I can’t say I’ve ever met that many Dodge 50s outside of Europe. But that could just be because they were only really for sale in Britain and I hardly meet any British over-landers on anything more than two wheels (this year it’s French and Belgian). But having clocked over 200 000 km in Dodge 50s I still think they’re the best vehicle to take on a long, long trip – even if, at the moment, I’m covered in oil, grease and muck, with a layer of soot from the exhaust, finely sprinkled with grit and gravel, as I wrestle with a broken shock absorber. Even if the combined Central American mileage has rattled our suspension apart, I wouldn’t regret bringing a Dodge 50. Maybe the four-wheel drive version, next time, mind.
Speed bumps are, of course, the culprit. (And muggins here behind the wheel is the accessory). Jigsaw tried its best – those big old chunks of metal propping up the rear end had spent most of their life gently bouncing their way round the gently rolling hills of North England – they valiantly survived the challenge of Russia and Cascadia, only fatally complaining after thousands more miles of abuse, shouldering and shocking a full 3 and half tonnes over millions of fucking speed bumps.
There’s definitely a story to be had with speed bumps – a history to be told, to be sure, but also an examination of their place in modern human cultures. Certainly a topic on our minds, anyway: There aren’t too many useful signs out here on the roads – the vibrators, redactors, topes and tumulos are eagerly read and processed and mentioned in conversation and then… whoa, 50 meters later, bump, bump, slowly over the lump of concrete known, funnily enough where I come from, as sleeping policemen. That’s if you’re lucky and you get a sign at all. Between Guadalajara and Mexico City, on the free roads, they pretty much decimated our average speed with their ubiquity. But they can have their individuality, too, and a singular speed bump becomes, if not famous, then notorious; fifty-odd km into Pakistan from the Iranian border there’s a bump usually hidden beneath the wind-blown sands of the Baluchi desert where train tracks cross the road. Many remember it, speeding through the evening, hoping to reach their secure destination by nightfall, when ‘BANG!’ – it’s like the shooting started already. The Dodge survived that one too.