Road Trippin' Rigs



  • After beating my "RV" 4-Runner up the steep, narrow, tilted, & rough switchback mining road at right, to 8,500' on Monday, I find myself doubting that most folks will take their "sissy-wagons" up similar roads. Of course Nick is the man to prove me wrong.

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    My Idaho camp that night.

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  • @FritzRay the astro has been up any and every mining road we found. incluning to the point that the 4x4 tours in teluride turned around. Obviously my sprinter is not 4x4 but has a boatload of clearance. still it is not doing any serious wheeling. I do hope to be able to get into almost all of my favorite cam sites as long as things are dry. The 4x4 version of the sprinter is supposed to be quite capable. One issue is is that if you have a fancy build inside rough roads beat it up.. Of course you have the same issue with a cab over on a truck. glue and screw everything..



  • I have had many of the rigs listed in the past. The fancier your house on wheels is, the less likely you are to push it off road. Im my opinion, a smaller, more versatile rig with AWD or 4x4, will get you to more climbs and killer campsites than a luxury sprinter will.

    The Astro vans are quite capable, I've owned two of them. Their weakness lies in the fluid drive which was designed for a car, not a truck and has longevity issues. I owned a Chevy express AWD which was an awesome rig, Big enough too build a decent camper, but designed to military truck specs.

    With the exception of the Express, and now the Delica, I have found vans to be comfortable, but limited, and generally prefer a 4x4 truck with shell or camper, sacrificing comfort for function. I just bought a Mitsubishi 4x4 diesel truck after giving up looking for a Delica in Mexico, but may look into switching if they make them available here.



  • @Scole I've never seen one of these Delica rigs, nor talked w/an owner. I'd love to hear from either because real people's opinions are generally much more trustworthy than marketing verbiage.

    We're going to need a new rig before too long. Genifer took one look at the Delica's, pronounced that they are ugly, and no way she's driving a rig w/steering wheel on the right. That does not mean that a Delica is off the table, however, as she was adamant about not buying American when we bought our AWD 2007 Ford Fusion and that car has been absolutely awesome: 200K w/minimal hassle.

    I too, favor 4x4 trucks with camper shells for the reasons you mention. When my beater rig two wheel drive Mazda B1600 (that is right, only 1600 cc's) was totaled by a ditz crossing double, double yellows to make a left hand turn into oncoming traffic, I used my AK fisherman money to buy a '91 F-150 4x4 sporting an inline 300 cubic inch six cylinder engine, manual transmission, manual locking hubs, and an old school style shell made from wood, aluminum skin and interior wood paneling since I do not enjoy how fiberglass rigs "sweat". That shell is history. The truck itself has been a great rig. I have lost track of how many times I've rolled over the odometer but it is either +300K or +400K miles. It has been to AK and back, towing a trailer w/all our belongings, way bitd before the AK Highway was paved. The air quality folks are amazed every time I need to get it tested. Body and interior need a fair bit of TLC now. I plan on restoring it but I need access to a shop and requisite ducats. My 01' Ford F-150 got totaled by a ditz talking on her cell phone 30K miles after 10K got put into rebuilt engine, front end, etc., but the chassis itself had 300K on it so insurance company screwed, blued, and tattooed me on the deal.

    Be all that as it may, the "killer road trippin' rig" is kind of meaningless w/o a list of requirements/objectives, wh/will necessarily differ. Mine:

    1. AWD/4x4
    2. I have a strong preference for manual but need automatic transmission for Genifer.
    3. Reasonable ground clearance.
    4. Small enough for around town use but large/comfortable enough for "stealth bivvy's". We're pretty much tent campers, out of necessity these days, but would be great to be self contained.
    5. Reasonable fuel economy.

    Heh, yep, many conflicting criteria here. Which is what makes pondering this stuff interesting fer' inquiring minds - the one rig does all is indeed a high a bar, but still worthy of analysis and discussion. Bottom line is that it is a bevvy of trade offs, so please elaborate upon yours when posting up so the rest of us can grok where yer' coming from.

    I am presently arguing for:

    1. We're on a half acre w/no covenants => build a shop.
    2. Restore 91' F-150 and buy a shell. I could handle most of this w/parts and investing some "sweat equity".
    3. Buy a new AWD car/suv for Genifer's around town use.

