In praise of… the Toyota Corolla

In some parts of the world it’s the London black cab, in New York, the yellow taxi, and once I travelled the whole length of Greece from Athens to the Albanian border in a glorious and rather wobbly Merc.

And working with NGOs, inevitably, I’m often travelling in a variety of 4x4s (some of which are better than others…).  But on my recent trip to Congo, complete with a train journey to avoid what remains of the fighting, we had to resort to a different option.

Not so much a king of the road, more a third cousin to a prince, the Toyota Corolla is not a car that stirs great passions or instills intense loyalty. But it is one of the hardest working and longest serving vehicles in large parts of the world – relatively cheap and easy to service, with a low nick-ability factor adding to its appeal…

It is however, the most purchased car in the world (39 million since 1966 say Toyota, and hey, they should know…). And the new ones look rather lovely.  But most of the earlier models have a rather special characteristic – if you asked a five year old to draw a car, they’d draw a Corolla – a box in the middle with slabs out the front and back.

And they seem to just keep on going and going.  Our main taxi-driver, Francis (24) was gently positive about his – he’d been driving it for six months, though it was owned by someone else. ‘In six months, nothing serious has gone wrong. It’s light-weight and parts are easy to find’. The Corolla – also known as ‘the Chairman’ by the taxi drivers of Mouyondzi – is not his dream car though – he really wants a ‘Titanic’ (aka a Rav4, though having driven one of the legs of our trip in a priest’s Rav4, I wouldn’t recommend it – there was something seriously wrong going on with the back axle…).

Roll on, Roll off ferry, between Loutete and Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Roll on, roll off ferry, between Loutete and Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Roll on, Roll off ferry, between Loutete and Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Roll on, roll off ferry, between Loutete and Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Collapsed road bridge, Roll on, Roll off ferry, between Kolo and Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Collapsed road bridge between Mouyondzi and Bouansa, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Our driver Francis with his Corolla, Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Our driver Francis with his Corolla, Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

One Corolla, two Corolla... Near Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

One Corolla, two Corolla… Near Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

A couple of Corollas, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

A couple of Corollas, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Our driver Francis in his Corolla, Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Our driver Francis in his Corolla, Kolo, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Disused petrol station, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Disused petrol station, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Pull-along Corolla, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Pull-along Corolla, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Corolla corpse, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Corolla corpse, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Corolla corpse, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Corolla corpse, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

'Pointe Noire, Pointe Noire, Pointe Noire...', taxi anyone? Corollas about to be en-route from the station, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

‘Pointe Noire, Pointe Noire, Pointe Noire…’, taxi anyone? Corollas about to be en-route from the station, Mouyondzi, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Interior Corolla decor, Bouansa, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Interior Corolla decor, Bouansa, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Exterior Corolla decor (or a go-faster-sticker...), Bouansa, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Exterior Corolla decor (or a go-faster-sticker…), Bouansa, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Going home, back to Loutete, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

Going home, back to Loutete, Congo, October 2012 :: copyright Richard Hanson for Bible Society

richard hanson :: photographer :: sheffield

hansonphoto.co.uk