While it might be culturally, and indeed physically a long way from the rest of South-America, the Falklands are part of the continent. What do they drive?
Outside of Port Stanley, the capital, most of the roads are gravelled and are described as tracks. Furthermore, there is not a very large road network (900 km) due to the island’s low population density: 3000 people reside there. It is tempting to say that the most popular vehicles thereabouts are boats since the Falklands are made up of two large islands and about 700 smaller ones. The road network is being upgraded to
improve connections between the main population centres. That means as well as slow driving over gravel there are long tail-backs due to road improvements between Port Stanley and Douglas.
For those committed to terrestrial travel, off-roaders are the dominant and so far as I can ascertain, almost the only vehicles available. With a small population, the concept of a dealer network makes no sense. The Falkland Islands Company provides Land Rovers (and is a dealer, among its many commercial activities). The company sells, rents and repairs Land Rovers but also has Mitsubishis in stock. Its website claims it is the Falklands’ only authorized LR dealer which is either hyperbole or reflects the existence of a few other unauthorized specialists which might be expected given the difficulty of dropping in to Port Stanley to have the oil, water and tyres checked. A look at their website reveals that as well as the predictable presence of Defenders there are also Freelanders and Evoques available so we might surmise that even in Port Stanley there are distracted mums delivering children to school while checking Facebook and Instagram on their iPhones.
To see what is being driven, I had a look at the Falkland Islands’ classified ads (all their websites are very slow). That site is Expat Ads which seems to serve Britons living around the world. On sale at the moment are a Kawasaki Ninja, a Harley Davidson Fatboy and other bikes. The first car I stumbled across was an Audi S4 which is surprising. After another slew of Ducatis and Hondas, I found a more appropriate BMW 5-series X-drive, a Toyota Venza and a Mercedes G-Wagen. The other BMW was a 320i GT M Sport Auto. Another curiosity came in the form of an Acura ZDX. At another website, Mitsubishi Pajeros and Shoguns were offered. That tells you something about Mitsubishi’s off-road credentials. I found a few Discoveries and a single Ford Transit van. The only vehicle which I did not recognize was a Ford Everest.
An interesting social insight is that Facebook serves as the main point of contact for people looking to buy and sell. Rather than have a website of their own, Falklands 4×4 use Facebook. The local newspaper, Penguin News, amounted to a rather sparse blog. Among their Fords and Land Rovers I discovered a Kawasaki Brute Force 750 cc, a Jeep Cherokee, a Nissan X-trail and a Hyundai Tucson.
With just 3000 people, many of the cars must be single examples and ease of maintenance must be a priority. The region has the population of a small English town but situated thousands of miles from any major urban centres where an owner could take their vehicle for occasional major maintenance. The Falklands are probably not the right place for a Citroen C6 or Mercedes S-class even if such a car would certainly stand out (or be hidden by the tall SUVs that dominate the islands).
If you fancy taking your Lancia Flaminia, Lamborghi Aventador or Bentley Bentayga to the Falklands from the UK, you’ll need to set aside 30 days for the shipment of the car. Ships leave ten times a year from Southampton. The UK Ministry of Defence handles the importation. So, if you wanted to tour the islands using your own car, you might expect about three months would be required. To get to the Falklands by air means a trip to RAF Brize Norton and an 18 hours flight, with a one hour refuelling stop on Ascension.
One additional point of note is that as well as very boggy terrain, land mines are still a hazard. So be prepared to either sink into peat or to have a massive explosion rip your car to pieces should you try off-roading in former combat zones.
5 thoughts on “Theme: Sudamerica – +(500) Land of Bikes, Quads and Boats”
I know a bloke serving in the RAF who did a recent stint in the Falklands. He says the chaps (and presumably chapettes) are not awfully keen on being posted there as there is very little to do, both on and off duty. Apparently Afghanistan had better internet access, and drunkenness in the ranks can be a major problem. He didn’t mention what kind of cars they drove, but he did mention that the wind is incessant and that he once saw a sheep being blown off a cliff.
Actually that photo makes the Falklands look more vibrant that my preconceptions. I can count at least 25 cars out and about. Are there speed limits? I’ve just had someone phoning me up trying to sell me a Mitsubishi PHEV. Are there many charging points out there?
Actually, there are places here I could imagine stretching an Audi S4 or a Ducati, at least for a mile or so. Unlike another island, Guernsey, one of the few places I’ve driven that I’d almost agree that the (35 mph) speed limit is too high – too many corners where you’d meet another car almost head on. Despite this I saw the usual fast cars resident, including a couple of Astons and, even, least suited of all, a low Caterham.
The place sounds awful. 3000 people is enough for a certain level of anonymity but really everyone knows everyone else. There’s probably nowhere to drive to either.
Assuming some passengers, that means that those 25 cars contain at least 1% of the total population.