Isuzu F series v Unimog

The Dusty Truck

New member
Hi everyone,

New member here. Looking to build an expedition vehicle on an Isuzu F series (FSS and FTS) or Unimog (the older ones) base. Any advice would be very welcome. Initially looking to compare the two but am also keen to hear from owners of MAN, Eurocargo and other larger expedition vehicles re your experiences.

Thanks
 

Peter_n_Margaret

Adventurer
What do you want to do with this machine when it is completed?
There are some about in Oz, but in my view Unimogs are simply too big and too wide for many tracks in this country.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
 

Ultimark

Member
I had the pleasure of personally knowing the ex Australian Army officer who worked for the truck and bus division of Daimler Benz (as it was then known). His main job was to convince the Australian government that the Unimogs were the best thing for the Army; he was very successful. I went in a couple of the Unimogs and the first thing I was told to bring, was a pair of ear muffs. I did and they were needed for highway work, still are if you are talking about Ex army Unimogs.

Sound deadening of the cabin certainly helps. Changing the final drive ratio by however means, helps also. I'm pretty much certain you will need an air conditioner fitted, things can get decidedly warm. As for the seats, contoured wooden seats may be slightly more comfortable.

I really looked hard at the ex army Unimogs, good value for the money, or so it seems. For fantastic 4x4 go almost anywhere capability with living quarters on the rear; great. In the end they were discarded as something useful to us, we are retired, in our 70's and something slightly more modern with more creature comfort in the cabin pushed them off our list.

The FSS and FTS are quite different vehicles, as is their base cost. Essentially the FSS is an NPS on steroids. All of the offerings from Isuzu run duals at the rear, something which I didn't like, so before you start with either of them you are looking at an engineering issue. Not a big deal, but changing wheels, tyres and possibly suspension, isn't cheap; even if you do it all yourself with the aid on an appropriate engineers certification.

Taking all three of the S models offered by Isuzu, NPS, FSS and FTS, best value for dollar is the NPS, last price I saw was $68,500 ex tax for the cab chassis. It is of course the least equipped, but it isn't too bad.

The F series immediately jumped up to $130,000 for the FSS and I never even contemplated the FTS. The NPS and NPS are part time 4WD, the FTS is full time 4WD with a centre differential lock.

The FSS runs pretty much the same 5.2 litre engine as the NPS, but instead of 114kW it pulls 158kW. By comparison, the FTS runs a 7.8 litre motor and presumably an appropriate greater fuel usage as it produces 191kW.

Major differences between the NPS and the FSS are, bigger single cabin for the FSS, which allows for genuine Isringhousen seats, which are heavenly.
Larger wheels 17.5 versus 22.5 for the FSS.

With slight overhang of the chassis rails, the NPS should allow for a 5m long box. The FSS should allow 5.5m to 6m to be built on the rear. The idea is to keep whatever you have as short as possible. The FSS is the largest Isuzu that can be kept under 7m in length in a finished form.

Turning circle of the FSS is between the NPS and the FTS, with the NPS being surprisingly nimble.

One aspect you may not have thought of is, weight carrying capacity. If you are going to run super singles wheels, then the FSS and FTS will lose a bit of carrying capacity as their rear axle carrying capacity will be reduced.

I have in-laws running an older MAN TGM 13.290 on a farm with ex factory super singles, wonderful vehicle, but expensive as anything. It would be my choice of vehicles.

We have an NPS.
 

The Dusty Truck

New member
I had the pleasure of personally knowing the ex Australian Army officer who worked for the truck and bus division of Daimler Benz (as it was then known). His main job was to convince the Australian government that the Unimogs were the best thing for the Army; he was very successful. I went in a couple of the Unimogs and the first thing I was told to bring, was a pair of ear muffs. I did and they were needed for highway work, still are if you are talking about Ex army Unimogs.

Sound deadening of the cabin certainly helps. Changing the final drive ratio by however means, helps also. I'm pretty much certain you will need an air conditioner fitted, things can get decidedly warm. As for the seats, contoured wooden seats may be slightly more comfortable.

I really looked hard at the ex army Unimogs, good value for the money, or so it seems. For fantastic 4x4 go almost anywhere capability with living quarters on the rear; great. In the end they were discarded as something useful to us, we are retired, in our 70's and something slightly more modern with more creature comfort in the cabin pushed them off our list.

