4wd Camper vans

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 11:56
ThreadID: 133044 Views:5553 Replies:6 FollowUps:2
This Thread has been Archived
I have always wondered why 4wd Vans Camper vans have not been more popular in Australia.

To me they make so much more sense than towing a camper van or caravan all over the place. Especially if only 2 people.

Whilst in the states last year I saw several E350 Ford econovans that had been converted to 4wd and campervans by a company called sportmobile.
These things are absolute weapons with 6.0 litre turbo v8 diesel motors and very capable off road.

You can check out what they do here. There are several other companies that do similar conversions as well.


I would love to have something like this but of course the cost of importing and converting makes it prohibitive.

Why do we not have vans like this here. Of course we have the grey import Delicas which some have converted and there is also the Awd Mercedes Sprinter, but I reckon that if we had a full size and Capable 4wd Van. It would sell like hot cakes.

Any thoughts?

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - wicket - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 13:27

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 13:27
we do have one, check it out
AnswerID: 602605

Follow Up By: wheeler - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 13:40

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 13:40
Yeah not bad but not really what I was thinking. I know there are many truck based conversions, but these usually quite big, difficult and uncomfortable to drive.

Still that one looks quite good. Have sent of an enquiry to them for more info.

FollowupID: 872259

Follow Up By: Member - wicket - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 13:50

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 13:50
ok then how about this one , a bit smaller , have actually sat in one and it's very nice
FollowupID: 872260

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 14:22

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 14:22
Interesting. David and I actually chose to travel around Australia before kids (1997-2000) in a converted troopy that had the pop-top roof and internal camper conversion. It really suited our needs at the time BUT we also towed a trailer - as we had scuba cylinders, and diving gear, plus some office equipment/printer and extra camping gear including a large tent, and other personal belongings as we were nomadic for 2 years and sold everything we owned other than what we carried with us.

It would have been nicer to travel without the trailer as it became a bit of a burden (poor thing we dragged it through a lot) and so once the kids came along we've never towed again and opted for swag camping with an 80 series LC.
A few things we reflect upon with the 4WD Troopy camper - loads of internal storage space for living and food preparation/eating however perhaps disproportionate to amount of storage available for recovery gear (requires easy access), and we didn't end up sleeping or cooking inside as often as we thought. In the end we wanted to be outside and on the ground - felt a bit hot and confined inside the vehicle - the pop top gave great head clearance but had to remove the bed floor and cushions to do that, so they had to be stored/tossed somewhere during meal preps inside. In the end it was easier to use the fold down table on the rear door and use a camping table for food prep. The kitchen sink with pumped water system was such luxury but less fuss just to use a bucket. The fridge placement (behind passenger seat) was difficult to get to when stopped by side of road for lunch. Needed to open pop top roof, climb all the way inside the vehicle to get to it properly. We switched to a standard Landcruiser 80 series with tail gate so fridge is on slide at rear and I use the tailgate as a table (replaced carpet with vinyl so it wipes down easily).

This particular vehicle was a long-wheel base version of the troopy - necessary for the conversion - but the vehicle would have handled better for the 4WD conditions being standard wheel base. Ours had front and rear leaf spring suspension which was a bit harsh and add to the towing (although quite light) not forgiving when bogged in a ditch or in soft sand. Many times the hand winch got used.

At the time we were doing this trip (complete coastal 4WD circumnavigation lap then desert lap) we noticed many of these 4WD converted LCs were being used by the hire companies - Britz, Apollo, Kea etc. I think they called them "Safari Campers" at the time. They do it to minimise the client's requirement to supply camping equipment and for that purpose sure its a good option but for all the reasons stated above I wouldn't do it again.

We migrated to the 80 series and swags on the roof. 2 kids have grown up with this configuration and we've extensively toured every state focussing on the remote/desert areas more than in our younger days. This has been a much better setup for ease, time saving, and a more true experience of camping. But now that both kids are fully grown adult sized teenagers, we have struggling to fit into this setup without overloading the roofrack and restricting clothing to 2 changes of clothes, 1 pair of shoes. It's almost unworkable now from a space perspective if we need to be remote with a full component of recovery gear and camping gear, 3 weeks of food, spares etc.

We've got around the problem by changing our style of getaways - we now tow a boat and go for a remote beach fishing holiday and load up our surplus gear in the boat.

