Thursday, November 22, 2007

List of specifications for my vehicle

Once I knew I wanted a 4x4 camper, next step was to decide its minimum characteristics.
=> The vehicle was to be a real camper/motor home: a vehicle that you can live in, not beside.

Vehicle would have to be:

1/ Bigger than a long wheel base Land-Cruiser/Rover to be sufficiently comfortable for long overland trips.

2/ Bigger by one “notch”! NOT at a big 10-12 ton truck that would be impossible to rescue when stuck in mud/sand. Hence it would be a big van or small truck.

3/ A true “off-road” vehicle, not simply to have four wheel drive. “Tout-terrain” and not “Tout-chemin”. This would mean having big wheels, decent ground clearance and good approach & departure angles.

3/ Turbo Diesel powered (for power at high elevation) and have NO electronics for simplicity and reliability.

4/ If it was a truck (as opposed to a van) it would need to have doors (or walk through) between cab and camper. Must be able to park the vehicle anywhere and discreetly get into the camper without going “outside”.

5/ The camper part would have to have:
  • No “pop-up roof”; one big box, roomy enough to stand-up inside
  • Beds that were always "made-up" (no finagling every night before going to sleep)
  • A side entrance (back doors get too dusty) and awning
  • Seating for 3/4 people around the table
  • A sink, cooker, fridge
  • A proper toilet and a shower
  • A heater.
In summary, the vehicle was to be as independent as possible, that it, it should NOT need to plug into power, water, or sewage every night. The specific goal was to be able to go three days at full motorhome comfort without shore power/water, sunshine, or engine run. Longer if you conserve water, etc.

"The focus when modifying a vehicle for overlanding should be on comfort and every day usability. You want to be dry when it is raining, warm when it is snowing or ice cold, cool in a heat wave, protected from the wind with the ability to store and prepare food under all those conditions, and sleep well at night, safe from bugs and predators—both two and four legged."

Because I wanted no electronics, it would mean buying an old truck/van as all “modern” vehicles have electronics in order to comply to current emission control regulations.

With these characteristics in mind I looked at the following vehicles:

1/ Panel vans:
  • Iveco Daily 4x4 (older generation, high roof version): + Compact, - Weak front suspension and body
  • Mercedes Vario 4x4: + Reliability, - Not an off-roader
  • VW LT 4 x4: + Size, - Not an off-roader
2/ Cab-forward trucks:
  • Mercedes Unimog: + The king of off-roaders, - A bit too big
  • MAN FAE 8-136: + Reliabiliy, - A bit too big
  • Renault TRM 2000: + Good clearance, - A bit too big
3/ Anything I would have not thought-off!