Jeeps in Pakistan
by Khalid Omar
In Pakistan, there is a limited choice when it comes to choosing a 4×4 vehicle. The major types are listed below, with a short description and rating for each vehicle. With the older 4×4's, their offroad prowess depends mainly on their owners, while with the newer 4×4's, it's mostly up to the vehicle as it cannot be modified much. With these old jeeps, its the driver that's the most important part of the drivetrain, which is what makes them so much fun off the road.
The following jeeps are rated according to Pakistani terrain, where we hardly ever see any mud. We've got rocks, more rocks, even bigger rocks, and lots of fine sand! Most of the local jeeps would do terribly in deep mud, so luckily there isn't any! 4×4 lowrange can compensate for lack of power in any terrain, but with mud you need raw power coupled with fast throttle response.
The M38 is better known as the "Willys Jeep" in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army had a large number of these vehicles, which they have been slowly removing from service and selling over the years. There are now a large number available, but because of their age, almost all are in bad shape. A Willys Jeep in original condition has been a collector's item in the West for the last 30 years, and now in Pakistan it is slowly becoming one. There are mechanics and workshops who restore Willys, and a large number have been taken abroad by foreigners. The Smithsonian Museum, and the New York Museum of Arts both contain M38's restored by Daud, whose workshop is in Lyari, Karachi. The Willy's Jeep saw action in the Korean and Vietnam wars. (along with many others).
Offroading Capability: 10 out of 10
Petersen's 4×4 Magazine, which is one of the oldest and most reputable 4×4 magazines, in their 50th year anniversary had a listing of the best 4×4 they had come across in 50 years. Most of the list had million dollar custom made machines made for rallies and competitions. The number one 4×4 was the Willy's Jeep. Unfortunately, this issue is not available online, but I do have a copy of it which I'll scan and put online in the future. The only other stock 4×4 in the list was the Dodge Powerwagon. Surprisingly, the Land Rover did not make it. The Unimog was also left out as in the US there are hardly any available to the public. The general consensus was that while modern 4×4's are on paper superior, they lack that certain something which flat fenders have.
Ford GPW and Willys MA/MB
The Willys MB was the design approved by the US Army during World War II. Ford was also awarded the contract as Willy's didn't have the production capacity for the entire US army order. Both Ford and Willy's produced close to 650,000 jeeps from 1941-1945. The only major differences between the two are the grill, and the front chassis cross-member. The Willys chassis front cross-member is tubular, whereas the Ford cross-member is an inverted U section. All parts are interchangeable. The Jeep MB is considered an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, and changed the way the world looked at and used automobiles. There are more stories about this particular model (the Ford/Willys) than any other automobile.
There seems to be quite a number of both these Jeeps in Pakistan. Again, like the M38, most are in very bad shape.
Offroading Capability: 10 out of 10
Same as those noted for the M38. See the following quote:
It would "go places where tankers quit and birds would go back exhausted."
>> The Jeep, a Real American Hero
CJ-7 & CJ-5
The CJ-7 was produced 1976-1986. The CJ-7 was the successor to the CJ-5. It was made larger for better stability and speed to suit the American highway, and is the last true Jeep. It has a huge cult-like following in America. It's vastly customizable, and people have put in everything from puny CNG motors to massive V-10s.
In the Northern areas, CJ-5's and CJ-7's are extended and used as public transport, similar to the Jeepney in the Philippines. Jeep would be horrified, but it is a testament to their build quality that these Jeeps survive such hard use for which they were never intended.
Offroading Capability: 8.5 out of 10
While the stock CJ-7 has a lower offroading capability as compared to the military models preceding it, it can be easily customized and altered. In America, a number have been upgraded and altered to such an extent that compared to a normal CJ-7 it's like comparing a Formula One race car to a Suzuki Alto. The point is that the offroading capability depends mostly on the driver and how well the vehicle has been maintained. A well kept CJ-7 is easily as comfortable as a modern SUV, and many times better offroad.
Better known as the ambulance Jeep, it is based on the tried and tested M38-A1. The M170 (MDA) is basically a stretched M38A1. According to which estimate one goes with, anywhere between 2500 to 5000 were produced between the mid-1950s and the early 1960s, which makes it one of the rarest production jeeps. Since it had to transport the sick and wounded, the wheel base was lengthened to accommodate stretchers, front and rear anti-roll bars were added, and the rear leaf springs were stretched. These attributes result in the most comfortable ride of all the military Jeeps, even better than most SUV's. The Pakistan Army had a total of 200 M170's which are gradually being phased out and replaced with Toyota Landcruisers and Land Rover Defender 110's.
