Clarks Desert Boots

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The Fast Show – a UK TV show from the mid-1990’s  – had a wealth of characters created by Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse – amongs others. One particular favourite was “Louis Balfour” – played by John Thomson – who was the oh so slightly pretentious presenter of “Jazz Club” with a catchphrase – when all else failed – of “Nice!”. You rarely got to see his feet but my bet is that he would’ve worn Clarks Desert Boots

See here a sample of Jazz Club The Best of Louis Balfour’s Jazz Club

Now you have to follow this, Louis was cut from a very similar cloth to a couple of Art Masters at my last school. They insisted on being called “Chris” and “Steve” as indeed I suspect they were their real names and as 6th Formers it seemed odd to continue with “Sir”. They wore corduroy jackets – in brown and country green – one with contrasting leather elbow patches – they had a penchant for practical Farah Hopsack trousers – don’t ask – and each had several pairs of iconic Clarks Desert Boots.

Quite what desert there were planning to cross in leafy Cheshire was uncertain but none the less these two were simply the coolest guys in the school.  “Steve” with his long hair even drove a late reg VW Beetle – click here to our previous post Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined – you can imagine he was already ice cool to me.

Assured not to be bitten by scorpions nor rattle snakes, Clarks Desert Boots to this day are an iconic and a highly flexible wardrobe essential that you can wear with jeans, moleskins or chinos and they will always look the part. Just avoid wearing in the rain – they are suede and, after all, are intended for deserts!

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C. & J. Clark International Ltd, (“Clarks”) was founded in 1825 by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Street, (Somerset, England) where its HQ is still based – although manufacturing is now predominantly undertaken in Asia. Clark’s continues to be 84% family owned.

Since 1879 the Clark’s trade mark has been the distinctive Glastonbury Tor with the St Michael’s tower.

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The Desert Boot was launched in 1950 having been designed by the co-founders, James’, great-grandson, Nathan Clark, a serving British Army Officer based in Burma. It is said that the Desert Boot was based on the unlined boots made in the bazaar’s of Cairo for returning British Army Officers during the Second World War.

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Post War the Desert Boot saw adoption by the Mod Culture in UK, the Beatnik Culture in the US and were known to be a favourite of the Student anit-capitalist demonstrations in Paris in May 1968.

Why not be like Steve McQueen or Liam Gallagher and get a pair of Clarks original Desert Boots – please click the links below the images below to be directed to AMAZON – the two links show the full colour range available.

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Clarks Desert Boot, Men’s Derby, Braun (Cola Suede), 10 UK

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Clarks Originals Desert Boot, Men’s Derby Lace-Up, Brown (Brown Sde), 9 UK 43 EU)

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Images courtesy of C & J Clark International Limited

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Toyota Land Cruiser – J70 series

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For petrol-heads, one of the oddest sights that you will see in the Gibraltar region is a car transporter loaded with six new, all white, Toyota J70 series Land Cruisers.

The variety of versions seem familiar, including the full body “Troop Carrier” – with its distinctive 1/3rd:2/3rd rear door, four door/double cabs, “panelled tray” (single cab/pick-up) and rag-sided versions. They look like time capsule vehicles from an 1980’s film set.

Surely production of these vehicles, perhaps the most iconic in Toyota’s long and illustrious off-road history, was discontinued some years ago? Actually no, production wasn’t discontinued. This sounds like good news for those, like me, who really like these cars – but it really isn’t.

Toyota’s J70 series was complimented by increasingly large and sumptuously upholstered versions of the Land Cruiser, a pioneer of four wheeled drive and a noted work horse, that dates originally from 1951. Its lineage is alleged to have come from a Bantam Mk II Jeep that the Imperial Army requested Toyota to reverse engineer having seized it in the Philippines in 1941. Curiously, the J70 Land Cruiser was never sold in the US.

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Unlike fellow players in the utility/off-road market, including the iconic Land Rover 90’s and 110’s – see our Defender post here – Land Rover Defender , the J70 series Land Cruiser models were first produced in 1984 and continue to be made to the present day. The market moved on and the Health and Safety folk effectively saw an end to the Land Rover models but, faced with the same issues, Toyota sought opportunities outside Europe, most notably in Australia and South Africa.

See here Toyota Australia’s on-line offer of the J70 series – Land Cruiser J70 Australia – current list prices between Aus$63,000 (£37,000) and Aus$69,000 (£40,000).

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Ten years after the J70 range was withdrawn in Japan (after a twenty years sales run) in 2014, and for one year only, Toyota offered the J70 range for sale in Japan. It is understood this was primarily in response to fan demand to celebrate the model’s 30th Anniversary.

From 1984 to 1999, the 70 series Toyota Land Cruiser effectively replaced its predecessor, the 40 series work-horse. Post 1990, in an attempt to soften the utility nature of the car, the name “Prado” was given to some versions. In 1999, the pick-up version became the 79 series, the Troop Carrier the 78 series and the short-wheelbase version was phased out in most markets.

A face lift in 2007 changed the long-used bumpers and the engine in line with European emissions compliance. In 2012, Toyota introduced a double-cabin pickup body type with 130 litre fuel tank.

In 2015, production for the African market was moved to Ovar in Portugal. Which, I guess must be the reason that the transporters ladened with J70’s are so frequently seen in the Campo de Gibraltar.

Since 1984, Toyota has sold over 260,000 Land Cruiser J70’s – with sales continuing.

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