The FSS and FTS are quite different vehicles, as is their base cost. Essentially the FSS is an NPS on steroids. All of the offerings from Isuzu run duals at the rear, something which I didn't like, so before you start with either of them you are looking at an engineering issue. Not a big deal, but changing wheels, tyres and possibly suspension, isn't cheap; even if you do it all yourself with the aid on an appropriate engineers certification.

Taking all three of the S models offered by Isuzu, NPS, FSS and FTS, best value for dollar is the NPS, last price I saw was $68,500 ex tax for the cab chassis. It is of course the least equipped, but it isn't too bad.

The F series immediately jumped up to $130,000 for the FSS and I never even contemplated the FTS. The NPS and NPS are part time 4WD, the FTS is full time 4WD with a centre differential lock.

The FSS runs pretty much the same 5.2 litre engine as the NPS, but instead of 114kW it pulls 158kW. By comparison, the FTS runs a 7.8 litre motor and presumably an appropriate greater fuel usage as it produces 191kW.

Major differences between the NPS and the FSS are, bigger single cabin for the FSS, which allows for genuine Isringhousen seats, which are heavenly.
Larger wheels 17.5 versus 22.5 for the FSS.

With slight overhang of the chassis rails, the NPS should allow for a 5m long box. The FSS should allow 5.5m to 6m to be built on the rear. The idea is to keep whatever you have as short as possible. The FSS is the largest Isuzu that can be kept under 7m in length in a finished form.

Turning circle of the FSS is between the NPS and the FTS, with the NPS being surprisingly nimble.

One aspect you may not have thought of is, weight carrying capacity. If you are going to run super singles wheels, then the FSS and FTS will lose a bit of carrying capacity as their rear axle carrying capacity will be reduced.

I have in-laws running an older MAN TGM 13.290 on a farm with ex factory super singles, wonderful vehicle, but expensive as anything. It would be my choice of vehicles.

We have an NPS.

Thanks for that very comprehensive response. Can you tell me a little more about your NPS? How long have you had it and what sort of terrain has it seen? I guess I really want to know if an Isuzu will take me most places I want to go, including beaches, desert dunes and goat tracks.
 

The Dusty Truck

New member
What do you want to do with this machine when it is completed?
There are some about in Oz, but in my view Unimogs are simply too big and too wide for many tracks in this country.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
Just want to be able to go where I want to go. I know every vehicle has compromises. I want to be able to do the desert tracks, go through the mountains, up goat tracks and on the beach. Have I missed anything?
 

Peter_n_Margaret

Adventurer
Wide track vehicles tend to have significantly more tyre problems on Oz desert tracks because the Toyota size vehicles keep them clear.
Pre OKA, I purchased a 1986 1300L, but changed my mind in favor of something with smaller track and cheaper parts.
The Unimog is a spectacular off road vehicle, but is complex and expensive to maintain.
Others will have a differing view.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
 

Ultimark

Member
I am in full agreement with Peter about the drawbacks of the Unimog. Great vehicle, but it hasn't changed too much from it's original purpose, which was a four wheeled tractor with all four wheels being the same size. Original speed limitations of 89km/h (second model I believe) are still retained. Meaning you are running it at or near redline at 89 km/h. Portal axles do require maintenance and the two ex army Unimogs I've personally seen, both had issues with their portal axles. Absolutely beautiful vehicle in the bush, especially if it goes first as it will clear the tracks for everything else.

Fuso, Isuzu and Hino with their base 4x4 light trucks run from Fuso being the smallest and lightest, Isuzu being slightly wider and heavier, followed by Hino which is slightly heavier and (I think) slightly wider than the Isuzu.

The Hino has a true torque converter automatic box as an option. The Isuzu has an AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) with a torque converter of some kind being the interface as an option. I'm not sure about the Fuso. We have manual transmission in ours, can't fault it.

If it matters, the Fuso is 12V while the Isuzu and Hino are 24V.

The track on the Isuzu 75/155 is 1675mm on the front axle, as we've converted to super singles, our track is that. Depending upon which standard Japanese 4WD ute, wagon or whatever, their track width is either just slightly narrower, or slightly wider. We pretty much don't have any issues with track width on the NPS.

Having live axles is a bonus, in general all four wheels stay on the ground and give great traction. We also have a Torsen style front differential, which is nothing short of brilliant in deep sand and very loose gravel.

Overall width is a slight issue, train lines run down either side from dense bush. Our overall width is 2200mm on the tray. It is possible to do around 2100mm on a tray with super singles, but we have a slide-on camper which is 2180mm wide so 2200mm it is.
 

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