Potential Vehicles in Australia

prosmart

New member
Greetings

My wife and I are currently looking for a vehicle which we plan to make "home" for the foreseeable future. Our first weapon of choice has been, for some time, a Mog - specifically a U1700L - ex Australian Defense Forces. Given the massive premium these vehicles are now demanding we are also "casting the net wider".

We are both keen on off-roading, so what alternative truck readily available in Australia (MR or HR) would be your second choice after the Unimog? I'm thinking something that has a slightly longer wheelbase but can still take most of what gets thrown at it. We understand that we would probably need a subframe. We also understand that a longer wheelbase will mean that there will be some places we just cannot get into (or out of).

And the kicker? Budget for the lot (truck, box, fit-out etc) is around AU$100,000. We have been looking at some ex-fire service truck like the Isuzu F Series or the Hino Kestrel which are fetching around AU$45K. These seem to have plenty of spares around and super singles are available.

Any suggestions (short of taxidermy) appreciated.

Nigel
 

1000arms

Well-known member
... Any suggestions (short of taxidermy) appreciated. ...
Perhaps something smaller?

 

Peter_n_Margaret

Adventurer
In my biased view, Mogs are simply too big for Australia's ionic tracks which are made by and "maintained" by Toyota sized vehicles.
Apart from the obvious encroaching scrub, the real problem is the wheel track. Wide track vehicles have vastly higher rates of tyre damage.
Our OKA motorhome is 2160 wide, 6m long, 3m wheel base and 6.5T loaded with about 300L each of fuel and water. The wheel track is very similar to a 79 series Land Cruiser.
The following short video clips demonstrate.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
 

prosmart

New member
In my biased view, Mogs are simply too big for Australia's ionic tracks which are made by and "maintained" by Toyota sized vehicles.
Apart from the obvious encroaching scrub, the real problem is the wheel track. Wide track vehicles have vastly higher rates of tyre damage.
Our OKA motorhome is 2160 wide, 6m long, 3m wheel base and 6.5T loaded with about 300L each of fuel and water. The wheel track is very similar to a 79 series Land Cruiser.
The following short video clips demonstrate.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
Thanks for your input Peter. Much appreciated. I have looked at an OKA in a previous life. My main criterion currently when evaluating vehicles is "would I want to spend the rest of my life in this?" and I can't see us doing that in an OKA on the basis of "it's just not big enough". I'm looking at a place to live the rest of my life out and when I look at an OKA my immediate reaction is "camping on wheels". Not a derogatory comment at all - and before arthritis and sciatica arrived I probably would have put one high on the list. I was previously a keen lightweight camper - I just can't bend that well any more.

Totally get the "too big" comment - I have had it before. My trade off is "would I rather have comfort and space while not being able to manage some tracks". I'm going with "Yes" at the moment.
 

prosmart

New member
Perhaps something smaller?

But not to live in for the rest of our naturals (which is the plan).
 

alanymarce

Well-known member
The Pajero is not a bad vehicle - I just can't see it becoming a full time home.
I think it depends on your needs - we lived in ours (actually a Montero, but it's the same vehicle) for 10 months in Australia and it worked perfectly.
 

Peter_n_Margaret

Adventurer
I have looked at an OKA in a previous life. My main criterion currently when evaluating vehicles is "would I want to spend the rest of my life in this?"
I was not promoting OKAs so much as suggesting the avoidance of wide track (and excessively high) vehicles like the Mog. We have lived in the OKA for up to 8 months at a time and for typically 5-6 months over the last 18 years quite comfortably, but its layout is different to most and the bed-over-cab increases the living area dramatically, compared to others. Another option is a bed that raises up to the ceiling during the day.
06 Seats & tableE.jpg07 KitchenE.jpg
The LHS is shower and toilet and fridge.

