Search for an offroad vehicle to use as camper

Submitted: Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 00:24
ThreadID: 104103 Views:2773 Replies:12 FollowUps:14
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Hi community,
I am currently planning my trip around Australia for the next 12 to 18 months. I am at the moment searching for the right offroad vehicle to use as a camper. I plan to travel once around Australia, starting in Perth, and although my offroad experiences are limited, I want to explore this beautiful country in all of its glory - and in my opinion you just need a good offroader for that.

Thus I am looking for a vehicle that I could convert into a camper to sleep in (save money), drive on and offroad as well as enjoy the drive itself. My budget for the vehicle is around 15,000 - 20,000 $ plus some money for the equipment that is needed. My price research is so far only by redbook - hope the prices are somewhat correct.

Here are my search results - all diesel engines (manual because its cheaper)...

- Landcruiser Ute HZJ79R, 2000 and later - around 17,000 $
> 1999 Landcruiser update better than the earlier versions?
- Landcruiser Troopcarrier HZJ78R, 2000 and later - around 19,000$
> Which engine best? 1HD-FTE 4.2l turbodiesel or different?
- Landcruiser Prado KZJ120R, 2004 and later - around 19,000 $
> Which engine best? 1KZ-TE or older 1KD-FTV better?
> Prado 1996 to 2002 as good as after 2002?
- Hilux Ute Extra Cab SR KUN26R, 2005 and later - around 17,500 $
> Engine 3.0L diesel or 2.5L enough?
> Standard tray size extra cab?
> Are there enclosed canopies for trays over 2m available?

- Patrol ST GU III, 2004 and later - around 16,500 $
> Which engine? 4.2L or 3.0L enough?
> Is there a long version available?
> What do the GU I to IV mean?

- Pajero GLX, 2006 and later - around 19,000 $
> Long version available?
> Version before 2006 good enough?
- Delica 4th generation, 2000 and later - around 12,000 $

I know there are lots of people around that favor one vehicle over the other. At the moment I am especially interested if...
... I miss a car that should be on the list
... one of the vehicles has a older version that is probably as good as the ones listed
... one of the vehicles has a version/engine/failures/weak spots or alike that is trouble and should be avoided
> and all the listed questions above.

I would be very happy if you could help me, so that I can enjoy my trip :-)

Thank you
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Reply By: desray (WA - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 01:05

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 01:05
Landcruiser Troopcarrier or a GQ 4.2 diesel patrol
AnswerID: 517290

Reply By: mikehzz - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 06:47

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 06:47
How about a dual cab ute with a canopy and a roof tent? Then you have heaps of storage for gear and heaps of room for sleeping all in a self contained unit.
AnswerID: 517295

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 10:53

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 10:53
The only canopies I have seen for long trays (7ft and more) are tarps or alike. Only the shorter versions seem to have fibreglass canopies.

Are those tarp canopies sealed enough to keep the dust, insects etc. out if you are in the outback - sleeping in it etc.?
FollowupID: 797024

Reply By: Robin Miller - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 08:34

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 08:34
Hi Philip

How many people 1 or 2

In your critera you leave out the GQ patrol range from the nineties ?

The cheapset capable car I have every travelled with is a GQ RB30 model running petrol/gas
but its just a little cramped width ways for 2.

The GU range is fatter in the guts, we have a double bed it ours and its probably the most
effective camping system I know of.

With a price of $16.5 against the 2004 GU you must mean the 3lt diesel , engine issues would
rule them out for most.

The 4.2 version is very slow but regularly gets voted no 1 outback tourer however very hard to find sub $30k.

GQ was a nineties car and GU is 2000+ version

If you wish a post 2000 car then a petrol/gas GU is probably the lowest cost/ most capable vehicle out there which has adequate internal room for 2 without the use of popups or ladders etc.

Equally important is those cars have a level of technology that makes them easier and lower cost to maintain.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 517299

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:01

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:01
Ok I will throw out the 3lt GU version - do you think pre 2004 facelift version like a 2000 GU II 4.2lt would be a choice?

I am travelling alone - but would like to have space for a second person - in case friends want to travel along for a few days or weeks.

FollowupID: 797026

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 11:27

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 11:27
Body wise all the gu's are much same Philip so 2000 gu it might be a good choice for you.

Still quite expensive compared to other models though.

That model is to slow and noisy for us though.
Robin Miller

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FollowupID: 797192

Reply By: pepper2 - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 08:40

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 08:40
a 4wd vw kombi camper?
AnswerID: 517300

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 10:55

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 10:55
They seem hard to find around this side of the world.
FollowupID: 797025

Reply By: The Landy - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:07

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:07
Landrover 130 or Landrover 110...

In fact "The Landy" is perfectly set-up for just that purpose...

Take a look below in classifieds and give me a call if any interest!

