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Overland Overload: Packing the Pages With the Coolest Rigs of Overland Expo West

Posted in Features on June 29, 2018
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Overlanding is all about the adventure. It is the joy of getting out there, going places, and seeing the world (or your local stomping grounds) with the help of a vehicle. The 2018 Overland Expo West show at Fort Tuthill County Park, outside Flagstaff, Arizona, gave us the chance to have our own adventure—navigating the crowds of khaki-clad overland enthusiasts and the machines they rely on.

We spent two days at the show in search of overlanding creations. What we found amazed us. The event drew vehicles ranging in size from sedans to apartment units on military tires. Some machines were packed for the weekend, and others had a payload of gear to sustain a family for a trip around the globe. Strap on your safari hat and explore the following pages for some of the more notable creations we found at the show.

The folks at Tudo Rack had a couple surprises for us. First was a lesson in linguistics—Tudo means “everything” in Portuguese. Second, the company’s ’88 Cherokee was powered not by the traditional inline-six, but by a Volkswagen 1.9L TDI engine.
We found a red 700 Series Haflinger posing roadside. This smaller predecessor to the Steyr-Daimler-Puch Pinzgauer came with four-wheel independent suspension, a 24hp air-cooled rear engine, the ability to climb 65-degree slopes, and was claimed to be light enough for four humans to lift it off the ground.
Nissan crowdsourced the ideas for nearly every aspect of the Mountain Patrol Armada build. Social media fans chose ICON Alloys Rebound wheels, 35-inch Nitto Trail Grappler tires, LP9 and XL80 LED lights from Baja Designs, a 6-inch Calmini lift, a rooftop tent from Cascadia Vehicle Tents, and more. This rig and Nissan’s Project Basecamp Titan were both on display.
We found this ’02 Chevy Avalanche lurking in the parking lot. This truck rolls around on 35-inch General Grabbers and has an impressive list of mods. The 5.3L engine breathes easier in silt and water with a Safari snorkel and was fitted with Doug Thorley headers, an S&B Filters cold-air intake, and a MagnaFlow exhaust (which exits ahead of the rear diff to avoid trail damage). The truck is packed with 4.88 gears, a rear ARB Air Locker, Fox shocks, Eibach coil springs, and much more.
Candice, Jordan, and Nugget are traveling the Pan-American Highway from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, in their ’97 Mitsubishi Delica van. The 4x4 van has a 2.8L turbodiesel engine, BFGoodrich KO2 tires, custom bumpers, and enough interior amenities to keep the trio happy on their transcontinental journey.
When other trucks teeter from high centers of gravity, this rig excels. The custom-built camper shell sits on a Ford F-550 Crew Cab chassis and lifts upward in three stages to create both open-air ventilation and standing room. The shell is crafted from strong and lightweight Transonite panels and is designed to transport a pair of surfers on their search for waves.
This F-150 from Diesel Conversion Specialists might not have a rooftop tent, traction mats, or a headliner covered in patches, but it sure did have a Cummins 4BT under the hood.
How often do you see a Porsche Cayenne with over 50-plus inches of LED lightbars, a spare tire rack, and a winch?
With two more wheels than normal, this Land Rover Defender has quite a story. First off, it is one of 94 6x6 ambulance variants built and used in the Austrian Defense Force. Power comes from the 4BD1T turbo four-cylinder engine and is routed through a LT95A Land Rover four-speed transmission. The rig is driven from the right side, has air conditioning and heating, can operate in four- or six-wheel drive, and is for sale in South Dakota.
We found a ’66 Chevy panel truck sitting on a ’79 Chevy chassis, fed by a 350 V-8, and adorned with a 12,000-pound winch, plenty of off-road lighting, and a payload of adventure gear.
Venturing in from Virginia, this red Mercedes 410 4x4 began its life as a German fire truck and now serves as an adventuremobile.
Sportsmobile vans might have been abundant at the show, but we still can’t help but stop and look when one is clean and yellow like this.
American Expedition Vehicles is always on hand to remind us what can be done with the Jeep JK. The Outpost II Camper is built off the company’s JK350 platform and features the new High Capacity Coil Springs.
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Beneath the clean ’79 International Scout body lies a surly LS3 engine, 6L80 transmission, and an Advance Adapters Atlas transfer case. What else is unique here? The whole rig is built on a Jeep JK frame.

Instead of letting this ’62 Willys Wagon rot, Jeep placed the body onto a TJ Unlimited frame and transplanted an AMC inline-six engine beneath the hood. Anyone behind the wheel of the wagon can still row through the gears of the five-speed manual transmission.
Even a Ram 5500 can be built into an overlanding monster. This one has a custom-built camper shell, can carry 100 gallons of potable water, and rolls over the land on 335/80R20 Continental MPT tires.
What fun is overlanding in a ’78 Land Cruiser if you can’t bring along all your pals? This creation from WYLD Garage has two more doors and plenty of room for friends and camping gear.
At first glance this rig looks like it came straight from an overseas military outpost. Whether the desert-tan utility box is loaded with tools or expedition gear, the LED lights, winch, backup camera, and 41-inch meats make this truck ready for adventure.
Among the rows of camping setups with price tags like those of single-family homes, we found a Cherokee and a half. The DIY trailer included an off-road hitch built for articulation on the trail, a trailer-top tent, and what appeared to be a week’s worth of gear.

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