THE origins of the Toyota Condor can be traced to the Asia Pacific region in the mid-Seventies, which partly explains its robust body-on-ladder construction, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it was a massively popular vehicle in its day. It replaced the Venture, a local development of the Indonesian Kijang model that was very spacious (with up to 10 seats) and super-reliable. These days, prices being asked for used Ventures are nothing short of astronomical. Dealers have them listed at R70 000 to R90 000 for decent, low-mileage examples. When you consider that the original purchase price was in the region of R50 000, it makes the Venture one of the best investments of its day. But back to the Condor, which is heading in the same direction.

WHICH MODEL?

We start with a basic spec level on the 1,8- litre Estate (65 kW and 135 N.m), the 2,4-litre Estate (85 kW and 195 N.m) and the 3,0-litre Diesel Estate (66 kW and 192 N.m). Later on, a 2000i was released to replace the 1800i and its peak outputs were 71 kW and 158 N.m. You won’t get any extras like alloy wheels, audio or electric windows unless they were fitted as options and note that the 1,8-litre did not have power steering. The next level was called TE and available as the 2400i TE Estate followed by a pair of 4x4 models, the 2400i RV and the 3000D RV. These came equipped with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, power windows and a radio/CD. Leather upholstery was optional. The 4x4 models had full-time four-wheel drive with a centre difflock. Not only that, they had low range as well, with a 2,56:1 transfer gear.

The “boot” (incidentally without a shelf) offers luggage capacity of 192 dm3 and utility space of 1 984 dm3. If you need more space and fewer passengers, you can remove the rear bench. In 2002/2003, we conducted a 20 000 km test with a 2400i TX Estate and its multipurpose capabilities were much appreciated.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR ENGINES

All units are very reliable and should give little trouble, while the diesel engine has no turbo so there are no fears about high-temperature turbo seizures. With the 3000D, the injectors will eventually suffer from wear, but mileages of over 400 000 km are not unheard of. The same applies to the petrol versions that may start to use oil after achieving such lofty mileages. The petrol engine uses a timing chain, but unfortunately the diesel uses a timing belt. Having said that, the change intervals are only every 150 000 km.

TRANSMISSION

With the high mileages these cars are expected to survive, you might find the gearbox will need an overhaul before the engine does. Look out for gear whining and difficulty in engaging gears as tell-tale signs. Two owners said they had gearbox leaks that were difficult to detect as the leaks came from the top of the transmissions and did not leak while the vehicles were stationary. Both required a complete overhaul as the oil slowly pumped out until empty.

INTERIOR

Seating arrangements can be either a twotwo- three set-up or a two-three-three with the eight-seater being more useful all-round. The upholstery can be easily soiled, but the cloth is durable.

GENERAL

Possibly the only real drawback with these vehicles is that the fuel consumption isn’t great. Expect around 15 litres/100 km from the 2400i and not much less from the smaller petrol models, although the diesel fares a bit better at 12,5 litres/100 km using the CAR fuel-consumption index. One owner said he achieved a very respectable average of 11,0 litres/100 km with a 2400i 4x4. With respect to the 4x4 models, one owner of both 2,4-litre petrol and 3,0-litre diesel versions stated that, if driven sedately, which is the only way to drive the diesel with its meagre 66 kW power peak, the petrol version gets a similar consumption and needs less frequent servicing. If the extra power of the 2,4-litre model is utilised, however, it will be thirsty. This suggests that there isn’t too much in it, although many would still go for the lowstressed 3000D.

SUMMARY

Some say that the bugs need to brake to avoid splatting against a Condor’s rear screen (in other words – it’s a frustratingly slow vehicle), but you can’t go wrong with this hard-working Toyota. Just keep it locked safely when not in use as everyone seems to love to Condor, but some don’t want to pay for the privilege of driving or owning one!

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