39. AGHHH WHICH WHEELS!? HELP US CHOOSE….
And it comes down to a choice of 3: A camper van, A flatbed ‘ute’ with ‘slide on’ camper unit and then the wild card, which is a 1967 Land Rover Forward Control camper conversion!
L quite obviously is pushing for the wildcard. Land Rovers are a life long obsession, the Forward Control in his eyes is the creme de la creme. He’s been banging on about buying one of these monsters for years and after bumping into the German couple in Cambodia, who were en route driving to Australia in their own custom one, he’s literally never switched off the brainwashing. How L has managed to find a Forward Control on the right side of Australia, for sale, just within budget and with camper conversion, I don’t know. Then again, he has always been one to pull something out of thin air.
Despite the Forward Control being the obvious favourite for L and oddly feeling slight enthusiasm myself (successfully brainwashed!?) it’s still not a straight forward decision. We will be living in whatever we choose for up to a year and setting out on a journey, clocking up anything between 15000-40,000 kms. Which is equivalent in distance to a London - Australia flight and potentially back! So the vehicle needs to be mechanically sound.
The all important ‘mechanically sound’ criteria is where myself and L hold difference in opinion. I’m dubious to put my trust into anything (mechanical) over 50 years old, yes half a century. L on the other hand takes the view that a more mature motor is a feat of brilliance and a well oiled machine and thus it’s flaws already ironed out. He also points out that without all the electrical nonsense, parts are easier to fix and replace. That I will agree with, but then I think back to his 1967 Ford Anglia 105e estate, now sat in storage in the UK. Same age as this Forward Control. The Anglia presently in an unusable condition, a mass of part welded back together new panels, a product of the major overhaul the vintage vehicle needed and to which L started back in 2012. Rust.
Granted all 3 contenders aren’t perfect and each offers a completely different style of ‘on the road’ living, so there are a mega amount of different pros and cons to go with each… begin the agonising decision making.
Before leaving the UK, L and I both wrote a list of vehicle ‘must have’ criteria:
L: 4x4 with diff lock. Pref Land Rover. Good mechanical condition. Air con. Apparatus to provide poached eggs on toast for breakfast. To be able to stand up.
N: Must Have Air con. Must be able to stand up. Have shower. Have toilet. Be reliable, newer rather than older.
No.1. The ‘ute’ and ‘slide on camper’ combo. (The pensioner’s delight.)
A 2011 Ford Ranger, 3l turbo diesel, extra cab ute. 4 seater, 4wd with diff lock. Flat bed tray can take slide on camper attachment. 188,000kms on the clock. Immaculate external and internal condition. 1 previous owner (ex fleet vehicle) with full paper history. 2 Months Rego (road tax, insurance & mot).
PRO’S: Air-con. Newest of the 3 vehicles. Immaculate interior and exterior. Bash plate. Winch. Mud terrain tyres. Would be able to detach camper easily at campgrounds to just use as truck about town/city. With the right slide on poached eggs on toast achievable.
CON’S: Slide on camper unit still to buy, not very many currently around Sydney with this ute’s slightly smaller tray length (because of the extra sized cab) therefore a slight gamble to finding the ‘right' slide on. Only 2 months Rego (road tax, insurance & mot). Potential to be most expensive option due to variable price of slide on camper.
|(Photo: The Ute.)|
|(Photo: Slide on camper example.)|
No.2. The camper van. (The small living challenge.)
The 1994 Mitsubishi L300 4wd pop top camper van. 2.4l petrol injected, high and low box with limited slip diff, long range fuel tank, heavy duty suspension and professionally converted camper interior. In pristine condition internally and externally. Reconditioned engine replacement with only 30,000kms now on the clock. Elderly owner has owned the van since it’s conversion in 1997, now hanging up his travelling hat due to health reasons. Full paper history. 12 months Rego (road tax, insurance & mot).
PRO’S: Air-con. Immaculate interior. Full paper history for 21 year ownership. Rarer 4x4 short wheelbase model, compact not inconveniently big for town and city. Vehicle kept garaged. Outdoor shower and camping equipment included. Poached eggs on toast achievable. 12 months Rego (road tax, insurance & mot).
CON’S: Smallest of the 3 for living space (Sleeps 2). Petrol not diesel.
|(Photo: The Campervan.)|
No.3. The wildcard. (The almost certainly, desert breakdown.)
The 1967 Land Rover Series 2B Forward Control, motorhome conversion. 3.9l Isuzu diesel. 4wd with centre diff lock. Professionally converted into motorhome (all be it not exactly the conversion L would do himself, lets face it the thing looks a little ‘caravan-ny’). Good internal condition. External condition presently unchecked. Solar charging leisure battery. Unknown amount of owners. 250,000kms on the clock. No paper history. 4 Months ‘Rego’ (road tax, insurance & mot).
PRO’S: Largest of the 3 for living space. Good interior, sleeps 4. Solar charging powering 240 plug sockets for ‘off grid camping’. ‘King ding-a-ling’ (according to L, of the road.
CON’S: No Air-con. 8 hour round trip to view- not yet seen. Oldest of the 3 vehicles. All running gear 51 years old. Unknown previous millage of donor engine. No service history as work carried out by owner… but poached eggs on toast achievable.
|(Photo: The wild card.)|
Q. to the reader: Guys what should we choose? Share, comment and stay tuned.
And whilst on the topic of campers, check out the beast we bumped into in the supermarket carpark... This guy had it all going on!