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Thread: The right vehicle for me

  1. #1

    Default The right vehicle for me

    I have been browsing the forums for a bit, and I like the stuff I have seen here. What I want to ask you guys is what is the right offroad vehicle for me to build, I will provide the details and budget, you guys tell me your honest opinions.

    The vehicle will be able to travel great distance, a true expedition vehicle. I plan on driving into Mexico and Central America (possibly ship to south america as well) a lot in the next upcoming 10 years. I dont want something too big, as gas will do nothing but steadily get more expensive. I would prefer something around 15mpg or better, 25 would rock
    I dont want something all sleeping and cooking, I can camp for that. I dont mind sleeping on the ground. I want to be able to carry surfboards and a decent amount of luggage, but being a "backpacker" by nature, I can pack light.

    I want to buy the vehicle and start my work on it, possibly topping out at around 9K if possible. I dont need all the crazy rock climing stuff, or mudding stuff. I just want good offroad on medium duty trails. Most of the roads I will be exploring in Central America wont require anything too major. I dont know anything about "lockers" and all that, so feel free to point me to a guide or something.

    Cars I have been considering, early 90's Rodeo. Late 80's-93 4runner. 90-95 Cherokee. 80-93 toyota Pickup. Early 90's Pathfinder. Ok guys, have at it. If you can, give me your opinions on strengths/weaknesses of each I meantion if you know of any. I knwo this is a hard question, but I just want to see all of your opinions on this. Just please keep in mind my 4wd requirments. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Personally I am a huge fan of the pre-honda/GM small Isuzu (89-95 rodeo/pickup). My ride has all of your requirements and cost under $5k including all mods (current and future)... That would leave you some nice money in the bank for cameras, breakdowns, food, and a more ambitious trip schedule. You will get plenty of good advice from this group... Just sharing something a bit unorthodox that has worked well for me. Oh - 25mpg is easily attainable in a pickup with the 4-banger.

    edited to include strengths & weaknesses: short range w/stock tank, underpowered for passing situations, hard to find a nice one. Parts are cheap and plentiful, diesel engine bolts right in, the chassis was used for a bunch of vehicles, it blends in almost anywhere...
    Last edited by BKCowGod; 11-20-2006 at 03:41 AM.
    BKCowGod - Northern, CA
    '95 Dodge Dakota - Big square V8 Beast Monster
    '93 Range Rover LWB - Long-term project status

  3. #3
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    Toyota seems to be very popular in Central and South America, also I would go with gas vs. diesel. Maybe a 90 's Toy pick up with a topper.
    Darryl & Vasi

    2014 Toyota 4-Runner
    1997 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ 80 CE
    1979 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ 40


    Previous Vehicles
    1974 FJ 55
    1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88
    1986 FJ 60
    1990 Toyota PU
    1999 4-Runner
    1997 FZJ 80
    1997 FZJ 80 40th
    2006 Dodge Ram 2500
    2007 Toyota 4-Runner
    2012 Land Rover LR4
    1987 M416
    2007 Kimberly Kamper

  4. #4
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    I would have picked a Land Cruiser '93-97, but you're gas mileage and price sort of rules that out.

    IMO, and not having made such a trip, the two things I'd want most for a rig going that far would be reliability and servicablity. Toyotas got you covered for reliability. For servicbility, I'd want something within your requirements that can be found in Mexico, Central and South America so parts would be easier to find. So in that case, I think I'd go with a 4runner, any year up to about 1995 and opt for a 22RE and 5 speed. Or a truck of the same generation with a canopy if you're going by yourself or with just one other person.

    A 4runner will be more comfortable, but a truck will be able to carry more gear without the rear seat and extra weight of the 4Runners.

    To me, overall comfort, luxery, power, etc, are all secondary, when you're going that far and that remote.

