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Want to buy an off-road 4×4 overland expedition camper? † Tips and what to watch out for

After a search of more than a year, I finally managed to buy a real offroad 4×4 overland expedition camper within my set budget. Purchasing this beautiful machine was quite a process! In this article I will take you through the entire process that preceded it, why certain choices were made and what I paid attention to when purchasing this motorhome. There are quite a few things you should pay attention to when purchasing such a 4×4 expedition camper. In this article I will tell you all about it.

Also read:

  1. Want to buy an Offgrid 4×4 overland camper? † Tips and what to watch out for
  2. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Solar panels & Victron bluetooth battery charger
  3. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tracemaster GPS Tracker Alarm System
  4. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tough Dog shock absorbers, HD leaf springs and auxiliary air suspension

Buying a motorhome – what do you want with it?

This is actually the first and most important question you should ask yourself when purchasing a motorhome. What do you want with it? The whole #vanlife happening is currently hipper than hip and thousands of people buy or build camper vans nowadays. Especially now that corona brings many travel restrictions, campers are really no longer available.

So before you buy or build a motorhome, you first investigate what your wishes are, and what you want to achieve with it. No motorhome is perfect! Know that you therefore always have to make concessions in one way or another. Below I have listed the most important and most obvious differences between the different motorhome types for you.

Different types of campers

A 'normal' camper

A normal motorhome may have everything your heart desires in terms of luxury, but that luxury comes with a price. Campers are often large and bulky. They are heavy and often do not fit in a normal parking lot. You are then mainly dependent on campsites or large parking spaces and you absolutely cannot leave the paved road. This limits your travel options, so research first if you're comfortable with campsites and large parking lots.

A 'normal' camper with Burstner construction
A 'normal' camper with Burstner construction

A camper van

A camper van is faster, smaller, more agile and cheaper in terms of fuel consumption. You can park them almost anywhere and you can drive in busy cities with ease. But at the same time, they are also very limited in terms of space, so you will regularly have to choose which 'features' you do or do not want in your camper van. For example, do you want a decent clean and gray water tank in combination with a hot shower in your camper van† Or do you rinse with a jerry can (provided you are in a warm country of course). These are really important questions to ask yourself before purchasing.

A modern camper van
A modern camper van

A 4×4 off-road expedition camper

A 4×4 off-road expedition camper can go where the roads end. You can go further and deeper into nature, drive unpaved roads, onto the beach, into the desert, into the mountains, into the snow and so really off the beaten track. But this camper, whether you travel with a roof tent or with a 'deposit unit' like we have, has its limitations. Space is very limited! And they are (especially with such a demountable unit) anything but agile or fast. They also consume quite a bit of fuel due to the usually heavy construction and large diesel engines.

Mitsubishi L200 4x4 with demountable unit | The ultimate offroad overland expedition camper!
Mitsubishi L200 4×4 with demountable unit | The ultimate offroad overland expedition camper!

My experience with motorhomes

Now I have gained some experience with motorhomes over the years. My father has always had a motorhome. In my youth that was a beautiful, old-timer Mercedes 406D camper bus (big and spacious!), and when I got a bit older a more luxurious Peugeot camper with a semi-integrated Burstner construction. A few years ago, it was exchanged for a beautiful HYMER 6-meter motorhome on a Fiat Ducato chassis. A lot more manoeuvrable, but also a lot more limited in terms of space. I have had the opportunity to drive and experience all 3 of these campers a few times, so along the way I learned a lot about the different types of campers.

My father's (sold) beautiful old-timer Mercedes 406 D camper bus
My father's (sold) beautiful old-timer Mercedes 406 D camper bus

Although I have had great holidays in all my father's motorhome variants, something was missing. My adventurous self, who traveled year after year to exotic countries with only a backpack and about 10 kilos of luggage, wanted more than campsites and paved parking lots. I therefore decided to make concessions in my search for a camper: less luxury in exchange for unlimited possibilities, a real off-road 4×4 overland expedition camper.

Search terms for finding overland expedition campers

Now came the hardest part. You hardly see expedition campers in the Netherlands! Finding a nice and affordable copy can be called a challenge to say the least. For over a year I searched various websites for off-road campers. Gradually I realized that you really have to use a lot of different search terms for this. There is no real unambiguous name for it! And because you don't want to miss a single advertisement due to the enormous scarcity, you will really have to use the right search terms.

