By on November 26, 2013
Ah. Muffy's perfect SUV

Ah. Muffy’s perfect SUV

Toyota is one of the largest manufacturers of cars in the world. It’s not a surprise, especially if you have travelled out of the US. They are everywhere. I have only owned three Toyotas; a coma-inducing silver Camry DX, and two MKII Supras.

Despite my lack of ownership, I have spent a sizeable portion of my career abusing Toyotas. Maybe it is latent Nissan loyalty surfacing as abuse, Dad was a Datsun salesman before I was born and continued in one form or another until I graduated from High School. To Toyota’s credit, they have taken it all without complaint.

A notable case was an innocent preppy green and gold Land Cruiser. An aircraft electrical malfunction resulted in an unscheduled stop in Boise Idaho and gave us a week to kill. A ladies NCAA tourney had snatched up all the econoboxes, so the unsuspecting agency offered up the keys to a new 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser. I grabbed them, signed the contract and was out of there faster than a Taylor Swift romance.

Opposite the runway of Boise Airport is McGowan Field, a multi-branch National Guard Center. Just across the road from McGowan Field, was a tank driving course.


My crew mate Randy and I established a goal of coating the roof of the Landcruiser with mud. While that seems simple, the rooster tails required for this take a lot of effort to generate, and it has to be done sideways. Luckily it had recently rained and the black soil responded well to throttle.

For the next hour the Landcruiser tolerated powerslides, Rockfords, doughnuts and even a little air time. We only got stuck once…ok, three times but managed to free the barge with minimum fuss. Inside, my partner in crime and I laughed manically in complete luxury. The heated leather seats were wide and comfortable, but offered no lateral support. The stereo was excellent, and it was eerily quiet, save for our cackling. After a time, our sides hurt from laughing and the course offered no further challenges. We opened the windows and sat on the door sills to see if we met our goal. The roof was covered, mission accomplished.

We plodded the now soil-colored SUV from the proving grounds and onto West McGowen Rd. As we proceeded back to the base entrance, two Chevy Luminas in USAF Security Forces livery emerged from the base, lights flashing and in a hurry. They passed us, nosedived and executed a “you are soooo busted” 180 in unison. We pulled over.

As the Technical Sergeant approached, I could actually hear his Lieutenant screaming over the radio on his belt. It seemed the “El Tee” wanted us to be locked in a room, so he could throw away the room. The Tech Sergeant was much more accommodating and clearly impressed with the level of filth we had caked onto the mall-rated SUV.

“Where were you coming from sir?” As if he didn’t know, he had been dispatched because of us.

I pointed to the field.

“You can’t drive there, that’s government property. That’s trespassing.” I mentioned there were no signs, warnings or fences of any nature to indicate such restrictions, and that I was in fact, a government employee.

“Why were you out there doing that?” He inquired.

“It’s a rental.” I replied. He smiled.

That answer with a genuine lack of attitude seemed to satisfy him. Over the radio he assured his LT that we had been dealt with in a most stern manner. The paperwork reflected that he had, but it was an administrative slap on the wrist. He also pointed to a ridgeline in the distance and said if I really wanted to go off-roading, that’s where the real trails were. As he handed me the ticket, he was grinning. He added a “Now drive carefully sir.”

The owner of that car wash should have put his child through a semester of DeVry with the quarters I spent cleaning the Land Cruiser. Save for the windows that required some additional attention (we had put them down while covered in grime), it was all done via hose to avoid scratching the finish with the brush. It took twice as long take it off as it had to put it there, but the SUV was returned in pristine condition.

Which is better than the Chrysler Intrepid in Atlanta a few years later…but that is another story.

W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. That Philosophy degree of his landed him on the infamous AWACS, the Frisbee of freedom. As a result he has driven a lot of  rented cars, if you bought this one, rest assured the abuse was nothing beyond the mechanical limits of the vehicle.

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11 Comments on “Tales of Vehicular Mayhem – The Land Cruiser...”

  • avatar

    I got a good chuckle with the juxtaposition of the following sentences:

    “For the next hour the Landcruiser tolerated powerslides, Rockfords, doughnuts and even a little air time.


    “…[car was washed] via hose to avoid scratching the finish with the brush.”

