6 Cool Things From the Overland Expo West

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By Aaron Bragman

The annual Overland Expos — be it the West (spring) or the East (fall) — are the events to attend if overlanding is your passion. Overlanding, you ask? It's the practice of driving cross-country with as little use of paved paths as possible. It's done using vehicles that allow you to go anywhere and live off the grid, so serious money is involved.

The Overland Expos are three-day affairs that showcase overlanding vehicles, equipment, demonstrations, slideshows and films. Participants can visit for a day or camp on-site for the duration. We attended the recent Overland Expo West in Arizona. Here are six of the coolest things we saw.

1. Cummins Repower 2.8-Liter Diesel Engine


Got a classic Land Rover SUV or Toyota pickup truck that you've turned into an overlander, spending thousands of dollars to get it just how you want it, only to have the engine quit on you? Replace that old, worn-out mill with a turbo-diesel 2.8-liter crate motor from diesel engine supplier Cummins Repower. For $8,995 plus installation, you can have a new four-cylinder with everything you need to drop it into a 1999-and-older vehicle. It's a surprisingly complete kit, including wiring harnesses for both the engine compartment and interior, a new throttle pedal, engine control module and a hook up for an air-conditioning compressor (not included). Cummins Repower even has an extensive list of suggested installers around the country; nearly a half-dozen exhibitors showed trucks with the Repower engine.

2. All the Restored Toyota Land Cruisers


Older trucks and SUVs have been hot on the collector market for a few years now, and the number of restored classic Toyota Land Cruisers on display at the expo was astonishing. There are a few companies that will take an old, busted rig and turn it into something far more luxurious than anything that left a Japanese factory 40 years ago. Check out these two examples from The FJ Company. The two-door is a 1983 FJ40 Land Cruiser (above) that starts out as a restored Classic model for a hefty $85,000. This one adds equipment such as a Warn Zeon 8 winch, Corbeau sport seats, a hardtop, a premium sound system, foglights and a digital instrument cluster to bring its as-configured price to $100,500. But if you want to go all-in, have a look at the 1983 FJ43 Signature model (below) that starts at an even $200,000 and includes things such as Recaro sport seats in honey-colored leather, a custom stainless exhaust, an Old Man Emu suspension, 2017 Toyota 4Runner disc brakes, custom bumpers, rear jump seats, a digital gauge cluster, LED headlights, air conditioning, premium audio and a backup camera. Extras that bump the as-configured price to $210,900 include a bumper-integrated Warn 8274 winch, Recaro steering wheel, four-wheel drive with ARB lockers and a full custom roll cage. It's actually far too nice to take anywhere dirty.


3. DEFCO Trucks/Hallmark Campers Combo Rig


So, say you really want a Ford F-150 Raptor and you really like the idea of a pickup truck bed-mounted camper. Those two ideas don't coexist well, thanks to the Raptor's payload rating that's less than that of a Ford Explorer. Enter DEFCO Trucks out of Denver. The company has taken a Ford Super Duty and basically thrown away everything but the frame and powertrain, adding a completely custom DEFCO/Lewisbuilt cantilever rear suspension, King coilover front shocks with a triple bypass reservoir and a custom fiberglass body wide enough to accommodate the massive Continental MPT 43-inch tires underneath it. DEFCO makes three stages of trucks ranging from the $45,000 Stage 1 BA350 through the $120,000 Stage 3 (not including the price of your supplied Ford Super Duty). The company partnered with Colorado-based Hallmark RV, manufacturer of lightweight pop-up truck-bed campers, and presented this monster at the expo based on the BA350. Now, we're not sure that the camper would survive what DEFCO likes to do with its trucks, but it sure looks pretty bad ass.

4. EarthRoamer XV-HD (and XV-LTS)

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Maybe you've just won the lottery and want the ultimate in an off-road recreational vehicle. Maybe you've decided to take your winnings and leave it all behind, go live off the grid, be a self-sustained community unto yourself. Then you need this: the EarthRoamer XV-HD (above). It's a Ford F-750 4x4 crew-cab chassis truck onto which a super-luxurious RV box has been grafted to make a rig that's 35 feet long and 13.5 feet high. It features all the comforts of home, and then some: There's a 20-kilowatt lithium-ion battery bank to power everything and a massive 2.1-kW rooftop solar array to power it. It has an enormous 250-gallon water supply and a 115-gallon fuel tank to get you well away from civilization, and allows for a full-size shower and a washer/dryer combination. The bunk over the cab contains a king-size bed. The cost for all this is a cool $1.5 million, but you can't have this one — it's already been bought and was on loan from its owner. If that's too rich for your blood, have a look at the XV-LTS (below), a Ford F-550 chassis with all the same amenities that stickers at about $600,000 as pictured (although rumor has it that this one sold for about $450,000 at the expo).

