Brabham teases BT62 with high-speed video

Teaser for Brabham BT62 debuting in May 2018Brabham is set to reveal its first new vehicle in 26 years on May 2, but on Friday the company released a teaser video. It features what we imagine will be a track-only supercar, though unfortunately the car, to be called the BT62, moves too quickly to gather any details. And it’s absolutely a quick video. The clip lasts just 16 seconds and…



Tesla Model 3 drive, 2018 Accord Hybrid, future BMW i4, longer-range Fusion Energi: The Week in Reverse

2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range electric car, road test in greater Atlanta area, Feb 2018Which important new electric car did we finally get a chance to drive and report on? What good-looking new 47-mpg hybrid sedan went on sale this week? This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending on Friday, March 23, 2018. Friday, we wrote about the Norwegian EV club that tested five…


Tesla Model 3 drive, 2018 Accord Hybrid, future BMW i4, longer-range Fusion Energi: The Week in Reverse

2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range electric car, road test in greater Atlanta area, Feb 2018Which important new electric car did we finally get a chance to drive and report on? What good-looking new 47-mpg hybrid sedan went on sale this week? This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending on Friday, March 23, 2018. Friday, we wrote about the Norwegian EV club that tested five…


Equus Throwback, Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip, Volkswagen Touareg: This Week’s Top Photos

Equus ThrowbackThe folks at Equus are back with another retro creation. This time it’s a Chevrolet Corvette with a 1,000-horsepower output and styling cues from multiple past generations of America’s sports car. See if you can guess some of them. One of the big surprises this week was the reveal of the updated Cadillac CT6. The highlight was anew CT6 V-Sport…


AUTOMOBiLE Flashback: A Proper Thrashing: 2003 Ranger Rover

DORNOCH, Scotland — Scotland may be cold in January, but at least it’s a wet cold. You can’t do proper off-roading without that extra bit of pouring rain turning the rivers to raging beasts and the forest ruts to bottomless hobbit holes. Scotland must be seven-tenths water. It fills the firths to overflowing, comes cascading out of craggy outcroppings in torrents, runs straight down every road surface on this northernmost tip of the United Kingdom, and has you whipping your windshield wipers into a frenzy.
Just bloody beautiful. Pass the Glenmorangie—eighteen-year, preferably. It goes well with the haggis from Dingwall.
The national coat of Scotland is the waxed Barbour. The vehicle of choice is the 2003 Range Rover. At least, that’s what it is today, because Scotland is where we are, and we are guests of Land Rover. In these gruesome conditions, we’d have it no other way. Gruesome is really the wrong word, based on our fierce love of gritty, off-road adventure. We like to plunge into raging rivers, pushing a bow wave as high as the car’s hood onto the far shore. We live for the terror of sliding straight down muddy embankments and into pools of water of unknown depth in the dark. We thrill to the challenge of climbing—wheel by articulated wheel—through ditches and fissures and crevasses and ravines.
We especially like to do so in Range Rovers, because there is very little chance that we’ll actually get any of those elements on us. Range Rovers always have been unstoppable beasts of upper-crust burden since the first was introduced by Land Rover in 1970. (This would be not counting the failure of the first-generation air suspension, that is.) Since then, there’s been only one redesign, and it was in the spirit of the first—a fresh turn on the original theme of fusty country elegance. The queen in a babushka. When Bob Dover left Aston Martin to run Land Rover, his extremely chic wife, Tracey, was overheard muttering into her champagne: “Goodbye, Manolos; hello, wellies.”
As it turns out, the skyscraper Italian stilettos got to stay, and the green rubber boots remained in the closet. This third Range Rover throws off its babushka, thanks to the brief interlude Land Rover spent under the BMW umbrella, where a key champion was Wolfgang Reitzle, then BMW’s head of product development. Reitzle finished the job when he left BMW and joined Ford in 1999 and led Ford’s purchase of Land Rover the following year.
There’s no mistaking it for anything but a Range Rover, with that clamshell hood, split tailgate, and upright, grille-heavy front end. But the overall shape is sleeker (not to mention wider, longer, and taller), and the xenon headlamp clusters are positively New Age, as are the functional front-fender vents. Land Rover chief designer Geoff Upex led the British team, beating out two BMW studios to win the redesign job.

Happy as a pig in the mud: Range Rovers are virtually unstoppable off-road. We proved it on the vast, privately owned Novar Estate, where it had snowed ten days before, engorging the rives and turning the hillsides to a beautiful slop. One hilltop on the estate revealed the dark majesty of the Scottish Highlands beyond.

