When organising an overland journey such as ours, the choice of vehicle becomes a very important part of the preparations.
In September 2009 we attended the Land Rover Owners Show in Peterborough, where we made many contacts, collected lots of tips and loads of information, about what may come in useful for the Overland Trip we are planning.
Upon our return home and after much searching, we found a vehicle on the internet and within a short time the Land Rover was ours. It will stay in the United Kingdom while it undergoes many modifications and improvements. Joe is a competent mechanic and will do much of the work himself. One of our main aims is to make the vehicle as green as possible by utilising solar technology, alternative fuels and recyclable materials.
When we posted an article on the VG-blog about our new vehicle, there were a great deal of questions and opinions about our choice of a Land Rover Defender instead of Toyota Land Cruiser. We would like to clarify here why we have made the choice we have.
When organising an overland journey such as ours, the choice of vehicle becomes a very important part of the preparations. Many factors have to be considered to accommodate our needs. A balance has to be struck between ruggedness and comfort, environmental concerns and practicality, economy and power requirements, cost and availability, serviceability and knowledge/skills.
Our first consideration is for a rugged vehicle with off-road capability. We plan to visit many remote areas where roads may not exist, so 4×4 capabilities are essential. The usual suspects were then considered: Land Rover, Land Cruiser, Jeep, Mercedes …..etc. Each has its pro’s and con’s. The Land Rover Defender won the day for the following reasons: Ruggedness and off-road capability, ease of servicing, low cost of spares, availability of spares, modification versatility, lightweight aluminium body, range of available accessories and upgrades, plus our already acquired knowledge of this marque.
Other considerations are for a vehicle we can comfortably live and work in for an extended period of time and accommodate our daily needs for sleeping, cooking and recreation. Storage space for equipment, spares, tools and personal items, is also important. There seems to be only one Land Rover Defender model that can fulfil all our requirements.
The Land Rover Defender 130 ambulance is perfect for our needs. Some modifications will be needed, but that would be the situation whichever vehicle we had chosen. Those available for sale are all ex-military and so very heavy duty. They have been serviced regularly and also have a complete service history. Perfect.
A drawback of this particular vehicle is that it has only ever been produced with a V8 3.5Litre petrol engine. Although this is a powerful, reliable and proven engine, it has very high fuel consumption. To reduce the dependency on petrol, an LPG system has been fitted. The consumption of LPG remains at the same rate as petrol, but is half the price per litre. LPG also has very low emissions compared to petrol. Therefore not only is there an advantage in reducing cost, but is also better for the environment. One of the disadvantages is the low availability of LPG outside of Europe. A balance has to be struck between fuel economy, availability, cost and environmental impact.
The information presented here, will document the preparation of the vehicle for our journey.