Offroading Capability: 8.5 out of 10
Like all the other military Jeep's, it's extremely capable offroad, but the long wheelbase can cause ground clearance issues at sharp breakover angles.
Best known as the "Mutt" in US jeeping circles, but better known locally as the Jeep Commando, this jeep has independent suspension with coil spings at all 4 corners, giving it a very comfortable ride. There do not seem to be a large number of these in Pakistan. The Army still uses them, and is phasing them out.
In Pakistan, there are very few M151s, mainly because the army never bought them in the same quantities as earlier jeeps. The independent suspension is also somewhat of a mystery to local mechanics, who prefer hardier and more conventional leaf spring setups. Until recently finding a lightweight replacement diesel for the original petrol engine was the biggest hurdle in converting one of these vehicles for daily use. However, availability of the Toyota 3C-T should change that. The unibody construction is also somewhat less tougher than than the other jeeps. Most local jeeps here are abused well beyond what even the US military would use them, and for these purposes a separate ladder type chassis coupled with a leaf spring suspension is the most reliable, and even more important here, the easiest to repair.
The independent rear suspension configuration of the M151-A1 models allowed excessive body roll, causing the wheels to practically fold up under the vehicle under sharp cornering, sending the vehicle into a violent roll. It is a well documented fact that this vehicle caused more GI deaths in accidents than in wartime operations in Korea. The M151-A2 switched to a trailing arm setup which is a lot more stable, and it was produced by Ford and Jeep from 1970 till the introduction of the Hummer in 1982. However, so eager was the NHTSA to remove this rolling deathtrap from American roads, that they had the US military cut the suspension out of each and every one before decommissioning them! Luckily, M151s exported to other militaries around the world survived the barbarism. They are extremely rare in Pakistan - we have seen hardly 5 or 6 of them so far.
Offroading Capability: 7.5 out of 10
Coil springs make the M151 easy and comfortable to drive on our torn up streets and highways, but design flaws in the suspension also make it the Jeep most likely to roll over, especially during abrupt emergency manoeuvres. In capable hands though, it can be a terrific performer. One of our members has an M151, and a few years back in a jeep rally it came first, beating V8 powered Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, CJ's, a Hummer and a whole lot of other SUVs and jeeps!
Land Cruiser BJ-40
While the BJ-40 may seem like a CJ-7 clone to many people, it is the result of Toyota's foray into the booming post-WW2 4×4 market. Toyota had a working prototype of the BJ-40 by the late 50s, and offered it to the public in the early 60s, preceding Jeep's CJ-7 by at least a decade. There is a large number of these vehicles in Pakistan, both in the military and in private ownership.
Offroading Capability: 8 out of 10
Since Toyota originally intended the BJ-40 to be a 1/2 ton truck, it really is over engineered and pretty much unbreakable as a result. Its brakes are also by far the best of any old school 4×4. The only weakness to worry about are the Birfield joints in the front axle. These tend to break when oversized tires and modified engines are used. Overall this is an excellent, if slightly pricey, all round 4×4, comfortable and spacious with excellent on-road and off-road manners.
Toyota Land Cruiser (60,80, and 100 series)
The Land Cruiser has become a living legend in the 4×4 world. From braving bitter cold and treacherous crevasses over the glaciers of Iceland, to the scorching heat of the desolate Australian Outback, this vehicle has been through it all. Choice of 4.5L petrol I-6, 4.7L petrol V8, or 24 valve 4.2 litre turbo diesel make it by far the most powerful SUV available here. However, considering its ridiculous price, it is out of reach for most (read: nearly all) people, and used strictly for travel on paved roads by those lucky enough to have one. It is popular with the Arabs, who use the gasoline powered models for chasing prey, and dune & wadi-bashing. The newer models insulate the occupants from much of what is really going on outside, which subtracts from the driving experience.
Offroading Capability: 7 out of 10
Its long wheelbase coupled with the wide track and broad tires makes it very easy to drive on and offroad. Locking differentials are also available as a factory option. Unfortunately, the newer models are straying further and further away from their 4×4 roots, most of them being equipped with street tires that can't even handle a little sand. Nonetheless, the tremendously powerful engine and nearly indestructible drivetrain work together to make even the most hamfisted buffoon driver look like Ivan "Ironman" Stewart.
Although the Patrol is in the same class as the Land Cruiser, it is not as expensive. Furthermore, the Arabs swear by its superb offroadability. One of our own members can testify to the excellent offroad composure and handling of this awesome vehicle over the roughest terrain. Literally feet of suspension travel allow it to soak up bumps and obstacles that would stop other vehicles dead in their tracks. This one eclipses even the mighty 'Cruiser when it comes to high-speed desert running!