    Doing the math we can accomplish the above for considerably less than the cost of a diesel powered new truck and gain the added value of a shop to boot. Be ideal if I was 30 years younger and did not have health issues.



  • "no way she's driving a rig w/steering wheel on the right." If they produce the Delica for the US market it will be left hand drive. The one I have seen at the surf shop at Punta Mita is left hand drive, manual, and up close looks pretty nice.



  • @Scole I have 229.8K miles on my Astro I did rebuild the front diff @ 200k have looked for the AWD Express but they were always very hard to find.



  • If you could find a used express in AWD that would be the low budget road. If money is not an issue I don't see how you can lose with the 4x4 sprinter. they drive super easy around town. haven't wheeled with one but they seem to have a ton of clearance.. Certanly my T1n has boatloads of clearance just no 4x4:( and it only cost $27k to convert it to 4x4. love straight sixes 🙂



  • @Happiegrrrl check out car Gurus, auto trader and carfax to find a van. try to get a loan from a credit union. they are vastly superior and more affordable than regular bank.



  • @Scole Genifer is presently lusting after a Ford Explorer. We'd be buying new as I fear inheriting other people's problems and like to know the history of the vehicle (carfax is not to be trusted). Then we drive 'em into the ground. 😉

    Regarding financing: The two times I've bought a new rig, although pre-approved, we ended up getting better terms from the dealer financing, e.g. 3 years, zero interest, 4 years @ 1% interest. And that seems key, while others are stretching their terms of tyranny out to five or six years, you get pretty good options for the shorter term loans if you can handle the monthly payments. Also pays out on the back end as comprehensive premiums drop dramatically once you own the "pink slip". And no, it is not because the rig suddenly looses half it's value once paid for.

    One rig does all is a tough nut to crack though so I still want to restore my '91 F-150. Mostly body and cosmetics - the "eco friendly" paint jobs just do not last like the stuff from the 50's and 60's. Fortunately, I have a good buddy who does body and paint as a hobby/supplemental income. Engine is still pretty sound but I need to rebuild front end and transmission. Engine has three or four hundred thousand on it and hardly burns any oil. And while I favor "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", since this will be a strip down to frame restoration, it may be prudent to rebuild the engine while I am at it. On the other hand, I am curious to see just how many miles I can get out of it!

    Heh, one more year and I qualify for "classic vehicle" license plates.

    Edit: The weakest link in the chain is probably wiring and electrical. All those off road miles vibrations take a heavy toll on electronics. And even good copper oxidizes with the decades.



  • The credit union recommendation is for used. New you can't beat the dealer. By all means keep the old girl with the straight six. I don't think a new 4x4 cargo sprinter is much more than any other full size 4x4 rig?



  • @NickG I priced out GM and Dodge diesel 2500's when my '01 F-150 was totaled. Genifer wanted a trailer and I don't like towing anything heavier than a boat with gasoline rigs - fuel economy goes down the toilet and they suck on hill and mountain passes. Was looking at a good $80K or so once "fleshed out". Add another $20K for Ford. I would not buy a used GM as the Durmax's of a few years ago had weak bottom ends and were prone to breaking under load. Also prefer the Allison transmission. The current Cumming's are not getting near the million miles of the old "Twelve Valves" of yore. Else otherwise I'd be preferring an inline six cylinder diesel 😜

    In any case: 'twixt tow vehicle and a trailer...... the math is just too nuts so we took that off the table.



  • Pretty sure a new 4x4 sprinter base is under 50k??



  • So I just found it. Brand new 4x4 144inches wheel base 62k 0.0 60month financing. Your build with solar installation windows etc. Should not be more than 4k materials..



  • @NickG Diesel or gasoline? It's the former that really adds the hefty premium to "base". I eschew all that luxury stuff, as it is just one more thing to break but Genifer is really loving stuff like lane control, nearness warnings, and rear backup camera.



  • 6 cyl diesel.



  • Don't know if it's base or not? The local dealership has four 144in high top 4x4 2019 cargo vans. 61.9k to62.9k



  • @NickG If you are ever out this way (Seattle), we will have to do some jammin'.



  • @Moose Stanley Lake is near Stanley. 😆



  • @toby I'm pretty sure it was Stanley lake that lost its beach in the first earthquake? Part of the ground subsided there.



  • @Moose love for this stupid pandemic to go away so we could get on the road and do some jamming!


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