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  #1  
Old 12 Nov 2008
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2wd vs 4wd for SA

Hi all,

I'm plannning a trip around South America next year with my gf and will be looking to buy a vehicle over there, probably in Peru or maybe Chile (or wherever it's easiest)!

We have a minimal budget and want to see as much as possible over about a year. I've been considering a 2wd van as they are cheap, we could sleep in the back some of the time and they don't mark you out as a rich tourist. Also, spares should be readily available and most are simple to work on.

However, for similar money I could probably get an older, small 4x4. I don't think the extra off-road capability is essential, (or is it?) but would it survive the pounding from a year of travel on bad/dirt roads better than a van? I imagine spares might be harder to find and more expensive and obviously we couldn't sleep in it but that would be a worthwhile compromise if it meant less breakdowns. Might get to some less accessible places too. I'm thinking of a Daihatsu Rocky/Feroza, Suzuki Vitara for the 4x4 or a Chevy panel van for 2wd. Fuel economy should be roughly the same for a bigger van/small 4x4, if diesel, no?

Any thoughts appreciated.
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Old 13 Nov 2008
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2wd Enough

a 2WD will be more tha enough for the whole loop, however if you have the money, then a 4WD will be easy to sell when you finish the trip, go for a Hilux or a Mitsu L200, they are good value for money.
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Old 13 Nov 2008
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I've been traveling in SA for 3 years in a 1978 Chevy van. I go off road a lot, and I get stuck a lot. I take a lot of chances. Now I'm traveling with Smellybiker it's not a big problem as I can get an easy tow now and then. :-) (Having said that, last week I needed a tug from both Smellybiker PLUS another 4x4 with a chain. :-( As I said, too many chances....)

Parts are easy to find, and because it's old, ALL mechanics know how to work on them. In some cases, they drool with happiness. Might be selling it next year and if I hadn't already put it through so much hell, I'd start my sales pitch about now. But trust me, you don't want to buy it. In Chile, they have vans made by Mitsubishi which are 4x4 and this is what I'd buy if I was you. High clearance, a local vehicle and an older one is good value for the money. Or, make Smellybiker an offer on his custom Nissan 4x4. You can sleep in it.
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Last edited by lorraine; 13 Nov 2008 at 15:36.
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Old 16 Nov 2008
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Thanks for the replys.

Mario, glad you reckon 2wd will suffice, having done a bit of searching I'd say (good) 4x4's are beyond our budget!

Lorraine, I've been following your adventures on your blog for some time now (I think it's great, by the way) so I've an idea what your van's been through..! It's still going though, which is what matters.

Coincidentally, one of the reasons I'd like a van is so we could take a dog along with us. More space than a little 4x4.

Come to think of it, your van's pretty well set up for this kind of trip..! I doubt if I could afford the fuel costs though. Mind you, a low purchase price buys a lot of bencina... And it's almost something of a legendary vehicle!
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Old 19 Nov 2008
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Crusty,

PLEASE let me know when you're hitting the road with your dog! I have a publisher for a book about traveling with dogs in the works and always looking for new ideas/contacts.

As for the van, I have a friend in Oxford and her spare room can't be much larger than the van's interior. For me, having a van means having a workable place to live with minimal daily set up or breaking down, which is important if you're mobile for a long time. I'd investigate alternative fuels, or perhaps VW which might give better gas mileage. The other key is staying in one place for longer than a few nights, which is important for the dog's well-being too. He needs to know if he's buried a bone, it'll be there tomorrow.... ;-)

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Old 19 Nov 2008
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Hi Lorraine,

we won't be on the road for a while yet, provisional date is around Oct/Nov next year. We had originally planned this as a bike trip but ongoing health problems have ruled that out. As we're going with four wheels, I thought it would be great to have four legs along too..!

The van idea came about as a way of keeping costs down, as we're still on a 'bike' budget, and from my Australian experiences in an old Ford van. Happy days.

I agree size is important..er, with vans anyway! The ideal would be a Mercedes 609 with a lockable diff for the rough stuff but I don't think that's likely. The priorities are: cheap to buy, simple to work on with widely available spares, big enough to live in and reasonably economical, although I'd compromise on that if I could get the rest.

I prefer to travel slowly, better to park up and get the feel of a place, I think, rather than burn through and see nothing. That's why we want to take a year to do it.

Good luck with the book, who knows, we may be able to contribute some day...
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