Despite the fact that the vast majority of the travellers who explore the African continent choose to drive 2 specific models (Land Rover Defenders & Toyota Land Cruisers), we took the risk to choose something different. Factors such as the initial cost, the ability to find spares and parts in the Greek market and the experience in outfitting this model, made us proud owners of a Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.0 TD (model 2003). After extensive research we did, nobody has used this model, so we were the first to attempt a tour of Africa with this model.
We would like to thank Gianna Iosifidou & Prokopis Petrakis who named our new acquisition. His name is Zikos. For non-Greeks, this is the name of the leading actor Kostas Xatzixristos who starred in the most popular comedy (Tis kakomoiras) in the Greek cinema in the early 60’s.
Kyriakos Athanasiou, a Vitara expert re-builded Zikos and made a number of vehicle modifications, new suspensions installments and run a complete service and maintenance. Very briefly, we put a Smittybilt XRC 10 Winch with plasma rope (30m), a set of MAD coil springs, a set of KAYABA shock absorbers and a snorkel (DIY by AthanasiouService). What is more, we replaced the front differential with the old Vitara carrier and so getting rid of the vulnerable air compressor and making the 4×4 engagement pure mechanical. What is more, we fitted a pair of AISIN free wheel hubs in order to control better the 4WD system and save fuel. Finally, we fitted at the bottom of the front part of the roof tent, two HELLA 75W headlights so as to have better view on our night safaris.
Moreover, we have purchased a heavy-duty 12V T-MAX air compressor, a couple of recovery tow straps, four bow shackles and a snatch block.
In the tyres centre of Mr. Nikos Sideris (N. Iraklio), we fitted our new tyres. We chose a BFGoodrich All Terrain KO set in 235/70 16 instead of 235/60 16 (manufacturer).
In the Kakavas Suzuki Service Center in Xalkida, we met a great family. Mr. Yiannis, Mrs. Soula, Christos and Sissy took over to prepare Zikos from every aspect. They did a thorough service, they changed the oil, air and fuel filters, timing belt, gear box oils and so on. They also offered to give us some free of charge service and maintenance lessons for our vehicle. Finally, we checked and cleaned the fuel injectors and fuel pump as well.
As for the internal storage inside the car, we built a wooden box with drawers, tiny shelves and plenty of space that kept everything sorted. Fuel and water tanks found their place as well as the second spare tire on the right of the main box. The camping table and two aluminum camping chairs fitted on the top while the clothing and cooking stuff were located in the central drawer.
As for our power supply, we installed a small PV system that included a 80w solar panel, a 85Ah deep-cycle GEL battery, a 10A MPPT solar charger/regulator and a 700watt AC-DC inverter.
Finally, we owe a huge THANK YOU to the big family & online forum of Greek Vitara Club which offered an incredible technical, mental and financial support as well as an updated database with lots of answered questions on mechanical issues and break downs. This trip is partially dedicated to all the people who own a Suzuki Vitara.
Here, you can find a photo album with before and after pictures of our Suzuki Grand Vitara.