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alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
7/11/19 6:44 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:

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

If you stick to the road, only- not bad.  But if you to any of the excursions that Kombi Life did- that would be punishing.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
7/11/19 7:56 a.m.

A 4Runner/Hilux was my first thought, the Land Cruiser utility pickup is mechanically similar and will look the part in photos laugh

One reason for sticking to these models is that they're common in central/south America so you won't have much trouble finding parts. Take a Jeep into South America on the other hand, and it'd be like taking a Defender into the States, minus all that easy, quick, and cheap online shopping. You'll end up taking a long unplanned vacation during your trip while you wait for parts to arrive, and you'll pay lots for shipping, possibly duties, and/or maybe bribes.

The good news is that, like a Defender in the States, you could sell it to a rich guy who would use it as a statusmobile, and use the money to buy a 4Runner/Hilux/Land Cruiser cheeky

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) UltimaDork
7/11/19 8:02 a.m.

What car to take on all the roads.......all the roads.......hmmm, I dunno.  

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
7/11/19 8:18 a.m.

I would go with something gas powered or an older diesel. The ULSD the newer M-B vans need to live is not always available south of the US border.  

A Toyota truck based Overland camper would be an easy button choice, although they aren't cheap. 

Next would be something like a Sportsmobile E-series 4x4 van.  Even less cheap than the Overland.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia HalfDork
7/11/19 8:46 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Late model bay window buses built in Mexico has a "suitcase" radiator on the front and ran Golf type motors , 

Yeah if I was building an air-cooled bus it would have a stock 1600cc motor ,  because if you put big bore pistons you are stuck , but stock 1600 pistons are available , new and used.....

 

Saron81
Saron81 Reader
7/11/19 9:01 a.m.
pinchvalve said:

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

A Corvair?

 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
7/11/19 9:07 a.m.

Box burban. 3/4T so you get the 14bolt in the rear. I’d prefer diesel, so Cummins 12v and a 4l80. Small lift 3-4” with 35’s. 50gallon fuel tank. 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
7/11/19 9:09 a.m.

Toyota Camry.

 

A couple of years ago a group from australia did it in MGBs. So I am guessing that it is not as much of an off-road ordeal as people think it is.

 

https://www.namgar.com/events/article/international/pan_american_highway_in_classic_mgs/

 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
7/11/19 9:39 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

I think the poor road nature of the trip is more about how much you want to deviate from the actual road.  If you want to explore off track, then you need to deal with really bad roads.

Still, some of the pictures I've seen of the actual road suggests that there are sections where 35mph would be as fast as you would want to go with a typical car.  

And car vs. SUV vs. van- where do you want to sleep, and do you want the option of sleep in the middle of nowhere?  Then, how comfortable?

Even with that consideration- looking at the Kombi used- how "primitive" do you want your accommodations?  If we actually did this trip, an actual toilet close at hand, and actual running water of some type would be required.  So the van would need some provisions for both of them.  Or we stay in hotels.

 

 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
7/11/19 9:42 a.m.
pinchvalve said:

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

In that case just get an Amphicar & sail around it. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
7/11/19 9:53 a.m.

No offroading is necessary (unless you try to drive across the Darien Gap to any extent) but there are terrible roads, and a lot of great offroading opportunities you'd miss if you don't take an offroad vehicle.

These days the Darien Gap has become a hiding spot for criminal gangs, much like Florida's Everglades in the 20s~30s, so if you try to enter it I'd recommend you mount a machine gun to whatever you're driving...

mtn
mtn MegaDork
7/11/19 9:57 a.m.

A guy I used to caddy with was from either Ecuador or Venezuela. He'd go home every winter and drive his Samuri home, complete with snorkel, big tires, and a more powerful engine than stock. Otherwise I believe it was stock. He did do the Darien gap each year. Said he was well armed and did it as fast as possible. Other than the gap, it sounded like you'd be fine in just about any robust vehicle, but it would definitely be better suited to something with ground clearance.

 

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
7/11/19 10:43 a.m.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon.

Place to sleep? Check.

Comfy? Check.

Fun? You betcha.

Thirsty? Duh.

paul_s0
paul_s0 New Reader
7/11/19 10:46 a.m.

As I live down here, I'd suggest avoiding diesel - the diesel (here in Peru at least), is poor quality, and especially outside of the big cities you might have issues with it.  Big stretches of the PanAm here are in good condition, but there are also some bits (Chiclayo in the North, bits of Lima, and the Southern edge) which are badly cut up, and unsurfaced in some cases - the 35mph mentioned above would be too quick, unless in a Dakar type vehicle..Some bits were badly damaged in the floods 2 years ago and still haven't been repaired.