Offroading Capability: 7 out of 10
While excellent suspension helps the Patrol put every ounce of power to the ground, its naturally aspirated diesel engine just doesn't have the kind of power that the Land Cruiser makes. This one's a real heavyweight too, and like the Landcruiser is moving away from its offroad roots..
Toyota Hilux and Surf
The leafspring suspension on earlier models makes for a terrible ride unloaded, but otherwise the Hilux and Surf are very capable offroad. As with all modern SUVs, the newer models are designed more for onroad than offroad use. The new double cabin Hilux is priced at Rs. 2.6 million (about 45 thousand dollars), so it too has moved too far up the price ladder for serious offroading, which is a shame considering the state of the art 3.0L common rail turbodiesel it packs under the hood. Older 90's models remain very popular and are widely seen in every corner of the country. Parts for the Hilux are available everywhere in the country.
Offroading Capability: 7.5 out of 10 for older solid live front axle versions, 7 for independent front suspension versions. 2003 and newer models get a 6 out of 10. The late eighties and early 90's Hiluxes are Toyota's toughest and most reliable 4×4.
Dodge Powerwagon aka. Kaykra
Kaykra is urdu for crab. Like a crab, it can climb over or go through almost anything. The Kaykra is a Dodge Powerwagon 2 ton truck. The Pakistan army still uses them, and there is a small number used as commercial trucks in rough terrain. The Dodge Powerwagon has true 6 wheel drive. The 4×4 Club has not not yet spotted a single one in half way decent shape. The Dodge Powerwagon is called the Kaykra in Pakistan because its headlights are on its fenders, hence giving it a crab-like appearance.
Offroading Capability: 6.5 out of 10
Six wheel drive makes it virtually unstoppable! However, its massive size makes it impractical and unwieldy.
Universally acclaimed as the go-anywhere truck, the Unimog is still in active service in the Pakistan army. Every few years, a few of them find their way into private ownership through army auctions, eagerly lapped up by collectors and diehard 'mog fans. The extremely tall tires, high ground clearance, and insanely low gearing make it virtually unstoppable. Unfortunately, there are hardly any available for sale in Pakistan, and the stock engine is underpowered. There are almost none in civilian hands in decent shape. Again, the 4×4 Club has not not yet spotted a single one in half way decent shape. There is one in Islamabad though.
Offroading Capability: 9 out of 10
The stock Unimog has 20 forward and 8 reverse gears, so that means there's always the perfect gear available for any power/speed requirement. The lowest gear ratio is a subterranean 1:4096! Basically that means you have to look for a while to see whether it's moving or not. Besides that, rim drive axles locate the center differential within the recesses of the frame far above the ground, which gives it great ground clearance. It's a bit slow, but is the most hardcore true 4×4 in Pakistan.
There are a large number of Pajeros in Pakistan, mostly on the road, which is where they belong.
Offroading Capability: 2 out of 10
Some people seem to be under the misconception that the Pajero is a capable 4×4 vehicle. They should be aware that the only relation a Pajero has with the one running the Paris-Dakkar rally is the name. The 1970's Toyota Starlet has more offroad capability. And yes, the author has bested a Pajero with the Starlet.
Deewan motors has started importing the new Pajero, which according to Mitsubushi is based on the "lessons learned" from the multi-million dollar machine which consistently wins the Paris-Dakkar rally, and others. So it probably deserves a higher rating, but the overall club impression of this car is so bad that 2 it remains.
Suzuki SJ 410/Samurai
This is an extremely capable offroader. However, it has the worst ride of any 4 wheeled vehicle ever made. Donkey carts have a better ride. Driving it on the highway is plain torture, for on every bump it bucks like a bronco. On bad roads where heavier vehicles can speed on, the Suzuki gets airborne on every bump and comes down with a bone jarring crash. Not recommended for
people with bad backs anybody. Otherwise an excellent machine which can take as much a beating as it hands out to its occupants.
Offroading Capability: 8 out of 10
The 1 and 1.3 litre petrol engines are zippy, but underpowered in sand. Requires excessive use of the clutch.
This is the succesor to the Samurai, and remains an extremely capable offroader. It switches from leafsprings to coil springs, thus giving a decent ride. The engine is a peppy 1.3 aluminium EFI and has more 'go'. This is the perfect first entry into 4wheeling - highly recommended to all and sundry. Whenever anyone asks me what Jeep they should get, I point them to the Jimny. Suzuki is officially importing the Jimny, so all spare parts are readily available.
Offroading Capability: 7 out of 10 for the auto, 8/10 for the manual.
