Outdoors

In photos: Adrift in a sea of monstrous camping machines at the world's biggest cross-country vehicle expo

In photos: Adrift in a sea of ...
A pair of burly MANs (Men?) in the camp area at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
A pair of burly MANs (Men?) in the camp area at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Here's another military-based vehicle we don't come across at just any show: a Toyota Mega Cruiser BXD20 (with Bundutec Bundutop pop-up roof tent). According to Wikipedia, the Mega Cruiser was built in the 1990s and early 00s, primarily as a military vehicle and test bed for design features meant to trickle their way to the Land Cruiser and other production Toyota SUVs. The military version was the BXD10, the limited-number civilian version the BXD20
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Here's another military-based vehicle we don't come across at just any show: a Toyota Mega Cruiser BXD20 (with Bundutec Bundutop pop-up roof tent). According to Wikipedia, the Mega Cruiser was built in the 1990s and early 00s, primarily as a military vehicle and test bed for design features meant to trickle their way to the Land Cruiser and other production Toyota SUVs. The military version was the BXD10, the limited-number civilian version the BXD20
MAN-based expedition vehicles are, not surprisingly, a very common sight at Abenteuer & Allrad
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MAN-based expedition vehicles are, not surprisingly, a very common sight at Abenteuer & Allrad
MAN six-wheeler expedition vehicle with extended rear bodywork
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MAN six-wheeler expedition vehicle with extended rear bodywork
Tembo Travel Services designs a variety of expedition campers and trucks. According to its website, this one is a Mercedes 726-based overland truck with custom redesigned rear suspension. The cabin is a lightweight mix of aluminum framing and composite panels
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Tembo Travel Services designs a variety of expedition campers and trucks. According to its website, this one is a Mercedes 726-based overland truck with custom redesigned rear suspension. The cabin is a lightweight mix of aluminum framing and composite panels
Expedition vehicle based on a 2003 MAN 10.225 LAEC-LF with 217-hp 6.9-liter inline six. More details are available here (in German)
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Expedition vehicle based on a 2003 MAN 10.225 LAEC-LF with 217-hp 6.9-liter inline six. More details are available here (in German)
Looks like these two are ready for a tug of war. We'd pay to watch
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Looks like these two are ready for a tug of war. We'd pay to watch
Relatively compact Unimog U1200 L-based  expedition vehicle up for sale
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Relatively compact Unimog U1200 L-based  expedition vehicle up for sale
This Iveco Turbo Daily 4x4 makes for a very rugged camper van
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This Iveco Turbo Daily 4x4 makes for a very rugged camper van
So here's a weird one – Ergo Trauringe is actually a jewelry workshop that specializes in a more ergonomic breed of wedding ring. It advertises on one hell of a truck
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So here's a weird one – Ergo Trauringe is actually a jewelry workshop that specializes in a more ergonomic breed of wedding ring. It advertises on one hell of a truck
Germany's Box Manufaktur specializes in composite RV modules, as well as complete RVs and expedition vehicles. Its offerings are now being made available in the US through California's RRE, which is bringing a variety of successful German camper and RV products to market, including TerraCamper vans and Ququq camper-in-a-box kits
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Germany's Box Manufaktur specializes in composite RV modules, as well as complete RVs and expedition vehicles. Its offerings are now being made available in the US through California's RRE, which is bringing a variety of successful German camper and RV products to market, including TerraCamper vans and Ququq camper-in-a-box kits
A MAN truck with pop-up expansion module. This is the type of "pop-up roof" we're more used to seeing on large expedition vehicles
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A MAN truck with pop-up expansion module. This is the type of "pop-up roof" we're more used to seeing on large expedition vehicles
A MAN truck with pop-up expansion module
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A MAN truck with pop-up expansion module
Volkswagen T3 Magnum Westfalia camper van
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Volkswagen T3 Magnum Westfalia camper van
This truck's size, layout and color made it one of the most memorable of the show. Gooo Travel is a new Dutch rental company that rents big expedition rigs and smaller vans and 4x4s
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This truck's size, layout and color made it one of the most memorable of the show. Gooo Travel is a new Dutch rental company that rents big expedition rigs and smaller vans and 4x4s
A very distinctive Fuso-based RV with a partial pop-up roof
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A very distinctive Fuso-based RV with a partial pop-up roof
This Fuso truck hovers over the ground on its leveling legs
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This Fuso truck hovers over the ground on its leveling legs
Iveco Magirus-based expedition truck. Iveco Magirus was the fire safety branch of Iveco and was spun off and renamed simply "Magirus" several years ago 
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Iveco Magirus-based expedition truck. Iveco Magirus was the fire safety branch of Iveco and was spun off and renamed simply "Magirus" several years ago 
Bliss Mobil module with a Polaris lift in back
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Bliss Mobil module with a Polaris lift in back
We're used to seeing motorcycles on the back of expedition trucks, but this one carries an ATV
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We're used to seeing motorcycles on the back of expedition trucks, but this one carries an ATV
Mercedes Zetros 1833 truck carrying a camper module from Dutch company Bliss Mobil. We had the chance to speak in depth with Bliss at the show while looking at several of its designs and will look at them more closely in a future article
