Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.
To go overlanding is one thing. To go overlanding and actually be comfortable the entire time, sequestered in a mobile base camp, is another level. To achieve the missions, you could take a Jeep Wrangler and pack it with camping gear until the weld seams start to burst, or you could get an overlander that’s ready to be camped in right from the get-go. It’ll save you the trouble of worrying about heat or shelter. (By my count is two of your top three priorities in the wild, but you can always haul a jug of water to take care of number three.) These five used cars are raring and ready for a weekend in the mountains, the desert or wherever you want to take them.
1987 Land Rover 110
Location: Spring, Texas
What we like: Defenders are characteristically bare-bones — this one is no different. It has been restored under the hood and the interior but, it’s still rugged and ready to be beat on, abused and filled with gear over a weekend.
From the seller: “The 2017 restoration is said to have been performed with original specifications in mind. Work included sandblasting, sealing and painting of the frame, repair of the bulkhead and door bottoms, and new paint along the passenger side lower panels and rear of vehicle. The 110 is fitted with an adjustable tow hitch. The full-length galvanized roof rack with rear ladder pictured above is not currently fitted, but will come with the vehicle.”
What to look out for: Normally, rust can be an issue with Defenders of this vintage but this particular example has been sandblasted, repainted and restored, including a rebuilt engine.
Expert opinion: “Off-road, the Defender is enormously capable, but it takes much more effort from the driver than is needed in a modern, electronically controlled off-roader, not least in finding – and selecting – the right gear in difficult conditions. One thing that has made it much easier to drive in extreme situations is the engine’s stall control. At crawling speeds, it is possible for the driver to lift off the pedals altogether and let the stall control inch the vehicle forward..” — Steve Sutcliffe Autocar
1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Diesel
Mileage: 139,000 (TMU)
Location: Mount Sidney, Virginia
What we like: The original Westfalia diesel engine wasn’t that great, and even the rebuilt 1.9-liter unit in this camper is fairly gutless, but the extra add-ons might make up for it. The upgraded suspension, tires, kitchenette, 200-watt solar charging system with roof panels, 200 amp-hour house battery, Blue Sky solar controller with maximum power point tracking, NOCO Genius Gen1 10-amp onboard battery charger and ARB awning make this one well-equipped light-overlander.
From the seller: “The North American High Top and custom rack were added by the seller. A 7-foot ARB awning is attached above the passenger side sliding door to provide shade and weather protection. The seller added the solar panels/charging system within the past 10 months. BFG KO2 tires, including a full-size spare, were mounted to Mercedes CLK-style powder-coated wheels in the last 2k miles.”
What to look out for: Poor tune-up condition, malfunctioning oxygen sensor, poor oxygen sensor ground, faulty values from coolant temp sensor, throttle switch and idle control components are among the most common problems but fairly easy to fix.
Expert opinion: “They are strong running, and produce about 30% better fuel economy than a typical gasoline-powered Vanagon. However, these vehicles have many of the shortcomings of all the older Vanagons (the shifter system for example), and the cost and trouble of converting one of these to the newer turbo diesel power plant is formidable.” – GoWesty.com
Modified 2004 Land Rover Discovery G4 Challenge
Location: Denton, Texas
What we like:This Discovery is too good to not include in this week’s Found even though it’s already been mentioned. That being said, when we first saw this excellent off-roader, it was only going for $8,000 — now it’s going for over $15,000.
From the seller: “This 2004 Land Rover Discovery is one of 200 G4 editions produced in conjunction with the G4 Challenge event, and has been modified for off-road use by the current owner. Finished in Tangiers Orange over black vinyl, this truck carries various RTE Fabrication off-road armor components and has been lifted with an RTE Fabrication lift kit, Fox shocks, and numerous owner suspension modifications. Power comes from a 4.6L V8 that is backed by a 4-speed automatic transmission, and upgraded axles, gears, and a locking differential have been added by the seller.”
What to look out for: Discoverys of this vintage can have problematic head gaskets and a few small mechanical problems, but this G4 Challenge special edition has been so extensively redone, rebuilt and upgraded, it’s practically a new vehicle altogether.
Expert opinion: “Discovery’s interior is as distinctive as its exterior. It too was completely redesigned for 1999 to reduce British eccentricity. But British luxury abounds. The seats are comfortable in either Duragrain or leather. The driver’s seat affords excellent visibility and there’s lots of headroom. Land Rover calls its elevated seating the ‘Command Driving Position,’ and it does afford a commanding view of off-road driving situations. .” — Autoblog
1989 Land Rover 110
Location: Kennebunkport, Maine
What we like:When looking into buying a Defender, you have to understand you are getting the bare minimum of what a car provides. There’s zero luxury. But that lets you and the truck focus on getting where you need to go that much better. It’s a tool — not precision instrument — and it gets the job done the way it is, stock. to have a snorkel, built up roof rack and a refined engine compartment — those are the luxuries of a Defender.
From the seller: “A full-length Front Runner Slimline II roof rack has been added, as well as four new, larger-diameter spotlights to the existing light bar The truck retains the modifications and upgrades installed prior to being sold on BaT in June 2017, including the aftermarket front bumper with the orange-coated 13,000-lb. winch, snorkel, chequer plating, rock sliders and the Cooper Mud Terrain tire and steel wheel combination.”
What to look out for: Sadly, as great as this Defender looks, the engine can be the biggest problem. Cracked bores, camshaft rattling and timing belts can be problem areas.
Expert opinion: “Confined cabin, not enough seat adjustment, appalling on-road dynamics, possibly the worst turning circle outside of an Airbus A380, a removable face CD player from the early 90’s, poor insulation and cabin refinement. My special favourite deserves mention too – the driver’s window needing to be open to properly use the steering wheel. The list of quirks goes on. Few vehicles, however, can do what the Defender can, and even fewer can do it with the same innate sense of style. A Toyota LandCruiser 70-Series is just as tough and just as fit for purpose, but it can’t even begin to match the Defender’s incredible street cred..” — Trent Nikolic Car Advice
2016 Mercedes Benz Sprinter 4×4 Custom Build
Location: Boulder, Colorado
What we like:From the factory, the Sprinter 4×4 makes an incredible camper vehicle. It was, after all the chase vehicle that saved us in along the way from Seattle to Alaska. Even stripped out, the Sprinter makes a great mobile campsite — one look at this Sprinter’s interior and you should know you have a Four Seasons on four wheels, with four-wheel-drive.
From the seller: “Includes: Espar Bunk Heate, two 160-Watt GoPower solar panels, Go Power 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave, inverter/100 amp charger, refrigerator, sink/stove combo, convertible bed and table/couch area, lots of Storage space under benches, full height closet, and in kitchen, designed with re-purposed Barn Wood.”
What to look out for: This model is still young so most ‘problems’ could be circumstantial and hard to detect any ‘common’ faults.
Expert opinion: “Having proved itself a worthy off-roader, we couldn’t help but wonder who exactly might buy the Sprinter 4×4. Mercedes didn’t exactly answer the question, but it did tell us that the vehicle—which starts at $44,475 for a short-wheelbase, low-roof cargo model—is already sold out through September of this year. And while we sort of feared an encounter with a pissed-off ursine or a huge truck full of dead trees headed for the lumber mill, we discovered that this van is a tool essentially without competition. If you have a large family and live in a remote area, or maybe you need huge, weather-tight cargo capability and often trudge through sludgy construction sites, the Sprinter 4×4 is the only way to go..” — Alexander Stokloska Car and Driver