Looking for a 4×4 off-road camper yourself? Then regularly use the search terms below on websites such as marktplaats.nl and Facebook Marketplace.

  • 4×4 motorhome
  • 4wd motorhome
  • Expedition camper
  • Expedition motorhome
  • Expedition truck
  • expedition truck
  • Off road camper
  • Overland motorhome
  • Overlander
  • Dispenser
  • Camper demountable unit
  • World trip camper
  • Globe camper

My wishes for the expedition camper

First of all, I had to settle for the fact that I only have a normal driving license B. So I could not buy a camper for which a C1 (motorhome driver's license up to 4500 kg) or C driver's license (truck / truck) was required, unless I first took lessons and took an exam. What I mainly hoped for during my search were real 4×4 trucks under 3500 kilos or pickups with a drop-off unit or roof tent. A motorhome with four-wheel drive, original or retrofitted, would also be fine. Below is a summary of my most important wishes:

Requirements

  • Up to 20.000 euros
  • Four-wheel drive (4×4, 4WD)
  • Max 3500 kilos (ie driving license B)
  • Warm water
  • Indoor shower
  • Fridge on 12v and gas
  • Insulation
  • Heating
  • Must be able to drive comfortably at 100 kilometers per hour

Additional wishes

  • Solar panels
  • Extra household batteries
  • Airco
  • Cruise control
  • Major maintenance
  • Light interior

4×4 expedition campers are expensive

Of course I can't look in your wallet, but I found out that expedition campers are really pricey. A normal camper is already expensive during corona, but in my opinion you really pay the top price for the good 4×4 variant. You pay 4 euros for a self-converted Mercedes Sprinter 4×50.000 camper. The more luxurious variants even go towards 70.000 to 100.000 euros.

The real expedition trucks with all the trimmings often sell for more than 100.000 to 150.000 euros. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I was actually mainly dependent on very basic 4×4 bus campers, or 4×4 pickup trucks with a built-up camper unit or a demountable unit.

General tips and questions when purchasing

When you are going to view an expedition camper, there are more things that are important than you would usually expect. You have the technical part, such as the car, engine and chassis that require your attention. But you should also inspect the motorhome unit well. Are there any leaks, do the windows open and close properly, do all electronics work, etc. etc.

Below I have two handy lists with questions for the seller and things that you can check yourself when buying. Print out the two lists before you go to view a camper, that saves you a lot of thinking and so you can cross everything neatly so that you don't forget anything!

Questions for the seller

  • Is it a Dutch car, or an import?
  • What is the mileage?
  • Is there a NAP pass included?
  • Is there a maintenance history?
  • Is it a damaged car?
  • Has the car been treated for rust?
  • Are there any rust spots that might need attention?
  • Is the engine leaking or consuming oil or coolant?
  • Is the car ready to go like this?
  • What is the registration and insurance (car, van or camper?)
  • How long owner?
  • How many owner?
  • Reason for sale?
  • Are there points of attention for later?
  • Waterproof? Has there ever been water damage?

Things to check yourself

  • Rust is your worst enemy. Check the bottom carefully! Don't just trust the seller, see for yourself!
  • Service history – flip through the booklets. Request and view the various receipts and invoices.
  • View timing belt and belts (if possible). Are the letters on the straps still legible, do they look good? No drought cracks?
  • Is the engine dry? Check for traces of oil.
  • Check the hoses for dryness cracks.
  • Check if you see any leaks. Also at the bottom!
  • Check the wheel arches for rust on the inside.
  • Check the lighting, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Test the air conditioner.
  • Test the heating.
  • Test the water pump.
  • Press EVERY BUTTON that you see and check if everything works.

With these two lists in hand, you're ready to check out motorhomes. Good luck!

4 Nissan Patrol 4×1985 Camper

Of course we also took these lists with us when we went to look at campers. The first expedition camper that we really went to see was this super cool Nissan Patrol from 1985. It was a real motorhome construction, so relatively much space, cleverly laid out and built by a real motorhome builder. The price was good (12.000 euros) and although we didn't expect air conditioning or too much luxury given its age, we decided to take a look.

