/ Buying a 4x4 that is cheap, easily fixable and spacious

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Calum Nicoll - on 11 Feb 2013
Five or six of us are going to drive over to central asia (Tajikistan) this summer, we're looking to buy a vehicle but aren't sure what's the best option.

There will be a substantial amount of motorway/good road driving going through europe, then some poor quality sand/dirt intersperced with good roads, some moderate river fording, and some higher altitude rock/scree driving, up to about 4500-5000m max. There will be lots of potholes.

We've looked into it a bit, and gather that high ground clearance is important. We're aware that the cheap car we buy will probably break a bit, but it would be nice if we could fix this ourselves/with local help (which will not be massively sophisticated), so it would be good if it did not rely on massively complex electronics.

Budget is 5k, and ideally much less i.e 2k.

So far, we've got ideas such as LWB land rovers defenders, nissan navara/pathfinder, toyotal landcruisers, but all advice is welcome.
ice.solo - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

Having covered a lot of that territory myself, id think about a 4wd hiace.
Runs well on the shit fuel you will find, efficent, roomy and unless youre actually off roading, enough clearance.

Be aware too, in certain parts of central asia regular 4wds bring certain connotations that may prove troublesome.
A scratched up white van will be less noticed.
cuppatea on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

If this is a genuine question then I'll start the ball rolling with:

Discovery 1 series, early, 300 tdi engine. If you can weld/know a man who can/use it scrap it.

7 seats, fixable by a bush mechanic, within budget, passable off-road ability.
colina - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:definatly don't buy a shogun,,great 4x4 but so so so so thirsty ! wot about a discovery td4 td5 I believe u can get them chipped to give 40+ mpg
colina - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: another thought.. I work for bt ,some of the aerial riggers drive round in a 4x4 transits with great ground clearance .would make a great conversion maybe.
KellyKettle - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: A 110 Defender (SW) or Disco would fit the bill nicely, though realistically not all of the passengers can be comfy at once (if you take out the bench seats and fit two more forward facing ones in the defender it improves a little) unless you're able to get the luggage on the roof or similar.

A series landrover in good mechanical condition would also manage it, but at the expense of some comfort and speed... If you live in the right area a suitable one might come up, otherwise it's not worth chasing (a tdi200 or tdi300 Defender would be better, the 2.5TD Ninety/One-Ten is not lauded for it's reliablity in the same way as the two Tdi engines are.)
woolsack - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: A Uaz 452 from Leningrad Autos outside Helsinki, 2300 Euros and where you are going parts not a problem. Indestructible, will run on crap fuel and you can fix it easily at the roadside


Lurking Dave - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: Toyota all the way. Hi-Lux surf would work. The 4WD Hiace suggested above is agood call.

KellyKettle - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to woolsack: Now that really is an idea!
M0nkey on 12 Feb 2013 - ip-77-221-178-218.dsl.twang.net
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

If there are 6 of you that will be a limiting factor since you will need enough seats. There isn't a lot of choice in the 4x4 market if you need lots of seats. Landrover Discoverys come in a 7 seat option, I think the Toyota Landcruiser does too. LWB Defenders can also have enough seats but realistically, no-one will want to travel in the back bench seats for more than 50 miles or so because it is grim back there.

Bear in mind you will presumably need a lot of luggage space, and if you have 5 or 6 people in the car, you won't have any space worth talking about, so you'll be looking at a roofrack as well.

Also, at the budget you are looking to spend, you might struggle to get something reliable enough to take on a long journey like that.

So, as an alternative, the Van ideas outlined above sound quite good.

To mix it up a bit more, why not consider 2 x cheap japanese 4x4s. you should comfortably be able to pick up two within your budget (a quick gumtree suggests you could get 2 daihatsu terios' for about 3k). That would solve the luggage concerns, and would also provide you with rescue options if one of them gets stuck, which might be a valuable advantage where you are going.
beardy mike - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to M0nkey: If you are considering a Navara. be very very very careful. At that price range you will be presented with some trucks which have engines on the verge to blowing up. If it were me, for that amount of money I'd be buying 2 Toyota surfs, diesels ones, and converting them to run on oil. Get a massive marine tank that you can fill with veg oil and tow on a trailer - there will always be farmers willing to sell you rapeseed oil etc... and smurfs are pretty bombproof...
mkean - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:
Ex-police 4wd van, Merc Sprinter 4x4? 6 people and kit in a regular 4x4 for that distance will be utterly grim!
woolsack - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mike kann: Yes, the Navarras are timed to die at 80,000 miles, no chance of Nissan offering any help with that either
cmgcmg - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: Find out what the locals drive. This will make repair/parts a lot simpler.
stumc - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: Not sure what your budget is, but a Disco 1 can be picked up with MOT and tax for £1200 ish maybe less maybe more. They are mechanically reliable and parts are really cheap, for my MOT I picked up an exhaust, x2 Shocks, rear axle brake pads and x2 drag link ball joints all for £98 delivered. Yes they rust but I'm not sure you would get an equally capable and bush fixable truck for the money.

A Defender would set you back in the region of £4000-£5000 for a Tdi model which is what you want.
woolsack - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to cmgcmg:
> (In reply to Calum Nicoll) Find out what the locals drive. This will make repair/parts a lot simpler.


