Even in the country, what you drive says a little bit about who you are. The London blow-in, the newly arrived townie eager to blend in, nearly always drives a Land Rover. It is an affectation of the wealthy metropolitan immigrant, a dead giveaway. What he gets fatally wrong is that it’s usually without a ding in it, rigged with stuff no ordinary working man could afford and preternaturally spotless. If he really wants a badge of rural authenticity and hankers to be given a fraternal nod in the lanes, he needs to drive Japanese.
All the local blokes I’d befriended – hard-wired grafters to a man – rated the Jap over the Defender. To them, a truck is a tool. It is there to get a job done, whether that be carting hay, hauling wood or transporting a randy ram. It needs to start, day in, day out, however much abuse you throw at it. And this is where it is believed the Jap has the edge. Consequently, looks are not a priority. Some attempt to keep their trucks in respectable trim but it is, on the whole, a brief ambition.
The genus of back country truck I’m talking about looks like it has been rolled over a field bank and panel beaten with a hedging mallet. Wing mirrors and bumpers are tacked on with gaffer tape and the hard canopy held down with a ratchet strap. It has never seen a car wash, supports a burgeoning population of lichen around every window seal and will never, on any account, have all its lights working. Interiors are worse: rancid capsules choked with the detritus of working days – sheep antibiotics, pouches of rolling tobacco, 6 volt electric fence batteries, animal feed. Each has its own unique and layered smell. If a dog rides shotgun, he has probably eaten the seats.