• Home
  • /
  • 4WD
  • /
  • Overland Expo West 2024 :: Top Rigs

Overland Expo West 2024 :: Top Rigs

Overland Expo West 2024 Top Rigs

The 2024 edition of Overland Expo West was a blustery and wind-blown affair, in stark contrast to last year’s event which suffered one deluge after the other and was mired in mud for much of the weekend. Such is the variability of the weather in Arizona’s high country. But uncertainty from the skies does not deter the thousands of people who descend on Flagstaff’s Fort Tuthill County Park to show off their overland builds and trucks and motorcycles of all stripes. Below are a few of the top rigs I ran across at Expo this year.

Of course, the shockingly expensive, over-the-top, world-crushing industrial trucks catch the eye first. Some of them are close to two stories tall, and you can inspect the tire treads without having to bend over. There is always a sea of JK Jeeps bedecked with the latest and greatest accessories, as well as the usual raft of Tacomas and Land Cruisers. But, I tend to be drawn to the more modest vehicles, the ones that serve a specific niche for their owners, and the vintage rigs that are lovingly maintained, but not overbuilt. I found a diverse range of those rigs at Expo this year.

Wabi-Sabi Overland’s Jeep Wrangler

Michael and Yvonne Fuchs are the aerospace engineers of the overland world, and their builds are meticulous and thoughtful, but not flashy. Their design philosophy is, “Go simple, go small.” If I were going to choose one 4×4 to travel the world with right now, their custom-built JL Wrangler with its bespoke pop-top habitat, known as the Refuge II, just might be the one. It maintains the Jeep’s compact dimensions, yet through some crazy magic (actually precise planning and execution), offers a thoroughly cozy and inviting living space. The monochrome color scheme is subtle, yet striking at the same time—near perfection on wheels. It’s not the only one, either. Our friend Dan Grec is building one of his own, and because it slips neatly into a shipping container, you’re guaranteed to see these Jeeps roaming across the globe soon. You can see all the details of the Refuge II on Michael and Yvonne’s website as well as The Road Chose Me YouTube channel.

The Mercedes-Benz of Arizona Mercedes-Benz Transporter

I never managed to get the details about this carefully restored vintage commercial truck, but its single-stage blue paint and big, innocent eyes stopped me in my tracks every time I walked by it. I like the mystery. It’s not a fully-kitted overland build, but it juices the imagination about how you might design a jet-age adventure platform from its huge cargo space. It would be as slow as you could possibly conceive, but what better way to see the world unfolding before you than through its huge curved windshield? It’s the mascot for the Lapis-owned Mercedes-Benz of Arizona dealership; you might even call that color lapis lazuli.

Wolfman Luggage Honda XR650

Eric Hougen is the proprietor of Wolfman Luggage. He builds made-to-order moto luggage out of his small shop in California, personally sewing the fabrics by hand. These storage systems are minimalist and over-engineered for a lifetime of hard use on ambitious moto adventures—much like his 2022 Honda XR650. Modified very little from its original configuration, an Acerbis fuel tank and some improvements to lighting, carburetor tuning, and wind management are the only big upgrades; even the suspension and exhaust remain stock and not a sticker in sight. All that simplicity in stark white sets off the cool new colorway for his luggage system. We featured his bike at the Overland Journal/Expedition Portal booth at the Expo, and it was all I could do not to hotwire the thing and ride away into the desert.

Land Rover Defender 110 with Alu-Cab Icarus Pop-Top

Often, the campgrounds are where you run into some of the more interesting rigs at Overland Expo. This very plain, very original Land Rover Defender 110 300 Tdi was equipped with the brass-ring habitat for Defender owners—an Alu-Cab Icarus pop-top conversion. It is pricy, but it turns the stalwart box-on-wheels into a surprisingly spacious living area without impacting the overall profile of the vehicle. I’ve been scheming to get one installed on my own Defender for a long time.