I do see 4WD motorhomes like Rob & Chicka's as an option but they are impractical to keep at home in suburbia if you lead a normal working life and only travel in school holidays etc but these are one-off custom jobs.

I don't see any 4WD vehicle manufacturer looking to factory produce for our niche market do you?
Michelle Martin
Marketing & Customer Support
I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd / ExplorOz

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 602609

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 14:37

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 14:37
We have been 4WD motorhomers for about 25 years now.
Could never tow a caravan again and Australia is 4 times as big.
Our first was a 4WD F350 and slide-on that cost under $20K all up. It was my daily driver for 12 years before we retired. Driving something like that in the city is not as bad as people think. There are plenty of bigger vehicles on the road and they have no problems.
Building the OKA was a project for retirement. We can't imagine travelling any other way now.
Go anywhere, stay as long as we like and do it in luxury.
Crowds? What crowds?

OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 602611

Reply By: Member - TonyV - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 14:52

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 14:52
There are a few places that sell them, the hire people often get vehicle converted.

Explorer Motor Homes

Bus 4x4, Trakka are featured here

I think here, some would like to leave the camping part in one place and not pack up to visit places

Then there is the daily drive vehicle, with the running cost of the extra weight constantly.

But as you have said, we dont get the larger people movers just converted cargo vans...

Cairns FNQ.

My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 602613

Reply By: Ron N - Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 16:42

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 at 16:42
Saw a bloke driving around Broome in the last couple of days with a Toyota Coaster 4WD bus motorhome.
It's for sale, and it was a really nice-looking unit.
It would appear the owner might have done the 4WD conversion himself - but it was a good-looking conversion.
Or perhaps it was a product of this following company.

Bus 4x4

The reason why no-one is converting large vans such as the E350 4x4 to motorhomes is that they would cost $500,000 when finished.

As it is, there are decent size minesite 4x4 truck-based-buses available, near new, as the mines cut back on costs.
Pickles Auctions in Perth have three Isuzu NPS300 minesite buses up for fixed price sale, with between 8,000 and 20,000kms, and they would be good candidates for motorhome conversion.

They're asking $90,000 each for them, and that's a huge saving on replacement cost.

There's also a Mitsubishi Canter 4WD bus with 51,000kms, up for auction by the same company.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 602616

Reply By: Gnomey - Friday, Jul 22, 2016 at 12:49

Friday, Jul 22, 2016 at 12:49
After long thought, research and budget checking I decided to buy a converted troopy and, after getting the old girl in shape, I've been pretty happy with it. It's a 2002 HZ78R so 4.2L diesel naturally exasperated, coil springs in front and leaf springs at rear. 285/75/16 tyres at present but I may go narrower (265/75/16) next time around as high loads have not been a factor.

Here's a few reflections on the last five years of ownership and use for any who read this thread and are wondering about 4WD and campervan options.

1. Needs, like mileage vary, so one person's solution is just that. It is a lot easier to buy something when what you want/need and what you don't want/need are sorted out clearly. eg. I decided early on that my camper was not going to be a daily driver.

2. Most of my travel is alone and for fishing trips. If my partner enjoyed the same outdoor life I think it could work for two people but with kids? Nah, not for my money.

3. I am convinced that all travel and camping options are a trade off between mobility and access (where you can get in and out of) on one hand and comfort and convenience on the other. Refer to 1. and 2. above.

4. I am constantly refining how things are organised and have the good fortune to be handy enough to make my own modifications. Less is more IMHO so redundancy gets monitored and weeded out regularly.

5. I have enough mechanical and electrical knowledge to know my repair limitations, the value of diligent preventive care, and some basic respect for the vehicle. If the proverbial hits the fan I stand some chance of getting out of trouble.

The Troopy gives me high mobility and access. It gives me acceptable comfort and convenience. I can and have lived in it for weeks at a time without growing weary of the experience. I cook outside mostly on the rear door drop down table and crappy weather can make that tiresome.

Bear in mind, though, that I am oneup and travel is a means to an end rather than an end in itself - ie fishing. Compare and contrast more remote travel, long haul, lots of recovery gear.

I have occasionally needed 4WD low range but mostly minimize risk of getting stuck. I don't have a 4WD in order to test the limits of its capability. H2 or H4, care and high clearance get it done for me 90% of the time. Throw in tyre pressures and decent fuel reserves and I'm a happy camper.


AnswerID: 602647

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (9)