by Matthew Scott

It’s pretty common for people to think that it is required to have a big lifted vehicle to drive around the world and have an authentic adventure—well, it’s not. It’s completely possible to have an adventure with almost any vehicle, and since we’re all obsessed about authenticity these days, you could actually argue that driving a car around the world is even more authentic and challenging. We’ve taken a look at everything from an obscure Russian 4wd, a tough and practical Subaru to a tough-as-nails Mercedes-Benz, oh, and a Ferrari too.

5.) Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano – The most unpractical, badass choice, ever.

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy for even including this—and well, yes, I’ll admit that I may be just a bit crazy, but the 599 GTB isn’t a bad choice for a round-the-world trip. In many ways it’s already a proven platform. Ferrari’s Pan-American 20,000 trip in 2006 took a group of select journalists in 599’s through 16 countries along their journey from Southern Brazil to New York City. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the vehicles, which only had their suspension uprated and skidplates fitted, were quite a bit of fun to drive. It’s just proof of what can be done with a large enough of a support crew and some careful driving.


4.) Volvo 850 Wagon or Sedan – Steal your mom’s old car and start driving.

James May recently just drove a Volvo 850R to the source of the Nile River—and that sports “R” version he was driving had even lower profile tires and aerodynamic body effects. Between the tank-like construction Volvo is known for, and the availability of AWD and a turbocharged engine capable of pushing the vehicle to speeds exceeding 150 mph, you might surprise a few people. It’s the secret choice of our very own Ray Hyland should he decide to give up his precious Land Rover Defender on 35’s.

Did we mention they’re dirt cheap these days and you can sleep inside of it?


3.) Subaru Forester – The most practical, un-badass choice, ever.

In many ways, the Forester is the runt of the Subaru family. It’s not the fastest (WRX STI) or the best handling (BRZ) and it doesn’t have the cult-like following of the Outback; but is is the roomiest, and arguably the most comfortable. It’s the car that runs day-in and day-out, and always gets you home (especially with its Symmetrical AWD system.) Low-key styling, good fuel economy, and pothole proven independent suspension makes the Forester the perfect candidate for a round-the-world jaunt.

Plus, I’m sure we’ve all driven down a trail for a few hours in our well-prepared overland vehicles only to be slightly depressed that a Subaru has beaten you there.


2.) Lada Niva – The Russian Subaru that drove to the North Pole.

Everyone thinks that the Top Gear crew was the first to drive a vehicle to the North Pole—wrong. It was a Lada Niva, a small unibody 4WD produced in the Soviet Union, amongst other places. In addition to being a cultural symbol in the opposition’s Resistance movement in the Republic of Macedonia, it also held the record for highest ascent by motor vehicle, and was the vehicle of choice for many competing in Rally-Raid challenges around the world. Did I mention it also has over 9-inches of ground clearance and returns almost 30mpg from its tiny engine?

Lada, built Russian tough.


1.) Mercedes-Benz 300TD Wagon or Sedan – Bomb-proof 80’s Mercedes construction in a stealth package.

Run it on bio-diesel, run it on vegetable oil—run it on anything and it will probably still go. The legendary 300TD, quite frankly, is built like brick. We’ve seen them airborne, driven across Africa as if it was a simple Sunday stroll, and beaten into the ground so hard we don’t think anything else would survive. Expedition Portal contributor Miguel Llorente of This European Life is currently driving one across the Americas as we speak. When it comes to fuel-efficient, durable cars to drive around the world, there’s no doubt that the Mercedes-Benz 300TD reigns supreme.

Just watch out for the vacuum lines. They’re evil.

Which one would you take? Tell us below.


Five Interesting Cars You Could Drive Around the World Tomorrow

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About the Author: Matthew Scott

Matthew Scott is a dedicated photographer, vintage car enthusiast, and regular contributor to Overland Journal. Growing up in Chicago in a family that valued “all things automotive” as much as exploring the region’s back roads, provided a solid platform for a career as an automotive journalist. He departed the Windy City in lieu of Prescott, Arizona, and the great open spaces and adventure opportunities of America’s Southwest. @matthewexplore