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Old 01-26-2021, 04:28 AM   #1
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Pro/Cons in comparison wit Unimog/ Iveco Daily/ etc.

Hey Everybody,

I'm currently saving up for an V10 E-350 RB with CCV pop-top and ujoint conversion to live in full time for about 5 years and travel the world with. And whilst planing you always look what else you can get for your money.

So I was wondering why you guys decided for an E-350 instead of any other rig in the same range in terms of price and size like

Ford Transit

Mercedes Sprinter

Mercedes Unimog

Iveco Daily 4x4

Toyota Landcrusier with camper conversion

VW Syncro


Maybe one of you owned one of those or a similar before and can mak a direct comparsion.

IMO an E-350 is the maximum of freedom with the minimum of luxury I need to tive in full time. Anything bigger could be to high, wide or long for some narrow forest tracks, everything smaller could get to clumsy for cooking on rainy days or cold winter nights. All this comes at a cost. The E-350 is quiet heavy and the fuel economy... Let`s just say there are better options.

What are your reasons?

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Old 01-26-2021, 09:11 AM   #2
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Location: South Lake Tahoe
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I think you would be hard pressed to find any vehicle on your list except for the Land Cruiser or Synchro in the same price range as the v-10 E-350 you describe. Econoline's rock! Great choice and good luck on your journey!

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Old 01-26-2021, 09:47 AM   #3
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I owned an 88 Vanagon full Westfalia (not Syncro) before my two E-series SMBs (2WD). While very cool and well designed, the newest Vanagon (91) will still be 30 years old and hard to find parts for and service. You can buy fully restored ones but they are silly prices. Unless you are proficient and like doing your own repairs, I wouldn’t choose one for long term adventuring unless for its Instagram-ability.

Likewise Unimogs are cool and unstoppable but still a niche vehicle and hard to get parts for and find mechanics who know them.

Sprinters and Transits are nice to drive and more modern than the other options listed. They will get better mpgs too and offer wider choice of body styles. Sprinters can be costly to maintain, especially the newer ones. But they are very common work wide. Transits will be cheaper to maintain, and in the USA have a MUCH wider dealer/repair network.

Econolines are definitely “older tech” but still do the job. I had a 98 and now a 2011 SMB on E250 chassis. Compare to the Sprinter/Transit the e-series is heavier duty and much more of a truck, which is good and bad. If you are set on a serious 4WD van I think a converted e-series is still the gold standard. Even in 2WD they do pretty well if you have a rear LSD or locker and decent tires, as they have a pretty good bit of clearance in stock form. And parts are super easy to find and cheap (at least in North America). and any mechanic will work on them.
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Old 01-26-2021, 10:26 AM   #4
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@clicker44 In Germany (where I come from and currently live) there are quiet a few pretty decend Unimogs and Ivecos in the same price range. Sprinters are more expensive than the built I discribed, but an all new Sportsmobile is pretty much the same.

But I might have misformulated what I wanted to say. I pretty much made my decision and I want that E-350, because I want to take adventage of the 4x4 option. If I go bigger, I`m getting problems with the center of gravity, making me tipping over more easily, problems with the hight and wide on narrow forest roads, getting me stuck. If I go smaller, I might lose a lot of comfort like cooking inside or I need to build my bed every night. Or things that make me feel safe at night like the option to go from bed to steering wheel without leaving the van. Moreover, I saw some pics and vids from marcuswelds and theridgeway on instagram and was like "damn I need one of those"

I was just talking to a owner of an Iveco Daily 4x4 last week and a few months ago to a Landcruiser owner, who both liked to go off-road, but rather rough gravel than serious rock crawling. So their build had another purpose, than the one I'm looking for.

And I`m curious why other owners selected their E-350 rather one of the models listed above
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Old 01-26-2021, 10:40 AM   #5
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Ahhh I did not know you were based in Germany. Cool! I think then from a price standpoint the world is your oyster. Many people here in North America (myself included) dream of the European chassis options for an overland truck. E-350 is great but I would be all over an Iveco Daily 4x4 with a box on back!
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Old 01-26-2021, 11:49 AM   #6
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Having owned a couple of Unimogs (in the US), the U1300L of them was a camper conversion I can underline a few of the above points as to why now have a E350.

