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  #1  
Old 6 Jan 2014
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Budget Overland Vehicle Choice (UK)

Hey guys,

This is my first post on here so go steady on me

THE PLAN

Basically I'm a 20-year pro travel/documentary photographer (Just finishing off my degree over the next 18 months at the same time) with a dream to pursue a completely location independent lifestyle when I have finished off with studying in 18months time. I have the idea that I want to spend at least 12 months but maybe up to two years driving overland through Africa.

Africa has been a dream for me for many years and as a photographer I feel having a vehicle would allow me to get out to the places I want to shoot like the nomad settlements in Mauritania and so on which would be difficult to reach otherwise.

BUDGET

The main problem I have is that currently I don't have stacks of disposable cash to go out and buy 10s of thousands of pounds of car/gear for the first trip (I'm young anyway and like an adventure) and so I would probably have to limit myself to around £5-6000 for everything to start off with.

CAR CHOICES

Defender

Originally I thought I had decided on getting a 110 Defender. Seems to be a common choice of car for overland expeditions and I hear it is 'relatively' fairly simple mechanics in case anything goes wrong on the road. The problem is that even an old battered one is at least £4k and a solid one closer to £6k.

Discovery 300tdi

Seems to have everything I want, cheap parts, simple mechanics, cheap second hand market here in the UK, loads of mods available. A reasonable one with 100k on the clock is only around £2k in the UK. The main problem is that 1) They have a terrible rep for rusting 2) Everyone keeps saying they are unreliable. I see plenty of people using them but I don't want to get to Africa and spend all my money fixing it up every couple of weeks.

LC Troopie 78

Solid, reliable but harder to get here in the UK. I have been told I could get a solid one for £3k but struggling to find any for sale. They also don't have the charm of a Landy but seem much more reliable?

MODS

I understand that with a budget for mods of £3-4k I won't be able to buy the world but these are a few things I am thinking of adding to the prospective vehicle if they aren't fitted when I purchase.

My not very detailed list so far is:

Upgraded shocks/springs for weight
Roof rack
Roof Tent
Side awning
Safari Snorkel
GPS device
Dual Battery System
Rock sliders
Front bull bar + Spots
Diff guards
2 x spare wheels
Fridge?
Extra Fuel & Water would be in jerrycans or similar rather than a dedicated extra tank (again to save £)
DIY storage/draw system (could be built in by my dad)

Is there anything else people can think of as essential? anything you would ditch?

Apologies if I sound like I have not got a clue, I'm still learning hence why I would love to get the base vehicle now so I can spend 2 years working on it myself and building it slowly.
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  #2  
Old 6 Jan 2014
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Hi Jacob

Most of the locals drives old Toyota Corolla and similar cars with no 4x4 in most areas of africa.

With your budget i would look for a cheap car, a roof rack and a roof tent and go for it. Spend your money for traveling, not for modding your car.

For shure, an 4x4 could help you there. But that is optional i think.

Whats with this idea of a setup:

http://www.4x4tripping.com/2013/12/o...em-budget.html

Spent your money better for traveling comfort, fridge, cooker and so on.

You can mod your SUV and travel another time, when the money is available. I don't think that you can buy an reliable SUV you named, and mod them the way you like for your budget.

Surfy
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  #3  
Old 6 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfy View Post
Hi Jacob

Most of the locals drives old Toyota Corolla and similar cars with no 4x4 in most areas of africa.

With your budget i would look for a cheap car, a roof rack and a roof tent and go for it. Spend your money for traveling, not for modding your car.

For shure, an 4x4 could help you there. But that is optional i think.

Whats with this idea of a setup:

http://www.4x4tripping.com/2013/12/o...em-budget.html

Spent your money better for traveling comfort, fridge, cooker and so on.

You can mod your SUV and travel another time, when the money is available. I don't think that you can buy an reliable SUV you named, and mod them the way you like for your budget.

Surfy
Thanks for the reply Surfy

That's a great idea as well and something I have considered as well but my thought process was that with £4.5k I could get a solid Disco 300tdi and a second hand rack and roof tent.

