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What's Your Ride?

Guest Bigfoot Hunter

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Actually my Camaros ran LT1's and an LS1 in the last one. The successor to the TPI. And a nice little Yota there.

CM, a buddy at my shop showed me this a few days ago and I thought it was brilliant, lol.

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  • 1 year later...

My ride is a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

3" suspension lift

315/70R17 Kelly Safari

Replaced front bumper, rear bumper, rock rails and has a slanted soft top

Cold air intake, throttle body spacer, cat back exhaust and a bullydog programmer.

The top is different than in my profile pic.

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Sweet ride, daveedoe. It's been a long time since I had a dirt bike, mine was a Suzuki 185 Enduro that got me into and out of some amazing places back in the day.


I'm picking up an '05 Chev TrailBlazer tomorrow to use as a research group hauler and tow vehicle for the ATVs that I have access to borrow when going beyond normal 4x4 terrain.




Edited by BC witness
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I have a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee............I am having the engine completely rebuilt should be ready to roll in the next week or two for my first camping trip.   

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I guess I'll save the big gun for last, but here's my daily driver.




1989 Toyota 4Runner. 5" suspension lift, Dunlop 35" mudders, Truetracs front and rear.


I paid $120 for it. Yes, one hundred twenty dollars. I've had bigger bar tabs. The Bushwacker fender flares were worth more than that. Seven years of service, zero breakdowns, zero days out of service. Brakes and fluid are all she needs. It's been airborne at least 500 times (and that's mostly city driving, LOL). I drive it with great vigor while also making much effort to be safe and considerate.


This ride has outlived over $100K worth of my sister's Expedingles or Expedoodles or whatever you call 'em. Disregarding the typical way of providing onself transportation was a permanent life-changer, enabling me to invest money that otherwise would have been spent on payments, high insurance rates, and repairs. This SUV was the final piece of a 20 year plan, started in my teens, that enabled me to retire while still young enough to get carded for a six pack. TOTAL cost of ownership, including fuel, has been about $50 a month.


I have a large collection of cheaply-found spare parts, a nice workshop, and the skills to take that thing apart down to the last washer, but it never breaks. The little 22-RE engine is one of the finest ever built for reliability and durability, and after bottoming out long ago, now first generation Toyota trucks are actually increasing in value.


It's always nice when something important goes perfectly. Again, this decision was a life-changer.


As a big fan of the 22-RE platform, I looked that way when we caught the camping and squatchin' bug. Putting a house on the back of a 4-banger pickup chassis seems kind of goofy, but the old Toyota motorhomes are killer camping and traveling rigs.....once you strip them of all the absurdity and rebuild for dry camping/boondocking. I prefer the Sunrader and its fiberglass body.


I got this thing in shambles for a song, got it running, then made an improbable death march from Florida to Texas to get her home. A year later it was ready for the sticks. Here she is at a near-infamous alpine meadow research area in Colorado. The day this photo was taken, something powerful came and beat on the side of the camper while we were relaxing during the day, as briefly described in my introductory post.




We've had many tremendous times in the Sunrader, and it can get much deeper in the sticks than I'd initially thought. Handles like a pickup and the dually rear and somewhat heavy weight provides surprising traction. It's fully self-contained, plus solar power, and very comfortable. The legendary 22-RE drivetrain is ultra-reliable. I thought we'd keep it forever, but an unexpected opportunity arose and we boldly pounced on the opportunity to upgrade to a much more aggressive rig. After my current project is finished, I suspect we'll have to part with the rationally-customized, greatly-improved Sunrader.


Our other daily driver is a Lexus LX450, which is a Toyota Land Cruiser 80 series with fancy seats and Lexus badges. 3" lift, 33" mudders, all-wheel drive. Possibly the best SUV ever built for rugged outdoor excursions with lots of gear. Very easy to work on, right down to the no-funnel oil fill.


Some goofball paid over $50K for mine, once upon a time, but some minor body damage + extravagent price of Lexus parts resulted in insurance totaling it, salvage title issued after repairs, and I bought it from the guy for $5K. He even drove it up to Dallas from Houston for me. Runs perfectly 3 years in, looks good.


Next post, I'll introduce you to the one and only Billy Van Ward.

