After a few trips to southern Africa, mostly camping in a roof tent on top of a Landrover Defender, we thought that this is what we want to do. So we started looking at fairly newish Defenders, big money!! Then fitting out costs, could be looking at the sharp end of £40k to £50k, and still no toilet!
Ok a rethink was needed. Thats what the internet is for!
We thought about off road trailer/campers, such as the Conqueror (amazing bit of kit), or a second hand fully fitted out overlander, such as Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, or one of the 4 seater pickups such as Hilux or Navara. But if we were planning a 18 month or 2 year trip, do we really want to spend that long under canvas?
It made us realise that the decision that needed to be made, was do we want to sleep adjacent to or on our vehicle, or actually in it? We looked at a few pickups with custom built cabins on them such as Hilux or 130 Defenders, but these were not much bigger than the mattresses in them. The amount that we could carry would also be an issue.
Then we found various overland truck conversions on the web, the vast majority of these were German or Dutch built, and mega money, and I mean mega money, upwards of 200k Euros! But hang on what’s this? A British based truck builder promising a quality conversion for reasonable money. Enter Ed Perry at Overland Vehicles Ltd (sadly no longer in business).
We arranged a trip up to Suffolk to see him on a Saturday morning to have a chat with him and look at a few trucks that he was working on at the time. We were very impressed, not only with the conversions but also Ed’s nothing is a problem attitude. After a couple of hours and a few cups of tea, a plan was starting to take shape. But what about the base Vehicle? At the time Ed had in his enormous barns, currently being worked on, a Leyland Daf, a MAN, a Unimog, and an enormous 6×6 Tatra. So what would he recommend? Surely not the Daf. A Mercedes must be a better option, or the MAN looks cool.
No, without a doubt the Leyland Daf was Ed’s base vehicle of choice. The main reasons for this are:
- Simple, but reliable mechanically
- No electronics
- Very robust
- Great ground clearance
- Huge, tall tyres on very heavy duty wheels (each weighs approx 120kg)
- Excellent 4×4 system with high and low range, and Dif Locks
- The 5.9lt Cummins engines are everywhere in the world
- Spares are cheap
- Easy to service and repair
- Decent size cab, with room behind seats
- Lots of cheap, low mileage trucks currently being released by the british army
The only big down side of the Daf as we could see it, was it our spec couldn’t be built under the 7.5tonne limit for our driving licences. so either we compromise with the build that we want or we do an HGV test. The decision was made very quickly to get on with the training and do the test. It turned out to be the right choice, once built and half full of water and fuel, and rear rack empty it goes 9 tonne, so fully loaded it will be nearer 10 tonne. Jac passed 1st time, Vince passed 2nd attempt!
The truck is also slow, very slow, with a top speed of 55mph, but 50mph being a lot more comfortable (she shakes a bit above 50mph), but you do get used to it, and although its only 150hp, its torque is amazing, 477Nm at 1600rpm. This together with the low range box means it will pull up or over most things.
For more info on the base vehicle check out the following website
But it is comfortable and easy to drive, once you get used to the heavy clutch and throttle.