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alfadriver MegaDork
7/10/19 7:14 p.m.

So I happened to come across a channel called Kombi Life- where he drove the PanAm Highway, over a few years, in a VW Kombi.  Made me wonder what a great vehicle would be.

The Kombi's utility surely would come in handy- sleep anywhere.  (which is what he did)

But the reliability and power seem not to be quite enough.  For their "around the world" trip- they had a special 1700 motor made with 92 hp, but even that was limited to 55mph for longevity.

KISS seems to be very much in order- so that when things do go wrong, you can find stuff.

On the other hand, unless you have a bunch of spares, EFI would be much better given the MASSIVE range of conditions- sea level to 20k ft, below zero at some heights or cold AK/Argentina to the desert.

And given the road conditions that he's shown- comfortable wheel travel is way more important than handling.

I'm not sure what kind of V8 is available in Central or South America- but some van with an off road package seems to be the way to go.  The V8 would not exactly be efficient, but they are really common.  Seemingly.  

Something to really think about, that's for sure.  


slowbird Reader
7/10/19 7:18 p.m.

Ford Econoline/E-Series van with a small lift and a mattress in the back.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
7/10/19 7:19 p.m.

Dave M
Dave M Reader
7/10/19 7:23 p.m.

Land cruiser, obvi.

spacecadet Dork
7/10/19 7:25 p.m.

Somthing small-medium sized, low stress motor with decent fuel economy 

but the crucial thing i would heavily consider.. What's popular/common in central south america? 

parts are going to break and so having the ability to get stuff would be huge. 

The0retical UberDork
7/10/19 7:26 p.m.

A Mercedes Sprinter Van 4x4 with a conversion interior.

Like so.

They're ubiquitous on most continents.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/10/19 7:26 p.m.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/10/19 7:29 p.m.

I would want to be most sure that parts are available in Mexico and portions south. 

Toyota 4Runner is probably a great choice. Certainly LC. 

I would take my Gen 3 Montero Limited

Lifted E350 van is probably a good choice too. 

Sprinter van better. 

irish44j MegaDork
7/10/19 7:30 p.m.

A late-90s or early-2000s 4Runner. Find parts for it anyplace since most of it interchanges with a million other Toyota trucks. Enough room to sleep in, Enough off-road capability to get you through more messes than most other choices. Reliable because its toyota. 

wvumtnbkr UberDork
7/10/19 7:33 p.m.

Older Toyota pickup with a camper shell.

BoxheadTim MegaDork
7/10/19 7:36 p.m.

One of these guys:

Diesel, 6x6, soldierproof, and either so overbuilt you'll have a hard time breaking it or it can be repaired by the local blacksmith.

And if you really take a wrong turn, the shelter/camper on the back is armoured.

What's not to like?

LanEvo Dork
7/10/19 7:48 p.m.

I remember an article where a Brit drove a TVR Chimaera from Norway to the bottom of Chile. The North/South American leg started in NYC and joined the Pan-American Highway.

If a solo driver could pull that off in a low (and supposedly unreliable!) British roadster ... I guess you could do it in just about anything. 

californiamilleghia HalfDork
7/10/19 7:56 p.m.

going the other way , Ed March is slowly doing it on a Honda 90 , 


check his youtube channel , he has done Vietnam to London  and a bunch of there trips......

RevRico PowerDork
7/10/19 7:59 p.m.

I'd try to get a diesel hilux in Argentina and head north. Maybe a cap for the bed to allow for sleeping quarters. May have an issue with parts in America, but I'm sure we've all seen Clarkson (and crew) succumb his to an ocean tide and get it running again with basic tools.

Daylan C
Daylan C UberDork
7/10/19 8:04 p.m.

I'd probably vote Jeep XJ or similar Japanese mid size 4wd. 

pinchvalve MegaDork
7/10/19 8:40 p.m.

The gap in Panama is the issue, all jungle, nasty, dark,  thick jungle. There’s only one car that can make that passage. 

Slippery SuperDork
7/10/19 8:47 p.m.

I know someone that bought a brand new Isuzu pickup and did it from south Florida to Argentina in the early 90’s. Not one flat tire. 

Darien gap was avoided by taking a ferry from Panama to Colombia. 

This body style, not sure if it was extra cab but it was 4wd. 

Nate90LX Reader
7/10/19 8:48 p.m.

How has no one suggested a Miata with a Paco lift yet?

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
7/10/19 8:51 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

73 Ford Capri with the 2.6, four speed, and a set of Blizzaks. 

bearmtnmartin SuperDork
7/10/19 9:29 p.m.

Pre computer Blazer with an edlebrock, a turbo 350, manual hubs and a smallblock.

Toyman01 MegaDork
7/10/19 9:58 p.m.

Money no object, one of these. Winnebago Revel. Used they are about $120k. 

Rons Reader
7/10/19 10:05 p.m.
californiamilleghia HalfDork
7/10/19 10:09 p.m.

Mexican VW bus , with water cooled Golf engine in the back , 

Sold all over Central and South America ,  normal Golf motor if you need to fix it ,

Diesel if they made them ,  

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
7/11/19 6:43 a.m.

Those are all well-traveled roads, how about a Honda Civic?

alfadriver MegaDork
7/11/19 6:43 a.m.
californiamilleghia said:

Mexican VW bus , with water cooled Golf engine in the back , 

Sold all over Central and South America ,  normal Golf motor if you need to fix it ,

Diesel if they made them ,  

This is more a tangent based on your suggestion- one of the issues they brought up why they are going to use a Type 1 derivative instead of a Type 4 in their next quest is availability- the Type 4 was almost exclusive to the US or Europe.   On the other hand, they ended up building a unique engine that nobody has parts for....

So were the water cooled VW engines that common?  If they were, I'd lean more to a Westfilia instead, since they are made for that powertrain.

But it seems like the better option is the Toyota truck, assuming that they are really that common- assuming that you do not intend to take many other people with you- the Kombi was taking hitch hikers, to the point that some nights it looked like they had 5-6 people....  So if you want company, then a van of some type would be needed- which brings us back to the 4 runner, which is a truck base, right?  The nice thing about that platform is I'm sure there are some good off road kits that make it a lot more capable on horrible roads.

Diesel v gas- for sure, the adventure that they are going on would lean toward diesel.  But for the PanAm trip- I honestly don't recall seeing many diesel vehicles in Costa Rica- so I wonder if gas is more popular  in South and Central America.

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