The Pajero


I admit, my dream was to own an old Toyota Land Cruiser, but after months of searching the model I wanted was either unobtainable or well above my budget (over 65`000 CHF with more than 300’000 Km).
So I started looking at Land Rover Defenders, but again the prices were out of my reach, plus I was scared of the maintenance … Owning a Defender requires a minimum (or a lot) of mechanical knowledge, which I absolutely don’t have.

After months of research I was tired and frustrated. I asked competent people for help, but they all confirmed that in Switzerland certain models are very rare or very, very expensive. Then one day by chance I read an ad for a Pajero Turbo Diesel 2800, 1998. Mmmmm interesting ….

I liked it. It had charme and character, a manual gearbox with reduced gears and it was white just as I would have liked it. I had no idea if it was a good option for overlanding around. I contacted the very nice retired mechanic who was really sad to sell it: “The time for travelling with the Pajero has come to an end for me. I am too old now” said to me with shining eyes.

The Pajero was in perfect condition: not a scratch, not a thread of rust. “Think about it. I’m not selling it before I get your answer.” I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The next morning I phoned the kind gentleman. The Pajero was mine. With the promise to keep them updated on my travels I embrace the lovely former owners. Their eyes were emotional. For them, parting with the Pajero was like ending an era full of experiences and memories. For me, however, a new chapter was beginning. I was almost incredulous. I was driving my first car. An off-roader that I hope will take me far.

I had a fairly clear idea of how I wanted to transform it. I didn’t want to invest too much money in it. Something simple, practical, comfortable, but also robust.

After cleaning it thoroughly I completely soundproofed it, thermally insulated it and covered it with Filz. The wood for the structure was kindly given to me (it was being thrown away).

Two months of intensive work from morning till late at night. Long lovely chats with the neighbours curious about my work.Countless headaches to solve. Problems. Lack of proper tools. Frustration … but it slowly took shape and I am happy (and also a bit proud) with the result.

I will use the cooking material I already used when I was travelling by bicycle. Being able to carry a large supply of food and water is really a luxury for me. For the rest, I don’t need much. I have learnt to travel with the bare essentials.

The biggest expense was the roof rack and the power station that makes me totally independent.

I could certainly have made it more attractive and captivating, but for me, who travelled by bicycle with only what fit in four bags, owning an off-roader transformed in this way is more than a luxury upgrade.