Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Toyota delivers on memorable outing

Published:Sunday | February 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
2018 Toyota Hilux, which ranges from $5.4 million to $7.67 million, comes with a 2.4 or 2.8 litre engine.
Toyota Jamaica team surprises their managing director, Tom Connor, with a Toyota-themed birthday cake.
From left: Howard Foster, general sales and marketing manager; Tracy-Ann Fletcher, assistant marketing manager; and Kevin Murray, Montego Bay branch manager.
It was all about having a good time for (at front, from left) Steven James, Carline Case, Steve Case, (back row, from left) Tenial Boota, and Andrea Simpson.
Toyota Jamaica team surprises their managing director, Tom Connor, with a Toyota-themed birthday cake.
From left: Tom Connor, managing director; Christopher Barnes, chief operating officer, RJRGLEANER Communications Group; and Mick McGrane branch manager, Toyota Jamaica Old Hope Road branch.
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Last Sunday, Toyota Jamaica held its first excursion of the year, where TJAM 4x4 Club members were invited to a day of fun. The Toyota team had invitees waking up early, with the option of meeting them at their headquarters on Spanish Town Road at 7:30 a.m. or at Faith's Pen at 9:30 a.m.

From the office, a convoy of eight Toyota 4x4 vehicles, which mainly consisted of Prado's to Hilux, headed to

St Ann, using the traditional route. At this time in the morning, the picturesque view of Bog Walk roundabout and Mt Mosser was beautiful.

Within an hour and a half, we were at our meet-up spot at Faith's Pen food centre, where those who did not have breakfast capitalised on the opportunity to purchase something. The once-thriving food-stop venue was noticeably scanty, however, for those vendors who were present, they revelled in the opportunity to make a sale. Persons could be seen scurrying around to put their produce like corn and yam into their pots.

Within minutes, other members and invitees started to enter the premises, and the parking lot was quickly filled with Toyotas. One of the last persons to join was Christopher Barnes COO, RJRGLEANER Communications Group, who decided to ramp his Landcruiser up on a seven-inch pavement, making the first display of Toyota's off-road capabilities.

After another 20 minutes, Toyota Jamaica's head honchos gathered everybody to go through a run-down of the day as well as a prayer to start the excursion.

 

Let the excursion begin!

 

Leading the fleet of over 20 vehicles was Howard Foster, general sales and marketing manager, Toyota Jamaica, in his 2017 Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is equipped with locking differentials and a wench at the front, in the event that anyone needed hauling assistance.

After driving along Faith's Pen main road, we turned on to a lane, which led us to a nice, smooth bauxite road. This leg lasted several minutes, then the real off-road journey began as we turned into a forest, which had a 6km pathway for vehicles. "Being mindful of the environment, we had to contact the Forestry Department before we could secure the location. Once we got the go-ahead, it was a sure thing," revealed Foster.

Toyota also took the opportunity to use the treacherous terrain to showcase the prowess of its recently launched Hilux and the newly launched Prado, both of which come with impressive 4WD capability and a slightly stiff suspension, which is ideal for off roading.

For the first half of the leg, which lasted about 30 minutes, both models were able to do the journey in two-wheel drive. However, as the slope got steeper and the rocky surface became more uneven, drivers began to engage four-wheel drive.

Given the sinuous terrain, most drivers had to engage the obstacles slowly and cautiously. In the end, everyone got to Holly Mount safely and a couple of drivers were quite impressed with how their Toyotas performed.

 

Holly Mount Great house

 

On Holly Mount, which is at the highest point of Mt Rosser, is a secluded great house that sits on 100 acres of land. Current owner Pat Marston describes it as a rich part of Jamaica's history. "It was a major attraction in the early 20th century, and at one point, was a hotel. When I took it over, we grew coffee, anthuriums, and pigs, however, after Hurricane Ivan, everything came to a halt."

Don't bother trying to search for it on Google Maps. It's not there. Instead, the services of a tour guide will have to be used for persons interested in visiting.

Once everyone was settled and parked, the festivities began and a feeling of camaraderie permeated the air. The men began setting up the chairs and christening the day with flasks of rum, while the women took out the food to cook and the kids started to play.

As everybody became settled, the Toyota Jamaica team surprised its managing director, Tom Connor, with a Toyota-themed birthday cake, which was decorated with an FJ 40 van. "Tracy-Ann came up with the idea and found out that he liked carrot cake, so we found someone who could design it with the FJ 40 and the 4 x 4 logo. The final phase was to figure out how to transport it without him having a clue," disclosed Foster.

At about 4 p.m., a thick blanket of fog began to approach the property, and the groundsman looked at some of the persons and stated:

"Yeah, man. A it this now. Di rain soon fall", after which he quickly secured his complimentary food, while clutching his knapsack under his arm, and proceeded to lock sections of the house. This provided the impetus for the others to start packing. With hearts contented and bellies filled, the group embarked on a slow journey from the great house.

In typical Jamaican fashion, once some persons reached the smooth, bauxite road, they stopped their vehicles and began playing music. This prompted rhythmically inclined persons to move to the middle of the road, where their bodies undulated to hits from Chronixx and Ding Dong.

While this became the centre of attention, coolers were once again removed from vehicles and a second party started and continued for about 40 minutes. This was the group's way of saying a final goodbye until the next excursion.