That would then leave me with £1.5k to add extras with a few hundred £ comfortably covering a DIY tarp style awning, second battery for camera gear etc, basic DIY camping awning, DIY storage set-up and a load of jerry cans and still have plenty of money (£1k) left over for fridge, cooker, extra spare wheel, spares etc. The other costs of travelling will come through the money I earn from my photography, writing and other sources so that isn't an issue

Feel free to rip this apart if it still seems redic
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  #4  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Have you looked at the Landcruiser Colorado/Prado or the Hilux Surf?

Both can be picked up cheap and are more than capable as overlanders.

Link to my Colorado fit out My KZJ95 Mods & Kit | MOROCCO 4x4 FORUM .com
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  #5  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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As suggested, I'd be tempted to go with whatever little car / van is most used in your target countries. Maybe make a few mods like bash-plates to protect any obviously vulnerable bits underneath. Get a few spares and tools together and crack on.

Using a local-looking vehicle should be a great help with meeting people rather than being seen as a rich traveler.

A few years ago I would have suggested an old Merc or Pug 504 but I suspect a Corolla or Hi-Ace might be more realistic these days.
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Old 7 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWarden View Post
Have you looked at the Landcruiser Colorado/Prado or the Hilux Surf?



Both can be picked up cheap and are more than capable as overlanders.



Link to my Colorado fit out My KZJ95 Mods & Kit | MOROCCO 4x4 FORUM .com

Hi Mark,

That seems like an excellent build and I think if I could add a roof tent to something like that to give me dual sleeping options it would be perfect. Can I ask you a few questions:

1) How expensive are spare parts for the Landcruiser in your experience? I have heard that the cost can be 5-10 times higher than equivalent landy spares?

2) what sort of MPG were you getting from your LC? I have seen figures of 20-22 compared to 28-30 for a disco. Makes quite a difference over tens of thousands of KM

Thanks

jake


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Old 7 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Yellow Tractor View Post
As suggested, I'd be tempted to go with whatever little car / van is most used in your target countries. Maybe make a few mods like bash-plates to protect any obviously vulnerable bits underneath. Get a few spares and tools together and crack on.



Using a local-looking vehicle should be a great help with meeting people rather than being seen as a rich traveler.



A few years ago I would have suggested an old Merc or Pug 504 but I suspect a Corolla or Hi-Ace might be more realistic these days.

I'd definitely agree there however just being white and having pro looking camera gear generally gives the impression of being rich in Asia, so id imagine it's the same in Africa.

I suppose I still have this dream of a 4x4 in Africa but I will definitely look at a cheaper local car as well. I've still a long time to plan and chuck ideas around to any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated


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  #8  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JacobJames View Post
That seems like an excellent build and I think if I could add a rack and freestanding tent to something like that to give me dual sleeping options it would be perfect. Can I ask you a few questions:
I'm now thinking a separate freestanding tent on an expedition rack with some marine ply would work equally as well as a roof tent for 1/2-1/3 of the price? I could add mounting points for the tent to the base of the rack. It would also stop me having another 40kg+ in the car?
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  #9  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Jacob:

Your proposed budget is unrealistic for a modded Land Rover. I was able to buy a decent '93 110 Defender County Station Wagon for 4,500 GBP as a base vehicle. It was in good shape but probably not ready for an extended overland trip without some mods.

After replacing all the suspension (springs and shocks), adding underbody protection, additional fuel tank, fridge/freezer, solar panel, dual battery system, cubby box, Raptor dash, security devices, new wheels/tyres, etc. the total cost of the vehicle is currently about 18K.

You can certainly get away with less modifications, but the list you have is going to take you over the 3-4K you want to spend on mods. An Engel MT45 fridge will retail at 700GBP, for example. A roof tent and awning will suck up a huge chunk of your mods budget. I suggest that you draw up a list of mods that you think you need and then begin pricing them using online prices. You'll soon get a realistic idea of what it would cost to kit the vehicle out to meet your dreams. You can then decide where to prioritise. For example, a decent ground tent will cost way less than a roof top tent and that way, you wouldn't need to buy a roof rack either.

I opted for a modified Defender - but I'm not on the tight budget that you are. It may not be the right choice for you. Considering your budget, I agree with some of the other posts. You may be better off looking at a suitable car, rather than a Land Rover/Land Cruiser type vehicle. There may be some roads/routes that you can't take in a standard car but you could save yourself a lot of money. Perhaps a station wagon / estate car that has 4-wheel drive would be a good compromise. You could fit out the rear of the vehicle so that you can sleep inside. Spend some money upgrading the suspension and maybe add a small fridge.

