We have known for some time that we would eventually need to convert Henrietta from right hand drive to left hand drive. In fact, we had been saving up for it, and my father gave us some money many years ago to help cover the expenses, as we all knew it would be expensive.
So, while we were in South Africa after our mini break to Thailand, we decided to go ahead with the conversion. The distance was only 3,200 km, and since the right hand drive power steering box was leaking oil and required filling up every 100 km, we made the decision right then and there. We were actually using the thickest oil available, transfer box oil, to fill up the power steering. On our way to Angola, we had to stop 32 times to pour in several hundred milliliters, sometimes even half a liter, into the empty reservoir. As a result, the side of the car became covered in smelly EP 80/90 oil. From a financial perspective, it made sense because a new power steering unit would have cost us $1,200, while the actual conversion, including another power steering box for left hand drive, was priced at $2,800. If we had replaced the right hand drive unit, it would have ended up in the bin at some point.
The trip from Johannesburg to Luanda in Angola took approximately 7 days. Along the way, we made stops at African Bush Lovers in Maun, Botswana, and at Leon’s place in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, specifically Ndurokoro Camp. This marked our final meeting with Leon and Eddie, but not with Joel and KP at Bush Lovers. Upon arriving in Luanda, we immediately went to see Alex at the Land Rover place, only to discover that he would be closed for the holiday weekend and would not reopen for another five days. It was not a promising start. Nonetheless, we utilized the time by essentially doing nothing at Club Navidad, where camping was free in their car park right on the waterfront.
The following Monday, after the holiday, we arrived and they began the conversion in earnest. However, the work did not resume until Wednesday. I will share a series of pictures below so you can see some of the things they did, but I won’t delve into technical details since most of you aren’t interested. In his lot, he had around 6 or 7 donor vehicles, and I selected the best parts from them. When I say “best parts,” some of them were not in good condition. I mainly needed plastic dashboard trim, as obtaining the major mechanical components was relatively easy.
As you can see from the pictures above they were quite a few vehicles and I was selecting parts off each of them to get the best bits and things that weren’t sun damaged or cracked too badly and in fact everything we ended up with is in pretty much perfect condition with only a few minor cosmetic blemishes which Henrietta had anyway on the stuff we removed.The conversion was a long process that took over a week but most of this I think was due to the fact that for two days they did almost nothing as Alex was away. Something that I’m actually reasonably happy about as when Alex wasn’t there the standard of their work dropped significantly and I have no way really to tell them how to do something as none of them spoke English. I also don’t speak Portuguese at all.When they were actually working I was watching everything they were doing and make sure that things were to my standard and pretty much they always were. In fact considering this is me talking I was quite happy with everything they did and normally I don’t let anybody do anything to my car at all as it’s never good enough. Certainly it would not be to the standard that I would have done it. All in all they did a good job.Photos below with no particular order.