Julius Mugambwa is a correspondent with Feature Story News, an agency that among other things, deals in publishing stories about cars. He talked to Roland D. Nasasira about his car.
What is the type of your car?
It is a Land Rover Defender TDI300 1996 model.
How long have you been driving it?
It’s now been approximately two years and a few months. I have owned it since 2012.
How much did you buy it?
I bought it at Shs40m from Uganda Mechanical Engineering and Metal Works, a Land Rover garage found in Bwaise, a Kampala suburb.
Have you received any offers from people who want to buy it?
Yeah, very many but when I had just bought it, I had no interest in selling it. It’s mainly Europeans who have wanted to buy it.
Being a British-made car, the British associate more with it and when they are offering to buy it, they have no idea of how much it costs some of them over price it and others underprice it. Most of them are just enthusiasts.
How do you manage to maintain it in a good condition?
I service it every after driving 7,000km because it’s an old diesel car. Then, I change things such as oil and diesel filters and some other parts.
How much do you spend on its service?
I spend approximately Shs500,000 because I carry out a thorough service.
When a mechanic checks and he finds that it has a problem, I normally want spare parts changed, and even after changing, mechanics are always there to buy the old parts.
The best service to do is change some spare parts for all British cars.
What is the furthest you have driven in this car?
I have driven to Kumi District and drove deep inside the villages approximately 100km on a bumpy road.
Some friends have driven it to as far as Juba. I once drove to Nakuru in Kenya and its gearbox broke down.
What’s the worst experience you have had with it on the road?
Sometime back I was driving to Jinja but along the way in the middle of Mabira forest, the gearbox got a problem.
It was beyond repair that it necessitated buying a new one. I drove on and continued though.
So did you manage to get one?
Yeah, I got one after a month. I got it from someone who had also just got it from Britain.
What are some of the challenges of owning this type of car?
It’s hard to park if you don’t find enough space.
It can’t fit in one of the Multiplex designated parking slots and neither does it park in underground parking yards because it has an antenna and a rack.
Have you ever been rammed into on the road?
It’s a predator on the road because when I’m driving, all the other road users distance themselves from it, including taxi drivers and motorcyclists who are known for reckless driving and riding.
I experienced an accident where someone with a RAV4 rammed into it from behind but there was no damage.
What happened to the RAV4?
The bonnet got shattered and the radiator was terribly damaged and its body lost shape. He had to struggle to get his car out of mine.
What advantages does it have over the other cars?
It commands authority on the road when you are competing with inexperienced terrible drivers and pedestrians.
When you are driving upcountry on a dirt road, it is home because its performance then is far better than when it’s on a tarmac road.
It’s a big car that carries many people, a lot of luggage and firm on the road because of its big tyres.
It’s also a purely mechanical car that just moves when it has no air or oil filters and radiator.
If I call my mechanic on phone when on the road and the nozzle is leaking, he just advises me to get dust, mix it with super glue, apply it on the leaking part and get back on the road.
It’s a car I park by the road side, leave the keys in and no one ever comes to steal anything from it.
What is its mileage?
I’m not sure but it is beyond 140,000km.
What are the disadvantages of owning this car?
It has no air conditioner
Any unique features?
I put four customised shock absorbers in the behind system because I wanted stability when it’s on the road. Even if I hit quadruple humps on speed, it never staggers or get off the road because of its big tyres. It also has no monetary value attached to it.
What is the most exciting bit about it?
I took it for the Enduro Uganda challenge round one in the four by four track championship 2015 on Women’s Day and I finished fourth.
What did you find challenging about the championship?
The road course was mild. It was really dry without any water or mud where this car could perform better and the organisers also didn’t engage challenging cars.