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The Turtle Expedition Celebrates 40 Years Of Off-Roading

1967 Land Rover Series Iia Front Three Quarter
Trevor Reed | Writer
Posted February 1, 2012
Photographers: Four Wheeler Archives, Gary Wescott, Monika Wescott

Original Overlanders

Have you ever dreamed about jumping into a fully modified extreme 4x4 camper and making it your home on wheels for … as long as you feel like it? How about exploring both sides of the world and meeting people on almost every continent on Earth while having that fully outfitted 4x4 camper to keep you comfortable, no matter if you are deep into Mexico or driving across Siberia? For the past 40 years, Gary and Monika Wescott have been living that dream while building a fleet of ever-improving ultimate camping vehicles to transport them all over the globe.

If you haven’t already heard of The Turtle Expedition, it’s a series of extended roadtrips by the Wescotts in their exploration of the roads less travelled while testing upgrades for custom 4x4s. Their adventures have taken them everywhere from upper North America to South America, Europe, and even Asia. They have sought out silt beds and single-track roads and slogged through sand, mud, snow, and more, while sometimes racking up 50,000 miles in a single trip. As upgraded parts were tested for camping and off-roading durability, The Turtle Expeditions have led to broken axles, blown tires, and lots of knowledge about how to build the ultimate 4x4 mobile home.

Their first four wheeler used was a self-admittedly underpowered blue ’67 Land Rover 109 long-wheelbase model that was nicknamed La Tortua Azul (The Blue Turtle) because it “was very slow and carried its house on its back,” according to Wescott. Since the initial trip in 1972, the original British engine was junked for a Chevrolet 250 cubic inch six-cylinder; that’s not the first, and definitely not the last, modification to the generations of Turtle Expedition vehicles which have been roaming the world over the past four decades. In fact, there have been so many parts tested, we don’t have the space to list them here, but you can check out all of the companies involved at: www.turtleexpedition.com/suppliers. On the next few pages, we’ve gathered the technical information about the completed version of each generation of The Turtle trucks—from La Tortuga Azul up through the current ’99 Ford F-550 Super Duty 4x4, The Turtle V, which has taken the Wescotts to remote locations for more than a decade.

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The Details
General
Base vehicle: 1967 Land Rover Series IIA 109-in wheelbase
Time in service: 11 years
Sale price: $16,000 (sold in 1981)
Engine
Type: Chevrolet 250ci (4.1L) I-6
Horsepower: 155hp @ 4,200 rpm (estimate, stock GM engine specs)
Torque: 235 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm (estimate, stock GM engine specs)
Electrical: Lucas Electronics w/GNP deep-cycle sealed battery
Fuel system: Carbureted
Exhaust: Hooker headers w/glasspack muffler
Cooling: Heavy-duty crossflow w/remote fan
Drivetrain
Transmission: 4-spd Land Rover
Transfer case: 2-spd Land Rover/16-spds w/Fairy Overdrive
Locking hubs: Selectro
Axle ratios: 4.70:1
Axle/Differentials/Brakes
Front axle: Land Rover solid axle w/open differential
Rear axle: Land Rover solid axle w/open differential
Brakes: Land Rover
Suspension
Front: Burbank Spring leaf springs w/Rough Country shocks
Rear: Burbank Spring leaf springs w/Rough Country shocks
Steering
Stock manual steering
Wheels/Tires
Wheels: Land Rover 16-in
Tires: Sears brand mud and snow
Capacities/Weight
Fuel capacity: 30 gallons
Curb weight: 9,000 lbs (approximate)
Interior
Seats: Land Rover w/imitation elephant hide upholstery
Safety harness: American sedan seat belts added
Interior storage: Custom center and overhead consoles
Exterior
Bumpers: Custom heavy-duty grille guard by Gary Wescott
Winch: 8,000-lb Warn
Camper type: Custom-built

The Details
General
Base vehicle: 1979 GMC K3500 4x4
Time in service: 7 years
Sale price: $25,000 (sold in 1988)
Engine
Type: Chevrolet 460ci (7.5L) V-8 by Louie Unser
Horsepower: 243hp @ 3,000 rpm
Torque: 400 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Electrical: 135-amp alternator w/GNP deep-cycle sealed battery
Fuel system: Custom and fuel pump relocation
Exhaust: Walker Flow-Through muffler system
Cooling: Stock radiator w/two Hayden auto-fans and a flex fan
Drivetrain
Transmission: Custom Turbo 400 w/aux cooler and B&M shifter
Transfer case: Stock GMC 2-spd transfer case
Locking hubs: Warn
Axle ratios: 4.10:1
Axle/Differentials/Brakes
Front axle: Dana 60 w/Gleason Torsen differential
Rear axle: 14-bolt w/Detroit Locker
Brakes: Stock w/Raybestos pads and shoes
Suspension
Front: GM ¾-ton leaf springs w/Rough Country shocks
Rear: GM ¾-ton leaf springs w/Rough Country shocks
Steering
Stock power steering
Wheels/Tires
Wheels: Clement 16-in
Tires: BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/As
Capacities/Weight
Fuel capacity: 40 gallons
Curb weight: 10,000 lbs (approximate)
Interior
Seats: Scheel-Mann orthopedic seats
Safety harness: Deist four-point safety harnesses
Interior storage: Custom center/overhead consoles by Jean’s Cabinet
Exterior
Bumpers: Rickard compartment bumper
Winch: 12,000-lb Warn
Camper type: Modified Four Wheel Keystone pop-up

Photos

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Sources

The Turtle Expedition, Unlimited
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