The Red Terror – Part 2
My Mitsubishi Lancer, aka The Red Terror, was a quick car that handled well, I have to say that. When it went, it went fast. Forget the months spent with no airconditioning during the hottest part of the year. Ignore the at first constant overheating, or the numerous head gasket replacements, loss of wipers in the middle of a typhoon and so forth. When the road ahead was clear, this baby bopped. I drove it from Bogo to the Kiwi Lodge one morning (103 km) in just under two hours for what was usually a three hour trip. That was a very exciting drive and not a cop or a radar to be found.
Driving back from Cebu you had the mountainous final section of some 30km that was always taken at high speed. If it was after dark, you went faster as this was bandit country and the NPA often operated in the area. When they opened the South Cebu Expressway I managed to hit 100mph, 160kmh, on the long straight. And it felt GOOD! It made up for the hours you could spend clutching it through Cebu city traffic jams, but only just.
So when I return to the Pinas, what kind of vehicle will I buy? It will probably be a new one. Buying second hand in the Philippines is a pain in the butt. The cars are ridiculously over priced based on the ego and pride of the owner, not on the market and what the car is worth. It will be a big SUV or extended cab ute. I will get it tinted but not as dark as the locals do, at least not on the windscreen. When they tinted the Red Terror the idiots put the same super dark tint on the windscreen. I had to peel the middle strip off on the way home because I had a sore neck from sticking my head out the window to see where I was going as dusk dropped.
You need a car with big tyres and good suspension to handle the rough roads in the province. You need a ute to carry the relatives, all seated on super safe plastic patio chairs, of course. You need a new car so that you know no idiot Dong has ignored the servicing while lavishing love on the appearance… all to impress the neighbours, naturally. You also have a slightly better chance, but only slightly, of getting decent mechanical work done at the Casa, or dealership.
I love Land Rover Defenders and had sold my beloved Wally (’94 300Tdi hardtop) when I moved to the islands. I would never buy one in the Pinas, even though they are available, because the only dealership is in Manila. If I could afford to import the bits from the UK or Australia I might buy a 300Tdi, the one before they went stupid with electronic everything. You simply can’t keep them on the road, basically. Buy a Toyota. There, I said it. Get a big Hi-Lux 4×4 and service it at the casa. Make it a diesel, preferably an automatic if they are available and you spend most of your time in the city, or else get a manual. Alternately I will have a local ‘Driver Jeep’ builder (the locally made WW2 Jeep lookalikes) to make a Defender shell to go over a Toyota chassis and running gear. It will still look the business but the moving bits will be easy to service and repair. If they can make Hummer clones, they can make a Defender!