Nissan Patrol 4×4 Expedition Camper from 1985

Once there we were immediately sold! How cool is that thing! There was quite a bit of work to be done both inside and out, but the tough appearance with those large all-terrain tires really made us dream. The 1985 engine started poorly and needed major maintenance. The camper itself was very dated, had water damage, some rust spots and it really needed to be replaced, refurbished and repaired.

We still had a few months, so we saw a nice project during corona despite all the flaws. It seemed as if we were blinded by the rugged appearance.

Nissan Patrol 4×4 Expedition Camper from 1985

We took all the flaws for granted (and there were quite a few…), that's how we fell in love with this device. Let's make an offer! Full of enthusiasm we decided to walk to the dealer, but unfortunately it turned out to be just in front of us. arg!!! Someone had just closed the deal for us. On the long way home (a two-hour drive) we were really fed up. So, cry out and start over.

Mitsubishi L200 4×4 with demountable unit

In hindsight, I'm actually glad we didn't buy the Nissan Patrol above. After all, several weeks passed. I looked and searched daily for new expedition camper ads! There was hardly any supply within my budget, so I almost wanted to give up hope. See you last week! Then this gem suddenly came online and I was quick to find it. I immediately called and made an appointment. The private seller (it was Friday afternoon) had already spoken to many people, his telephone and e-mail were red hot and several appointments had already been made for viewings for Saturday and Sunday. I asked the best man if I could come by right away on Friday afternoon, and that was fine. I didn't hesitate for a second and set off! Again on to Groningen, another 2 hour ride. I would be there at the end of the afternoon.

Mitsubishi L200 4x4 with demountable unit | The ultimate offroad overland expedition camper!
Mitsubishi L200 4×4 with demountable unit | The ultimate offroad overland expedition camper!

Once there I saw this beast standing. And because the Nissan Patrol we went to see for this had a lot of work, I honestly didn't expect too much from this Mitsubishi 4×4 camper. Once I arrived I was fortunately really positively surprised, what a beautiful thing! Perhaps not as tough and compact as the Nissan Patrol, but a lot had been done in terms of (major) maintenance and the construction was fresh and less dated. The inside also looked very good. It was clean and hardly needed anything done! Only the boiler was broken and the front tires worn, so that was not so bad. Below are some pictures of the interior as I found it.

I did miss a few important things like solar panels and real off-road / all terrain tires. But of course I can also put it on myself. The car itself was good enough to get in and drive away. Major maintenance had just been done, including timing belt, belts, pulleys, fluids and even a new clutch. I had to have that! After a short negotiation we agreed on the price, it was mine! As happy as a small child he went home, and the big plans could begin.

Motorhome upgrades

Of course there are things we still want to change about our expedition camper, and we also want to add some upgrades. First of all, we want to give the interior a new lick of paint or wallpaper, because here and there it is coming loose or has become a bit dirty. below is a list of improvements, fixes and upgrades that we will be doing or having done in the coming weeks.

What we are going to do ourselves

  • Beautiful Wereldreizigers.nl stickers on it! The beautiful round 'Discover The World' logo will be on both the front and back of the motorhome!
  • New wallpaper
  • Lick of paint here and there
  • Different color curtains
  • Different color sofa (upholstery)
  • Pimp toilet and shower cabin – Remove the sink (unnecessary in our opinion, because we also have one in the kitchen). New mats, treating walls and new skylight.
  • Install a small TV for, among others, NetFlix.

What we have done

  • Install an LED BAR on the 30.000 lumen bullbar for extreme light when the (off-road) situation demands it.
  • Check entire electronics system
  • Repair water heater
  • Check water pump system
  • Check heating system
  • Install new hub/switch unit
  • Solar panels on the roof
  • Install new inverter
  • Installing two new heavy-duty household batteries
  • 4x new tough, super solid BF Goodrich All Terrain, Install all season tires.
  • Check rear air suspension system
  • Install heavier springs (rear) to make the carriage more stable.
  • Replacing step ladder

Gradually we will probably get more ideas for our beautiful expedition camper. For example, there is an awning on the motorhome, but it is dated and you have to manually roll it in and out, which is quite difficult. Possibly a new one that you can turn with a stick, or even one that works completely electrically.

