a quick fix, at least not as easy as buying a new roof tent. But as it turned out, the lifting roof was in very good shape, easy to handle and with the option to put up the mattress which allows you to stand upright inside the car.
When we started looking for a car, we knew our time to put in extra features was limited. Thus, we were pleasantly surprised by all the amenities Bogdan had to offer: cabinets with lots of storage space, new seats and carpeting, additional battery, kitchen equipment, luxury camping chairs (a cup holder on each side, whoa!) plus a really nice wooden folding table and – behold – a shower! In case you’re looking for an apartment in Munich or Cologne might be thinking to yourself right now: will I ever find an affordable place with only half the luxury?!
It was the first test drive where Katharina also sat behind the steering wheel and when we took the car up a dirt road and were suddenly in the middle of nowhere, driving through a forest, the taste of adventure was in the air and so the deal was sealed.
We tried to come up with a name pretty which would pay tribute to the car’s origin and for some reason Bogdan just sat with us. We only found out later the real sensation about that name: its meaning translates to gift from god. I mean, we’re both atheists, but, seriously?! Apparently, we were meant to be, so welcome to the family, Bogdan.