Looking around the smart, new, extra-roomy cabin (2.6 inches wider inside), it’s hard to recall what made the last Range Rover luxurious, other than its price. Now, this—this is something else again. First comes the dash, a bold door-to-door sweep swaddled in thick parchment-colored leather, bisected by two striking pillars of cherry wood with a finish reminiscent of paste wax. The wood uprights frame the controls and display for the GPS navigation system above a pair of air vents, and pushbuttons, an analog clock (which magically synchronizes with the digital clock as it is set), and rotary climate-control dials are neatly clustered below. Wood veneer adorns lower door-mounted bins, and a huge cube of it surrounds side air vents on the outer dash edges.
“We wanted the look of a small Bentley,” explains chairman Dover. Land Rover never had an interior design signature. Now we’ve made it cool and chic and Norwegian. Or you can make it Teutonic by replacing the wood with metal.” The most prominent souvenirs of its Munich masters are the beautiful gauges and finely articulated switches logically grouped around (and on) the telescoping, tilting steering wheel.
A soft wash of light from two slots in the ceiling continuously bathes the aluminum-accented shifter and its two attendant paddles (one engages Hill Descent Control, the other engages low range) for easy location during night driving. A pale glow illuminates the door handles and storage bins. Two days of Highlands driving–one spent entirely on boggy forest roads and rocky hillsides, the other in a 200-mile pavement dash from east to west–made us want to pack up the Range Rover’s plush navy leather armchairs piped in parchment leather and ship them home for the family Suburban. Or maybe the family living room.

Hall of fame: The 2003 Range Rover’s passenger compartment couldn’t differ more radically from that of its predecessor, with fine leather, exquisite wood trim, and BMW-esque gauges and controls.

It was like being in a fabulous Riva boat. Or maybe I was just thinking Riva boat because, at the moment I was thinking Riva, the road plunged down an embankment and gave way to a fairly rapid river, and I had to gun the Range Rover’s 4.4-liter BMW-sourced V-8 to carry some speed as I hit the water. We had been in Scotland about two hours, the first spent in a technical briefing held in a lovely, halogen-lit room with a beautiful wood floor, smack in the middle of a Royal Air Force aeronautical search-and-rescue base northeast of Inverness. Actually, the room turned out to have been built by Land Rover smack in the middle of an airplane hangar on the base. The sleek room’s far wall slid open, and there was our test fleet parked in the dark, damp other half of the hangar. It was the first of many reminders of Land Rover’s new battle cry: tough luxury.
Back to tough. Covering a goodly part of the sodden, private, 25,000-acre Novar Estate in a day was not a problem for a number of reasons. There was, as mentioned, the mighty strong 282-horsepower engine (borrowed from BMW’s own X5), subdued slightly by the extra weight of this much stouter vehicle but still more than tough enough for our low-speed needs. (Despite an aluminum hood, front fenders, and doors, the new Range Rover weighs 414 pounds more than the outgoing model and 550 pounds more than an X5 4.4i.) The ZF five-speed ControlShift manu-matic transmission has a dual-range transfer case that now can be shifted with the flick of a finger while on the fly, provided you’re not flying too high. The added security of Hill Descent Control is another welcome finger flick of a paddle away. At times, we were creeping down steep grades so slowly in super-low that I added gas.
Bigger news is Range Rover’s switch to a monococque structure—a huge break from the body-on-frame construction of yore. Bending stiffness is radically improved, as are body-panel fits. Three subframes cradle the transfer case and front and rear suspension systems, now both independent. The air-spring system also has been redesigned to pillow off-road jolts and jounces more effectively. It still has “kneel” feature that lowers the vehicle rolls to a complete stop.