    The poor Land Cruiser was dealt unspeakable abuse in the mud, yet no car guy can EVER force himself to willfully scratch the pristine paint on a new car, rental or not!

  • avatar

    Offutt AFB in Omaha had a lake that was on USAF property a little way down the highway from the base. The dirt roads that went through the picnic area turned into a muddy mess every time it rained.
    I had a little red S10 Blazer, with rims that pushed the tires out of the wheel wells, and made it really easy to coat the truck in mud with a little speed and slide. Driving down the highway afterward, clumps of mud would fly forward onto the road ahead, besides being thrown up onto the roof. I’d come back to cheers from other airmen in the dorms, and even got scolded by some of the females when I’d wash the truck a few days later. That red Blazer looked good in mud.

  • avatar

    That definitely is a great spot but so is just south of Boise. And just think, you didn’t miss out on too much else around here… I would have been okay with you attempting to rip up the smurf turf.

  • avatar

    Driving around coated in mud definately attracts attention.

    But when a MFer thinks its cool to draw a smily face in the mud on your door, and you don’t catch said MFer- it ruins the day… As you have to clean the whole truck and then wet sand a conglomerate of scratches that clearly show a smily face on a BLACK truck.
    ~spoken from experience.

  • avatar

    Great story ! .

    I await the (usually) even _better_ replies .

    When I were a wee lad in rural New Hampshire , we scored a pristine 1952 Willys M38A1 Jeep for only $50 from Ft. Devins , we had much fun thrashing it (gently) in the deep woods and muddy dirt roads .


  • avatar

    As an “El Tee” in Germany, I had the lonely distinction of garnering the extra duty of Unit Movement Officer. Prior to the Sooners-esque rush to get to the ‘Raq in ’03, this was a dreadful experience and forced a young Armor officer to have to deal with the likes of the Chair-Force at Rheinmein Airbase. While loading a C5 with one M1A1 and limited accessories, the following conversation:

    TechSgt: Sir, this tank ain’t going.

    Me: Why not?

    TSgt: It’s leaking fluids and I ain’t having it on my clean airframe.

    Me: It’s a tank. They do that. A lot. It’ll get worse at altitude.

    TSgt: You gotta fix it first. Ain’t goin’ on til then.

    Me: It’s a tank. It leaks oil from places only Baby Jesus knows of. And you’ll need his services if you think you’re going to be able to stop it from happening here on the ground or up there in the air.

    TSgt: Well it ain’t going.

    This was followed by a hillarious half-hour of back and forth between my authority from the two star and his obstanence to waste time so he didn’t have to load the pig. As we were on the tarmac, I was told to ‘wait here’ until he got to have a smoke and a donut and presumably talk to someone who might de-authorize my mission.

    ‘Here’ was a four foot, yellow marked circle, which I not being AirForce, had no idea that this was the happy spot for someone to stand while waiting on the tarmac. And it was just cold enough to rain. And I had to pee. Badly. So being a grown man and in charge of my bodily functions, I began to walk to the nearest building or tree I could see.

    I made it about fifty feet when out of the 3 AM fog rode four SP squad cars with lights and sirens blaring. Unwittingly I had broken the cardinal rule of the tarmac by walking without authorization. Thankfully my appeals of “Don’t taze me bro!” were heeded. I was then taken to the office of the Chief who left me outside his office until they could wake my Brigade Commander, a crusty Colonel who just loved getting woken up at 3 AM on a Sunday morning by an ‘El Tee’.

    I got the tank on the C5. I also am never to be allowed back on Rheinmein.

  • avatar

    Great great story. Really, though, they rented you a Land Cruiser, you really had no choice but to actually test out its capabilities like almost no owner would!

  • avatar

    So where’s the mayhem?

    I came for dismemberment, dangit!

    • 0 avatar

      My spine & neck , feet , fingers , nasty scars all over too .

      Sorry , that’ll have to do for now =8-) .

      Most of the mayhem was really fun right until I got hurt .

      The _really_ fast guys I know (& a couple Ladies too) aren’t all broken up as they’re not only fast , they’re also amazingly good too ! .


  • avatar

    Mayhem is an apt description of the venerable Toyota Land Bruiser.

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