WILD HAWAIIAN WILLY

I have to admit I’ve never really been one for speed limits imposed upon me by big brother.  Set using arbitrary assumptions in the dark ages they seem to have very little meaning today except as tax-collection mechanisms.

Words by: DUNCAN QUINN

Photos by: SUMAKO KAWAI

Carol Shelby testing the AC Cobra at 184 mph up the M1 in the 1960s certainly didn’t help, and there will always be nutters who deserve a slap on the wrist or a poke in the eye, but I find it very difficult to understand how limits based upon performance and petrol consumption nearly half a century ago should still be enforced today.  You may argue that performance is not relevant to these arbitrary limits but I’m afraid I’d disagree.  If I can now stop in 20 feet when it used to take 100 it just makes the rule look stupid.  Hence I often find myself in a world of self imposed lunacy where to comply with the rules and regulations I should never get out of first gear.

That is, of course, unless you are noodling along in a Jeep in Hawaii half way between a plate of tasty hot-and-spicy shrimp fished fresh out of the marshy field behind, a cheeseburger with all sorts of vegetation you’d never normally see on it (pineapple?) and a face full of Matsumoto shaved ice.  In the food and sun induced coma that is Oahu its tough not to feel like you’re one of the victims of the statin-fog the press has been gibbering on about recently.  Can’t remember your name?  Not to worry.  At least your cholesterol is under 125.

Then for the first time in a very long time it started to make sense.  As did a lot of other stuff in Hawaii in a rather otherworldly way.  I’m sure import duties must be insane but can only assume the lack of tasty cars was surely more down to the fact that there are only a couple of roads and most of the time they are backed up with tourists (like me) trundling along from one beachy inlet to the next between lathering on suntan lotion (or better still the USA contraband P20 that I prefer) and finding the next tasty morsel.

Even I sometimes forget the privilege it is to get to enjoy beautiful, amazing works of art that can transport you from A to B faster than a regular at the Groucho Club can down a pint of G&T so it was really rather refreshing when my transport for the week brought me back down to earth with a bump.  It doesn’t go fast, it doesn’t really go around corners and I think I saw a tortoise overtake me at one point, but I knew it was war tested even if it wasn’t DQ-tested so it must be good.

In fact, for the trip in question I think it could possibly have been the perfect ride.  When Willys MB came up with the “Truck, 1/4 Ton, 4×4” which went on to become the iconic US World War II “Jeep” little could the guys there imagine what would follow.  It is the cheeseburger carriage deluxe and even without special sauce its awfully tasty when you’re in the right mood.

I’m not sure the technology has advanced much since the original, but with the cult images of Lee Marvin, Telly Savalas, and the never to be forgotten “No. 11” (Donald Sutherland) from “The Dirty Dozen” firmly branded into my grey matter I could do nothing but sit with a child-like grin on my face as we bumped and rolled around from zero to 45mph all across the island.  I was strangely drawn to surf boards and seriously considered throwing a few in the back complete with the blonde, the brunette, the woofer and the six pack of beer.

But then that would have been too greedy by half…

Hawaii: 3/5 (Oahu)
Matsumoto Shaved Ice: Icy Cool
Fumi’s Shrimp: Hot As You Like
Jeep: **1/2

Words by DUNCAN QUINN Photos by Sumako Kawai