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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
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Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA

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Old 15 Feb 2023
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enlighten me...vehicle choices


So, brief background: very much into cars, have done a lot more overland (travel & race) on bikes, generally off road.

The girlfriend is not a biker but is interested in doing something similar with me which led me to looking at 4x4s...landcruisers, hilux, l200, pajero/shogun, discovery... and realised I had very little idea what the overland worlds preferences are and why, or even what power I should be considering.

Usage would be overland, offroad, some dunes, potentially supporting some friends in a race in Morocco/Mauritania so everything that entails.

It seems the landcruiser is universally adored and has a price tag to match. loads of discovery's around but SWB so lacking room and unsure of reliability? and then the rest is really a mystery!

so any advice, experience, thoughts etc etc would be appreciated!
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Old 15 Feb 2023
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This is the sort of post that invites strong opinions....

If you can afford a full-sized Landcruiser (60, 70, 80 series) then there's little else to consider. They are extremely rugged and if you start out with one in good condition, you can probably spend your entire trip doing nothing more than routine maintenance. People talk about being able to find spare parts, but aside from filters/belts, this is something of a myth in my experience, apart from specific places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia.

Cheaper and less rugged options like the Prado are popular overland vehicles too. Hilux is similar quality but smaller and less powerful.

Pre-2000 Nissans are probably just as good as Toyotas, post Renault takeover I would not have one.

I have no experience of Pajeros but they seem like decent cars and good value and would be an equal second choice with an old Patrol, after a Landcruiser.

My view on Land Rovers is buy one if you want a Land Rover, otherwise avoid, unless your idea of an adventure includes plenty of repair work. Newer Land Rovers are meant to be horrific to work on (taking off the body to remove the turbo kind of job).

Power is usually not a major consideration for overland vehicles (it's more for comfortable motorway driving), but in sand I suppose it does become a bit more important.

If budget is really tight but you want something with a bit more power than an old diesel, I'd look at a 3.4 litre petrol Prado ('Landcruiser' Colorado in the UK), though sadly the UK models are all autos. Maybe a petrol Pajero too.

Unless you have a lot of cash and fancy travelling in a modern 4x4 like a Landcruiser 200 (which would not be my choice), you will end up buying a well used, old vehicle. Chances are it will need a good bit of work to really get it into shape for a long journey through challenging conditions, so this is probably more of a focus than the Toyota/Nissan/Mitsubishi argument.

I have a 1993 diesel Hilux, a 1996 petrol Hilux Surf (same frame as a Prado but smaller and less ugly) and a 1989 diesel Landcruiser 60. All have their advantages and disadvantages, though for Africa, the Landcruiser would be the first choice.

EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.

Last edited by eurasiaoverland; 16 Feb 2023 at 03:22.
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Old 16 Feb 2023
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Kinda depends where you are, since in the UK many old 4x4s are going to be rotty heaps.

Stuff I've had experience with:
Hi-Lux Surf 3.0, fantastic, my Dad has now owned his for 15 years. It was beaten up when he got it, and he's put it through hell with only basic maintenance. It'll still cruise at 80mph all day, lol. Not very revvy but pulls well, good for towing.
Granvia 3.0, if I wanted to go overlanding it's what I'd take. HiLux mechanicals with a people carrier top. I love that thing!
Pajero 2.5, the IFS suuucks if you're trying to get over big rocks. Apart from that it's ok. Some things broke that we never had problems with on the HiLux (power steering box for example). It was modified with a bigger turbo so I can't say what the stock performance is like but even with the big turbo spooled up it wasn't sporty, lol.
Cherokee 4.0, nice and zoomy, was good off road, but we had a mountain of electrical issues so I never want another.
Series III LWB, just an exercise in masochism. To quote my Dad "it can't get out of a muddy puddle". I didn't enjoy the driving experience at all.
Various late '80s / early '90s Nissans, the locals here love them, especially the 2-door version. I've only got lifts in them so can't say how they drive.
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Old 16 Feb 2023
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did think it could be a contentious question!

so seems the landcruiser is still the firm favourite then! Considering price of them it may be a hilux that I look at although not in a huge rush so might keep options open, likewise the Patrol, seen a few about but know nothing about them at all

the main things would be simplicity - so nothing too new, might have to be repaired in mauritania for example, no OBD readers! - ruggedness, a modicum of comfort for long days, space and an efficeint cooling system

like you say Turbofurball...buying in the UK has its issues when it comes to 4x4's

so in order...
discovery 2 if i'm feeling mechanically ambitious...
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Old 17 Feb 2023
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Just my 2ct earned from recent observations:

There might be very different expectations, what your girlfriend thinks of a cosy trip into nature (compare most social media "overlanding" or "van life" content, which are more or less tiny house interiour design suggestions, filmed in pitoresque locations) and your experience in mad-maxing your bike through the desert, fuelled with only ramen and . Meeting half way from both ends in a overloaded car might be far away from both intentions.