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Mercedes Zetros 1833 truck carrying a camper module from Dutch company Bliss Mobil. We had the chance to speak in depth with Bliss at the show while looking at several of its designs and will look at them more closely in a future article
We didn't see as many VW camper vans as we were expecting (seems like there are more in Overland Expo's parking lot), but we did see some
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We didn't see as many VW camper vans as we were expecting (seems like there are more in Overland Expo's parking lot), but we did see some
A particularly beastly Mercedes expedition truck
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A particularly beastly Mercedes expedition truck
Advanced Expedition Services creates unique expedition trucks by converting Swiss-built Mowag Duro II 6x6 military vehicles
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Advanced Expedition Services creates unique expedition trucks by converting Swiss-built Mowag Duro II 6x6 military vehicles
Big, bright Mercedes 609D camper van
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Big, bright Mercedes 609D camper van
VW camper van
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VW camper van
France's GaZell builds pickup campers, imported to the US by EarthCruiser, and is also the company behind the newly introduced American Safari Jeep JXL
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France's GaZell builds pickup campers, imported to the US by EarthCruiser, and is also the company behind the newly introduced American Safari Jeep JXL
Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
Nissan pickup towing a rugged off-road trailer from South Africa's Conqueror
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Nissan pickup towing a rugged off-road trailer from South Africa's Conqueror
Magirus 90-16 expedition rig
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Magirus 90-16 expedition rig
Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
Converted Lentner fire truck with pop-up roof
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Converted Lentner fire truck with pop-up roof
Volkswagen may have the camper van reputation, but classic Mercedes campers look every bit as cool, in our opinion
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Volkswagen may have the camper van reputation, but classic Mercedes campers look every bit as cool, in our opinion
The "Wegfahrer" website wasn't working when we checked, so no additional info on this Safari-look Mercedes camper van
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The "Wegfahrer" website wasn't working when we checked, so no additional info on this Safari-look Mercedes camper van
Big, yellow MAN expedition truck
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Big, yellow MAN expedition truck
Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
For a moment, when this truck started driving toward us from across the parking lot, we felt a jolt of fear, as though we were in some kind of Mad Max-like dystopia. But really, it was just cruising from one spot to another
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For a moment, when this truck started driving toward us from across the parking lot, we felt a jolt of fear, as though we were in some kind of Mad Max-like dystopia. But really, it was just cruising from one spot to another
We like the Bavarian-style checkering
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We like the Bavarian-style checkering
Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
A Mercedes G-Class and Land Rover Defender getting along famously
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A Mercedes G-Class and Land Rover Defender getting along famously
Have truck ... but camper module is still being prepared at the shop
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Have truck ... but camper module is still being prepared at the shop
This expedition truck is based on Iveco's Eurocargo
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This expedition truck is based on Iveco's Eurocargo
Camper van from Germany's Clever Vans
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Camper van from Germany's Clever Vans
Military truck at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Military truck at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
A jungle beast of an Iveco Eurocargo motorhome
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A jungle beast of an Iveco Eurocargo motorhome
"Jumbo," a Steyr 12M18-based expedition vehicle
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"Jumbo," a Steyr 12M18-based expedition vehicle
The most impressive clamshell pop-up roof we've ever seen
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The most impressive clamshell pop-up roof we've ever seen
Plenty of camper vans have full-length pop tops, but this is the first big expedition truck with pop top we've seen
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Plenty of camper vans have full-length pop tops, but this is the first big expedition truck with pop top we've seen
It appears this pop-top system is integrated with a lowering storage trunk system
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It appears this pop-top system is integrated with a lowering storage trunk system
The animalistic "Trailbreaker" camper van
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The animalistic "Trailbreaker" camper van
Military truck at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Military truck at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
The Mercedes Unimog always proves popular at these types of events
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The Mercedes Unimog always proves popular at these types of events
Steyr-based expedition truck ready for land and water fun
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Steyr-based expedition truck ready for land and water fun
Mercedes Vario 815D minibus camper
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Mercedes Vario 815D minibus camper
We're not sure if this is a camper or just a van, but the MAN TGE is one of the newer platforms that should be showing up in the European camper van market 
