First Overland Vehicle

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noghri00

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Traveler I

Hi! Im a highschool student that recently discovered overlanding and I've fallen in love with the idea of it due in part to my existing passion for adventure and the outdoors.

I'm looking to buy my first car and start my first build. I want something cheap, capable of medium off-roading, and big enough for 2 people if need be. It doesn't need to be a daily driver but it would be nice if I could drive
it regularly.
I don't mind a car needing mechanical work sense I have some experience and my Dad is great with cars. I'm leaning towards either in car or RTT camping. Normal tents are a option but staying out of the elements and speedy setup is appealing. RTTs worry me with their price and limited fuel mileage.

Requirements/Wants

-Under $5000 total(I'm in highschool)
-Fit 2 people comfortably(in case someone joins me)
-Easy to build(I don't want to put $1000 or 15+ hours into suspension)
-Easy to handle(not huge)
-Room to hold a moped or a Honda ct110 maybe
-Ability to change and grow it as I go

From some research Rangers look appealing and I've read articles about them, but could f-150s, tundras, or tacomas be alternatives?
Or should I look at SUVs like Discos, Troopers, or 4Runners?

Sorry for the long post

Thanks Chance
 
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ChuckB

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I'm biased toward Toyota so I would find the most well maintained Toyota 4x4 in your price range and have at it!


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Daniel Etter

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I would suggest a Tacoma or 4Runner. Toyotas, even older ones, are known for their reliability. They have plenty of space for storage, yet still small to maneuver on and off road. Parts for them are pretty easy to find. A jeep would be another option and there are tons of parts for them, but durability and reliability aren't great.
 

Kevin108

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96-99 Jeep Cherokee. Cheap, light, small but roomy, TONS of info on almost every issue you might have, parts new and used are plentiful and cheap, and they are quite capable even in stock trim. Stay away from the 00-01s. Despite being the newest, they seem to have the most issues. Since they're unibody, find one with as little rust as possible. JeepForum was a fantastic resource for info and ideas when I had my XJ. And definitely get the 4.0 engine. Other engines were available at different times, but the 4.0 was best at power, fuel economy, and durability.

jeep2014.JPG

2014-11-09120413.JPG
 
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Lead K9

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It is so hard to make a recommendation given you are just getting started and don't have specific requirements. Sounds like you just need something to get you from A to B. That is just about anything that is reliable. So be very open-minded when beginning your search.

My guess is you'll want to drive the vehicle a lot at your age given it represents independence as much as practicality. I would opt for something that holds four people versus a two-seater as you'll be using it as a daily driver. If you are going to add a scooter or ATV, I would consider a trailer down the road.

That suspension requirement is a tough one. First you'll need to drive your vehicle to learn how it handles in the different situations you'll normally put it through. Getting a used vehicle, this may only require new shocks and tires. But you also mentioned "medium off-roading." That means different things to different people. Retreaded mud tires and a factor limited-slip differential might fit you needs. Or you may find you need ground clearance which necessitates taller tires and springs. Again, this will be dictated by how you actually use the vehicle and how it handles in those conditions. Hard to know until you are there.

I prefer Jeeps, but each make and model has its pluses and minuses. A Wrangler would be fun for your age, but you will have to be creative in how you store gear. I've had to make decisions on whether to bring my dog or additional camping gear on fishing trips. A tough decision at times. But the open-air, stock capabilities, and fun at your age certainly are a factor. I like the idea of a solid XJ-era Cherokee too. A mechanically, reliable one will give you everything you need from a practical daily driver, to a mild off-roader, and allow you to modify it as needed.

Just be careful what you start off with. Like you mentioned, you run the risk of having to throw money into mechanical issues on top of the purchase price. Also, check for stock things that the general public might not add value to. Most people don't care if there are tow points on their vehicles, yet tow hooks and tow bars are options on an XJ-Cherokee. Limited-slip differentials are another value that most people don't even know they have in their vehicles, yet can make a huge difference on a muddy trail. These things might save you money in the long run.

