Photography by Richard Giordano
Ferenc Elekes received email alerts from mobile.de for two years before a 1998 Iveco TurboDaily 4×4 classified ad showed up in his inbox. The vehicle was 1,000 kilometers away from Ferenc’s home base in Hungary, but he and partner Evelin Veisz decided to commit to it sight unseen. Sure, the owner had sent over photos and toured the vehicle during a video call, but the transaction was still a risk—hopefully, one that would pay off.
Ferenc and Evelin’s previous overland experience taught them a thing or two about what they desired in their next vehicle platform. After a four-year tour from Budapest, Hungary, to Singapore in their 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, the couple was ready for a change. They wanted a vehicle with a comfortable inside living space for working remotely. “In China, we were traveling with two other vehicles that opened in 30 seconds, and for us, it was a mission,” Ferenc says. “We’ve learned that a two-week vacation with a rooftop tent is fine, but not when you live in it, and every day you are closing it and opening it. We tend to stay one or two nights in one place, and then we move on. If somebody stays in one place for a week or two, then it’s fine. But if you’re doing it nearly every day, setting up and closing all the time doesn’t work.”
One thing they didn’t want to compromise was 4WD capability. After eliminating the vehicles that didn’t adhere to their size, price, and availability requirements, the options in Europe were limited to the Iveco TurboDaily 4×4 or the four-wheel-drive Mercedes Sprinter van. “Out of the two, the Iveco is tougher. It has standard 2WD, then you can switch on the 4WD and lock the front hubs,” Ferenc explains. “Then you can put it into four-wheel-drive through the transfer case. And then there’s the low-range gearbox as well.” Due to its body-on-frame design and off-pavement capability, Elekes felt that compared to the Sprinter, the Iveco was in a league of its own.
Fortunately, Ferenc and Evelin’s Iveco purchase was a success. A previous owner had transformed the box into a functional living space, constructing a dinette, kitchen, and storage cabinets. The couple made a few small changes, but the vehicle remains largely untouched. “We added an extra solar panel, Victron inverter, some storage compartments, and changed the interior a little bit cosmetically,” Ferenc says. They covered many of the natural wood surfaces, such as the cupboards and cabinets, with white furniture foil, giving the space a clean, modern feel. Ferenc painted the lower exterior body and the bumpers before adding the Overland Site insignia as the final touch.
After shipping the truck from Germany, the couple spent the past four months roaming across Canada, eventually crossing the Arctic Circle on both the Canadian and US sides. The Dempster Highway is known for exploiting vehicle weaknesses, and the Iveco was no exception. “We’ve had five flat tires in four months,” Ferenc admits. The problem, however, wasn’t with the tires but the rust, dirt, and gravel that accumulated between the tubes (one size larger than they should have been) and the tire. “Whoever changed the tires didn’t clean it properly,” Elekes says. “It was rubbing for 20,000 kilometers, and at one point, we had two flat tires at the same time. In hindsight, I should have changed to tubeless before we left.” Currently, the Iveco is running a set of Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 235/85R16 tires wrapped around the original factory two-piece steel rims.
Ferenc and Evelin have also pivoted from the ease of Toyota parts availability to embracing the Iveco’s rattling, racket, and slower pace. “If there is any new noise, we just have to figure out what it is,” says Ferenc. “We’re driving an old Italian truck, so that keeps us on our toes.” A pair of 29-liter Enderes 3888 aluminum roof boxes contain a wide selection of spare parts. With the Prado, they carried oil and air filters; the Iveco has a dedicated parts list on Ferenc’s laptop.
But the comfort and layout have negated any difficulties they’ve encountered. Elekes laughs, “We are a bit biased because we compare everything to a rooftop tent lifestyle—compared to that, it is extremely comfortable.” The interior living area ticks all of the boxes and includes enough height to stand, a dining table and desk for meals and work sessions, and the ability to cook inside with a sink and running water. Finally, the Evershower and fitted curtain allow a quick rinse, but the system is portable and easily stowed away. The living area works like gangbusters. “In terms of the layout and the whole space, we have no complaints, and no changes are planned,” says Ferenc.
Upon Ferenc and Evelin’s arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Canadian media chomped at the bit to feature their story on the local news station. Ferenc says he was surprised at the North Americans’ reactions to their Iveco build. “The question we keep hearing here is, ‘What is this thing?’ People don’t recognize it here. It’s a major truck maker in Europe and a very common brand in Central and South America.” This is great news for the couple, as parts will become easier to find as they head south on the Pan-American Highway to Ushuaia, Argentina. In the meantime, I’m sure this cute-as-a-button 4WD van will turn plenty of heads in its next destination: the United States of America.
Follow Ferenc and Evelin’s journey at overlandsite.com.
1998 Iveco TurboDaily 4×4
2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine (102 horsepower)
Suspension and Drive
Independent front suspension, rear-wheel drive
Locking hubs on the front to engage 4WD
Front and rear differential locks
Low range gearbox
Heavy-duty aftermarket shocks
Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 235/85R16 tires
Original factory two-piece steel rims (tube types)
Recovery and Armor
OEM steel bumper and bash plate
Warn XD9000 winch
Tred recovery tracks, shovel
Premium Series II ARB Vehicle Recovery Kit (snatch strap, tree trunk protector, winch extension strap, shackles, gloves, snatch block, and recovery dampener)
Ultra Vision LED off-road lights
ARB CKMP12 air compressor
ARB awning with light kit
Solar panels, 220-watt, with Victron Solar Charger controller
Victron 800-watt pure sine wave inverter
Varta 140Ah auxiliary battery
Water tank, 70 liters
Hot water tank, 20 liters (heated by the engine)
Built-in two-burner propane stove
Evershower shower tub and curtain (can set up inside or outside) with a 12-volt water pump and shower head
Waeco fridge, 40 liters
Fuel tanks (70- and 135-liter)
Scrubba wash bag (for doing laundry)
Various camping equipment (Front Runner chairs, Walkstool camping stools, Primus two-burner camping stove, extra JerryFlex water containers by EZPack)
Garmin inReach Mini
Navigation: iPad II connected with BadElf GPS (using various maps, including Garmin,
Albrecht CB radio)
Two 29-liter Enders 3888 aluminum boxes (full of spare parts provided by Euro4x4Parts)
Our No Compromise Clause: We carefully screen all contributors to ensure they are independent and impartial. We never have and never will accept advertorial, and we do not allow advertising to influence our product or destination reviews.