Check and see if there is Google street view there and see what is driving about

Peakpdr - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

1995-96 Mitsubishi Delica l400, There monsters you wont get stuck anywhere. I have had mine for around 6 months now and there fantastic things, they have tons of room and up to 8 seats if you get the Lw one... you can pick a good one up for around 2K , I know loads of people who bought them to go traveling ...


Where are you staying ? your more than welcome to have a gander at mine...
Mr Goose on 12 Feb 2013 - []
In reply to Calum Nicoll: Why not just buy 2x cheap estate cars to get you there and borrow/rentbuy a 4x4/horses/camels/those massive russian Gaz trucks once there? All great off road performance.

People are generally pretty friendly and enterprising and there are some monster ex military trucks about in that part of the world - things that people have operated and fixed for 50 years in some cases. They would get you a lot further than a knackered old disco. We got a ride in a 4x4 up to a mountain pass for nothing off a backpacker lodge owner for example.

I also know someone who bought a motorbike and sidecar in Kyrgyzstan so it is def dooable.
Bob Hughes - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: I met a couple who were driving round africa. They picked up a Landcruiser for 4k and then spent another I think 2k on new shocks and tyres. Never let them down.
Stuart en Écosse - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

Some ideas/inspiration here perhaps?


Some thoughts about some of the vehicles mentioned so far:

Defenders can be fixed with a big hammer a few swear words but you can buy ten good discos for the price of a photo of a Defender.

Hilux surfs are great but the rear window will fail and then you'll have to access the rear through the back doors. They are also quite small inside.

Standard Taliban/builder type Hiluxes can be turned into campers (I used one in the Moroccan/Algerian Sahara and it was ace). They are indestructable and every small boy between Istanbul and Irkutsk can repair one using only a fake Swiss army knife and a lump of rock. They will also run on anything from veg oil to Ukrainian policeman's wee. Forever.

Dave Williams - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

My three penn'orth for what it's worth (based on a some overlanding experience both in North America and Africa.) First of all, well done with your plan for a proper DIY adventure. It should be a very interesting trip.

OK, some thoughts:

I think your vehicle budget is too low - as in your minimum budget needs to be £5K. £2K for a 4x4 for a trip such as this is simply too low. Basically you trade one cost for another. The less the initial purchase price, the more you will need to spend to try and ensure mechanical reliability. In addition, you'll need 6 all-terrain tyres (2 spares) and don't skimp on these - go for the likes of BF Goodrich or General Grabber. 6 such tyres will cost £700+ (which puts your £2K budget into perspective!)

Whatever you'll get is going to be very cramped for 5/6 people. The suggestions re. getting a Merc Sprinter 4x4 van (or even a VW T4 Synchro) are excellent and would give you more space and comfort but, unfortunately, your budget's too low to go down this road. 5/6 in a single 4x4 is going to be a struggle to say the least and personally with that number, I'd be thinking straight away of 2 vehicles with 3 in each..

There is the argument that you first of all choose a type of vehicle (eg Toyota Land Cruiser, LR Defender) then budget for a total mechanical overhaul. Once you've done this, you then go out and try and buy the best vehicle you can for the money you have remaining. By doing it this way you hopefully end up with a vehicle that is a known quantity. Also bear in mind 5/6 people, plus luggage. How much weight [including passengers] are you going to carry (spare tyres, water, books, food, clothes, extra fuel] around in your vehicle? 500kg? 700kg? 1,000kg? More?!

I would suggest that you buy a vehicle that is as standard and as basic as possible and then bring it up to the level of modification needed for the trip. You may well get away without needing a suspension lift. Personally I'd keep the suspension height as standard but fit heavy duty springs and uprated shocks. I'd then fit sump, fuel tank and diff guards and that's it. Keep it as simple and as standard as possible. You can live without A/C.

If you were going to Africa, I'd choose a either a Toyota or a Land Rover 300Tdi as a distant second choice. However, you're going to Central Asia, so I'd bin any notion of buying a Land Rover straight away. Every capital city in the countries you'll travel through will have a Toyota garage so I'd go for a Toyota if you can. Land Rovers are virtually unknown as local vehicles in Central Asia but Toyotas have been used there for years.

Diesel can often be hard to find in the Central Asian boonies. Do your research and it may make sense to go for a petrol 4x4. Otherwise add the cost of fitting a long range tank to your diesel 4x4.

Remember to allow for the cost of a carnet. Research this carefully as vehicle carnet prices for some countries are based on the purchase price of the vehicle.

So, finally, allowing for the limitations of your budget, what 4x4 would I suggest you get? A Toyota certainly, but not a Land Cruiser (beyond budget). No, I'd get a 1990s Toyota 4Runner, which is basically a Hilux but with space for 5. It's a sensible choice; cheap(ish) to buy; diesel or petrol; minimal electronics; leafsprings in the back; solid axles.

You may need to, er, junk the 6th person!

Hope this helps.

bouldery bits - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

Disco, land cruiser, VW T3 Syncro.
Calum Nicoll - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll: Excellent, loads of interesting ideas guys, thanks for all the help. Will do some investigating and report back.
jkarran - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to Calum Nicoll:

6 of you in one vehicle? Get a couple of beat up old diesel Mercs then add some tall sturdy tyres and sump guards. Cheap, reliable, easy to fix, plenty of room and having a pair they're redundant if you run into serious trouble.

I forgot to add having two will be valuable when you inevitably fall out with each other tired in cramped conditions.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.