I don't know if you have given thought yet to the issue of a carnet, but perhaps you should factor this into your budget considerations before taking the plunge. You will need a carnet for the vehicle for Africa. Look into the cost implications for a carnet and how the cost changes depending on the cost of the vehicle. You may find that a low-budget car will keep the cost of the carnet down. Same thing with the cost of insurance - you may need to get specialised overlanding vehicle insurance such as that offered by Herts Walkabout.

In short, do your research and get a firm idea of all of the associated costs to make the trip a reality. Then 'tailor your suit to the cloth', to coin an expression.

Good luck.
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  #10  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Thanks for the info I've added some comments in red below

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bermuda Rover View Post
Jacob:

Your proposed budget is unrealistic for a modded Land Rover. I was able to buy a decent '93 110 Defender County Station Wagon for 4,500 GBP as a base vehicle. It was in good shape but probably not ready for an extended overland trip without some mods.

After replacing all the suspension (springs and shocks), adding underbody protection, additional fuel tank, fridge/freezer, solar panel, dual battery system, cubby box, Raptor dash, security devices, new wheels/tyres, etc. the total cost of the vehicle is currently about 18K.

I've now pretty much got rid of the defender idea and I am now looking at either a 300tdi Discovery or a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado/Colorado instead which I should be able to pick up for sub £3k. I was probably a bit OTT with the mod list and I would rather travel light with a solid car than have an over ladden heavily-pimped one.

You can certainly get away with less modifications, but the list you have is going to take you over the 3-4K you want to spend on mods. An Engel MT45 fridge will retail at 700GBP, for example. A roof tent and awning will suck up a huge chunk of your mods budget. I suggest that you draw up a list of mods that you think you need and then begin pricing them using online prices. You'll soon get a realistic idea of what it would cost to kit the vehicle out to meet your dreams. You can then decide where to prioritise. For example, a decent ground tent will cost way less than a roof top tent and that way, you wouldn't need to buy a roof rack either.

I'm thinking that a more realistic mod list would be along the lines of:

Decent Tyres
Upgraded Shocks
Roof Rack (Purchase second hand to save £)
Dual Battery
Underbody protection

The rest of the stuff such as tent, awning, storage I already have stuff I could use for that to save money and I already own all of the camping gear and accessories such as stoves, chairs, sleeping bags etc. Looking at the new list, does that look unreasonable to achieve with £3k (inc money for basic service/prep)?



I opted for a modified Defender - but I'm not on the tight budget that you are. It may not be the right choice for you. Considering your budget, I agree with some of the other posts. You may be better off looking at a suitable car, rather than a Land Rover/Land Cruiser type vehicle. There may be some roads/routes that you can't take in a standard car but you could save yourself a lot of money. Perhaps a station wagon / estate car that has 4-wheel drive would be a good compromise. You could fit out the rear of the vehicle so that you can sleep inside. Spend some money upgrading the suspension and maybe add a small fridge.

I don't know if you have given thought yet to the issue of a carnet, but perhaps you should factor this into your budget considerations before taking the plunge. You will need a carnet for the vehicle for Africa. Look into the cost implications for a carnet and how the cost changes depending on the cost of the vehicle. You may find that a low-budget car will keep the cost of the carnet down. Same thing with the cost of insurance - you may need to get specialised overlanding vehicle insurance such as that offered by Herts Walkabout.

Already considered carnet, visas etc and these will all come from money which isn't factored into my £6k budget. The £6k is solely for the purchase and prep of the vehicle at this time.

In short, do your research and get a firm idea of all of the associated costs to make the trip a reality. Then 'tailor your suit to the cloth', to coiun an expression.

Thanks again!

Good luck.
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Old 7 Jan 2014
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Jacob,

Your amended mod list looks much more realistic. My personal preference would be to omit the roof rack as, with one, there is a tendency to store heavy equipment up high, affecting the centre of gravity and causing the vehicle to be less stable. Also, equipment is more prone to theft when on a roof rack.

Good luck with the search for a vehicle.
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Old 7 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bermuda Rover View Post
Jacob,

Your amended mod list looks much more realistic. My personal preference would be to omit the roof rack as, with one, there is a tendency to store heavy equipment up high, affecting the centre of gravity and causing the vehicle to be less stable. Also, equipment is more prone to theft when on a roof rack.

