Buying a 110 Hard Top.
I have been asked for some advice on what to buy as a base vehicle for overlanding. They want a 110 hard top TDI, preferably unprepared so as they can do the work themselves and keep within a total budget of 8-10K for the vehicle and preperation. Any advice on what to buy what to look out for would be apprecieated.
My thoughts would be to buy a 200 or 300TDI, which ever comes along that is best value for money, a nice late model will demand good money, but for similar money you might find a nice 200 with quite a few extra`s.
A good rust free chassis and body would be a major selling point, followed buy reciepts or proof of a new timing belt, clutch gearbox etc have been fitted.
Any good quality extra`s such as rock slidders, Mantec rear wheel carrier, twin batteries, good ally roof rack, snorkel, wolf wheels, HD suspension, diff gaurds, additional fuel tanks etc would be a bonus.
Any other advice out there on what to look for when buying a vehicle.
My next question is if you were to do it all again would you build your own vehicle or buy something ready preped or nearly finished ready to go. I have found trying to prepare a vehicle to a budget is a pretty hard task, they are bottomless pits and just suck money, where spending a bit more on initial outlay and not having the fun or knowledge of prepring your own vehicle would work out quite a bit cheaper in the long run.
Lets start with modifications and work back.
Off the top of my head there are probably only four modifications that I would see as semi essential
1) Good quality wheels x 6 - if the vehicle doesn't already have these then change to a good all terrain or mud terrain. I would always choose to have 2 spares. If a tyre is badly damaged, blown out, hub damaged it may not be possible to repair or easily replace.
2) Good suspension - you can approach this two ways, either upgrade the suspension to cope with an increased expedition load or alternatively keep the load down (cyclists manage to cross Africa with almost no kit so one could keep it light). However don't load up but going on lower suspension, it will probably break sooner or later.
3) Cargo barrier - I think this is often overlooked and people are really looking for a very bad outcome in the event of an accident. With masses of heavy kit in the back all coming forward, the barrier can make the difference between a straightforward shunt with some vehicle damage and a life threatening situation.
4) Dual battery system - its easy to flatten the battery over night.
Other than this, I would regard pretty much all other mods as either making the vehicle more comfortable, more capable or just for looks but you don't need them on 95% of expeditions.
In terms of kit to take with you, you can cover the fuel range by using jerry cans, nice to have it in long range tanks but certainly not essential.
2 decent shovels, at least one with a long handle to get under the vehicle, air compressor, wood saw, recovery strap, tow rope, tent, camping gear, etc. If going to be travelling solo then maybe a tirfor for self recovery. a section of chain, hi-lift jack, etc. Other than that several books such as Haynes manual, sahara overland, Tom Sheppards overlanding guide, etc. You can usually effect a recovery with the right knowledge even thought you only have limited kit. eg, using a hi-lift as a winch.
In terms of acquiring a vehicle, I would be inclined to look for something that isn't modified, not because I don't want the modifications but because most modified ones will have been used in ardous conditions, either overseas or offroading etc. Obviously if you can find one that has been just driven round like a normal vehicle but for what ever reason has all the kit then great. As most of us know, doesn't matter what you spend on accessories, they aren't worth much second hand so nice to acquire but would much prefer to start with a reliable vehicle than one that has been used heavily offroad or overseas where it may well not have been welll serviced, etc.
I would go for something like a N / P reg 110 Defender 300 TDI in good condition with a good service record, then start modifiying from there.
One option if they have the cash is maybe to buy two vehicles, buy the first one with all the accessories, strip it, sell it off and then fit them to the second vehicle. This way you get a reliable vehicle with a load of cheap accessories.
If you just buy a vehicle because it has all the accessories but may be has spent lots of time in hard conditions then you will probably spend lots of time reparing it.
Thanks Toby, that makes for some interesting reading, where abouts are you located in the UK.
Col, I'm just outside Stratford-upon-Avon although float round the country quite a bit with work. And yourself?
I`m in South Bucks mate, send me an email if your passing through the area, and drop on in for a chat or a beer.
I asked myself the same question - buy something already modified, or use a standard vehicle and add the bits I needed.
My standard vehicle was a Discovery 200tdi.
It was a tough choice but after weighing up the costs involved of equipping the Discovery, I decided to buy a 200tdi 110 which was already equipped.
The vehicle came with all the mods I required - rooftent, Engel Fridge, long range fuel tank, hilift jack etc.
Over the last few months I have added a few mods myself like side lockers, cupboards, new filters for the water filter system, sound proofing plus a handful of smaller jobs. As a result I have already spent over £1500 on the jobs I have done, let alone buying new kit.
My suggestion to the people with the £8-10k budget would be to buy already equipped (if they have the time to spend looking for the vehicle).
Take a look at www.bigsky-adventures.com
I have a fully equipped, rigorously maintained, expedition prepared 110 CSW, if your friends are interested. I'll happily email spec. 11 months tax and MOT its literally ready to go. Offers over 10,750 GBP.
I went through the same thought processes as your friend, about 2/3 years ago. This is our second Landy, so all the good ideas from the first went into this one. We did a trip to India in the first one (a petrol SIII) and a trip to Algeria in the second (a 110 200TDI). Many of my posts are probably still on this bulletin board re: what to go for and what kit to include.
The basics are: it will cost you more to buy a base vehicle and kit it out yourself, but you will then have the experience of how it all fits together. It is cheaper (and a lot more time-efficient) to buy something that has been kitted out by someone else, but you have to make yourself comfortable that the previous owner has similar (or better!) standards to yourself. If you have a budget that cannot be broken, then I would go for buying something already kitted out.
Your thoughts on what to go for are almost identical to what mine were – 200TDI (for simplicity), Hard top (for storage/security), sound chassis and transmission. These bits are fundamental - because you can’t realistically change them.
There are then loads of other bits you are going to need, so if they are already on the vehicle (and they meet your spec) that’s a bonus:
- Underbody protection
- Uprated/new suspension/shocks
- Good rims/tyres
- Dual battery system
- Extra fuel tanks
- Wheel carrier
- Recovery equipment
- Camping/living equipment
- etc etc
Incidentally, don’t overlook the camping/living equipment. In our experience in Africa/Asia, you can usually spot the British cars as they have spent more time/money on the car and less on the standard of living. In contrast, a lot of the European cars we saw had good quality sleeping, cooking and living space arrangements. (Apologies for the gross generalisations!!). It is important, if you are going away for more than a couple of weeks then your car is your home so some level of comfort makes the whole trip much more fun.
By chance, I have a Defender 110 200 TDI which is fully prepped with all of the above, which I'm thinking of selling, as we are currently trying to use it as a family car and it’s not ideal with a young baby. I’ll put a spec list together and post it up in the next few days.
Thanks for the replies, it makes for some good reading, the people who I am posting on their behalf are also copied in on the thread and are following it.
Any one else out there with any ideas, its always interesting hearing different peoples point of views and idea`s.
Keep em coming
[This message has been edited by Col Campbell (edited 16 August 2004).]
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