This new Range Rover is 1.8 inches taller and 9.3 inches longer than the old one, with a 5.3 inches more wheelbase. Maximum ground clearance is greater than before (11.0 inches), it will tow more (7700 pounds), and it can snatch-recover a 12,000-pound load.
By late afternoon, the wind was howling badly enough across the barren hillsides that we switched heaters for seats and steering wheel and began the downhill battle. At the shore of Loch Glass, Land Rover had neatly parked a toilet trailer (with art on the walls and running water in the sinks) a large temporary glass house with wooden floor, cushy furniture, halogen lights, classical music, and an attendant who served tea and cookies.
“It wouldn’t be nearly as useful without the hidden bank of generators,” quipped Dover as he sipped his tea. Out of the woods at the property’s edge, we were hailed by three guys with Land Rover Defenders and power washers who hosed down our Range Rover, checked its tires for gashes, and sent us on our way to town. Tough luxury, indeed.
And then tough was all finished. We arrived at our quarters, imposing Skibo Castle, built at the turn of the twentieth century by the world’s richest man, Andrew Carnegie. Many stories surround this fabulous 7500-acre estate (down from 250,000 acres). But let me just say that you need to know a member (Dover) to stay there; a butler named James met us in the circular drive with a tray of single malts; a bagpiper played us awake each morning; black pudding (made of blood) was on my breakfast plate; there was a Burberry store in the dungeon, and they take American Express; and I got Madonna’s bridal suite. There were no lost diamond studs under the bed; I checked.

The last thrashing we would give the Range Rover was the most obvious one, the test that has tripped it up for the past thirty years. We would drive it fast and hard, mostly on a single-track paved path through the wild Beinn Eighe national nature preserve along the 12.5-mile shore of Loch Maree, to quaint Gairloch and Poolewe on the western shore.
We set the navigation system (nice, but not as nice as the systems from Acura and Lexus) so photographer Tim Andrew wouldn’t have to guide me. I was really looking forward to this day and not just for the six hours of mouth-gaping scenery.
Dover’s boys had broken his golden rule: “Be modest. Under-promise and over-deliver.” Not only did they claim the obvious high-dollar SUVs from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus for competition, but they got carried away and insisted that a Range Rover would kick Mercedes S-class booty as well. A beautiful, controlled ride at highway speeds on pavement has never been the Range Rover’s forte, so this would be some feat.
A feat that was not to be, actually. Let’s just chalk that S-class talk up to a bit of overenthusiasm for the incredible level of refinement this off-road wonder has achieved. The steering is still a bit numb, although it is certainly better. You can crash the slick new air springs on bumps with the sort of rapid steering inputs you’d use in an emergency avoidance maneuver at 40 or 50 mph. During ordinary cornering sweeps, however, body roll is nicely controlled. Emergency Brake Assistance and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution lend great composure under heavy braking.

You could call it home: After a drive to the rugged west coast of Scotland and back to Dornoch in the east, Skibo Castle was a welcome beacon in the night.

The heavens emptied, and I drove hard, finding the Range Rover faster overall but still a bit sluggish. The dual-range throttle is mapped for on- and off-road use. On the low road, pedal travel is long, mushy, and somewhat vague; on the high road, you have to push through a lethargic initial pedal to get to the engine growl. And that growl is tamer than the X5’s. Says Dover, “There was no conscious decision to detune the engine sound. We spent a lot of time on engine and gearbox mounting, on the door seals (there are two), and on sound deadening. People think quiet cars are quality cars. This is the quietest 4×4 we can find.” Will Ford be replacing that BMW engine with one of its own any time soon? “Don’t hold your breath,” says Dover. “It costs so much, with crash testing and so on, to do an engine. And we’re very happy with the BMW engine.”
As were we. We were happy with all of it, actually, S-class whipper or not. We came here looking not for a luxury sedan but for an extreme off-roader with better on-road manners than its predecessor. We found all of that, wrapped in exquisite raiment. It’s modern, it’s roomier, it’s quiet, it’s beautiful, and it works like crazy. The Range Rover will cost like it, too, but you were expecting that, weren’t you? This should not be a problem, says Land Rover’s marketing director, Matthew Taylor: “One thing all Range Rover buyers have in common is money. They have money.”
They will need it. The Range Rover will hit our shores in June with a base price close to $70,000, topping out at about $80,000. (The first ones all will have the extra-cost bi-xenon headlamps, and a third of them will have the optional “contour” front seats.) Land Rover hopes Americans will want 11,000 of them by 2003. We’d call it a leadpipe cinch.

2003 Land Rover Range Rover Specifications

PRICE $70,000/$80,000 (base/as-tested)(est.)
ENGINE 4.4L DOHC 32-valve V-8/282 hp @ 5,400 rpm, 324 lb-ft @ 3,600
TRANSMISSION 5-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 12/17 mpg (city/hwy) (est.)
L x W x H 194.9 x 77.0 x 73.3 in
WHEELBASE 113.4 in
WEIGHT 5,374 lb
0-60 MPH 9.0 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph

Originally published online April 1, 2002 from the April 2002 issue of Automobile.