As you´ve mentioned you plan to assist others in Mauritania or elsewhere - and all usefull opinions about your choice of cars has already been told - why not consider some more space in a van, transporter or light truck and carry a small moto on the back for occasional madmaxing - or just for quick groceries or city trips. Being able to change clothes in a sheltered vehicle during a rainy week can make all the difference.

My first choice would be a Mercedes Benz Vario. 2WD can be very capable with the diff lock, the 4x4 gets you everywhere a Disco would get you, but with a fridge, shower and a fixed bed. The Vario is the peak in terms of space, reliability, re-sale value, parts availability etc.

My 2nd choice would be the bit smaller Merc T1 (70s- late 90s). These are also available in 4x4, but the 2WD are running the public transport in most of western Africa, so reliability and parts won´t be an issue. The 400s have bigger wheel arches for fat tyre fitment, the 300s only accept 15" wheels.

Bit more modern would be the IVECO Daily in 2WD or 4x4. What takes the beatings of postal service in rural Italy, will do.

More cheap, rugged and offroad capable - but pretty slow - are various 4x4 fire trucks or ex-military in the sub-7.5ton league. Like the IVECO 160, Renault Midliner M150/180, DAF 4x4, Bucher Duro or the MB 1019.

All have in common the lack of computing power needed to run. Common sense will do most repairs. It´s obligatory to know your choice of vehicle and make friends with a reliable parts source before leaving home for longer.

One can have space, off-road capability and reliability on a budget, but for the price of speed and silence. Plan your trip´s legs accordingly and you´ll be fine.

Find a wide variety of vehicles tested, built and reviewed on this informative channel:
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Old 26 Feb 2023
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You need to think about your planned use and how you think you will live with the vehicle when on the road. Everybody is different. Do you want a camper type vehicle, Roof Tent, ground tent etc etc.

In North Africa, Toyota is king, I've always been able to get parts for my 2 easier in Morocco and the Western Sahara than in the UK.

Having lost a vehicle in a fire way out in the desert, I would never overland a petrol vehicle if theres an option for diesel. If your planning Mauritania, petrol supplies are very hard to come buy so you would need to carry a lot of fuel to be safe and that increases the danger factor over diesel.

The Heavy Duty 70 series Landcruisers aren't easy to come by in the UK and are very expensive when they do come up. But you do have the choice of body styles, single or double cab, Troopy or SUV style. They also have the highest payload capacity of any of the landcruiser range. The older diesels are slow but will last a life time if well looked after.

The Station Wagon range (60, 80 and 100 series) are a good choice. 60's are again hard to find in reasonable condition. 80 series are pricy now.

The lighter 95, 120 and 150 series (Prado outside of the UK) are good. They are cheap enough to be almost disposable and despite what people will tell you just as good off road as the bigger versions. I put over 100k miles on my 95 series and close to 30k on the 120 I have now. Payload is very close to the 80 and 100series just with a little less room inside. I've found the key with these keep the load lightweight

Or you've got pickups, which may be a versatile choice if your thinking of being a support vehicle. You can fit a couple of bikes in the bed of a hilux. (Payload on these is close to the carrying capacity of the HD 70 Series Landcruiser)

The newer diesels will be common rail engines that are less tolerant of bad quality fuel. Again something to think about when choosing a vehicle.

Something to remember, no matter what vehicle you choose, 2 things kill vehicles off road, Speed or Weight (or a combination of both). Most social media overland 4x4/SUV types vehicles will be massively overloaded.
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Old 1 Mar 2023
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Horses for courses!

Everyone's different, however in case it helps here are my thoughts on the ones I have owned (never owned a Hilux but have driven many - not our type of vehicle - less secure, less space unless you spend on a "camper" and you still have to get out to get between the cab and the camper, terrible handling. Never owned a LR but they are now rare outside cities, for good reason - most of those we see outside cities are on a recovery vehicle or with the bonnet up, however fine if you do your own maintenance - frequently):

Landcruiser - expensive (double the price of our Montero when bought), the 70s have poor ride but are solid, we had an 80 and it was excellent, but long in the tooth hence inevitable repairs/replacements, new LCs beyond our budget.

Patrol - excellent and very capable, also expensive, agricultural ride but go anywhere.

Pajero/shogun - our current vehicle at home (Montero), half the price of a LC and equally capable, we use ours in South America and took it to Australia for 10 months - everything from the Simpson to the GRR handled easily and in comfort.

Another thought - Wrangler JK LWB - we have one in Canada and although a little smaller than our preference it's still big enough - highly capable, and with 2/3 of the fuel consumption of the Montero.
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