Good luck with the search for a vehicle.
Thanks mate, I'll definitely think hard about the rack too
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Old 7 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JacobJames View Post
Hi Mark,

That seems like an excellent build and I think if I could add a roof tent to something like that to give me dual sleeping options it would be perfect. Can I ask you a few questions:

1) How expensive are spare parts for the Landcruiser in your experience? I have heard that the cost can be 5-10 times higher than equivalent landy spares?

2) what sort of MPG were you getting from your LC? I have seen figures of 20-22 compared to 28-30 for a disco. Makes quite a difference over tens of thousands of KM

Thanks

jake


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Hi Jake,

TBH I've never really tracked mpg on my trips but as a guess I'd say lows 20's off road and high 20's on tarmac. My first trip to the Western Sahara was with a group including a defender 90, 110 and disco 300tdi. The Disco was several down on power over my truck and the roof rack/roof tents really effected mpg on the disco and the defenders. They also suffered with strong sidewinds.

Parts are very reasonable but I've not had to replace much in 3 trips and 15000 miles. Rear dampers are £40 a piece so very reasonable. When looking at parts you need to consider availability where your going to travel and reliability. I know theres a lot of rivalry between the LC and LR camps which I try not to get involved with but it does seem that Toyotas are more reliable. So whilst LR parts may be cheaper you may need more replacements. LR's do have a lot more aftermarket kit available

Pros -uk LC Colorado - rear locking diff as standard and twin batteries already fitted (check the diff lock works before buying as many don't work and these are expensive to replace (£400).

From you kit list you woukdn't need twin batteries, tyres definately. Shocks yes for the distance and punishment they take but you don't necessarily need raised suspension (I only have a 2" lift on the rear but it copes very well without this). Underbody protection is very expensive and heavy and not required if you drive carefully. I've banged the standard sump guuard a few times but not heavy impacts.

Light and reliable is the way to go other having all the toys. Fully loaded with kit, spare fuel and water my truck is probably very close to standard weight.

My truck also look very standard which seems to help getting through checkpoint, in the WS I regularly got waved through while the kitted out vehicles got stopped
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Old 7 Jan 2014
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For Sale - Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado 3.0 TD FX (95-series))

This came up for sale recently to give an indication of price for a kitted out truck, the buyer got a real bargain
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Old 7 Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by TheWarden View Post
Hi Jake,

TBH I've never really tracked mpg on my trips but as a guess I'd say lows 20's off road and high 20's on tarmac. My first trip to the Western Sahara was with a group including a defender 90, 110 and disco 300tdi. The Disco was several down on power over my truck and the roof rack/roof tents really effected mpg on the disco and the defenders. They also suffered with strong sidewinds.

Parts are very reasonable but I've not had to replace much in 3 trips and 15000 miles. Rear dampers are £40 a piece so very reasonable. When looking at parts you need to consider availability where your going to travel and reliability. I know theres a lot of rivalry between the LC and LR camps which I try not to get involved with but it does seem that Toyotas are more reliable. So whilst LR parts may be cheaper you may need more replacements. LR's do have a lot more aftermarket kit available

Pros -uk LC Colorado - rear locking diff as standard and twin batteries already fitted (check the diff lock works before buying as many don't work and these are expensive to replace (£400).

From you kit list you woukdn't need twin batteries, tyres definately. Shocks yes for the distance and punishment they take but you don't necessarily need raised suspension (I only have a 2" lift on the rear but it copes very well without this). Underbody protection is very expensive and heavy and not required if you drive carefully. I've banged the standard sump guuard a few times but not heavy impacts.

Light and reliable is the way to go other having all the toys. Fully loaded with kit, spare fuel and water my truck is probably very close to standard weight.

My truck also look very standard which seems to help getting through checkpoint, in the WS I regularly got waved through while the kitted out vehicles got stopped
Thanks for the info again mate, this is really swaying my decision towards a slightly modded LC like yours. I'd definitely need some sort of dual power set-up for charging and using laptops, cameras etc for my work as I need to do that regularly to earn the money to travel

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWarden View Post
For Sale - Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado 3.0 TD FX (95-series))

This came up for sale recently to give an indication of price for a kitted out truck, the buyer got a real bargain
This would have been perfect, I definitely need to keep an eye out for a similar vehicle!
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