Tuesday, 21 April 2015

20/4 to 2/5/2015 - Birth of a dream! My 4x4 off-road, fully off-the-grid survival campervan

The Birth of the '420' van!  

What's up peoples!!!    About 1.5 months ago (March 2015), I just got home from a phenomenal solo road trip from Southern Patagonia to Santiago and in and out of Chile and Argentina.  You could read the blog from here. Anyway, I saw many 4x4 camper vans and customised survival vehicles through my 5200km drive.  For example, I saw these vehicles:

"DinoEvo" as the original owners called this one.   Some Canadian customised this 1994 Mistubishi L300.  Please see here for more detailed info on this amazing customisation job. 

This van is my inspiration!


this insanely instense offroad people mover:
Holy shit, now that a bad-ass people mover!

Well that large people mover bus is quite impressive, however I'm not to build one of those things.  However I do like Mitsubishi L300.   This is actually called a Mitsubishi Starwagon.  It is a van that is normally only available in Japan.   The original owners imported it into from Japan to where to live in Vancouver, Canada.  After that, they did extensive work on.  According to the website, they spent over US$20,000.  Wow!  I don't have that kind of budget, but I will customize mine.

So I was doing my Patagonia road trip from February 18th to March 17th, 2015.  The people who drove the L300 are a very nice couple.   They are originally from Germany, and came to South America which is where they bought the van from a few locals. I think they spent €10,000 on the van.  If you read the blog for the van, you will see that that's a very good price for the van.  Anyway I contacted them to see if they were selling it, they said they were and offered me a price of €9500.  Very good price all things considered!  However, the process to import a vehicle into New Zealand, even though it's a left-hand drive vehicle which is good because that's how we drive here, is quite difficult and full of redtape.  The government here make it very difficult to import a vehicle even one that is well-maintained such as this L300.

The Purchase - So after some hard thinking, I decided to look for a similar van here for sale in New Zealand.  The L3 hundred vans that they had in South America was a customize model anyway -- that is customized from the factory.  These vans are rare here in New Zealand.  For lady luck has been on my side because I was able to find one for sale on a website called TradeMe.  What I ended up buying was white, 1998 Mitsubishi starwagon special edition 4 x 4 runner.  The van only had 140,000 km on it!! This thing was a gem indeed.  The seller however was not on New Zealand's North Island, so I had to take a flight via Air New Zealand to Christchurch to pick it up. The sellers graciously drove 90 minutes to meet me at the airport.  We get a quick vehicle inspection check (I had to pay for it) and of course everything was fine with the van.  I pay them the money for the van, we transfered the ownership to myself, and then I drove four hours north in my new toy to the ferry for their last sailing of the day at 10 PM.

My new 1998 Mitsubishi L300 Starwagon Special Edition
(aka - future "420 van")

Limited Edition - based on Dakar Rally racing. This van is a true gem!

About a week and half past before I ripped out the two rear seats.  I don't need them anymore.  I try to sell them on TradeMe, but as many of you know selling stuff on websites like that is frustrating to say the least.  The buyers to agree to buy my seat for $25. Yes that's only $25 for fantasies that are in good condition, but the buyers bailed on me and never contacted me.  To rather than waste time chasing them up, I drove the seats that I had to remove myself to a dump which cost me $9.  Ha ha I should've done that from the first place!

A week or so past, and I took the van into a local garage for first full-service.  The mechanics did an oil change, checked all filters, etc. etc. and the works!   even asked them to seal the bottom of the van with a black-coloured silicate/waterproof layer to ensure the bottom of the van never gets rust. Pardon my lack of mechanical terminology, but I'm not a mechanic.  Anyway, the mechanic call me called me at 12 noon that day to tell me the van was complete/ the job is done.  How are we told me the van was too dirty on the underside to seal it/ waterproof it.  I was frustrated because the last customised camper van that I owned (an old Toyota Hiace -1986) I had to sell for dirt cheap because it had rust problems. I wasn't going to let that happen to me this time!!!

Oh and by the way, the owner of the mechanics shop told me that two of his customers offered to buy my van from him.  He laughed and told them that it was mine and it wasn't for sale.  I guess this man really is special, not only because it's rare, but it's also in amazing condition with low kilometers.  When I pick up my van at the mechanic shop, both the mechanics there told me that this van was a "gem" and practically new.  They seem to be happy that they worked on it as boys will be boys no matter if there mechanics or not!!

Friday, May 1, 2015 - I drove the van up to the window tinting/car security place to get a quote on for window tinting in a good car alarm with an immobilizer.   Score!  I have an appointment now for Monday, May 4, 2015 to get my windows tinted (as dark as the law allows) and a new fancy alarm system with immobilizer.  The hell if I'm going to customise this van, only to have some schmucks steal it!!

Sunday, May 2, 2015 - I went up to my friend Andy's house to help him bring some dirt back to his yards so he could do some yardwork.   I got to utilize the towing hitch on my new van to tow some heavy stuff of the highway.  Rock on!  This van anything it's got a lot of power.   After sorting out his dirt, and he helped me build (cut) a custom wood floor that matches the strange shape of of this van.

The hardest cut was for the sliding door area. The rest will
be covered with the custom bed/drawer frame on top
so I don't really care about the corners.
Now all I got to do is throw away the old rugs, sweep out the back of the van and the front of the van, and waterproof the inside of the van on the metal itself.  This involves painting some special material.  It's the same sort of material that the mechanics will use on the bottom of the van, but this won't be black in colour.  Keep in mind, just because I have a wood cut now for the van floor, doesn't mean the floors done at all because I have a lot of cleaning and waterproofing to do.

Monday, May 4, 2015 - I'm taking the van up to the security/ window tinting place today.  Shop is going to have it for about two days installing the security system and tinting all of the windows except for front windscreen of course.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product-- well at least in terms of the window tinting & the security system  for the van.   I'm excited every other day here, because when the weekend come around after hard week of work, I get to play with my toy and build up.   For every weekend's worth of work done on the van, I'm one week closer to having my completed 4 x 4 survival camping van.   I will post a list of everything I'm going to do for the van when I get the van back in 2 days.    I'm feeling really stoked here!!!  

Tuesdsay, May 5, 2015 - I was just thinking outloud here...   I'm wondering if I'll hold to pimp out my new 4 x 4 van to be able to go places where my motor bike can?  I don't know it's going to be tough because my motorbike can go almost anywhere:
My F650GS - a man's mid-life crisis toy ;-)