Love at first test — but is it for you?
Liam Bell tries out a Suzuki Jimny pickup conversion and finds it to be a top-notch all-round shoot vehicle
When wheat was fed out of GPO bags and keepers drove old Post Office vans, the world — and gamekeepers — worked at a much slower pace. We had time to look around us and arguably, gamekeepers were far more in touch with their beats. Everything was carried by hand, almost every hill was walked up and most of us were far fitter than we are now.
That said, most retired keepers had bad knees, worn-out hips and suffered from arthritis.
It is easy to look back on those days through rose-coloured glasses, but I for one am glad things have moved on and that we have 4x4s, all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles to do a lot of the work for us and save the back and the knees.
My first shoot vehicle was a motorbike; followed by a three- wheeled scrambler-type death trap; a Land Rover, several different pickups and, of course, various makes of quad bike and a couple of UTVS.
Now there is something newer on the market — the Suzuki Jimny pickup. And I was lent one for a week by David Johnson of Shropshire Quads.
David started to look for an alternative to the current range of UTVS because he and his mechanics were fed up with carrying out repeat warranty work on new machines that weren’t up to the job.
He thought the Suzuki Jimny would be ideal for conversion and set about looking for parts. An internet search found that there was already a supplier of Jimny pickups in Austria. He spoke to them and managed to track down the maker and seller of the conversion kits. After agreeing trading terms, he started importing the parts and converting his own.
The Jimny he dropped off looked the part but, in a strange way, looked less appealing than the photos of a friend’s I had seen on social media. He has had his for a couple of months and is hugely impressed with it.
It had automatic transmission, air-conditioning and a full leather interior — far more luxurious than both my current UTV and pickup. The amount of work and quality of build that had gone into the conversion were obvious. The conversion kit fitted perfectly. It was professionally done; what another friend would describe as a real Rollsroyce job. The V5 log book had, of course, been altered with the DVLA.
The cab was as expected; small but with enough room to put your gun or lamp, spare coats and other items, behind the seats.