- Repair and Parts: parts and repairs on the Unimog were heavy, hard-ish to find, and difficult because it had so many onboard systems. Major repairs were a major challenge.
- On-road speed and MPG: In the US, most of the places I want to go require many hours of highway travel, this was expensive, slow and hard on the Unimog
- Height: In the desert and Mexico, the Unimog was fantastic. In the wooded, narrow forest trails of the Western US, I often could not go where I wanted due to the overall height.
- Getting un-stuck: I once buried the U1300L in the mud. It took 3 full size tow-wreckers and five off-road rigs (and two days of digging) to get out. I once buried the E350 to the frame in Baja playa mud. It still took a day of digging...but then one local ford ranch truck to help me get it out.

I miss the Unimog a lot... but not as my only camp/adventure vehicle that can also navigate the urban landscape.
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:17 AM   #7
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We have been fulltime in our Ujoint poptop E350 for over 5.5 years, 4 of which were driving south from Alaska to Argentina. We picked the Econoline due to the size and performance trade offs, our 60k mile drive south averaged 14.7mpg with our 7.3 diesel. Friends in an Iveco daily averaged exactly the same, none of our friends in Unimogs could come close to that, and Land Cruisers do much better even when over weight...which we don’t recommend.

Going solo either of us would pick a Landcruiser poptop Troopy, it’s the smallest we could live in and the largest we’d want to drive alone (if built properly it also could fit in a standard 20ft container, so could a poptop 4-door Jeep). It’s also the most supported platform and the only vehicle we know of that sold the exact same configuration in every country. We personally love the Iveco Daily but the first service center heading south is in Costa Rica, we met several owners limping through Central America as best as they could to finally get properly repaired.

All that said, get the smallest you’re willing to live in and the largest you’re willing to drive. Everyone, at some point, gets stuck waiting for parts...even Land Cruisers since the available local parts are usually cheap knock-offs and not OEM. It’s just part of the journey. The Econoline wasn’t sold everywhere but we know of many driving all around the world. Big enough yet small enough too, rarely did we have to turn back (a couple low bridges) but we did add thousands of stripes down the sides due to the extra width ; ) Feel free to ask any specific questions or for referrals for friends who have or are traveling in any of the rigs mentioned above.
2001 7.3 E350 Ujoint 4" w/ SMB Penthouse
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Old 01-31-2021, 06:35 PM   #8
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I think the answer to OP's question is mostly timing. A lot of people here with a full blown SMB had it long before many of the other vehicles listed were available, or readily available here in the U.S.

Ford Transit - New to us Amuricans, unibody design, not many (and no cheap/readily available) 4wd conversion parts.

Mercedes Sprinter - Still fairly new here, no aftermarket 4wd conversions worth the trouble. Many old SMBer's are switchingto these though. Not as much dealer network or mechanics who can work on them but that is changing. The Winnebago Revel seems to have sold a million or so units already if any drive through a ski resort parking lot is a telltale.

Mercedes Unimog - Hard to come by here, still very rare even within the already small world of offrroad campers/camper vans.

Iveco Daily 4x4- Same as above tenfold

Toyota Landcrusier with camper conversion - Same as above, pretty much got to import any of the good conversions. That is changing too. Also, very small for most people who have had a van.

VW Syncro - Not much availability, dismal reliability, unfathomable prices on the #instavanlife market. You can get a helluva lot more van for half the price people are asking for these things and they aren't made anymore so there is no softening of the market in sight.

More and more people in the U.S. are going the way of heavily modified E/F series Ford or other heavy pickup chassis cab builds using Total Composites boxes, repurposed or home built camper shells, utility bodies, flatbeds with 4Wheel Camper type setups, etc. These are essentially the domestic versions of the Mogs/Ivecos in Europe and Australia. If it's one thing that we have at the ready in the U.S. it's heavy duty trucks to build from.


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