Expedition Portal Classifieds: The Turtle III

Gary and Monika Wescott of The Turtle Expedition are some of overlanding’s greatest pioneers. They have been traveling the world since the mid-1970s, visiting every remote and beautiful destination they can find from Afghanistan to the Amazon and back again. Their stories have been published in over 15 countries and 10 languages, and their vehicles have become some of the most well-known adventure trucks around. That’s probably why we’re so shocked to see one of them popping up for sale on our forums, and for a mere, no, a shocking price of $22,500. They’re even open to offers!

The Turtle III was based on a 1987 Ford F-350 with a 6.9L diesel motor, but it was completely overhauled in 1994 to include a more modern 7.3L turbodiesel. Not just any 7.3L though. This was a hand-assembled Navistar 7.3 which was dyno tested at the factory and fitted with an Arctic fuel injection pump allowing it to run on anything from #1 Diesel to kerosene or jet fuel. It was then re-tested and sent to the Navistar Marine Engine division for special paint and clear coating before being “expertly installed by Ken Imler Diesel in Sacramento. During installation, all mounts and hoses were replaced if any sign of wear could be seen.”

This engine then took them on a winter crossing of Siberia, and continued exploring the globe until the truck’s sale in 1997. A journey that would eventually land it right here on Expedition Portal’s classifieds.

According to the seller, the Ford is in amazing shape for its age. The paint and decals look great, the engine purrs, and the entire truck drives like a dream. The seats look fantastic, the four-wheel camper doesn’t appear to be ragged or moldy, and there is a pile of paperwork to document the vehicle’s history and modifications.

To be honest, just looking at the photos makes it exceptionally clear that the truck is in good shape. It has been cared for like the piece of overland history it is, and we’re all too sad to say we can’t buy it ourselves. It is certainly worth it. The previous owner refreshed the tires, brakes, shocks, springs, bushings, seals, and added rear/side cameras in 2016, but the bulk of modifications are all from the Wescotts.

As you’d expect, the list reads like a who’s who of off-road parts manufacturers. There are front and rear ARB locking differentials, a Ready-Air belt driven air compressor with storage tank, and a Line-Arc 190 alternator that supplies 110AC power to the vehicle and can pump out enough power to weld in the field. A Gear-Vendors under-over drive was also added to the factory four-speed to make the vehicle more enjoyable to drive.

Armoring the front and back of the truck are custom Rickard bumpers with some seriously cool built-in compartments. The front houses a 12,000- pound Megawinch, as well as two locking storage boxes, two trailer hitch sockets, mounts for the PIAA auxiliary lighting, plus an R&M hot water shower system. The rear is equally well built, with a WARN 8,000-pound winch, class 3 load leveling hitch, swing-away rack, and mounts for a Hi-Lift, shovel, two jerry cans, and a spare tire and wheel. Of course, it also includes full electrical hookups for towing a trailer.

Because the Ford seats aren’t ideal, Scheel-Mann 400s were shipped over from Germany and installed into the truck. The passenger side uses air lumbar support, while the driver’s is paired with a Schukra System lumbar. Both are fully adjustable and designed for long-term comfort thanks to an orthopedically correct design.

In the bed of the truck, you’ll find a Four-Wheel Camper equipped to deliver all the comforts of home in any corner of the globe. It includes two 90-amp hour GNB deep cycle sealed batteries, a 600-watt inverter, fantastic fan, two Jensen auxiliary fans, Hayden inside/outside Hi/Low Temperature gauge, an Everpure two-stage water filter with two outlets, and a heavy-duty Shureflo water pump.

To keep you warm in cold conditions, a 3,500-BTU propane heater was added, along with the optional winter insulation kit. A full Yakima sports roof rack with two Packasport storage boxes sit atop the camper for all of your gear needs, while an A&E trans-awn 2000 awning provides shade after a long day.

The truck also includes loads of spare parts, including some that traveled with the famous duo around the world. Which brings us to the few items that do need to be repaired. The owner states that the power supply to the rear winch needs a new cable, but he has it and will include it. The fridge isn’t working either, but he hasn’t looked into that yet. The overdrive needs a new seal, but he has that as well, so it just needs to be installed. Finally, the CB radio turns on but has no sound. Overall, a very short list for a vehicle of this age and complexity.

Amazingly, the entire list of parts above only covers a fraction of the accessories installed on this truck. There’s an engine block heater, Dynamat soundproofing, mile marker locking hubs, battery warmers, and so much more which you can read about at the links below. You can also read about this duo’s adventures, including some published right here on our site and in Overland Journal.

I am completely shocked that this valuable truck has not ended up mothballed and protected in some car collection by now. It is a moving and driving piece of off-road history, that packs plenty of late 1980s/early 1990s flare, plus more character than a truck should be allowed to possess. This is one of those rare opportunities to buy an iconic one of a kind vehicle, and we will all kick ourselves in 20 years for passing it up. Hell, we might kick ourselves for not buying it tomorrow, because at this price, it is sure to not last long.

To read about Gary and Monika’s adventures in our interview series, check out the article here.

To learn all about this truck, visit the Turtle Expedition website here.

To view the advertisement and contact the seller, check out the advertisement here.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Senior Editor while living full-time on the road.