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We're not sure if this is a camper or just a van, but the MAN TGE is one of the newer platforms that should be showing up in the European camper van market 
Not so much junk on this trunk
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Not so much junk on this trunk
Just when we thought we'd seen every military and civilian truck imaginable at the camp area, we stumbled upon this 1978 Volvo C303 4x4 that was for sale 
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Just when we thought we'd seen every military and civilian truck imaginable at the camp area, we stumbled upon this 1978 Volvo C303 4x4 that was for sale 
1978 Volvo C303 4x4
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1978 Volvo C303 4x4
MAN-based Tesomobil expedition vehicle
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MAN-based Tesomobil expedition vehicle
MAN-based Tesomobil expedition vehicle
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MAN-based Tesomobil expedition vehicle
A look at this stretched MAN six-wheeler from the rear
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A look at this stretched MAN six-wheeler from the rear
Another bright, colorful MAN build
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Another bright, colorful MAN build
Another bright, colorful MAN build
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Another bright, colorful MAN build
This Mercedes camper bus has some extra stretch
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This Mercedes camper bus has some extra stretch
We're used to seeing adventure bikes and dirt bikes on these rear lifts (and now ATVs), but here we have a Vespa
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We're used to seeing adventure bikes and dirt bikes on these rear lifts (and now ATVs), but here we have a Vespa
A MAN truck with pop-up expansion module
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A MAN truck with pop-up expansion module
Vauxhall SUV
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Vauxhall SUV
No tug of war as of yet ...
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No tug of war as of yet ...
A pair of burly MANs (Men?) in the camp area at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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A pair of burly MANs (Men?) in the camp area at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
Mercedes-based expedition truck with plenty of color
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Mercedes-based expedition truck with plenty of color
Mercedes-based expedition truck with plenty of color
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Mercedes-based expedition truck with plenty of color
Another look at this bright green MAN rig from Gooo Travel
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Another look at this bright green MAN rig from Gooo Travel
"Biggest" doesn't mean most fun – this Citroën Xantia sedan looks like it's ready to have as much outdoor fun as any of the big rigs
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"Biggest" doesn't mean most fun – this Citroën Xantia sedan looks like it's ready to have as much outdoor fun as any of the big rigs
4x4 camper van
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4x4 camper van
No prizes for guessing where this Toyota-based camper hails from
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No prizes for guessing where this Toyota-based camper hails from
Jeep Wranglers are much rarer in Europe than the States, but we did find a couple. This one even has a matching trailer
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Jeep Wranglers are much rarer in Europe than the States, but we did find a couple. This one even has a matching trailer
Iveco Magirus expedition truck
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Iveco Magirus expedition truck
Another big Mercedes camping bus
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Another big Mercedes camping bus
4WD VW camper van
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4WD VW camper van
Powerful-looking Mercedes expedition rig
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Powerful-looking Mercedes expedition rig
Military truck
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Military truck
VW California Coach camper van
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VW California Coach camper van
Military truck camp
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Military truck camp
Some of the cabs on these expedition trucks look quite spacious and comfy
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Some of the cabs on these expedition trucks look quite spacious and comfy
Conqueror trailer in tow
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Conqueror trailer in tow
Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
The "Huemul" 
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The "Huemul" 
The Pisten-Bulli – a play on the PistenBully snow grooming machine
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The Pisten-Bulli – a play on the PistenBully snow grooming machine
Land Rover towing an ATV
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Land Rover towing an ATV
Military six-wheeler
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Military six-wheeler
More fun with Mercedes camper vans
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More fun with Mercedes camper vans
The camp area at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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The camp area at Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
VW camper van
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VW camper van
A truck camper from Bimobil
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A truck camper from Bimobil
Trucks, vans and other expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
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Trucks, vans and other expedition vehicles of Abenteuer & Allrad 2018
There's the concentration of VW camper vans we were expecting
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There's the concentration of VW camper vans we were expecting
Mercedes camper van
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Mercedes camper van
4 Wheel24 specializes in off-road motorhomes, rally cars, 4x4 hardware and more
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4 Wheel24 specializes in off-road motorhomes, rally cars, 4x4 hardware and more
View gallery - 97 images