The Jimny has all the essentials: A ladder frame, low range transfer case and solid axles. Off-road, the Jimny holds its own against far more expensive rivals.
The Jeep Cherokee has been rated the best 4 wheeler of the year more than 6 times in the last decade. In the mid 90's, 50 odd right hand drive Jeep Cherokee Country's were imported into the country. The local dealer has since than packed up, so there are not many on the roads. This Jeep is classified as a mid size SUV, and is widely considered the best in its class. Beginning 2002, Jeep replaced the Cherokee brand with the Liberty. The Cherokee is now destined to become a classic like so many others before it.
Offroading Capability: 7 out of 10
Small exterior dimensions, ample ground clearance and minimal front and rear overhang make the Jeep Cherokee a joy to drive offroad. The I-6 4.0L petrol engine is one of the best mills to find its way into a jeep and makes for an awesome power-to-weight ratio.
Land Rover Defender
There are a few old Land Rovers in Pakistan, but the ones I've seen or heard of have all been in terrible shape. I haven't seen or even heard of one been used offroad. Evidently, Land Rovers just aren't very popular here. That might be changing soon though. The Pakistan Army had received 5000 Defenders by the end of 2003, and there are rumors that they are going to be replacing all their older Toyota Landcuisers with Defenders. That fact says a lot about the capabilities of the Land Rover. Sigma Motors is selling Defender 90s and 110s in the Rs 2.2 - 3.2 million price range.
One major drawback about the Land Rover is that they fall apart very quickly (at least in Pakistan). There were several Discoveries over here in the 1990s, and they have just about disappeared off the roads. The few that remain in running condition are noisy, smoke belching rustbuckets in far worse condition than many comparable vehicles several times their age. 90 percent of the Land Rovers I've seen in Pakistan have been moving corpses just waiting to be buried. (excluding the brand new Sigma Motors ones). It's a testament to the quality of Jeep and Toyota that they can survive Pakistani maintanence and still keep on ticking. No matter how old and roughly used the Jeep or Toyota, they remain capable offroad vehicles, while old Land Rovers just keel over and die. Land Rover claims that 70 percent of all Defenders ever made are still running, so it's a bit strange why they don't last here. A British telecoms engineer who worked in the bush in Africa for many years told me that everyone there preferred Toyota Land Cruisers and Hiluxes, and while his company did have Land Rovers, everyone used the Toyotas. Furthermore, they would scrap the British cars at 60,000 km and the Toyotas after 100,000 km.
I test drove two brand new Defenders - I was only going to test one but the first one was so bad that I thought there was something wrong with it so went back and got another one out to test that - it was the same. After years of watching them on National Geogeraphic thundering across the African desert I had a lot of respect for them - but no more. It is underpowered, expensive and tiring to drive.
Offroading Capability: ??
are were the most used 4×4 vehicles in the world, so obviously they are quite capable. A colonel in the Pakistan army told me that the 4.5 litre petrol engined Land Cruiser II the Land Rover is replacing is more capable offroad, probably because the largest and only available engine in the Land Rover is a direct injection 2.8L intercooled turbodiesel.
Adam Zabardast Jeep
This is available now in Pakistan by the name of Adam Zabardast Jeep.
My initial test drive of the Zabardast Jeep was not exactly favourable, but that was a pre-production prototype. While I'm sure the production version will be a lot more refined, they first need to fire whoever came up with the name 'Zabardast' in the first place. This is the least expensive (new) Jeep/Suv 4×4 in Pakistan. The Potohar is cheaper, but it's lack of on road poise means its not in the same category. Expect a write up on this vehicle soon.
Update: The Adam Jeep won its category in the Freedom Rally 2004 in Gawadar, and came third overall - which is a pretty good.
This is a solid 4×4 with a ladder type chassis, solid rear axle, independent front suspension and a lowrange Mercedes designed gearbox. It has practically every feature known to man - from rain sensing wipers to parking radars to heated seats. The Ssangyong Rexton was imported at the beginning of the year by World Automobiles in Karachi, and it is still a relative unknown. Current prices range from 27 to 36 lakh rupees.
Offroad Ability: 6 out of 10
ABS is a liability off road. None have been spotted offroad by the club yet.
These are cars which look like 4×4s, but are actually just jacked up cars in disguise, and are based off unibody car platforms. They include the following:
- Toyota Rav4
- Toyota Harrier / Lexus RX330
- BMW X3 and X5
A good analogy is that they are like sheep in wolves' clothing - they have the look but they can't tackle the rough stuff.
disclaimer: above ratings are given solely based on the vehicles offroad ability and durability.
Posted in Misc, October 5, 2003, by Khalid Omar