The post AUTOMOBiLE Flashback: A Proper Thrashing: 2003 Ranger Rover appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


AUTOMOBiLE Flashback: Mountains Climbed Lions Tamed

The bad thing about starting out on your first great South African off-road driving and safari adventure is that you and your camouflage pants, lug-soled hiking boots, and zebra-trimmed bush hat look unbelievably stupid clomping through the gleaming marble lobby of Cape Town’s prestigious Table Bay Hotel. Hmm. Those childhood “Tarzan” movies might not have been the best source of wardrobe tips.

Once outside, we blend in so much better. Lining the hotel’s circular drive are a row of rugged Land Rover LR3s, one in Zambezi silver and four in Tangiers orange (painted in the livery of the recent G4 global adventure challenge), each accompanied by official instructor/guides dressed in matching uniforms of blue long-sleeved shirts and gray trousers. Behind them is a coterie of Land Rover North America handlers, complete with camera crew ready to record the five-star safari ahead.

This is why we’d traveled halfway around the world. Automobile Magazine had been invited to join a band of well-heeled American adventurers who’d ponied up $8995 each (not including airfare) for the privilege of being terrified into a state of adventure nirvana for the next six days and nights. They are dressed like me, with the exception of a Bottega Veneto handbag here and a pair of Gucci loafers and Prada sunglasses there.

No, you will not meet beer-swilling, skinny-dipping, Jeep Rubicon- type revelers on the Land Rover trail. Our fellow travelers are retired captains of industry and entrepreneurs in aircraft maintenance and real-estate development. But make no mistake: over the course of the next week, in between the gourmet meals and fine wines of the Western Cape, men and women alike will slip from luxurious 1000-thread-count cocoons to muscle their pricey SUVs over perilous mountain passes, to ford rivers presumably teeming with crocodiles, and to part the dense swamp- grass home of black mambas, puff adders, and spitting cobras. Then drink.

There are a few off-road paradises left in the world, and Land Rover knows where to find them, partly because its stalwart products have already blazed those trails and can still be found merrily rolling along where pack mules fear to tread. If you own a Land Rover, you have the keys to it all, and Land Rover culture encourages you to partake.
Dealerships (called Land Rover Centres) have little on-site mountain test courses to try before you buy. Afterward, you can attend one of three magnificent off-road driving schools—at the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, California; at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina; or at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello in Quebec. The next stop is a full-blown Land Rover Adventure.

South Africa, a country three times the size of Great Britain, is perfect for adventure. It splits the frigid Atlantic from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean at the Cape Point, and depending on which side you’re on, offers subtropical vegetation, rugged mountain ranges, semi-desert, rain forest, scrubby bushveld, and perfectly groomed vineyards.
Its cities are modern, the political climate is fairly stable given its tumultuous past, its little towns are quaint, and the well-marked road system of the Western Cape is in better shape than Michigan’s. All that, and wild elephants in the backyard, too.

What could be more perfect? That would be our guides, the staff of Kwa-Zulu Natal Land Rover Experience, the world’s first franchised Land Rover off-road training group, led by the irrepressible Rob Timcke, a chain-smoking, Red Bull-slugging firecracker. Timcke is a born raconteur who nevertheless inspires utter confidence in his ability to bring everyone back alive.
Not just a talker, Timcke was raised in a hunting camp in the old Eastern Transvaal on the Mozambique border, where his first language was Zulu. He spent time in the Congo during the really bad years as a South African army intelligence officer and became a professional hunter until 1993, when Communist Party leader Chris Hani was murdered and trophy hunters stayed home. Next, he set up tourist dives to view tiger and great white sharks. Without the cage.

Timcke then jumped into teaching people the fine art of off-road driving. “I was always a bush person,” he says, “never a sea person. After nine years of getting really seasick, I found some idiot of a bank manager to buy my operation.” His cohorts include his stunning Akrikaaner wife, Carina. (“I slept my way into a job,” she cracks. “Unfortunately, my previous job paid much more.”)
Her brother Pierre Versfeld and top fly-fishing guide Antony Diplock complete the group. Diplock is not a big talker, but then he lives alone on an island near Namibia and, at the age of eighteen, participated in the tribal coming-of-age circumcision ritual with his boyhood Zulu friends. He doesn’t need to talk much.

Handshakes and hellos out of the way, we climb behind right-hand-mounted steering wheels and head south in convoy. To acclimate us to driving on the wrong side of the road, Timcke has sent us down the coast road past the rugged Twelve Apostles mountain chain flanking our left and the beach towns of Camps Bay and Llandudno on our right.
We climb the Chapman’s Peak toll road clinging to seaside cliffs and rumble through the shrubby natural fynbos (“fine bush”) habitat of the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve splashed with the bright spikey blooms of protea.

