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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Washington, District of Columbia, United States
    Posts
    4

    Default Canada to Patagonia, Best pickup for 6 months in S. America?

    Hello roadtrippers! I'm a first time poster to this forum and hoping you'll give a newbie your best advice. My fiancee and I are planning a 6 month trip from Vancouver Canada all the way down to Patagonia starting in January 2013. Along the way we're planning to do some interesting things in out of the way places helping off the grid communities power up schools and clinics with renewables.

    On our journey we plan to live in a camper towed behind a small diesel pickup. I'm doing my research on what gear we'll want for this trip and hoping that this community with it's experience and millions of miles under the tires can steer us in the right direction.

    While looking at potential used pickups my criteria are: fuel economy, reliability, capacity to tow a camper, and get where it needs to go in inclement conditions.

    My first thoughts on this subject are guided by my time in Afghanistan with the US Army where I encountered my three first-look pickup trucks.

    The first of these trucks is the Diesel Ford ranger sports with the extended cab. We supply the Afghan National Army with the trucks and I was shocked to learn that unlike most of the Ford pickups I'd seen in the states, these guys are damn near bullet proof and get ridiculously good mileage! I even planned to buy one when I got back... until I learned that Ford won't sell them in the states. As it turns out however you can get them in Canada which happens to be where we're planning to start our trip!

    The second truck that I'm considering is the Toyota HiLux. This truck is the one most often used by actual Afghans in the mountains and as far as I could tell it takes a licking and keeps on going no questions asked. Another of the really appealing things about this truck is that it looks as though parts are easily found globally and it's not too difficult to wrench on even by non-mechanic types like my self.

    The third and last truck I'm considering is the Nissan Hardbody. I've seen these little trucks in Afghanistan and a lot of other places around the world. It seems reliable and I know that it was manufactured in South America for a long time so I assume it wouldn't be too much trouble to get parts for and fix if necessary.

    Please share your thoughts on the trucks I'm considering or any others you think I should take a look at as we plan our trip. Hope you're having a great year and wish you all happy trails in the new year!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,540

    Default

    If all 3 of those are available in Canada, I'd go with the Toyota. NONE of the 3 are available in the US. We haven't had a diesel pickup here smaller than 3/4 ton in many years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    2,421

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Wow, you have an ambitious undertaking in planning stages. I'm sure you'll get some folks with off-road experience, or even Pan-Am Hwy experience, that will chime in. Check the Off-the-Beaten Path forum and go back further than the last year, I think there's an old thread about it. There's also some articles in Trailer Life magazine, from a number of years back, about this same highway, as well as the Good Sam Highways magazine.

    While I almost NEVER refer someone else to a different website's forum, you may get some help on the RV.NET's "tow vehicles" forum. I know that the RV.Net's forums are full of folks with a ton of tow vehicles experience, and they have a forum that is about going off the beaten path too.

    Now, all that said...we still own an older Ford diesel pickup. That one takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. However, it is too old to take on a long trip any more, until it gets "classic" status here in the states. Also, it's a dually so you've got 6 tires to worry about on the vehicle instead of 4. Our other truck is a bit newer, also a Ford diesel, but not a dually. So I will personally vouch for Ford's. For towing, if you are considering an older one, make sure it's 1995 or newer, because those are Power Stroke. You'll have a lot more power and better fuel mileage as well.

    The other thing to consider "down beyond" is the availability of diesel fuel. Once again, somebody here will have that answer.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,552

    Default Sportmobile

    If it were me, I'd think about adding a fourth for contention.. Alan Feld still builds some of the best all-terrain, 4-WD conversion fan instead of a pick-up... His ultimate is one I'd consider... And I'd also pick up this month's Overland Journal (Winter, 2011) for gear reviews.

    And, of course, it's required reading -- Tim Cahill's "Road Fever"

    More soon.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,540

    Default

    I think I'd rather drive a conversion van instead of a small pickup AND towing a camper. Yes, it may be a larger vehicle, but you don't have to worry about having a "tail" to keep track of.

    As far as full-size Ford diesels go, the only one I'd touch would be a 7.3 Powerstroke. The newer 6.0 and 6.4 are maintenance headaches and the brand new 6.7 hasn't proven itself yet. The newer ones also have very complex emission control systems that hurt mileage and require ultra-low sulfur fuel - which may be difficult to find where you are going. In fact, the 6.7 even has a urea tank that must be kept filled. The last year of the 7.3 in the E-series vans and F-series pickups was 2003.

    Just thought of something - what about some kind of Mercedes or Volvo diesel?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    11,066

    Default

    Out of curiosity, how much time have you spent looking into the logistical and legal issues that come with the drive to South America.

    Obviously, the biggest is the Darien Gap, and when you factor in the need to ship yourself to South America, I'd think the Conversion Van would be a much easier one than having 2 pieces in a truck/trailer.

    You also have talked about buying the car in Canada. Have you looked into the logistics of being able to buy a car there and get it licensed as an American and/or what you're looking at in terms of customs/taxes/tariffs to import the car into the US. Also have you figured out what you need in terms of insurance and visas for all the countries you'll visit? And what is your plan for when the trip is over and the truck is in Argentina?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Washington, District of Columbia, United States
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Michael, The conversion van would definitely be easier. As I mentioned to Mark the ones he linked me to are a bit outside our budget but I'll be keeping an eye out for deals.
    As far as the Darien Gap is concerned, we'll likely arrange either roll on roll off or container shipping from Panama to Cartagena, CO. Cost for shipping looks like it'll be betweek $1k and $2k depending on the size of our rig. The legal considerations I've been looking at have mostly revolved around making sure we have the right visas and the customs issues surrounding buying a used truck in Canada and importing it to the States if we decide to go that route. I don't have all the insurance requirements figured out yet but I'm putting together a spreadsheet and should be able to work that part out in the next month or two. I'd definitely welcome any feedback you have about the things I should be looking for.
    Cheers,

    Lach

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Washington, District of Columbia, United States
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Mark,
    I ordered a copy of Road Fever, looks like a good motivator! Also, I scoped out the vans... They look awesome, but they're outside our price range. Unless you think Mr. Feld would be interested in sponsoring our non-profit activites ;)
    Cheers,
    Lach

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Washington, District of Columbia, United States
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Donna, Thanks for the feedback re: Ford trucks and the outside references. I'm going to be doing some serious digging as I flesh out the plan and I plan to lean heavily on the expertise of the folks in this and other forums for sanity checks etc.
    Cheers!
    Lach

  10. Default

    I just did the same trip the last 5 months...from texas to ushuaia argentina in a Lance camper and ford diesel pu. i have the vehicle still in uruguay, if you want to start out there? I also did a couple of travel blogs..send me a personal mess if i can give you more info. norm

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