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Thread: What to drive from Colorado to South America?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014

    Default What to drive from Colorado to South America?

    Hello All,

    I'm new to this, so I hope I'm posting correctly.

    My wife and I are planning to drive from Colorado to Argentina starting this fall, and we are not sure what to drive.

    We have a 1999 4Runner, and a 1974 VW kombi westfalia.

    We like the 4runner for 4x4 and for reliability, but I've seen others do this and it looks pretty cramped.

    The van is "cool" and it has a new engine, but it won't have much power or 4x4.

    Any suggestions? I'm open to all ideas, and I'm even open to buying or trading if someone has something worth driving to argentina.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Very well written and informative trip to Central America in a 4 runner
    "Knowledge without experience is just information"--Mark Twain

    Land Cruiser Products

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Ontario Canada
    People make this trip in (or on) everything from bikes to 20 ton 6x6 trucks. You will get just as many opinions here as to what is "best".
    You might want to check:
    1993 Mercedes-Benz 917 AF

  4. #4
    The ability to sleep inside the vehicle is huge advantage. I'd rank that feature far above 4x4 ability or engine power.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Roca Blanca
    I love 4x4s, but if given the two choices you have, I'd put the best set of traction tires you can fit under the combi (which will be pretty capable in 95% of places you need to go) and take that. You will be far more comfortable and if you do run into mechanical issues, pretty much any shade tree mechanico from CO to Tierra Del Fuego can fix a VW with a pipe wrech and a rock. You will also not appear to be as wealthy in an old VW. As for speed? Well, you're not doing a trip like that in a hurry hopefully. Friends of mine are doing the same trip right now in my old '97 F350 diesel and while that truck has a monster engine easily capable of 75 mph even with a big camper on it, they just entered the second YEAR of their trip and are only in El Salvador!

    Link to their trip:
    '94 Santa Monica Airlines 39" longboard, Indy 159s, Powell AT wheels
    '99 UZJ 100 with OME, 255 ST Max’s and factory locker.
    '14 Dodge 3500 6.7, 68RFE with Thurens, 5100s, 305/70-18 ST Maxxxxxs
    '17 Northern Lite 9-6 Q. Factory ordered to my spec.
    '74 Airstream International 29'

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Vieques PR
    We went as far as Panama in a Montero and I've gotta admit, we had to seek out opportunities to use 4WD. A comfortable place to hang out and sleep is way more valuable than 4WD. Granted, that could be different south of Panama, but that's our experience.
    3 Months in Central America and Mexico. Check out our blog:
    Where The Eyes Go

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Prescott, AZ
    They will both work fine. Take your favorite.

    If you want to venture off the beaten path, take the 4Runner.
    Scott Brady
    Instagram - @globaloverland

    Overland Journal
    G-Wagen | Defender 110 | Land Cruiser BJ74 | Moto Guzzi V7

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Wherever we're parked
    We are currently doing the same exact trip from Colorado in a well equipped Jeep Rubicon and mention almost daily that we wish we were in a Westy or something similar. Indoor space rather than a RTT and the ability to stealth camp would be invaluable. Next time we will be taking a van.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Dallas, Texas
    I've done Dallas to TdF in a '67 Microbus in '91 and visited every state of Mexico and Every Province/Territory except Nunavut in Canada in my '62 VW Camper in '99. Those T1 engined, link pin spindles and swing axle transmissions take a lot more maintenance than your newer Bus does. You just have to plan to do regular maintenance to the van on the trail.

    I'm about to take another trip, this one originating in Columbia and sticking to the west coast and the east coast of Argentina in a lightly lifted '73 Beetle. But there will be limited camping on that trip and I'll carry a tent.

    As others have said, you can see most of South America in a Toyota Tercel. Anything better than that just opens up your options. Me, I'd just try to get across sandy beaches and muddy roads.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Western Slope, Colorado
    I will say that while the older toyotas are typically supported in almost all of S.A. I've heard that many of the countries get difficult with newer Toyota vehicles for replacement parts (And yes 99 is new for most of south america). So, the Kombi might be a better option. While I haven't watched much of it, there is a youtube channel called "The Kombi Life" (I think) and that guy is going from Chile to Alaska (?). I know that in a couple of the episodes that I did watch, he said the reliability of the vehicle was his issue. Not due to the work needed, but because finding a mechanic who can, and is willing to do good work on your vehicle is almost imposible to find. Believe me. I live in Chile, and I do all my own work, or use one other mechanic that it took me forever to find, because it's just not easy to find trust worthy people. So, no matter what you bring. Make sure you learn EVERY BOLT and NUT of that truck so you will be able to do any repairs needed.

    Just my suggestion though.
    Currently Driving a 92 slightly modified Chevrolet/Isuzu Trooper while living in Souther Chile/Northern Patagonia.
    1992 Chevrolet Trooper Maintenance, build/mod, and exploration record
    Off-road independence Podcast:
    Beginners Fab Show:

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