I used to live on the moon. Well, that is how the crater-like potholes of Manila looked like when I lived there. And every so often, the deep holes would cause the under chassis of my sedan to scrape against the asphalt. It was not pleasant to the ears, nor to the car. trucking business
One day, I saw a pick-up truck pull up in front of our office, and a lady in a business suit emerged. It was a light bulb moment. Aha, I thought. If she can pull it off, then so can I.
Which is how my next vehicle came to be a pick-up truck. A Toyota HiLux. 2,400 cc-powered diesel engine. Lots of torque. High to the ground. Turtle-top truck bed.
Having driven only sedans before that, I so enjoyed the additional panorama provided by a higher vehicle. I no longer heard the scraping of metal against asphalt. In fact, I did not need to worry the brakes as much as I used to. A pick-up truck sure can ride those potholes.
I was particularly grateful for that height advantage during one of those numerous instances when traffic comes to a standstill. You can be stuck for hours on the misnamed South Super Highway without moving an inch. I escaped the ordeal by going over the island that separates the main highway from the service road, and took a detour instead.
It was not just the height that gave me advantages. It was also the diesel engine.
The drainage system in Metro Manila was not capable of coping with the constant flash floods caused by persistent rainstorms and typhoons. (Sit on the tropics and hurricanes frequently come a-visiting.)
Going through water high enough to reach a gasoline-fueled car’s exhaust pipe may cause the carburetor to get drowned, and the engine to stall. But a diesel-fueled vehicle can go through flood waters without getting water into the engines. I cannot tell you how many times I have driven through the flooded streets of the city and passed stalled sedans on the road, while I moseyed merrily along in my pick-up truck.
Then there was the cost of fuel. At that time, diesel cost less than gasoline. Couple that with the fact that diesel engines do not overheat as fast as gasoline engines do. Oh, and add to that my penchant for out-of-town trips, which meant lots of dirt roads. And… you get the picture.
I felt more secure in that Toyota HiLux than I did with my previous vehicles. And I was conscientious about its maintenance. So I did not really have any problems with breakdowns.
I now live in New York City. I travel by subway, where the jerky movements of the rails could sometimes remind me of the potholes that used to jar me. But the mass transit system here is so efficient, that I have not yet considered the need for a vehicle. When I do, chances are it won’t be a sedan.