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In an idle moment of work displacement, I was wondering whether anyone has had any experience of the above? I've been pondering down-sizing from my Mercedes truck and have been looking around to discover what is available in the 4-6 ton area. Nissan have stopped doing a 4x4 version of their Cabstar and Bremachs are hard to find and V pricey when you do. Apart from ageing Ivecos, there seems little else about.
The 2 tonne (payload) 4x4 Mitsubishi Canters, Isuzu (NPS?) and the Toyota Dyna may not be available in Europe as I doubt they have engines that comply with Euro4 (??) standards or maybe they cant be bothered with getting them to comply as there is more than enough demand in Asia/Pacific and the Middle east for light Jap trucks at present.
Plenty of the above in Australia, used by the rural fire services, local councils, railways, etc.
My local council has several that have been fitted with wide profile tyres for use on the beach.
They are not Unimogs, but they will go and do some rough stuff, they just wont last as long. You dont get the portal axles or diff locks or the price of a Unimog either.
Thanks to all and sorry for not saying so before but I've been away for a few days. What I'm after is getting a LHD chassis and building my own body, interior etc based on what I've learned after 3/4 years with the Merc.
Back to work............
Very intrigued by your decision to downsize. After all the trouble you went to on the Merc, I suppose if you’re not the one who chose the interior layout there’s always a niggling desire to change something.
I still haven’t taken the plunge yet. Looking at oct 2010, which is the next time I get the right to a sabbatical year (damn I love French labour law! pity Sarko’s trying to open it up) and coincides approximately with our youngest giving up nappies (I hope)
The wife wants it all, washing machine, dishwasher, permanent beds for all (we’re 4 now), in a 6 m sub 3.5 tonne discreet looking camper.
I’ve convinced her it won’t all fit, now to keep looking…. Or persuading that older (T…T...no I won’t name it) trucks mean a lot more money is left free for diesel or conversion.
Great to hear from you Luke. I had visions of you beavering away producing the ultimate Russian family transport so I was a tad disappointed to learn it's still in the planning stage. You know you want (need) it.....
Yep I'd already discoved Polycomposit during my many hours spent (not) working and had already decided that once I'd got a base vehicle getting one of their bare shells would probably be the way to go. So a trip to the factory sounds good to me. And the Gite looks lovely as well. Better get saving then.........
The problem with the Mercedes isn't so much the layout (though I wouldn't have designed it that way) but it's simply too big at 9.5 M and too high at 3.6 M as well as being too heavy. You simply cannot get to places you'd like to and can't run the risk of venturing down a track just in case you can't turn round at the end; that sort of thing. Not having a 3-point link body mounting limits off-road capability too. It's a shame really because the truck itself is incredibly capable off road and dead reliable and after doing all I have to it, it's a most civilized form of transport. Shameless plug for when I come to sell it! The other problem is rather more subtle or psychological in that because it's so big you can retreat inside and shut out your surroundings. Thus it creates a barrier between you and where you are. That's why I always think that bikers have far more local contact (and thus get more out of travelling) than people in big vehicles.
I'd originally thought the Cabstar was the obvious chassis but unfortunately the new model isn't available in 4x4 form at least in Europe to the best of my knowledge.
Luke, send me a pm with your contact details and I'll be in touch.
That's the point, according to the website, they are available again. I don't know if he has an inside line, if it's OEM or a conversion (conversions of any sort are VERY difficult to register in France, they don't even recognise TUV acceptation!)
The "size of transport" and "culture contact" discussions are old chestnuts. You're absolutely right that it's easier to hide inside a big box, but you get out what you put in. I can't say I've noticed a difference in the welcome between when I arrived on a bicycle and in my Iveco; the important bit is to get out of the vehicle at the slightest opportunity.
My point of view is that I'm damn glad to know that however far I've gone or not on any particular day, my bed is ready, comfortable and I always have a toilet nearby. If I feel like staying somewhere a couple of days more, I'm not taking up someone's room, or using the (sometimes meagre) resources of a welcoming local. Even when stopping off at friends or family I prefer a box on wheels because it's less hard work for those you are visiting. I also look for open unpopulated areas, which can require a longer range than a smaller vehicle/bike. Cultural exchanges are a bonus, but not the core reason for my wanderlust.
Committing to narrow lanes could be a problem, but IMHO mainly in the mountains, or in british coutryside where there's a wall in either side.
One day I'll muster up the time to contact polycomposit...
Well I finally called Polycomposit.
What a wonderfully helpful chap!
The Cabstars are officially Nissan guaranteed and homologated 4x4 versions. Nissan are finishing the homologation of the 2008/2009 model; the 2007/2008 models are almost sold out (there was one left when I called on the 17/12/08). They come with a LSD standard rear and optional lockers.
So for the French market Polycomposit can supply a Cabstar with a 4 metre long box in the back, fitted and furnished for real off road use and stay under the 3.5 tonne mark! The German legislation allows the Cabstar to run up to 4.5 tonnes.
The over cab bed unit in the photo is the owner’s and he doesn’t mind taking the box off if he needs to access the engine; it’s a tilt cab. (kind of says something about his confidence in Nissan’s reliability) He’s not too keen on selling that configuration to a customer.
The double cab is apparently not a tilt, you access the engine from inside.
The SRW setup is available if you specify rims over 100 mm wide, narrower that that and you have to run twins. He assures me that a 9 x 16 goes on SRW without any mods. He can get a huge variety of rim widths.
Engines are available up to 160 hp homologated, but apparently you can chip them higher (I’m not going to get into the whole electronics argument but we’re talking about a truck, not a car, and the design philosophy is completely different; truck fleet buyers expect 0.5Mkm trouble free, so truck manufacturers concentrate more on reliability than car manufacturers)
Price? Well the last 2007/8 cabstar is going for around 40k€, it’s white, 130 hp end currently on twins at the back. All in with a box on the lines of their “grand large” model the price starts around 80k€ and goes up depending on tanks, underbody protection, interior gadgets etc.
He said that although they are supposed to charge for a change in the interior layout, if it’s a simple rearrangement (rather than a big addition) they don’t bother to charge the difference.
He said the new 2008/9 4x4 cabstars will be somewhere between 55 to 60 k€ depending on options.
The guy’s a 4x4 enthusiast, and being in the trade he can get his hands on some lovely off-roading accessories.
He also mentioned that for a slightly bigger vehicle the Athleon is also available in an official 4x4 version.
As the photos on his site suggest he’s perfectly happy to build you a box for your own truck, new or old. He always uses a torsion free mounting but didn’t want to tell me the secret of his version.
Food for thought.
As I mentioned, I only live an hour away from Polycomposit. If anyone would like my help (linguistic for example) to deal with them, I would be happy to use you as an excuse to go and visit the factory.
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