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It's Billy time. Meet Billy Van Ward.




Billy's my unstoppable zombie apocalypse van project, now in its final stages. He's named after Bill Ward, an exceptionally talented, underrated drummer, singer, composer, and visual artist. They're both kind of old and gray, have been known to be kind of thirsty, and have a history of kicking serious butt, with more butt-kicking in line for the future.


We love the Sunrader, but we fish and need towing capacity for the boat(s). And, we've caught an itch to get way back in the sticks sometimes, far beyond the reach of the Sunrader, which actually did very well in that respect. But, there are limits to a rig with a long wheelbase, dicey ground clearance, and a bit over 100 horsies.


We'd not planned to upgrade for a while, but sometimes life throws you a curve.


One evening I was pretty much clinically insane from overwork and lack of sleep. I'd been up over 30 hours working hard on a project and plopped into my desk chair to let my wheels slow down before hitting the sack. Looked at the news and first on the list was Miley Cyrus' new tattoo. Sigh.


Deciding such journalism was far too meaningful, substantial, and sophisticated for a hick like me, I went to Google and stared at the empty box. What can provide 15 minutes of interesting reading before I collapse. Idea! A bit of research for the future.


I typed "4x4 RV that doesn't cost $100,000". The first hit was EarthRoamer, which technically doesn't cost $100K. It's $260K. Wow. The first 260 nights would be a grand each, plus all the other ownership expenses. Not cool. Next was a Chinook that was about $100K with terrible ground clearance for a 4WD.


The third hit was an ad for Billy, and a price well below the 5-digit mark. 1979 GMC 3500 van with 1997 Vortec 454 hacked in and a very nice 4x4 conversion. Dana 60 front, 70 rear dually. Was partially built up inside, but no bathroom.


Instead of going to sleep, I stayed up all night researching the vehicle and components. It dawned on me that I had almost enough dough in my desk drawer, and next thing I knew, after a quick trip to the bank, I was on a early plane to Arizona, wondering when I'd finally get to sleep again. Gettin' too old for such antics.


Many hours later, I was parked at a Phoenix WalMart stretched out in the back, completely astonished, and shaking like a leaf. I couldn't believe that rig was mine, for a mere 24 hours before I'd have laughed at the notion. I was profoundly exhausted, nearing 60 hours without sleep. Oh, and I'd just been attacked by a pit bull inside the WalMart!


I fell asleep with a Bic lighter in my hand and awoke a few hours later in the same position, lighter still clenched in hand. Stepped outside, looked about for the killer dog, and was stricken in awe by the van. I mean, mercy! What a beast. Slid my tall little cooler underneath to behold the ground clearance.






Plotted an adventurous route home, with some back country testing. The area NE of Phoenix proved very scenic, and the rig performed extremely well. I emerged from the torture test fine, other than the grille coming loose. Superb! I was tickled to death.




Other than one snag, which I quickly fixed with the only tool I'd brought on the trip, it was a great voyage home. Even an unexpected physical altercation with a thug at the Roswell UFO Museum turned out to be a hoot.


I got him home and looked it all over. Other than finishing the bathroom and changing a failed inverter, it was road-ready......kind of. So, one can imagine my girlfriend's horror when she came home one day to find I'd gutted it. I ran across several things I didn't like (especially in the wiring) and realized I could rebuilt it into something really unique, comfortable, and spectacular with a very pleasing final cost.


Cheesy RV building standards were ignored in favor of marine and aviation materials and techniques. Mechanical failure or fire offshore or miles in the air can be a real bummer.


Rebuilt electrical system. Twin 140 amp alternators, one for truck, one for house. 4 tall golf cart batteries for over 500aH of juice. 480w solar panels. 75a charge controller. 1750/3500w inverter.


42 gallon water tank. Generous expansion tank (a must in any RV) so the pump doesn't run at night. Constant flow propane water heater, as opposed to those 6 gallon croakers. Outside or inside shower. Reverse osmosis filter and prison riot-proven Cambro decanter that seals tight under any conditions.