South Africans are rightfully proud of this, the densest of the world’s six floral kingdoms, counting between 8500 and 9000 species packed in an L-shaped area centered around Cape Town, no more than sixty miles wide. The camera car just misses a turtle in front of us. “Ooh, a fynbos tortoise,” chuckles Timcke. “They’re quite rare.”

The plan for a brief mountainside sojourn in the dirt is scratched due to a hard, fast storm blowing in from the south. This brings fond memories to Timcke: “Carina and I ran a safari in Botswana. We were camping when massive, massive thunderstorms rolled in. You could see lightning for miles.
She was setting the table with white linen, and I noticed the ground was alive. Scorpions and spiders. ‘You take me home and you take me home now!’ she yelled. This other time we were scouting in Zambia, and I sent her out to check the depth of the river crossing. She was chest-deep and turned and yelled, ‘What if there are crocs?’ I told her, ‘Don’t splash.’ ” What a gal.

We carry on to the mountain-ringed Cape Winelands surrounding Paarl, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch (founded by Dutch and Huguenot settlers in the late 1600s) for a world-class lunch at Bosman’s Restaurant at Grande Roche, Africa’s only Relais Gourmand.
We taste the superb wines of Grand Roche, Boschendal, and Spier. Instructors become chauffeurs. Back in Cape Town, a native choir welcomes us to dinner at the prime minister’s historic residence. It seems that there’ll be no end to the eating and drinking. And drinking.

Real off-roading comes early the next day, and it is very, very good. Our LR3 has a 300-hp V-8 that shifts through a six-speed manu-matic and a hill-descent control system that won’t let the vehicle roll downhill unchecked with your foot off the brake—which is most helpful when it gets dicey. Terrain response allows the perfect tractive selection with the spin of a knob. I select the rock icon to climb into the pines, spotting a mongoose and a few klipspringers, which look like tiny reindeer perched on clothespins.
It looks like Colorado, I think. Baboons run out. Colorado, but with baboons. A sentry male barks and moves toward us, menacing, while the rest of the troop flees. “I raised four baboons,” says Timcke. “They ran loose at our safari lodge. The males are domineering and see humans as other primates. There will be one alpha male and lots of beta males. My mom, they hung on her leg. My dad was the dominant male. At maturity, they challenge the troop. This one, he’d demonstrate his strength to the weaker part of the troop. That would be my sister. He eventually nipped her, drew blood, and I got out the revolver and shot him.” OK, then.

Once through the forest, we dive into a thicket of grass and find that the rain has made a lake of our trail. Knowing that an LR3 can push through water high enough to break over the hood, I press confidently along, completely forgetting I am on highway tires. No problem. We come out in the fynbos, a riotous blast of purple, pink, yellow, and blue spikes, flowers your florist would die for.

Back to Stellenbosch for an open-air Indonesian and Cape Malay buffet with delicacies such as springbok saut and gnu stew. (I made that last one up.) In the city center, there’s a great crafts market, but I’ve decided to not tell you about buying the Congolese mask from the Zairian merchant, whom I somehow bargained up from 280 to 300 rand, about fifty dollars. Rob is suffused with mirth as I climb in with my precious cargo. The guy was sweating. He pleaded. I felt sorry for him. Forget it.

Luggage stowed, we head for an overnight in the coastal town of Knysna. We of course go the longest, most difficult way. There is a dirt trail all the way from Cape Town to Knysna, but we don’t patch into it until we turn off just west of Mossel Bay on Route 327, pass ostrich farms that line the road on both sides, and head into the Centre Valley of the Western Cape, the arid red earth and rocklands of the Little Karoo.

In the distance, two wild ostriches haul tailfeathers across the bleak plain. “Damn quick little buggers,” says Rob. “Sixty kph [37 mph] at full speed.” The road turns to lane, the lane to trail, and soon we are climbing past a sign that reads, ‘Men remove dentures, ladies fasten your bras.’ It’s the oxwagon autobahn, the path of Dutch settlers between 1689 and 1869. If they could do it, so can we.

We see wild Boerperds—native horses—and the most colorful birds imaginable. When we can look. Because now we are creeping downhill. The rocks are loose and have sharp edges, it is scary steep, and in some places the holes are so deep that both rear wheels lift off the ground in a pirouette straight from hell, which gives me shallow breathing. As I crawl from that horror, I loosen my sweaty stranglehold on the wheel, letting it spin free in my hands.