Cheers, The Landy
AnswerID: 517314

Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 20:17

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 20:17
G'day Philipp,

an 80 series diesel wagon with rooftop tent would be in your price range. Very reliable and spare parts lying on the side of the road in places.

They are more comfortable than the utes and troopys.

AnswerID: 517366

Follow Up By: wozzie (WA) - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 22:16

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 22:16
I'm intriqued about the parts laying on the side of the road anywhere.....

Does that mean they fall apart ???

Dreamin' agin

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FollowupID: 797006

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:05

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:05
Somehow I try to plan without a roof top tent. I made the experience that there are a lot of places and towns that don't want you to camp around. A set up roof top tent is a dead give away.

But maybe I have to rethink this, cause it would make it a lot easier to choose the vehicle.
FollowupID: 797027

Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 20:58

Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 20:58
G'day Wozzie,

ever been along the Gary Junction Rd, Tanami or most of the other roads out in the middle?
If they're any distance from a big town when they break they're not getting towed. Some people leave them there, some burn them. We often pull up to have a look to see if there CVs or bolts or whatever we can recover to carry as spares.

G'day Philipp,

I wouldn't say there's a lot of places that don't like people bush camping. We've never had any trouble.
Most people that ask us about the rooftop tent are just curious and a lot consider them as an option.
My wife and I like not having to tow anything. It doesn't affect the fuel figures any more than towing and we're setup within 10 minutes of getting to camp.

Our vehicle has the back seats out where we have a 70 litre fridge on big trips and we have a custom made slide out kitchen in the back.
It's a comfortable set up and has served us well.

Hoo roo,
FollowupID: 797304

Reply By: Eric Experience - Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 20:54

Friday, Aug 30, 2013 at 20:54
If you want comfort and good economy you should look at European vehicles. My choice would be the Mercedes sprinter 4x4 manual There are 3 for sale at the moment for under $20k in Brisbane at Meinhams auctions. Very capable of road as long as you know how to use the electronics. Eric.
AnswerID: 517370

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:09

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:09
Would love a sprinter 4x4 but they are hard to find. The ones I have seen are former ambulances etc.
FollowupID: 797028

Follow Up By: Eric Experience - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 21:21

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 21:21
Being an ex ambulance is a positive. You get the top range vehicle with all the fruit. If you 6 feet tall you will be very comfortable in a sprinter not bent over double like in a jap unit. The ambos are serviced correctly and will go for many k's without trouble. Eric
FollowupID: 797059

Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 10:43

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 10:43
Everbody has there preferences and their particular bias.

If economy is an issue, well that will rule out all of the 6 cylinder and V8 vehicles..they ALL drink.

ALL the station waggons have load carrying capacity issues, many of them have less than 700Kg payloads, so many touring stationwaggons are either near or overloaded even when traveling with driver and one passenger. particularly once you add bullbars, winchesn rearbar tyre carriers and all adds up real fast.

then ther is the issue of how much it costs you to camp in or on the vehicle....yeh you can add a roof top tent, but that is more expense, more weight and that weight is high up...AND it effects your clearance.

If ya not particularly concerned are not fuel economy or comfort, troopies are a realy good option. if you throw a deck board across about the height of the bottom of the windows there is enough length and width to sleep two comfortably and carry a fair payload.

Single cab Tray back utes with a canopy are a real option if you want to camp in the back......there is plenty of sleeping room in an 8 foot x 6 foot tray.
A 7 foot x 5 foot tray will have less rear over hang and the tray will be about the same width as the cab.
A 6 foot x 5 foot tray will still give you enough room to sleep AND you can mount ya spare wheels between the cab and the tray.
AND ya single cab ute will have plenty of payload...most a full tonne in the tray.

Persoanlly I loathe and detest dual cab me thay are just pointless things.
The trays are too short to even stow a long handled shovel other than diagonal, almost all the load in the tray is behind the rear axle, and have you ever traveled in the rear of one of those things.

If ya thinking about the heavy utes, unless you are shorter than 4foot 10, a land cruser will see you stitting bolt uprightand still short of leg room, the patroll is a little better.

The light utes are still a little short on leg room and if you are over 5 foot 8, it can be a real issue.
The king cab or extracab utes are real good if you are tall, they allow the seat to go further back and the back to recline.

As for hiluxes..hat is what I have, Do not be affraid to look at models as early as 2001.
And if you see a V6 petrol in good nick at a good price grab it...particularly in an extracab . The v6 pertol extracab sold well as a bossfella truck and many in good nick.

I have a 3 liter normally aspitared 3litre andthey are no rocket ship but will sit at 100Kmh all day, good and tractable off road and reasonably economical.

The pre 05 3 liter turbo diesel is much saught after, they go pretty well and there is no common rail foolishness.

But remember in all this the 2.7 liter fuel injected hilux motor makes more power than the turbo diesel by far, is fairly economical, tractable off road and reasonably well behaved around water.

