The Mohave Road Trail must be old hat to most US 4x4 nuts. But not to me. My number one passion is crossing deserts in a 4x4. My second passion is the 4x4s themselves. And what better way is there to indulge these passions than by combining them in a not-so-familiar country?
I’ve been to the US eight times now, but on only one other occasion did I venture into the wilderness. This time, driving a vehicle born and modified in the US, I was determined to do the wilderness properly in the five days I had available.
So, in May 2015, after attending the Overland Expo West in the rain and snow, I headed for sunny California in the driver’s seat of a Ford E-Series with a full-spec Sportsmobile 4x4 conversion. And what a surprise it all was.
Firstly, the van seems the ideal way to enjoy the vast distances and varying weather conditions in the US. It is not just a Ford truck with some bits bolted on, but a thoroughly tested and developed customisation. It turns a dreary delivery van into a truly awesome piece of off-road gear. Its major components have been either heavily modified or, in many cases, replaced with newly-designed hardware.
I loved it, despite its bulk and thirst. I loved the fact that I could cruise all day in effortless comfort on the Interstate, and then clamber nonchalantly over rocky crags. I loved the fact that, when it snowed, I could be really comfortable inside. Some may say I’m getting soft. To which, I reply: why shouldn’t one be comfortable if one can? Is it really necessary to suffer the outdoors in order to enjoy the outdoors?
The off-road ability of this Sportsmobile is genuinely outstanding. I mean, really good. Its width and sheer size seem to have little or no affect on its ability to climb and grip.
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