Everything is possible! And of course we will keep you informed. Until the next blog!

Also read:

  1. Want to buy an Offgrid 4×4 overland camper? † Tips and what to watch out for
  2. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Solar panels & Victron bluetooth battery charger
  3. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tracemaster GPS Tracker Alarm System
  4. Off-grid 4×4 camper upgrade | Tough Dog shock absorbers, HD leaf springs and auxiliary air suspension
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Chris

Owner or Wereldreizigers.nl | Discover the world!

– Travel 3+ months per year, 10 years in a row
– 10 months USA & Canada in 2022
– Bucket List Destination: Antarctica
–Best Beaches:Philippines
– Best Food: Thailand
– Best Wildlife: Uganda
– Best City: Singapore
- Best roadtrip: Croatia

Stubborn & decisive world traveller
– Life is short, make the most out of it in literal sense.
– Never take no for an answer.
– If you think about it, DO IT!

0 comments

  • hey josh,

    I am amazed to read your comment, great! Really cool how you built this yourself, it is really a cool thing to see and unfortunately it passed us by. We are now very happy with our Mitsubishi, but as you say yourself, the weight is really something we have to pay attention to.

    And how did you actually end up here? Were you looking for your self-built vehicle? Am really curious!

    Best regards,

    Chris

  • I built that Nissan Patrol myself as a hobby (in fact the third one) first I had it converted into its original long version.
    That was still possible (no height requirement).
    It was a double with seating for 5.
    In 1992 I sawed through the car in a farm and modified an adriatic caravan, after which I placed it on the chassis that I had modified with a fork-lift truck. The cabin features a plywood sheet and an adjustment frame made of plywood enclosed in epoxy. Then made the bottom edge with leftover sheet metal.
    I sold it in 1998. Then it was the turn of an Iveco 40/10 4×4
    Which I sold in 2014.
    I recently sold the following: a Mercedes Sprinter 2H2L automatic transmission.
    The patrol was a great car, with one problem: the weight and the bearings and tires.
    The official weight + load was 2600 kg (technically permissible 2800 kg).
    But as can be imagined, tires and also the rear bearings broke at a measured weight of 3500 kg and a speed higher than 90 km. Hence my search for something heavier: the Iveco.
    These cars (Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, etc. seem very robust and they are, but have their limitations with regard to the load mainly in view of the speed. They can go faster, but that has consequences.
    Regards Jos

  • Hi Ron,

    Great! It does indeed bring many possibilities. In terms of purchase, it really varies enormously, it often really depends on the features / upgrades it has + maintenance what has been done. We bought ours for 16k (car + cabin), something had to be done. Encrypted, upgraded and modified to your liking for almost 15K.

    The consumption is about 1 in 7. I have separate insurance for the car and unit: 35 pm (WA+) for the car, 55 pm for the cabin (All-Risk). Tax is 41 euros + 6 euros diesel surcharge per month, the car has a gray registration number because it is mainly used for business.

  • We are standing next to a great DIY about Lander and I am very struck by the possibilities.....
    Would you like to inform me about what amounts I should think about with yours?
    Purchase, adjustments, consumption, insurance, etc?

    Thank you
    And unbelievably fun!

  • hey christian,

    Yes it can be driven with the motorhome tax rate, but then you will have to convince the RDW that it is actually only used as a motorhome and so there will have to be a more permanent confirmation.

    Ours has a gray license plate (so also tax advantage) because it is also used for business without a camper unit. By the way, that's how most I've seen do it, because starting a company is very easy (50 euros at the Chamber of Commerce) and there are no requirements regarding turnover or something like that 😉

  • Hey Chris, I just enthusiastically read your story and 1 question came to my mind that I wanted to ask.

    Can a convertible motorhome as you have purchased also be driven for the motorhome tax rate? Or do you pay the full price because it is a pickup.

    Love to hear and good luck with the finish

    Grt

    Christian

  • No, after all, there is a bed in the front. (I'm afraid I'm the person who stole the car in front of you) 🙂 I had a car with a roof tent, but a camper is a bit nicer for the spring and autumn.

  • Nice article. I'm glad you found a good car. We sleep in the patrol for the first time tonight. ?

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Chris

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