This year, we made our first trip over to Germany's Abenteuer & Allrad (Adventure & Allwheel) show. Very similar to Overland Expo, but considerably larger, Abenteuer & Allrad bills itself as the world's largest "cross-country expo." Most expos start when you enter the gates, but this one starts the second you step out of the car because the camp area parking lot hosts the wildest collection of otherworldly 4x4+ camping vehicles you're likely to ever see gathered together. If you've ever looked at one of the six- or seven-figure expedition vehicles we've covered and wondered if anyone actually buys such an odd extravagance, the Abenteuer & Allrad camping lot answers with a big, fat "YES!!"

Overland Expo attracted about 14,500 visitors this year, its biggest show yet. Abenteuer & Allrad claims an average upwards of 50,000 each year. But that's not necessarily what makes this the "biggest" show of its kind. It's the massive expedition trucks that really put it on a scale all its own. While you will see a number of large expedition rigs riding on 'Mogs and MAN trucks at Overland Expo, Abenteuer & Allrad is absolutely full of beastly 4x4, 6x6, even 8x8 builds, and the trucks underpinning those builds vary as widely as the designs – from Ivecos, to Steyrs, to Mowags and more.

Here are a few vehicles we particularly enjoyed stumbling into:

Gooo Travel's green monster

Another look at this bright green MAN rig from Gooo Travel
Another look at this bright green MAN rig from Gooo Travel

Thanks to its neon-green color, hulking size and shipping container-like layout, this MAN-based machine of exploration was one of the most memorable of the camp area, if not the entire show. It got even better when we got back to the computer and realized Gooo (Get out of office) Travel, the company name that was all over the truck, is actually a new Dutch rental company – so you might actually be able to rent this beast for an ultimate adventure of your own. We don't see this specific model listed on the website, but maybe if you send 'em the above photo and say that's the one you want, they'll send you a quote. If not, the company advertises similarly large expedition trucks with Bliss Mobil modules, as well as smaller vans and 4x4s.

Pop-up roof on steroids

The most impressive clamshell pop-up roof we've ever seen
The most impressive clamshell pop-up roof we've ever seen

Pop-up roofs are very common in the camper van market but get less common as you move up to larger motorhomes and expedition vehicles. When pop-ups do appear on larger vehicles, they're usually in the form of roof sections or lifting upper bodies. Here, we came upon a truck with a full-length, camper van-style clamshell pop-up. The camper module is designed by Germany's Ormocar Reisemobil and appears to fall in the company's "special construction" category. One look at those industrial strength struts tells us it is indeed quite special.

No one was around to chat with about this particular build, but Ormocar specializes in custom-built fiberglass motorhome modules and vehicles, and it has quite an impressive résumé of past designs.

Mercedes camper vans everywhere

Volkswagen may have the camper van reputation, but classic Mercedes campers look every bit as cool, in our opinion
Volkswagen may have the camper van reputation, but classic Mercedes campers look every bit as cool, in our opinion

It was our first trip to a German overlanding show, so what did we expect to see? Dozens and dozens of Volkswagen camper vans. Indeed, VW was the only company to have its own exclusive tent inside, but outside the gates, the camp area didn't have nearly as many classic or new VW campers as we were expecting. In fact, while we didn't keep a running tally, it felt like Mercedes-Benz camper vans outnumbered VWs. They weren't all the shiny, new Sprinter 4x4s always popular at Overland Expo, but camper vans and buses sitting on more classic Mercedes underpinnings. Each one was cool in its own right, but we'll give the nod to the blue one above based on its muscular stance, large but not too large cabin size and graphics.

Not your grandaddy's Volvo (or maybe it was)

Many an expedition vehicle maker, whether a large manufacturer or a DIYer, starts with a former military vehicle. And sometimes the unrefined military base vehicle is as impressive as the motorhome it eventually helps create. This 1978 Volvo C303 that was for sale in the parking lot is one of those.

Just when we thought we'd seen every military and civilian truck imaginable at the camp area, we stumbled upon this 1978 Volvo C303 4x4 that was for sale 
Just when we thought we'd seen every military and civilian truck imaginable at the camp area, we stumbled upon this 1978 Volvo C303 4x4 that was for sale 

Prior to running into this one, we weren't especially familiar with C303s – or Volvo military vehicles, period. While catching up, we've learned that the C303 was a sort of Swedish answer to the Pinzgauer, developed in the 60s and 70s as a go-anywhere light military vehicle with on-demand 4WD, locking differentials, and a set of portal axles giving it that high stance. In addition to the hardtop 4x4, it came in six-wheel and canvas-top varieties, but the eight-wheeler was scrapped in the prototype stages. It was from this style of rugged military vehicle that the Volvo "Cross Country" name still used in today came to be.

The sharply cut rear on this one appears to be a special build or piece of aftermarket bodywork, as all the C303 photos and user manual diagrams we've found floating around the Web show a shorter, squared-off backside. It's awesome either way, and the window sticker listed a 117-PS (115-hp) 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, 2,400-kg (5,291-lb) weight and €15,990 (approx. US$18,900) price. Hopefully it found (or will find) the right owner.

We saw many other cool, classic military trucks, oversized expedition vehicles and camper vans on our morning walk around the camp area. See them all in our photo gallery.

View gallery - 97 images
1 comment
ChairmanLMAO
all these campers are so awesome. But one question. where the hail is kamaz?