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5. American Safari JXL

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If you're a Jeep Wrangler JK owner who's tired of being jealous of the Land Rover Discovery owners who have all that extra room for junk in the trunk, now there's a solution: the American Safari JXL. It grafts a bolt-on 15-inch extension onto the back of your four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK model. The modification includes a new hardtop that has a pop-up camper tent and allows for a bunch of interior configurations from full-on overlander with sink, toilet, shower, cooking surface and dining table, or just adding 50 percent more cargo room behind the rear seat. The resulting Jeeps can sleep anywhere from one to four people, with one of two camper configurations. The JXL conversion is available as a kit or as a turnkey vehicle from Red River Rigs, but no pricing has yet been published.

6. Coffee! The Java Can

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As much as we love heading out into the wilderness in a super-capable off-road rig and leaving it all behind, we're not about to leave our coffee behind. Let's not get crazy, now. Thankfully, there is a company with a solution for feeding your coffee addiction when the nearest Starbucks is 500 miles away. The Java Can is a self-contained system for making espresso while on the trail. Take one army surplus ammo can and stock it with a moka pot, a battery-operated milk frother, four double-walled insulated cups, a manual coffee grinder, a liquor flask and a tiny gas-fueled field stove to bring your water up to temp for making espresso. Designed by a U.S. Army Green Beret and tested in the field over several deployments to Afghanistan, it's the best way to get that morning fix, even if you're not taking hostile fire. It retails for $149.95.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman; manufacturer image


in case you want to see more than Fords,lol

Why do so many after market groups use a Ford platform? Obviously it must not be cost given these price tags.
I am actually asking, not trying to start a pointless argument.

EarthRoamer, yes, for me !! Please and thank you !!

Those Land Cruisers are awesome.

Those Land Cruisers are awesome.

NorthernMN: the answer is obvious. Aftermarket builders will offer options for the most popular platforms first.

Would love to drop that Cummins 2.8 in a lot of things a lot newer than 1999.

Lots of Ford stuff, when will GM make something cool that works??????????

Thank you HEMI. Great link, many good ideas for me.

Gotta love Ford!!!!

I love my wife and kids.

Fords are junk, they use them cause that's all their good for after 10 miles sitting broke down, if you add a camper you won't feel so bad cause you can use the junker as new home. That's why they use junk Fords.

Johnny Doe

I’ve seen burnt out lightbulbs brighter than you.

ya need to go to the Colorado forum to see some down to earth overlanders, these guys build them themselves not some company charging out ragous prices


I thought your link was another video of a Ford catching on fire but to my surprise it wasn't.


I thought your link was another video of a Ford catching on fire but to my surprise it wasn't.

Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | May 31, 2018 12:35:40 AM

Trust me i used to get drunk on the kool aid until my Ford burnt to the ground. It is no joke.

If GM made a good truck it would be in this article.

If GM made a good truck it would be in this article.

Trust me i used to get drunk on the kool aid until my Ford burnt to the ground. It is no joke.

Posted by: HEMI V8 | May 31, 2018 1:24:10 AM

Go cry to your mamma. We don't give a $h!t

Go cry to your mamma. We don't give a $h!t

Posted by: Frank | May 31, 2018 2:52:26 PM

Momma didnt pay the bill neither did Ford. You must be smoking the kool aide without the water bro. That or snorting it. You know they can remove tattoos Frank, lol

It's too bad EarthRoamer doesn't offer a model with a decent diesel engine. 6.7 Scorpion? Nothing but a Mexican boat anchor.

More a US thing. Outside of the Ranger, many different chassis too choose

@NorthernMN - buyers are more comfortable with pickup based campers because that is what is more common. Ford makes trucks up to F650 but still look close to a regular F150/250 so that is reassuring to buyers. Add to that the fact that any Ford dealer selling HD pickups can service a F450-F650.
GM has just started making a truck bigger than 3500. Ram makes a truck up to 5500 but hasn't caught on with the aftermarket.

Freightliner and other commercial companies make light duty commercial trucks that are in the 4500-6500 range but usually are air brake equipped which means different driver's licence requirements.

If I had the cash for something like a large EarthRoamer I'd prefer a Freightliner or Navistar truck underneath since you can get a tandem axle configuration but again, that pushes you into a different driver's licence class for many people.

Love the trucks, cdl driver, freight liners are terrible, that’s what I’m in now,actually a loaner,as mine is broke down,would love the truck camper package,grew up with coachmen, but can’t put my Harley-Davidson in it,lol.

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