On Friday 22nd September we arrived in East London, Eastern Cape on a chilly damp day to experience a Heritage Adventure weekend with the Isuzu KB 300 as our chariot. It’s a year of celebration for Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan as it commemorates the establishment of the company in April 1937. Isuzu has a strong reputation in SA for producing hardy bakkies, and the Isuzu has risen to the fore to certainly be considered in the top three contestants, in any ‘’bakkie’’ conversation.
It is durable option, and many tales can be heard of Isuzu bakkies having insane mileage under their bonnets, and still going strong. Engineered at the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth, Isuzu have shown great commitment, by increasing their stake in SA, by taking over production, and will be looking at bringing passenger vehicles in 2018, according to senior management.
A Brief History.
Isuzu is a Japanese vehicle and engine manufacturing company headquartered in Tokyo.
The company’s roots can be traced back more than a century, to 1916 when the Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited was formed. It started out building trucks under licence from British company, Wolseley.
There were various acquisitions and mergers in the 1930s and 1940s, resulting in the eventual formation of Isuzu Motors Limited – Isuzu also being the name of a Japanese river. Translated into English it means ‘Fifty Bells”.
Isuzu in South Africa.
Isuzu started in SA in 1970. Well known for their diesel engine technology, the Isuzu KB has plenty of grunt & power. Not the quickest, or the most quiet around, it does seem to creep into your heart as a tough reliable pick-up. Now in its sixth Generation it looks like the KB will continue to grow and impress customers across this beautiful land.
Speaking about beautiful country, we left East London at dusk, and made our way on the N2 towards Morgan Bay on the coast. Not for the faint hearted are the Eastern Cape roads at night, but the Isuzu KB 300 has a high drive style with great visibility, and also great ABS brakes to ensure that you do not take out any animals. We arrived and stayed at the Milford Hotel, a quaint and cosy little hotel right on the surf line. The morning brought forth beautiful vistas, and this is certainly a spot to hide away from the Madding Crowd.
Road Trip to Mthata.
A fantastic clifftop picnic was had at Morgans Bay, with views for days, and a fabulous picnic lunch packed for us by the staff from Saatchi & Saatchi. Lunch over, we were bundled back into our bakkies, and headed in the direction of Mthatha. The roads were tough, with lots of solid line driving, and heavy traffic, as well as livestock to contend with. Our Isuzu KB 300 handled it with aplomb, and we had our tunes going from the Aux port supplied, and the double USB ports allowed multiple occupants to keep their precious phones charged, to take pics of all the interesting places we encountered.
Late afternoon we arrived at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha. Filled with history about the iconic Apartheid struggle fought by Nelson Mandela and his cadres in the ANC. A guided tour ensured that no detail was missed, with a delightful dance performed by the Xhosa maidens and men. We arrived at the stylish Mayfair hotel in the city.
Hole in the Wall.
After a lovely dinner, with superb entertainment, and a quick breakfast, it was time to make our way on the rural roads, across the pastural lands of the Xhosa, to the stunning Hole in The Wall. Challenging dirt roads again, with the necessity to go to 4H and once into 4L, you had to have your wits about you. The KB300 again showed its off-road pedigree, by getting us through these roads safe and sound. Sadly an accident on the road with injuries, illustrated the need to drive sober and at safe speeds. Too many times we saw impatient drivers passing us on blind corners or rises.
Eventually we arrived at the Hole in the Wall. And after a sumptuous fish and meat braai to celebrate Heritage Day, we walked the rough terrain down to the breath taking panorama of the Hole in the Wall. A bucket list tick needs to be done by every Saffer to this place.
Back in the eve to Mthatha, I drove the recently rolled out Isuzu HI-Rider, a manual no frills Isuzu that also gets the job done. I found it a little lacking in power, but the low down torque did make up for that to a degree.
After another good evening with the Izuzu SA management we woke up to an early breakfast, and a charge back to East London in the KB300 to make our flights home, tired, happy and richer in knowledge about our Heritage and our beautiful land. The Isuzu KB 300 comes in manual or auto transmission, and the 3L diesel engine has a lot of torque, and plenty of power on the open road, to make your trip pleasant. The bakkie looks good, has high drive platform, and is roomy and comfortable.