Ineos Grenadier Quartermaster

Speaking of Defender-adjacent trucks, there are only four Ineos Grenadier Quatermaster pickups on American soil at the moment, and Expedition Portal has one to explore the continent for the next year. This Overland Expo was the year of the Grenadier (like 2022 was for the Land Rover Defender, and 2023 for the Toyota Tacoma)—many exhibitors were showcasing their products and accessories on the Trialmaster or Fieldmaster SUV models, and Ineos commanded the Ride and Drive area at Expo. Our Publisher, Scott Brady, has wrapped up his African adventure with a Trialmaster, and it’s currently on a boat headed for Europe. Between the overseas-based Grenadier and our newest addition to the Overland Journal fleet, there is going to be plenty of exciting Grenadier content to come in the next few months.

AFE Power Subaru Outback Wilderness

The revolution in AWD and crossover overland vehicles continues, and AFE Power featured a Wilderness Edition Subaru Outback to show what these surprisingly capable wagons can be. With true rock sliders, upgraded underbody protection, and an in-your-face bull bar mounted with all the lumens you can handle, this Suby looked ready to rip through Baja at the drop of a head gasket (that’s a joke, I promise). Don’t underestimate what these Outbacks can accomplish on remote tracks—their X-Mode AWD control features virtual locking capabilities and its 9.5 inches of ground clearance is more than my old Jeep XJ Cherokee.

Squarebody Chevy with Vintage Four Wheel Campers Blazer

I am a complete sucker for a squarebody Chevy truck. The simplicity and overall vibes of this era of 4x4s take me back to my childhood. Throw on a period-correct Four Wheel Campers Blazer pop-top camper and you’ve got a winner. If you close your eyes and take a deep breath, you can smell that interior with the velour and the vinyl dash, and feel the thin, over-boosted steering wheel in your hands. It is lifted more than I might personally like, but the originality of the camper more than makes up for any shortcomings. The build on this K5 Blazer is well-documented on the Expedition Portal forums.

Expedition Overland’s Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter on a Boat

If you follow XO’s YouTube channel, you may have seen their videos featuring the 2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter on a voyage over the “high seas” on this inflatable catamaran. That truck was in the Expedition Overland booth at Expo this year, and the whole setup is both hilarious and strangely deadly serious. Floating on the gravel at Fort Tuthill isn’t quite as dramatic, but it’s always fun to get a peak behind the scenes from their ambitious videos. The Trailhunter is one of the most authentic factory overland pickups you can buy in 2024—it needs essentially nothing to get you out onto the trails and exploring the moment you drive it off the lot. No catamaran required.

2007 Jeep Wrangler with Cummins Conversion and Conqueror 440 Trailer

Last but definitely not least is the JK Wrangler and Conqueror camper trailer owned by Jen and Jared from The Pioneering Spirit. The Jeep, affectionally known as Snort, has a Cummins 4BT powertrain installed by Bruiser Conversions and features a long list of upgrades and useful overland accessories. The Conqueror UEV 440 is a South African-built adventure trailer that has endured many, many miles of harsh African terrain behind the hitch of Snort. These duosJared and Jen, as well as Snort and the Conqueror—are legit, having traveled across that continent for two years, as well as extensive adventures across the American West. Did I mention both Snort and the Conqueror are for sale? Now is the time to write your own overland story.

Read more: Redarc Unveils Three Revolutionary Products at Overland Expo West

Images: Stephan Edwards

Our No Compromise Clause: We do not accept advertorial content or allow advertising to influence our coverage, and our contributors are guaranteed editorial independence. Overland International may earn a small commission from affiliate links included in this article. We appreciate your support.

Stephan Edwards is the Associate Editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife, Julie, once bought an old Land Rover sight unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to and drove it through half of Africa. After living in Botswana for two years, Stephan now makes camp at the foot of a round mountain in Missoula, Montana. He still drives that Land Rover every day. An anthropologist in his former life and a lover of all things automotive, Stephan is a staunch advocate for public lands and his writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Contact him at edwards@overlandinternational.com and @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.