“You mustn’t do that or the ruts in the road will dictate where your tires will be,” Rob corrects me. I forgot he was even there, focusing as I am on the sharp rocks that line the downward slope of this path. I feel six inches too close to everything—the steering wheel, the pedals, the brakes, God. “Take the brake off,” says Rob. Huh?
I have to unhook all ten toes from their death grip on the pedal. I don’t want to. But the LR3 slowly finishes the gradual descent without my feet. We are at Bonniedale, a 1650-hectare guest farm that was named one of the top 4×4 destinations in South Africa for two years.
It’s open to the public for anything from a day’s driving fun to camping and horse trekking. Nico Hesterman, a former conservation officer, and his wife, Danette, have lived in this wilderness for eighteen years and have a traditional outdoor barbecue, or braai, waiting in camp for us. A cold, Namibia-brewed Windhoek lager would have to wait ’til that evening.

We were sorely ready for the rain forest town of Knysna and its ultraluxurious, ultrachic Pezula Resort. Again we arrive with the camouflage pants, lug-soled hiking boots, and zebra-trimmed bush hats, tromping through someone’s hushed art gallery of a hotel lobby.
But this time, we throw ourselves on the nearest beer bottle, nearly weeping with relief for having made it thus far unscathed. Okay, maybe that really nice lady with the Bottega Veneto bag and Gucci loafers, who rode serenely down that same awful hill, confident in her young son’s ability at the wheel, sipped white wine.

After reluctant goodbyes to Timcke and his Kwa-Zulu Natal Experience team (who were off to Botswana on more crazy jungle business), we flew by chartered Hawker jet into the bush for the much-anticipated rendezvous with the Big Five of the Sabi Sabi Reserve—elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and Cape buffalo.

Big-game hunting can be found in Africa, but not in the vast combined area of the adjoining Kruger National Park and the private Sabi Sabi reserve, roughly eight million acres lying between the Drakensberg and Lebombo mountains, where no animals have been hunted for more than fifty years.
Animals roam freely between the park and the private reserve. There is also no fence between those animals and the eco-huts of the futuristic Earth Lodge, our dirt, cement, and grass-formed digs for our final three days in South Africa. You’re not supposed to leave your room at night without calling for an escort, lest a leopard mistake you for a light snack in between wildebeests.

You would think this would be the trip’s anticlimax after the off-roading. But no. 110 Gameviewers pick us up from the plane, dump our bags at the lodge, and aim for the bush. But only after a chalk talk from our Shangon ranger, Joseph Mashaba, a sixteen-year veteran of Sabi Sabi who bears a striking resemblance to actor Forest Whitaker.
“Now, if we see any of the Big Five, do not jump up or it breaks the shape of the vehicle to the animal. Don’t click your tongue like a kitty cat. They might jump up and grab you. And no yelling, ‘LEOPARD!’ ”

Within five minutes of leaving the security of the lodge, we see three impalas, an elephant, and a bloat of hippos. (“You don’t want to get between them and the water. They kill more people than any other animal in Africa.”)
Also a crocodile, a glassy Cape starling, and a crash of white rhinos. Our tracker, Thomas Mkansi, a Shangon who minded his grandfather’s cattle as a child on this very land, spots lion tracks, and after thirty minutes, we find the wildebeest-stuffed pride asleep in a ravine.

Raring to go at five the next morning, we head out for four hours, come in for lunch and a nap, then dash out at dusk for another three hours with a bush break for tea. No one uses the spa, but two unnamed male guests skip one morning to watch the World Series and whine about how quiet it is, suggesting plug-in waterfalls in the rooms would be nice.

Meanwhile, we have located an elusive herd of Cape buffalo, a water-hole party of three elephant herds, and more lions fresh from a feast that has left them staggering in the dirt with swollen bellies, drooling, and farting.
We see a prancing dazzle of zebras, a tower of giraffes, kudus, bushbucks, waterbucks, and duiker. There are dikdiks, exotic birds, vultures, a poisonous green boomslang, a barrel of vervet monkeys, and then my digital camera says “card full” as Thomas’s spotlight finds a lurking leopard.

There is another South African adventure scheduled in 2006. If you go, could you shoot that leopard for me?

Originally published online March 1, 2006 from the March 2006 issue of Automobile.

The post AUTOMOBiLE Flashback: Mountains Climbed Lions Tamed appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


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