JBL/JVC/Polk audio with component speakers and tube subs. A pico projector that fits in my pocket blasts a clear TV picture in any size up to about 80", HDMI integrated into laptop system plus twin carputers pulled from police cars during upgrades, pocket hard drive with thousands of movies and every TV episode of great shows from The Honeymooners to Green Acres to All in the Family to King of the hill. External camera system for safe driving, protection from thieves (and, yes, cops), and wildlife surveillance. The tech and cost of that stuff has gotten great. Testing a multicam program that can tell the difference between both the UPS/FedEx guys AND their vans. It will alert on one and ignore on the other. Highly nifty stuff.


The bed is a real piece of work. One bench on each side that slides out to make a king size bed. Interlocking slat system built from cedar. Memory foam mattress, cut into 4 segments, that was $1000 at the local store and $200 to the door on ebay. Do your homework and you can build great stuff for cheap.


A/C is a portable tower unit that works great, vents into the bathroom and out the roof fan, and costs a couple hundred bucks at any big box store. Much better than those expensive, troublesome rooftop monsters. Heat is a PlatCat, the only catalytic heater with external venting and....drum roll....a wall thermostat! The guy who builds 'em is slicker than owl droppings.


Two 50Qt ARB fridges tend to the food, one as fridge, one as freezer. These things blow away typical RV fridges and use amazingly little DC power down to 0 deg F. Finally, ice cream while camping! Or, we can clean, vac-pac, and freeze a double limit of redfish or flounder at the boat ramp. Redfish is $22/lb up here, so that's nothing to sneeze at.


I used an amazing, cheap Harbor Freight multifunction vibrating tool to scrape the nasty old 70's foam from the walls and replaced it with a 3-layer system of Harbor Freight neoprene floor mats, poly upholstery batting that compresses 90%, then blue Dow styrofoam panels primed white, painted with a tiger stripe camo stencil, and clearcoated. Just finished that part.




A steel skeleton sits under the fiberglass body, so it took about 30 panels of different sizes to do the interior. Cedar strips affixed to the skeleton hold the panels in place. Much better than the old boat carpet build. Doesn't catch dust or provide harbor for bugs, the first layer of neoprene cushions the body from the skeleton, and all panels can be quickly remade and installed if damaged.


Jeeez....what else? Floor is this really cool soft walnut-pattern interlocking tile stuff. My feet love it, it's a great insulator, individual pieces can be easily replaced, and one guy actually mistook it for wood before walking on it.


Bathroom is improved over silly RV design. Toilet on riser for people who aren't 4' tall. Waste disposal ditches the dreadful old stinky slinky that gives RV veterans chills in favor of a macerator pump and industrial/farm plumbing with quick-connects at rear bumper level. I can augment the dump hose with a 200' garden hose and dump anywhere - USFS pit toilet, waste port on the side of the house, etc. I could even dump, without getting a drop on the rig, while going 70 down the highway, if so inclined.


A really cool remote-control MaxxFan tore me away from the fine people at Fantastic Vent. A portable 2000w Yammy genny, a superior machine to the popular Honda EU series, juices things up when demand exceeds what the solar panels and battery bank can offer.


When I'm done, it will hopefully look something kindasorta like this:




Might as well throw in the boat - super cool 15' 1957 Crestliner V-hull that handles rough stuff really well, yet drafts in just 6" of water. Got it on ebay from a local seller for almost nothing, paid for it with money gained selling racing tix won on the radio, then sold the mismatched trailer for more than I paid for the whole banana.


A saltwater-worthy galvanized trailer was over $1000, so I found a trashed one on Craigslist with a beautiful frame for $100, put a weekend and a couple hundred more bucks in it and was rewarded with a very nice, strong trailer. My old man slid me his old Nissan 2 stroke. BAM! Where's the Gone Fishin' sign? I used to have a nice bass boat, yet I catch more fish from this rig.


When towing a boat is not practical, a nice inflatable 11' catamaran and Nissan outboard are stored inside. I'll dig up a Viair compressor and tank for the boat and whatnot soon, then maybe add ARB lockers to both axles once the compressor is in place.


Now, the closer. The 4Runner + Lexus + Billy + Boat + Trailer ensemble tallies up at under $20K. I should get $7K for the Sunrader, so $13K and zero interest paid, obviously. TOTAL. Fellow bigfooters, you do not have to get taken to the cleaners in order to abundantly enjoy very well-equipped outdoor fun.