You may have gathered I like hiluxes......with good reason, they cost less at every turn than a landcruser, there are plenty of em around and they aren't a bad truck.

A good choice if you are not towing, "doing the hard tracks" and like a little comfort.

AnswerID: 517396

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:19

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 11:19
I am about 6"0 tall :-/

Do you know if there are fibreglass canopies for those 8x6 foot trays around? Because an extracab Hilux with an enclosed canopy on the back that I could sleep in would probably be a good solution - and even look ok. Unfortunately most fibreglass solutions seem to be build for dualcabs.

Don't plan on doing any towing.
FollowupID: 797032

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 17:18

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 17:18
have a look at the "australian work and leasure" canopies.
I have two one on the work truck and one on the 4wd.

They are a far stronger canopy than you will find on styleside utes and the look pretty good.

available in a number of base sizes and two different heights.

Having the lower height......its good for getting into places with height restrictions....I can get into quite a few carparks in the 2wd with ladders on.....but for camping in the taller canopy would be better.
Particularly if you want to sleep ontop of your gear boxes.

Be aware that the extracab is a slightly longer chasis than all the other hiluxes...that has points either way.
Like you can still get an 8 foot tray on an extracab..and a 7 footer is not far past the end of the chasis.

tripple me bodyworks also make a fiberglass canopy that may be a little stronger than the AWL, but they are butt uggly.

FollowupID: 797045

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 17:26

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 17:26
Oh if ya 6 foot tall...forget a landcruser ute unless you have a deep desire for spinal'll be sitting bolt upright with ya knees arround ya elbows.

you can manipulate the seat in a troopie....packing for height and moving the mounts such option in the utes.

The hilux extracab, is definitely the best tall mans 4wd I've seen.

Stick ya bum in the various vehicles & you will see what I mean.

Leg room problems visit all the brands..some of the footwells are so cramped you actually sit sidewaysbecause the transmission tunnel intrudes so far the pedals are displaced to the right so the clutch is directly infront of the right foot.

FollowupID: 797046

Follow Up By: Philipp G - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:18

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:18
Do you know if the tarps that you can put on a ute is sealed tight enough so there won't be any issues with dust and insects or is a enclosed tray still preferable?
FollowupID: 797227

Reply By: Philipp G - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:25

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:25
My budget was planned at around 20.000$ for the vehicle and another 10.000$ for the equipment. Looking up the models at redbook this seemed realistic. On the online car sales websites most troopies, GUs etc. are a lot more expensive. Is redbook unreliable when it comes to "popular" models or is it just that people put the cars in higher so that they can give you a discount ;-)

For example the 2004 Nissan Patrol GUIII with 4.2L is according to redbook around $24,800 - $28,500

on the web most of them are priced at 33,000 to 39,000

its basically the same with the Troopcarrier.
AnswerID: 517548

Reply By: Philipp G - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:32

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:32
Would it be wiser to spend more on the car because of the following reason:
> I will need to sell the vehicle in two years (going back to Europe) and then have to sell everything in one big package. It seems models like the GU 4.2 or Troopcarrier with HD engine don't loose that much worth. People who buy those cars might be willing to pay for good equipment (fridge, drawers etc.), while in a vehicle like Delica or an older Ute the clientel will be less willing to pay a good price for a vehicle including equipment - hope that makes sense and you could give me your answer on that :-)
AnswerID: 517549

Follow Up By: The Landy - Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 13:02

Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 13:02
My take on the question Phillip is how do you know what the second hand car market might be like in 2 years time. Yes, some cars might have better resale than others, but than you might be paying more for it and at greater risk of it declining in value more...

Given you are planning on a two-year trip, my priority would be to get the right vehicle for the job, enjoy yourself, and worry about selling it when you are ready to go home...
FollowupID: 797328

Reply By: The Landy - Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 06:28

Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 06:28

I just sold one of my Landrover Defenders, a TDi200 110 to a couple who plan to do precisely what you are planning.

The vehicle was the “panel van” version which means no seats in the rear, so you can comfortably sleep two people in the rear and have storage room underneath. And that is precisely the way I set this vehicle up, and regularly used it this way...

These are no speed machine, but an extremely capable off-road vehicle with a good load carrying capacity, and very good on fuel economy.

I sold mine for close to the asking price, but it was well above average in terms of condition, but they will be well within the price range you are talking about, in fact the lower end of it.

There are still photos of the vehicle in the classified section on this site so you can get a sense of what this type of vehicle is like, and you can view it by clicking the link below.

And I recommend you view the classifieds on this site, if you haven’t already, as there are always well optioned vehicles for sale…

Landrover Defender - TDi200 - Panel Van

AnswerID: 517604

Reply By: Best Off Road - Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 11:52

Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 11:52
We have fitted out all sorts of vehicles for this type of trip. Troopie wins hands down to fit all criteria you mentioned.

AnswerID: 517614

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