Phil Raymond's '75 Volvo out exploring.
Back in The April issue we featured a Volvo truck that was fully outfitted as an expedition truck by its owner ("Volvo Roamer"). The response was overwhelming on this truck, so we decided that an overview of expedition-type vehicles might be perfect. The idea of quitting your job (or getting fired) and hitting the road to explore every nook and cranny of the country has crossed the minds of every staff member at least once (if not multiple times a week), and we're sure it's the same for many of you. This, of course, is hard to swallow when you consider all the bills, family, and other obligations that life holds, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. We've heard of many families that have saved up the funds, sold or rented out their house, started home-schooling their kids, and hit the road to explore and see the world. Yes, it's a long shot, but it's not impossible. So read up, tell the boss you need the next week or year off, and hit the road.
Mercedes-Benz Unimogs are considered some of the most capable vehicles in the world. Global Expedition Vehicles (GXV) has recently launched its Safari Expedition model built on a Unimog U-500 chassis. Powered by a Mercedes-Benz six-cylinder (6.4L) diesel engine and based on a 154-inch wheelbase chassis with fully synchronized 16 forward and 12 reverse gears in the transmission, it has portal axles with selectable differential lockers front, rear, and center; a coil-spring suspension; and a sandwich-panel composite walled camper coach attached to the chassis frame. The extreme GXV is a rugged 4x4 expedition vehicle.
The GXV also has premium solid wood cabinets, a four-person dining area that converts into a bed, a stainless steel refrigerator and freezer, a two-burner diesel cooktop, a convection microwave and grill, LED lighting, a dry-bath with separate shower and toilet, another queen-size bed, two LCD TVs with a full sound system, and plenty of storage space. Not bad for a vehicle that is able to clamber over rocks or fallen trees and still reach 70 mph on the highway.
Pros: Luxury living anywhere you want, built to customer specifications
Cons: It's a big truck (26 feet long) and it comes with a big price tag.
Price range: $180,000 for light-duty; mid $300,000 for loaded medium-duty
Global EXpedition Vehicles
See The World In A Sportsmobile
A Sportsmobile 4x4 Van just might be the perfect vehicle for the off-road enthusiasts looking for a tow/trail/travel machine that can still be a daily driver. The 48-year-old Sportsmobile company builds 4x4 Ford and Chevy vans for the enthusiast or outdoor athlete looking to haul gear in a capable machine. And since both the Ford and GM vans are available with factory diesel engines (Power Strokes or Duramax), they are great for towing a dedicated trail rig or buggy or traveling long distances in barren lands on their own.
The Sportsmobile 4x4 Vans use well-known, proven products from the off-road world like Dynatrac Pro-Rock Dana 60 front axles, Atlas transfer cases, Warn hubs and winches, custom Old Man Emu suspensions, and Transfer Flow 46-gallon tanks. Then to make them suitable for up to four occupants, they can be outfitted with diesel-powered generators, refrigerators, sinks and water tanks, and a full toilet. Plus there are more minimalistic versions with a Thetford cassette toilette, designed for at-home comfort without all the holding tanks required when dealing with gray and black water.
Sportsmobile has built more than 1,000 vans to the owner's specifications. Whether you want an emergency response vehicle or a daily driver that can be hooked to a trailer Friday after work, tow your rock buggy to the mountain and then offer a comfortable place to sleep and eat when the nights get cold, Sportsmobile can make your dream machine come true.
Pros: Great for hauling or towing gear across extreme terrain. Smallish, yet still roomy enough for two occupants to live comfortably. Complete bathroom and kitchen facility available. Built to customer specifications.
Cons: Expensive, but can be financed like a motorhome, making it within reach.
Price range: $50,000 for basic 4x4 conversions, $85,000 to $150,000 for the ultimate camper van party-wagon with tons of stereo, GPS, and computer equipment.