Aside from all the normal advice, I can't emphasis enough the need to fit strong tyres with decent sidewalls and take DIY puncture repair kits and the "Fix-a-Flat" foam.   So far this year I've fixed 10 punctures, and that's just driving around Lima.  I wouldn't recommend a convertible purely for security reasons. 

Whilst there's the idea that air-cooled VWs are commonplace down here, most of the ones left are held together with string and ducttape - don't be tricked into thinking decent spares are easy to come by.  Here at least, the most common stuff is Honda, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai.  There's a surprising number of Jeeps too, but if you go that route get an XJ with the 6 cyl, if you need spares it's the only one you might have a chance of getting hold of spares relatively easily.  Personally, I'd be looking at cars with ground clearance rather than SUVs etc, but it depends on what you want to do..

Good luck and don't underestimate the security situation, made worse by the mass exodus from Venezuela.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
7/11/19 11:52 a.m.

In reply to paul_s0 :

Thanks for the post- I was actually wondering what was actually "common".  And given the relative layout choices of the common vehicles, it very much seems that a Toyota truck/SUV of some kind with a lift kit would be a good choice.

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
7/11/19 11:54 a.m.

I was hoping you'd chime in. I've enjoyed your posts about Peru.

Yes, having lived in Argentina, I would avoid diesel engines. You want to be able to find good fuel easily. 

I think tires are going to be the biggest concern. Can you fix them? Can you replace them anywhere? You want a common size that is available in the small towns of Northern Canada and in the small towns in Colombia.

RevRico
RevRico PowerDork
7/11/19 12:04 p.m.

I was only thinking an old mechanical diesel because I've seen them run on pretty much anything. Straight veggie oil, bio diesel, regular diesel, kerosene, not having been to South America I thought it would give the most options for fuel in the area. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
7/11/19 1:04 p.m.
RevRico said:

I was only thinking an old mechanical diesel because I've seen them run on pretty much anything. Straight veggie oil, bio diesel, regular diesel, kerosene, not having been to South America I thought it would give the most options for fuel in the area. 

I was thinking non-DI EFI diesel, you don't need to go as far back as MFI, just avoiding DI should keep crappy diesel from ruining your day. Crappy diesel is easy to get anywhere, and it may be a good idea to run on kerosene or some kind of jet fuel if you want to go offroading in the frozen tundra waaaaay down south (or waaay up north, since Alaska is also on the route), the others you can run on if the opportunity arises but you shouldn't NEED to.

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
7/11/19 1:33 p.m.

Dacia Sandero

mtn
mtn MegaDork
7/11/19 1:36 p.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to paul_s0 :

Thanks for the post- I was actually wondering what was actually "common".  And given the relative layout choices of the common vehicles, it very much seems that a Toyota truck/SUV of some kind with a lift kit would be a good choice.

I'd probably go with a 4th generation 4Runner or Tacoma, mild lift, with at least 4 extra wheels. Throw them in the back/on top. It would still be extremely comfortable and capable as a regular car, which is what you need for most of the trip, but also be very capable off road for the fun stuff. 

 

 

Otherwise, the answer is obviously an AMC Eagle.

FSP_ZX2
FSP_ZX2 Dork
7/11/19 1:57 p.m.

Miata.  This is GRM, dammit.  The answer is ALWAYS Miata.

Kreb
Kreb UberDork
7/11/19 2:07 p.m.
The0retical said:

A Mercedes Sprinter Van 4x4 with a conversion interior.

Like so.

They're ubiquitous on most continents.

"Glamping", when Sherpas are just too much trouble. 

_
_ HalfDork
7/11/19 2:13 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:

No offroading is necessary (unless you try to drive across the Darien Gap to any extent) but there are terrible roads, and a lot of great offroading opportunities you'd miss if you don't take an offroad vehicle.

These days the Darien Gap has become a hiding spot for criminal gangs, much like Florida's Everglades in the 20s~30s, so if you try to enter it I'd recommend you mount a machine gun to whatever you're driving...

Came here to say exactly this. Especially if going through Columbia. 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
7/11/19 3:57 p.m.

Corolla with strut spacers, rallycoilovers, and heavy duty winter tires?

 

Wally
Wally MegaDork
7/11/19 8:35 p.m.

My choice if/when I get F.U. Money and walk away from society is an older smallish box truck, either an International or Freightliner with the box turned into a camper.  They’re relatively inexpensive, reliable, and parts are readily available. A friend’s father used to buy a few tired school buses with a group at his church and drive them down to villages in Mexico and Central America.  He said they were well built enough to make the journey without issue, and on rare occasions of a breakdown parts and mechanics were easy to come by.  

 

For travel duty duty I would outfit mine aggressively treaded wide base single  tires like a concrete mixer for crossing soft terrain, large fuel tanks to cut down on fuel stops at sketchy pumps, and a couple nice comfy air ride seats.  

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