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Old 1 Dec 2003
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Overland with a Ford?

I've been looking around, trying to gather some info about building a 4WD Camper for a Africa tour. Most of the resources I see are for Range Rovers or Unimogs, which don't have the aftermarket support here that they have in Europe.

I'm thinking I might be better off using an American vehicle. Ford makes a version of their F-450 truck with locking diffs, a 560 ft/lb diesel engine , and of course 4WD. Does anybody know someone who has done this or something similar? Ideas?


Flagstaff, Arizona

[This message has been edited by TheKaiser (edited 01 December 2003).]
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Old 1 Dec 2003
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This couple has used US made trucks on their trips: http://www.turtleexpedition.com

But I have to admit that we didn't see one single Ford or other American made truck on our trip through Africa. So I wouldn't be too sure about parts/workshops etc. while underway, without checking very carefully beforehand!
Not to mention that some of the tracks we took were narrower than our LR Defender. Which isn't exactly a wide vehicle! We had to push our way through, and a bigger Ford or whatever wouldn't have made it through the dense bush sometimes. Just my opinion.
Good luck with your trip!

Erik D.


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Old 1 Dec 2003
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Check the link Eric left you above, the Turtle V used by the Turtle Expedition is based on the Ford Super Duty 550 and it’s awesome.

The reasons there are no American trucks doing expedition duty in Africa is because:
1) there are much fewer Americans who go on African Expedition than Europeans.
2) Toyota and Land Rover support is by far much better in Africa than anything else.
Still, people often have to order in parts from Europe in case of break down for different reasons. So I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a Toyota or a Land Rover.

I’m researching building a Sahara camper myself in the next couple of years and so far I’m leaning towards a Ford Super Duty truck. Why ?

Land Rovers although very capable are not very reliable (I hope I won’t get lynched for saying this )

Toyota Hilux is too small. I know Toyota makes the Tundra but that’s a US only model and haven’t been tested yet in the Sahara.

Unimog is my absolute favorite but the idea of driving 75 km/h on tarmac makes me shiver.

Inspired by Turtle Expedition I think the Ford would be best but I have to study the fuel consumption and tank capacity a bit more before I make my final decision since I’ll be spending as much time as I can off-road.

If you plan on doing a lot of off-road in soft sand I would pick a lighter model. Maybe the 350.

Check this link on campers buildup:

let us know what you decide.


OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
ShortWheelbase.com – Jeep preparations.
OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
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Old 2 Dec 2003
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Very interesting A.B., this Turtle V is almost exactly what I was thinking. The more I think about it the more I like it. The diesel in Ford's super duty trucks are much more powerful than Unimog, Rover, or Landcruser mills. I'd be worried about weight though, the turtle V looks very close to the 17,000 LBs the chassis is rated for.

-good stuff, looks like alot more research is in order.
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Old 4 Dec 2003
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Nobody sane drives more than about 80kmph in most of Africa anyway! Tell me again why you want all those horses? :-)

Michael & Sandy
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Old 8 Dec 2003
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I do most of my travel inside Egypt, exploring and photographing the Western Desert.

Why I need Horses:
I always have to drive long stretches on the, almost empty, Oasis road from Cairo to the point where I go off-road. The drive is usually very boring and takes a lot of time from small amount of time I can allocate to these trips. For example traveling from Cairo to Dakhla at 75 km usually takes 2 days. At 100 - 110 km or so I will save at least ½ a day in each direction. On a 4 to 6 day trip (work permitting) that makes a big difference.

Why I need Torque:
I rarely stick to common tracks. I love to explore the difficult to reach places. The more torque the easier it is to cross the huge dunes and climb steep escarpments with the fully loaded Jeep.

<font face="" size="2">Nobody sane drives more than about 80kmph in most of Africa anyway!</font>
I agree, but, I’m born and raised here and I’m quiet used to the driving manners (or lack of it ) and the bad roads. Statistically I’m part of the problem .


OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
ShortWheelbase.com – Jeep preparations.
OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
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Old 10 Dec 2003
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Finding myself in the US, I've looked at these trucks and think that there may be one in my overland future when the 110 retires!

I'd immediatley disregard the F450 and F550s, goood though they are they both are dualies, that is dual wheel rear axles. The Turtle F550 had some serious mods done to the rear axle. You don't need to carry all that weight IMHO.

The F350 seems to me to be the best base vehicle. It'll take a lot of load and if you choose the right wheelbase you'll be ok (the best compromise to me is the half-cab SWB, which is about 147 inches IIRC).

The new Powerstroke 6.0 V8 Diesel is a wonderful engine. I drove one a few weeks ago and couldn't believe how quiet it was in the cab. The only time you can hear it is at idle.

If it's a camper you're after you can get the chassis-cab version of the F350 and build up as required.

Another alternative is the 4x4 trucks from Sportsmobile - http://www.sportsmobile.com/.
Again, I've checked these out and using a base Ford vehicle you can end up with a really nice truck. If you could only get the Sprinter 4x4 Diesel in the US I think that would be worth looking at, but the Ford E350 based vehicles are very comfortable also.


96 BMW F650
96 Defender 90 300TDi
97 NAS D90
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Nick Taylor, a Colorado Mack'em
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Old 11 Dec 2003
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Be very aware that if it's not Land Rover or Toyota, you will not find any sort of spare in W.Africa. At least with the two 'normal' 4x4s you have a fighting chance...

I know it's been mentioned, but there you go!

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