    Just my opinion.
    Brian McCamish
    In Search of History Expeditions
    Gresham, Oregon
    1995 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 (new expedition rig)
    1989 Toyota 4x4 truck w/SAS (retired expedition rig)
    www.brian894x4.com (Homepage)
    Our Land Cruiser FZJ80 Main Page
    In Search of History Page
    Abandoned & Active Railroads of the NW Page

  5. #5
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    1995 Long Bed (not sure if the LB is available that year) Toyota Truck with the 22RE and manual transmission.

    Perfect solution and low key, reliable and 20+ mpg.

    Install 30x9.5 AT tires on it and new shocks (OME would be great), then figure out your load and get a good spring pack for the rear.

    Set the bed up like the Baja Taco mobile (www.bajataco.com).

    Your 9k will be spent by then.
    Scott Brady
    Overland Journal
    D1 | LJ78 | LR4 | MKIII | J8 | G-Wagen |

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by expeditionswest
    1995 Long Bed (not sure if the LB is available that year) Toyota Truck with the 22RE and manual transmission.

    Perfect solution and low key, reliable and 20+ mpg.

    Install 30x9.5 AT tires on it and new shocks (OME would be great), then figure out your load and get a good spring pack for the rear.

    Set the bed up like the Baja Taco mobile (www.bajataco.com).

    Your 9k will be spent by then.
    I too would opt for this choice. You'll be able to carry more gear and still be able to sleep more safely/convienently in the bed. I believe 1993 was the last year Toyota offer a long box (7' bed) option on the 4x4 so I'd look for one of these. 1992 ended it on the 4x2. My neighbor has a white 1991 4x4 long box and its a great truck! I would definitely opt for the 22RE with manual. The 3.0 6 cyl does not give you enough benefits in the power dept to off set the lose in gas mileage and the potential head gasket issue. Good luck and keep us informed.
    "If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." Thomas Paine

    2003 Toyota Tacoma DBL Cab TRD
    2007 Adventure Trailer Chaser
    1987 Toyota 4runner Turbo

  7. #7
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    there was a great thread where a $15K expedition vehicle was debated, I know you specified $9K but you might find some value in this great thread:

    http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...edition+%2415K
    Ryan
    '06 Toyota 4runner v6

  8. #8
    pskhaat's Avatar
    pskhaat is offline Expedition Portal Moderator 2005 Expedition Trophy Champion
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    Toy truck sounds just about right Folks here have travelled south much more than I, but if I may suggest some 16" Toyota wheels and 238/85r16 which are your super-common international tire size.
    Last edited by pskhaat; 12-13-2006 at 09:52 PM.
    Pskhaat (Scott)
    UZJ100 "Mama Kuiser" built to look cool for the soccer mom
    FZJ80 über rare "Geen", cloth'd & locked


  9. #9
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    Of course I agree with the Toyota 4Runner/truck picks! and especially the 22RE Engine!

    If I were to do this again, I would have selected a 1985 4Runner with the 22RE. You get the solid front axle and a bullet proof engine that anyone can work on easily (especially for your trip south!). It seats 5 when you have the need. The seats fold down flat for camping/exploring. I think it's still one of the best all around choices out there! And I just Love the short wheel base and narrow tight trail abilities!


    25MPG! ~~>http://www.fueleconomy.gov/Feg/bymod..._4Runner.shtml


    From stock to Rock in just $9,000.............!


    clickit! ~> http://www.off-road.com/toyota/readers_rides/2003_08/

    stock 1985 Toyota 4Runner....in almost "ExPo white".......


    .
    Last edited by Scenic WonderRunner; 11-20-2006 at 06:39 PM.

  10. #10
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    I would agree with the 4Runner as well with the caution that ANY Toyota 4Runner or pickup tend to be carjacker magnets! They are common and easy to service in Central America (like having a Chevy 350 up here) but are also much desired.
    If you go to an older LandCruiser like mine, they are also easily serviced but are not as common and not such a desired item by the car jackers.
    Make no mistake, the car jackers in Central America are packing guns and they are NOT afraid to use them. I know of several people PERSONALLY who have been carjacked at gun point one of whom was shot in the leg just for kicks AFTER surrendering his vehicle!!
    Last edited by cruiser guy; 11-20-2006 at 05:55 PM.

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