The down side of avoiding Mogs and OKAs is that virtually all other viable options are vehicles that started life as local delivery vehicles and their 4WD capability was never a priority of the design so they need substantial mechanical modification and never quite achieve the level of driving comfort or ability on lousy roads that is built into the Mogs or the OKAs from conception.
I have no driving experience of those vehicles, but the Canterc/FGs/small MANs would be on that list if the budget did not extend to an Iveco. They can all do what you need, just not as well as you might like.
This is a friend's Canter in the Simpson. It does it well, but I would not swap it for the OKA. :)

We did own a Mog 1300L for a very short time. The other aspect of Mogs is that maintenance costs are in another league compared to the Canters/OKAs et al and I doubt we could have afforded that long term. They are complex machines.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
 

clydeps

Member
An F-series Isuzu should be big enough for you, and they are well supported in Oz. But I think your budget is unrealistic. Truck prices have gone through the roof - new ones are often 50% dearer than they were two years ago, and that flows through to the second hand market.

If you buy an old fire truck you will need a suspension upgrade, SS wheels, a sub-frame and a box and probably various things repaired or replaced. You won't get all that for less than $100K, then you need to fit it out. Even assuming you do all the work yourself (you won't get it done in less than two years) you still have to buy all the gear - you can save a lot by scrounging and adapting, but that takes extra time. I think $150-200K would be a more reasonable budget, still assuming you do most of the work.

I would suggest considering a smaller truck - I have an NPS single cab and the habitat is well enough designed that it could easily be a full-time abode - but the key to that is a drop-down electric bed which has some drawbacks, chiefly the need to be able to climb into it. But IMHO if you aren't fit enough for that you probably should not be attempting off-road adventuring anyway.

Just my views, good luck with whatever you end up doing.
 

Paddler Ed

Adventurer
Because I needed a break, I had a quick look to see what was around:

$110,000 for a DIY conversion, that may or may not be on a subframe:

A demountable (which may be the easiest way to go for a habitat if you're time poor) at around $90k
(which both look very similar... so suspect Alibaba specials)

I think as some of the others have said you're being very optimistic in your price range. The only hope you have is the pensioner grey nomads can no longer afford to fuel their vehicles and so park them up, and move back to bricks and mortar - but there is a very big risk that they've sold up and poured the money into their travels.... and have spent a good chunk of it and are now unable to buy back into the property market.
 

prosmart

New member
An F-series Isuzu should be big enough for you, and they are well supported in Oz. But I think your budget is unrealistic. Truck prices have gone through the roof - new ones are often 50% dearer than they were two years ago, and that flows through to the second hand market.

If you buy an old fire truck you will need a suspension upgrade, SS wheels, a sub-frame and a box and probably various things repaired or replaced. You won't get all that for less than $100K, then you need to fit it out. Even assuming you do all the work yourself (you won't get it done in less than two years) you still have to buy all the gear - you can save a lot by scrounging and adapting, but that takes extra time. I think $150-200K would be a more reasonable budget, still assuming you do most of the work.

I would suggest considering a smaller truck - I have an NPS single cab and the habitat is well enough designed that it could easily be a full-time abode - but the key to that is a drop-down electric bed which has some drawbacks, chiefly the need to be able to climb into it. But IMHO if you aren't fit enough for that you probably should not be attempting off-road adventuring anyway.

Just my views, good luck with whatever you end up doing.
Thanks for the input. The F series is one of the vehicles on the "maybe" list along with MWB Hinos and their ilk. We have tried multiple designs for a smaller truck like a Canter but we can't get the comfort and space we want in that size, especially when it comes to allowable ROH on a truck with such a short wheelbase.

Our plans currently include a drop down bed, either a proprietary one like the Happijac or possibly even a home-brewed one using cables, blocks and a small winch.

We get the budget figure - but TBH if we set a larger budget we would probably blow that as well (isn't that what budgets are for?). We will be doing most, if not all, of the work ourselves. Whilst I have a 45 year history in IT, I have a long history of hobbies and side interests including carpentry, electrics, plumbing etc - all skills that were learned by not having the budget to pay someone else for.

My health is way less of an issue that I may have suggested but was enough to make me swear off sleeping on the ground. Getting in and out of (and under) a vehicle is still very much on the cards.

Thanks again for your input - I'd rather have too much information that too little.

N/
 

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