Good luck in your adventures! As you can see, the vehicle can be an adventure in itself!
 
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Kevin108

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I think C4x4 front hooks were the first mod I made to my XJ, followed quickly by a rear receiver. More than anything else, sturdy recovery points are a must before you ever venture off the beaten path.
 
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Road

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Hey Chance - welcome!

I started doing exactly what you're doing when I was in high school, looking for ways to go on long road trips in my vehicle. Explore America and have adventures. That was in the late 60's early 70's, and I've used all sorts of vehicles ever since to live out of while on the road on long trips.

Depending on how much and how far you want to go off-road and how high a level of technical trails you hope to conquer, I'd seriously consider a van. Not too difficult to find used AWD vans, and even rear wheel drive vans will get you a lot of places.

I've used long wheelbase RWD vans (more about that w/pics in my intro here: http://bit.ly/2vVCR6S) to go all sorts of places regular RWD vehicles can't. Jeep trails in Death Valley. High-clearance only roads in Big Bend, etc. You get a lot more room inside a van to grow with, even in a reg wheelbase van, and a much more variable space that allows a wider variety of usage.

ChisoMtns2012_1359.jpg

I bought a 6-7 yr old diesel Chevy van--before the one I have now--for only $2700 cash, and drove it all over America for years. I racked up over 250,000 miles on her myself (over 500,00 miles total when I got rid of it) with little to no real problems. Certainly none that were overly expensive, and almost all I could fix myself.

The Honda CT110 you're thinking about weighs between 190-200 lbs and will take up more room than you might think if storing it inside any vehicle, along with fuel can, never mind how difficult it might be to continually load and unload something that weighs 190 lbs.

HondCT110-weight-specs copy.jpg

I really want a powered bike of some sort too, to tool around, go fishing, photo-op spots, get provisions, etc if my van and trailer are set up as base camp. Much more efficient transport, too, for short trips. So I bought a newly motorized used mountain bike; two-cycle engine, chain driven, only 40lbs, maybe, and way easy to lift in and out of my van or onto a rack. Here it is:

mymtnmotobike-170701_9534crp.jpg

Kinda noisy in the back country if you're trying to observe wildlife or not bother anyone else, and, at least in the configuration above, really bothered my old wrists to ride, even over smooth terrain. Only had one pedal speed, too, and you have to work against the engine when its off. Was starting to work on different handlebar arrangements, padded gloves, fenders, and the old-style shock forks in the pic, to alleviate the wrist problem.

Then I found this online, researched it thoroughly, and decided this was better suited to what I want:

sondors-170723.jpg

Same money as I had invested in the moto-bike with upgrades (disc brake, fork, etc).

This new bike is 7 speed, all-electric, fat tires for dirt, sand, or snow (I've seen a lot of fat tire pedal bikes here in Maine this summer), up to 60-85 mi range, pedal assist or throttle only, etc. Click the pic for more info. Way less expensive than a new CT110, though I have no idea what CT110s go for used. Sondors bikes have a huge fan base/user group following and lots of mods possible.

So, what I'm saying is, if in your shoes again and casting about for a decent vehicle to start adventuring with, knowing what I do now after years of camping and back country travel, I'd go for a good used van and a lighter weight bike, all doable within your $5k budget, probably with pesos left over for other camp gear.

Dry roads and open skies, Chance - hope to meet you out there someday.
 
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Darren01

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1st gen Xterra, 2000-2004. They are HIGHLY underrated but very capable and there are plenty of aftermarket options. You can find one in good condition for under $2500. You can do a PML (poor mans lift, t-bar crank and shackles in the rear) for about $70. You can fit 32s under it with the PML. 4x4, Factory LSD and the 5 spd. You'll have a capable, reliable rig for quite cheap. Gas mileage is piss poor though!
 

Justin Roach

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Traveler I

wish i would have discovered overlanding before i bought my first car, ended up with a 2wd truck. Best of luck to you and i will definitely watch this thread to see what you decide on