Billy should be fishin' and squatchin' in a month or so, and over time I'll spare no effort to make him as effective and comfortable as possible.

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My Ride

Hyundai Santa Fe 
4 cylinder 2.4 L engine

not much but own it out right. I owe nobody nothing for it. 

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That's the way to do it BVW, nice rig(s). Heck of a lot less expensive than a Sportsmobile.

Edited by Kiwakwe
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Thanks! I somehow was unfamiliar with the Sportsmobile. Saw a rough equivalent to Billy for $120K, used, and it's not even self-contained. If I shelled out that kind of dough, yet was squatting over a cathole behind a bush (or fighting with a Porta-Potti), I'd be pretty bummed out. Thank goodness one can achieve excellent results for dirt cheap.


And, while on the subject, I declined to run a water line to the toilet in typical RV fashion. Instead, I plumbed a sink sprayer in the bathroom on a long hose. We call it the "Kentucky bidet". It allows total control over water usage, reduces paper in the tank, and elevates personal cleanliness to a pleasing new level, which is especially useful because, well, um, we like to party when we camp :yahoo: . Within a month I'd teed in sink sprayers in all our household restrooms.


While vigorously using the Sunrader, we made note of every deficiency and annoyance encountered in the field and now have gone on a mission to crush them all the second time around. Lookin' good so far.

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  • 6 months later...

Hope everyone is enjoying these gas prices and going long and deep on couch change.


Me, I'm thoroughly burned out on trying to keep older vehicles running.... it's not how they're built, it's that wreckers are crushing anything older than 10 years and the "new" parts are total trash around here, nobody stocks anything but the cheapest crap, sometimes you get to look at the theoretical brand name part, and discover it's looks photographically identical to the cheapy cheap one, it's just in a shinier box. Anyway, parts you'd expect to get 5 years out of breaking every 6 months is labor intensive to say the least. So given up on my Escort Wagon, got my wife a Nissan Versa Note for a daily, but ground clearance sucks, don't like taking it on a gravel road even.


Looking for the second vehicle and insurance is what kills me, otherwise I'd have a driveway full, no claims or tickets, this area is just that insane for insurance, so it has to be yer good old fashioned comprimise... If I was in one of those areas you basically pay $400 a year for any size of fleet and costs little to add vehicles, I'd just get an old thirsty truck and an old econobox for running errands. So given the triple whammy of insane insurance per vehicle, lack of good parts for older stuff, and rustbelt salt problems, I'm trying to get a newer "do everything" vehicle for the 2nd vehicle.


I'm not real confident that gas prices are going to be so friendly in the long run, and tend to keep my vehicles as long as they roll, so gas mileage has to be up there, especially since it will be a runaround. Then I want "severe winter" and softroad capability, so my wife can use it when we've got a foot of snow. Then I want it to at least tow a popup camper. Ideally my fairy godmother would turn up, buy me a crewcab RAM ecodiesel and a three axle McMansion to tow behind :D That's $100k worth at the moment and I'm working with about 5%.


So what I'm looking at are CUV/SUV 4 bangers and hybrids. Escape/Tribute/Rav4/Highlander/RX400h/RX450h/Equinox anything that will do 25mpg+ tow 3000lb+ and seat 5+ and has 8" clearance. If I end up cheaping out, I'll probably just grab a Chrysler minivan, I've always found they get through anything, and driven carefully they'll get 25.


Ideally, I'll turn up a nice Escape or Highlander hybrid cheap and have a softroader with stealth mode. Lotta places where that would be good here for night drive arounds, lots of narrow "Fire lane" roads through woods, with proper roads top and bottom of them, so could do a stealth cruise down the firelane, come out, charge battery on a blacktop burn for few miles, then sneak down the next one.

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if you're looking for parts give these folks a try  http://www.rockauto.com/


or if you go with a highlander , imo just get the gasoline one.


FWIW,  i've got 2  family members with highlanders, one gas, one hybrid both year models fairly close , iirc a 2008 and 2010.... I think. same body style anyways.


the hybrid mileage isn't much better than the gas one , but  had a much higher price tag.

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